With specs like these, you can tell Huawei, best known for its budget devices, is making a push into higher-end devices, but the Honor isn't quite
there. Nor does it pretend to be. It has some quality components, but there's no way it could be viewed in the same light as the HTC Rezound
or Samsung Galaxy Nexus
. That said, it easily fits into the upper end of the mid-range tier: it sells at select retailers for roughly $350, while its Cricket iteration, known as the Mercury
, goes for $250 with no contract involved.
Let's start off with the display. It takes advantage of a 4-inch TFT display, but the Honor uses a thinner and longer screen that helps it become much easier to grasp. Since it offers FWVGA (854 x 480) resolution, the panel's pixel density stands at roughly around 245ppi; it's not high-res by any stretch, but we certainly can't call it a lightweight either -- to give you an idea of where it sits in comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket's
WVGA display is 207ppi, whereas the iPhone 4S Retina Display
is 326. The colors look good in normal conditions, but they appear distorted in direct sunlight. Viewing angles are about average, meaning you'll have a difficult time reading text or watching movies when looking at it from the side.
We also enjoy the look and feel of the Honor. It doesn't try to be too flashy, though anyone who enjoys something other than basic black will be happy to know the back cover comes in six different choices. Our tester unit was white, and when we tilt it just the right way, we can easily see tiny sparkles all over it, reminding us of something we'd normally see in some types of car paint. It's not a huge surprise, but the battery cover is made of plastic and is a bit slippery. This wasn't ever a concern to us since we never had issues gripping the thing, but we'd still prefer some sort of textured or soft-touch plastic regardless. We're happy to note that the device weighs 4.94 ounces (140g) and, as a result, feels incredibly light. With its rounded corners, slightly tapered battery cover and minimal array of buttons, the Honor did a fantastic job at offering an elegant appearance without looking too loud or noisy.
The Honor does a fantastic job at offering an elegant appearance without being too loud or flashy.
Taking a tour of the phone, the top is adorned with the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the right and a power / screen lock button on the left, which is bad positioning for anyone who holds the phone with their left hand. The buttons, by the way, are raised up high enough from the body of the phone to be easy to press, but not so high that they interfere with our personal enjoyment of the device. A volume rocker sits on the left side and the micro-USB charging port is conveniently located dead-center on the phone's bottom side, next to the microphone just a few millimeters to the right. On the right side you'll find nothing -- it's completely smooth, devoid of any camera buttons. A 2MP front-facing cam resides just above the display, while the standard four capacitive navigation keys hang out below.
And let's not forget that back cover of which we've made mention of already: you'll see a snazzy 8MP rear camera with an LED flash to the left and speaker to the right. Underneath lies the SIM card and microSD slot, though it doesn't come included with one -- since you only have 4GB of internal storage at your disposal, it may not be such a bad idea to grab as much external space as you can.
The Honor uses a quad-band GSM / EDGE radio for worldwide compatibility and 900
UMTS / HSPA with a max speed of 14.4Mbps. This is great for Europe and Asia, but in the US, your only bet for bringing down respectable 3G download speeds is with T-Mobile; if you have AT&T service, you're going to be limited to its turtle-slow EDGE network. Better than nothing, of course, but if you've been thinking of plunking down a few benjamins for the Honor, it's best not to have any cruel surprises when it shows up in the mail. However, there is one other option for US folks: Cricket, a prepaid carrier, offers a variant of the Honor called the Mercury. In addition to taking advantage of a CDMA / EVDO Rev A radio rather than GSM, the Mercury's front-facing camera has been downgraded to VGA resolution.
The Honor may not technically be a premium device, but it has some notable company: it's powered by a single-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255T S2 Snapdragon and Adreno 205 GPU, which is the same chipset you'll find in the Sony Xperia arc S
and Nokia Lumia 800
. It also comes included with 512MB of RAM, which again is simply average for almost every mid-range handset. And it's rather speedy for our needs -- we saw a tiny bit of lag when attempting to browse image-heavy sites, but otherwise performed to our satisfaction. The touchscreen was very responsive as well. Let's have a look at the obligatory benchmark comparison tests:
In short: these numbers are pretty darn good for a single-core device, cranking out excellent marks in SunSpider 0.9.1 for the web browser as well as incredibly high Quadrant and Nenamark scores. In terms of raw scores, it kept up with (and sometimes bested) the Rezound, which is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and 1GB of RAM, though admittedly Sense UI likely lessens the Rezound's scores somewhat. Regardless, the processor in the Honor is just about as good as you can find on the market without adding an extra core into the mix.
We love the speaker, as it blares louder and clearer than most handsets we've reviewed. Call quality is par for the course, and we rarely experienced any static or tinny voices. Also, we didn't have a single problem finding our location using GPS with WiFi turned off. Lastly, the Honor may look smaller than today's standard Android, but there's a whopping 1,930mAh battery tucked inside. And it performs exactly as you'd expect, as you'll easily get seven to eight hours of intense use -- gaming and video playback, for example -- and almost a day and a half of moderate usage, which basically consists of frequently checking emails and texts, making a few calls, browsing the web and so on.
Huawei threw together a decent pair of cameras for the Honor. It features an eight megapixel rear cam with an LED flash and a two megapixel front-facing shooter for video chat (and decent narcissistic Facebook profile pics). It's not comparable to a juggernaut like the Galaxy S II's sensor, as it struggles with white balance and washed-out colors in direct sunlight. However, the Honor does well in low-light and is enhanced by HDR. The feature works well in any situation in which you need to capture a high dynamic range or add in as much extra light as possible; we included a small gallery of HDR images so you can get an idea of how it looks using the Honor's cam. To be expected, these types of photos are also the victim of additional noise, which lends to shots being not as sharp as normal. But it works in a pinch when you're in a dark area and need as much backlight as possible. Close-up shots also turned out more detailed than we'd originally anticipated, especially given the lack of a dedicated macro mode.