In Huawei Honor 3C Review (Part I), my opinion on the design, hardware, display, performance, battery life and connectivity for this phone has been shared. If you miss the first part do feel free to read it before continue here.
The cameras on Huawei Honor 3C are one of the major selling point for the phone. Starting with the rear camera, it is a camera with 8 megapixel BSI (Backside Illuminated) sensor from Sony. BSI sensors are widely used in smartphone nowadays due to its better low light performance compared to front-illuminated sensors but there’s actually nothing new here. There’s a f/2.0 aperture which is quite big and it should be performing well in low light condition too. For the lens Huawei says it’s a wide angle lens and it’s true. The image taken is wider than normal camera and there is no funny distortion around the edges which can be found in photos taken with some wide angle lens.
Frankly speaking I am not a professional photographer so I will comment whatever I notice and I was shooting at auto mode. I went around my university and took some shots with Honor 3C and here’s the picture I have taken. From the flowers we can see take that Honor 3C can produce some decent photos if the lighting is good. The colors produced are natural. However, I can’t help but to notice that the camera has a problem in getting red color right, as shown in the flower above. One of them turns pink and the other seems washed out. Apart from red color, the other colors are nice.
The 3 trees are taken about the same time but the camera seems to have different white balance although the weather and the light seemed to be exactly the same for me. The white balance is a bit off but you can change it manually to suit your taste. Personally I like the second one more as the color is warmer and closer to what my eyes saw that day.
Having a 8 megapixel means you can get quite a lot of details from your picture. Above is a photo of my hometown, Georgetown, Penang and I have cropped out two portions of the photo. It is clear that you can still see the image even after zooming in as long as you have the correct lighting. You should have no problem with further editing.
For indoor shooting, the experience is not as pleasant as outdoor shooting. Again the white balance seems to be quite inconsistent and the colors seems to be a little less saturated than I like. I tried adjust the saturation manually but the difference is quite negligible. You might need a little bit more patience to get a good photo inside a building.
The camera in Honor 3C should be able to perform in low light due to its large aperture and BSI sensor but that’s a bit below my expectation. From the picture above you can see that the camera did not outperform other normal shooters in smartphones but luckily it is not any worse either. The flash is pretty strong and the colors did not washed out by the flash at all, which is a good thing. On my experience, you need to hold your phone stable and tap on the item so that the phone will use the LED light to find the correct focus point. After that you can get sharp images under flash light like the one above. If you just shoot directly, there’s a large chance that your photo will be out of focus.
Video taking is supported up to 1080p but there is nothing spectacular over here. There is no optical image stabilisation here so you need to have steady hands here. Software stabilisation will not help that much if you have shaky hands. In terms of colour reproductive I am quite satisfied. Sometimes the fps will seemed to be not enough and the video will turn out sluggish.
The 5 megapixel front facing camera has f/2.4 aperture and a wide angle lens too. This is the part where Honor 3C triumphs other smartphones, even some high end models. This means that you can take higher quality selfies, although I am not really into it, and take normal photos with the front camera, although that is weird. The photos taken with it is very comparable to the rear counterpart. And I would say it is better than some main camera on other budget smartphones. In default it’s set to Beauty mode but the processing is a bit too over for me even at low level. My face often turning too flushed and the artificial beautification is too obvious. I prefer the normal mode. Having a good front facing camera is the new trend and although I am not using it a lot, I guess I will miss it sometimes after I switch to other phones without it.
These are just some random photos taken by Honor 3C. The shutter is quite fast and there are plenty modes for you to play with. However, there’s also complaint from me. The first thing is not really about the camera. While having high resolution photos, the internal storage is far too limited and you certainly need a micro SD expansion to store all the photos and video. If not, you might need to move them out frequently and the lacking of USB OTG support means that it cannot be done by simply using a pendrive. Sometimes the autofocus is quite slow and that annoys me as I have missed a few precious moments as the photos taken is out of focus or too slow to be in focus. However, sometimes when I thought the image is out of focus as shown in the photo review after the shot, the result comes out the opposite. I am not sure if this is coincidence or this is a software glitch.
Speaking of the camera software, I hate that your settings cannot be saved after you kill the camera app and you have to set everything again. Manual control is also lacked here. Usually the new photos taken will be in front of the gallery due to its sooner capture date and time. But there was one time all new photos went behind as the date saved is completely off. I solved it by changing the setting to default settings. The bug was not experienced anymore but probably Huawei can have a check on this. Despite these, Honor 3C’s camera is still one of the best in its budget phone class without any doubt. The camera is not bad at all and I enjoyed shooting with it. It certainly can capture decent photos if you are patient with it.
There’s a lot to be discussed here in this section as Huawei has some addition to Android running in the phone. The Android version is 4.2.2 with Huawei Emotion UI 2.0. The UI from Huawei is heavily customized and very colorful. You can switch between themes and the one below is the default theme. Personally, I am a great fan of the clean look of stock Android. This UI loaded simply does not meet my taste but remember this is just a personal preference. Although heavily skinned, the transition and navigation is very, very smooth. I never experience any lag on the homepage itself before.
The thing I don’t like here is the amount of bloatware in the phone. While all useful apps like calculator, flashlight and weather are preloaded, there are redundant apps as both Huawei and Google have their own app and this annoys me a lot and in fact this is one of the things I hate the most on Android, not particularly on this phone. What makes it worse is that in Emotion UI you cannot hide the apps you will never use as there is no app and widget list on this phone. Everything you install will be placed on the homepage directly, much like iOS and you can only organize it with folders. Although this can be simpler for some people, I hope there is an option to have it back. My experience on arranging the apps or widgets isn’t nice too as you need to hold the icons to the very edge of the page, then only you can go to the next page. Luckily I don’t have to do it often. The rest of the UI has no trouble for me and it works the same way with other Android phone. In fact, the smoothness itself is already a great plus for the phone. One thing I noticed is that you cannot keep your orientation fixed at portrait mode and this can be irritating when you are reading on your bed.
