Hands on: Honor 5C review

Impressive spec for a low price

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

A solid smartphone offering with an affordable price tag, making it a potentially perfect purchase for those looking for a cheap run around that does all the core stuff without overly complicating anything.

For

  • Affordable price
  • Metal rear
  • Decent power

Against

  • Emotion UI still questionable
  • Missing fingerprint scanner

Honor, Huawei's slightly confusing off-shoot has a new budget handset, and early impressions suggest it's a surprisingly solid offering.

The Honor 5C has a 5.2-inch full HD display, Huawei's Kirin 650 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, microSD slot, 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front facing snapper.

There's plenty going on under the hood then and with a price tag of £149.99, the Honor 5C has the slightly more expensive Moto G4 and OnePlus X firmly in its sights.

The Honor 5C gets off to a decent start thanks to its aluminium alloy rear, giving this low cost smartphone an air of premium appeal. It doesn't hit the same design heights of the flagship brigade, but considering its price tag it's a pleasing finish.

Honor 5C review

There is a relatively chunky plastic frame which runs around the circumference though, which means the metal rear isn't instantly noticeable when you pick it up – which is a disappointing as it feels like an opportunity missed to set the 5C apart.

The 5C launched in Asian markets earlier this year, and that variant sports a fingerprint scanner on its rear. Unfortunately though, the European version loses this feature. Honor's reasoning is it wanted to keep the handset cost low, and removing this sensor allowed it to achieve the £149.99 price point.

There's good news though, as the Honor 5C does come with NFC, which means you'll be able to use Android Pay to purchase goods in stores where contactless payments are accepted. Yay technology!

Honor 5C review

I got hands on with the Dark Grey colour variant of the 5C, but it'll also be available in Sunset Gold and Space Silver if the grey isn't doing it for you.

The Honor 5C's screen comes in at 5.2 inches, and with a full HD resolution it's suitably impressive – it's bright, colourful and clear.

On screen Android Marshmallow – currently the latest offering from Google – has been coated in parent company Huawei's Emotion UI – version 4.1 to be exact.

Honor 5C review

Now I've never been a fan of this interface, with its slightly childish colour scheme and icons, missing app draw and some rather clunky functionality. Android purists will likely baulk at the offering, but those just looking for a solid smartphone which doesn't break the bank probably won't have any issues.

The octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM allows Android to run smoothly, and while some apps may not be the quickest at opening – the camera app I noticed could be a little sluggish – the Honor 5C still delivers a pleasing experience.

It's worth noting that the handset I got to play with was a near final prototype – so the hardware could change very slightly, and software performance may improve on the final device. Keep an eye out for our full Honor 5C review to find out.

Honor 5C review

Firing up the camera app, and after the half second load time, there's a lot to like about the 13MP snapper on the Honor 5C. There's a huge range of options and modes to play with, including good food, beauty and light painting. There's a pro mode too, giving you access to ISO, shutter speed, focus, white balance, exposure and more.

Taking a walk round the offices where I was testing the handset and I was impressed with many of the shots I was able to take.

A strong macro mode and relatively speedy shutter made for some striking images, but moving objects (mainly people) could look a little blurred.

Round the front the 8MP camera offers up a solid selfie snapper, and the heavy duty beauty mode can be adjusted to make you look extra-terrestrial – if that's the sort of thing you're into.

Honor 5C review

There's a 3,000mAh non-removable battery stuffed inside the Honor 5C, which the firm claims will give heavy users 1.3 days of use from a single charge.

I'm not entirely convinced as most phones struggle to see out a full day with heavy usage – but I'm prepared to be proved wrong if the 5C can achieve that in the full review.

On the left of the Honor 5C a tray holds your nanoSIM card and either a second SIM or a microSD card (up to 128GB), allowing you to expand on the 16GB of internal space. That gives you good flexibility depending on what type of user you are.

Honor 5C review

Early verdict

The Honor 5C is a solid smartphone offering with an affordable price tag, making it a potentially perfect purchase for those looking for a cheap run around that does all the core stuff without overly complicating anything.

With the Moto G4 raising the bar for budget smartphones again, it will be looking nervously over its shoulder as Honor is also leaping high.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

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