Look and feel
A typical mid-range phone in design, the Huawei Honour features a simple matt black look that’s chunky and hefty but feels good in the hand
Ease of use
Android Gingerbread is a creaky old OS lacking lots of great features, but Huawei’s makeover is bright and bold and very cool indeed. A responsive four-inch screen is great for browsing the web and playing with apps
The Honour serves up a great eight-megapixel camera, which takes sharp and bright shots. We’re especially impressed with how crisp and colourful the display is, ideal for watching movies on the go. A-GPS and other standard smartphone features are present and correct
The Honour’s single-core processor copes fine with most modern apps and games, but gamers will want to upgrade to a dual-core device to give them proper future-proofing
Another impressive area. The Huawei Honour lasts 36 hours with moderate app, web and email use, and a staggering 10 hours when playing video
Just a week ago we reviewed Huawei’s impressive Ascend P1 smartphone, which makes up for its plasticky design with smart features and excellent performance. If you’re tempted by the Huawei Ascend P1 but don’t have £350 to spare, the £200 Huawei Honour might float your boat instead, offering strong mid-range performance and another excellent eight-megapixel camera.
Unlike the Ascend P1’s camera, the Huawei Honour’s lens doesn’t jut right out of the back. Instead, you get a very slight bump similar to HTC’s One S. This is mostly down to the thicker build of the Honour, which certainly looks chunky compared to the slender Ascend P1, but we actually prefer the design of the Honour. The matt plastic body feels comfortable in the hand with a reassuring heft, and is more appealing than the cheap glossy look for the Ascend P1.
Huawei has produced a strong budget camera for the Honour. This sharp eight-megapixel snapper takes crisp and colourful shots, and has full auto-focus and a built-in flash. Photos take almost as soon as you hit the virtual button, although there’s a pause before the camera is ready again, so you can’t take several snaps in quick succession. Quality is good for everyday shots, although the lens does occasionally get fuddled by the lighting conditions, giving a hazy look to your shots. For some reason you can’t digitally zoom using the volume buttons, a standard feature with most phone cameras, but digital zoom is a pointless addition anyway when you can simply enlarge and crop photos afterwards. You also get a basic front-facing lens for Skype chats, which is a neat addition.
Gingerbread in disguise
As with many value handsets, the Huawei Honour uses the older ‘Gingerbread’ version of Android, which runs smoothly on single-core smartphones. However, Huawei has heavily made it up, to the point that the interface is barely recognisable. We like the big, bold icons, and the 3D transitions between desktops. You only get a limited selection of widgets and they aren’t resizable as they are in Ice Cream Sandwich, but at least Huawei has added some invaluable ones like an email widget, which shows your latest messages.
The lock screen gives you fast access to your phonebook, texts and camera – simply drag your finger in one of the pre-set directions to open them right up. We also loved the notifications bar, which not only shows you new messages and alerts, but also gives you toggles for power-draining features like GPS and Bluetooth.
Sadly the Honour’s social networking is a little shaky. A single app manages your Twitter and Facebook accounts, showing you both streams in one timeline (or just one if you prefer). However, the confusing layout could learn a thing or two from the Windows Phone 'People' app, while basic features – such as checking Facebook messages or CC’ing a friend in a tweet – are missing. We’d recommend downloading the individual Twitter and Facebook apps and using those instead.
Games and apps
The single-core processor happily runs most current apps and games (there are now over half a million available via the Google Play store), with only a couple of the more intensive 3D titles pushing it to the point of stuttering. We also noticed the occasional pause when quitting out of the browser or other apps, but it’s nothing to worry about. Of course, with the ZTE Grand X packing a powerful dual-core processor for the same price, gamers may want to look there instead.
That four-inch touch-screen is a great size for playing with apps and games and also for browsing the web. Complex websites loaded quickly over a decent connection, while you can zoom and scroll with ease as the surface responds perfectly to every poke and swipe. Movies and TV shows look fantastic thanks to the crisp resolution, and this truly is an impressive and vibrant display for the price, although we did get a lot of unexpected slowdown when streaming HD video using apps such as YouTube. Thankfully we had no such issues when watching video from the Honour’s memory. You only get 2GB of storage space to house your media, but it’s expandable via the microSD card slot.
If you find yourself on the road a lot, the Honour’s excellent battery life will be a major plus. With moderate use (lots of texting and emailing, with some hearty web browsing, app play and the occasional phone call thrown in) we still got around 36 hours of life from a single charge. Playing video, the Honour lasted almost 10 hours – an immense effort that doubles the survivability of some rivals.
It’s heartening to see great quality smartphones like the Huawei Honour available for half the price of top-end models. The relatively low cost bags you a high-res vibrant display, perfect for messing around online and enjoying your media, while the single-core processor admirably handles apps and games – although serious gamers will want to consider dual-core devices like the ZTE Grand X instead. The Honour’s eight-megapixel camera is another plus, and although Android Gingerbread lacks some cool features of later versions, Huawei’s makeover is a fine effort.