There’s a firmware update immediately when I start using the phone but Huawei does not committed to any major Android updates. Referring to Huawei’s past record, you have to expect Honor 3C will stay at Android 4.2 for the rest of its life time. This is certainly not a good thing to be seen as more and more OEMs have chosen to support the phone for at least one major update.
[Update] There are rumours that Android 4.4 Kit Kat ROM is being developed right now. I will be glad that I am wrong previously.
Simple Home UI
While smartphones are getting smarter and smarter, the learning curve is becoming steeper and steeper for those who are not used to them. For elder users, learning to use a smartphone can be a nightmare. So Huawei developed a Simple Home UI for people who have problem starting out with smartphones.
The UI is very simple and it consist of tiles for different apps and contacts, much like a simplified Windows Phone OS. The fonts will be larger than usual to make reading easier and the customization is very simple. You have 3 pages of tiles to be customized and you can add in any apps you have installed. You can also add in contacts to make phone calls to your dearest one easier. Long press on any tiles will enable you to remove or replace any tiles and hitting the ‘Done’ button or back button below will finish the editing.
I feel that this is a very heartwarming move from Huawei and I hope this will be implemented on all phones as well so that more people can enjoy the power of smartphone. Of course, you can switch back to the normal UI any time.
The presence of the 5MP front camera is not only for high definition selfies. Huawei has put it into good use – Face Unlocking. As the name suggest you can use your pretty or handsome face to unlock the phone and I did not expect this at all when I get the phone. To use this feature, you have to let the phone save your face and set an alternative way to unlock the phone in case your face cannot be recognized with pattern unlock of passcode. After the setting up you are good to go. When you want to unlock your phone, there will be a window showing what is captured by the front camera. Move your face to the middle and if the phone can recognise you, it will be unlocked. Error message will be shown if the recognition fails and you will be prompted to unlock using the alternative way you set earlier.
In case you are afraid that your photos will be used to unlock the phone, Huawei got you covered. There is an option where you need to blink your eyes after your face is detected. This check for liveliness is well thought. For your record, I tried to unlock the phone with my photo without turning the blinking requirement on, the unlocking failed.
But what matters the most is the results right? It turns out that my face can be recognised most of the time, like 95% of all tries, provided the lighting condition is good. The face recognition won’t work when the light is not enough and when the light is coming from one side where one side of your face is dark. Under these conditions, the recognition will not work at all. With or without spectacles and letting your fringe down or not will also affect the result.
Huawei has a nice solution to improve the result. You can improve the face matching by saving your face more times. You can save your face with and without wearing spectacles too. My experience with it is that if you want to make the face matching easier, you can save your face again under the same condition whenever the face matching fails. For example in slightly darker place your face will be darker and you can’t unlock your phone. Just choose to improve the face matching and save your face in that low light. You can also try different angle like looking down or looking from eye level as your face will be slightly different. By repeating these steps a few times and you should be able to improve the result.
I have been using this since day one and I find myself using this quite often. My only complaint here is that the ‘x’ button responds too slow or you can’t unlock your phone using the alternative way directly when you know that the face recognition will surely fail in cases where the light is not enough or your friend is using your phone. If we can swipe down on the window to close it and use the alternative way directly, it will be much better.
Huawei also add in Motion Control where you can control the phone using certain gesture. You can flip over the phone to mute the phone call, alarm and timers. Shaking the phone to arrange the icons on the homepage nicely when you’re in the editing mode. The more useful and practical one will be double tap on the screen to turn it on. The double tap trick works most of the time but sometimes it just won’t give you any response. I have the habit to tap it thrice and through this my success rate has increased. The major problem I have for this feature is that if I let the screen to face on my thigh when the phone is in my pocket, there are quite a number of times where the phone is accidentally unlocked, even the glove mode is off. Sometimes it will enter the emergency call page and luckily my thigh did not call police for me before.
The last motion control is the ability to swipe on the screen in certain direction to unlock the phone and fire up chosen app. You have the freedom to choose specified app to be started for 4 directions, namely up, down, left and right. You can uncheck the direction you don’t want to use too. For me, this feature can give better response if compared to the double tap to wake function. Combining both of them, the power button is rarely used to unlock my phone.
My experience with Honor 3C is very, very positive and there is no big complaints from me at all for the RM499 price tag. In fact, I doubt how can Huawei pack in so much sweetness in such price-friendly phone. These are the pros and cons for the phone in my opinion.
- Budget Friendly Price Tag
- Great Specifications for Its Class
- Pretty Decent Front & Rear Cameras
- Long Battery Life
- Nice Design
- Heavily Skinned Android and Presence of Bloatwares
- Fingerprint Magnet
- No 4G LTE Supported
- No Promise on Software Update
If you are looking for a phone that can carry you through daily task such as phone call and Internet browsing with long battery life, this phone has no problem with it. If you are searching for a budget phone with decent cameras, this is probably the best you can get with that price. It will be very difficult for major brands like Samsung to compete for Honor 3C’s spec to price ratio if they keep producing low-end device with mediocre internals. Huawei certainly made some wise choice on selecting area to be stripped down for a budget phone. You can’t go wrong exactly with this phone at all. The only problem you have right now in Malaysia if you want the phone is the stock availability. This is one of the finest budget phone I have ever used, no matter software smoothness or hardware raw power.