Huawei Honor 3C review

5 inches of HD, quad-core Android phone for just £110

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Our Verdict

So cheap it seems unfair to knock it, this is a surprisingly good phone and you'd need to spend double to get anything significantly better.

For

  • Good HD screen
  • Surprisingly solid build
  • Above average battery life
  • Selfie-proof 5MP front camera

Against

  • Uninspired design
  • Average camera quality
  • No 4G
  • Underpowered processor
Ratings in depth

Honor 3C

Honor 3C

Honor 3C

Honor 3C

Honor 3C

If you'd looked at the smartphones available on the market available 18 months ago, those with a minimal budget would have had a limited choice consisting of the highly-commended original Motorola Moto G, or a range of low-spec Android handsets from Huawei, Alcatel or Samsung.

Following the success of Motorola's Google-backed budget blower, manufacturers have visibly stepped up their game in an attempt to claim a share of the lower end of the market; after all, not everyone has £500+ to blow on the latest iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Huawei has done well for itself in recent years with a range of cheaper smartphones. They may not have set any benchmark records, nor been noted as standing out from a design perspective, but have given the user a reasonable experience of Android for less than the price of a weekly supermarket shop.

The Honor 3C offers mid-range specifications at a thoroughly budget price, and for that you get an 8GB smartphone with a wealth of features, including a quad-core processor, a 5-inch 294ppi HD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720, 2GB of RAM, dual micro SIM capability and an 8MP camera.

Honor 3C review
It almost looks like a normal smartphone...

Little about the Honor 3C's specifications are disappointing, and it compares admirably to smartphones such as the HTC Desire 610 which is more than double the price.

While not on the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop (or even Android KitKat) the older Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean software with Huawei's own EmotionUI 2.0 overlay still gives access to the vast majority of apps on Google's Play Store, but it's a little outdated.

You can't be reading a review about a smartphone at this end of the spectrum and be expecting the same kind of build quality you'll find on a HTC One M8, for example. Surprisingly though, the whole package feels a lot more premium than you'd expect.

The body, while plastic, feels reassuringly solid - free of the creaks and groans that you can experience on most cheap smartphones. This is especially surprising considering that the Honor 3C has a removable backplate that gives access to the dual microSIM, microSD storage and removable 2300mAh battery.

Honor 3C review
The back comes off to reveal card slots

There's nothing necessarily unique about the design of this Huawei-built smartphone; for your £110 you get a 5-inch smartphone that weighs 140g and can still just about qualify as slim at 9.2mm thick - slight enough to fit into skinny jeans or be unobtrusive in a small handbag.

The 720p screen is actually particularly impressive, and probably the main highlight of this handset. It's an IPS LCD panel, meaning the colours are bright and punchy, and until you get really close, pixels are still relatively difficult to discern - unless you're looking for them.

For watching YouTube videos or reviewing photos, it's satisfying enough, and considerably better than other phones of a similar price that make do with a lower resolution such as the Nokia Lumia 630.

Huawei has been keen to emphasise the 69% screen-to-body ratio of the Honor 3C, which essentially means that the bezels are slim and there isn't a criminal amount of wasted space on the front of the handset.

Honor 3C review
The bezel is pleasingly slim

As far as buttons and sockets go, the left side of the handset is devoid of any features whatsoever, while the right edge houses both the power button and the single volume bar.

Positioning of the buttons is almost perfect, whether held in the right or left hand, though I'd have liked the volume bar to be a little more tactile - as it is, changing volume up or down in the dark or while pocketed is a bit of a hit 'n' miss affair.

The off-screen capacitive buttons are another giveaway of the older Android version that lies under the hood. While I have no qualms with capacitive buttons myself - in fact I sometimes prefer them - the lack of backlighting of the back, home and menu buttons can be incredibly frustrating until you've properly learnt the order in which they are arranged.

On the top of the Honor 3C is a 3.5mm headphone socket that's been positioned close to the left corner, while on the bottom edge you'll find a microUSB connector and one of the two microphones.

The second microphone is found on the back of the phone, positioned right at the top, just above the centred 8MP camera and its LED flash. At the bottom left of the handset's rear is the single speaker (which you really shouldn't expect much from), while in the centre of the rear pane is a lightly embossed Honor logo - the only branding on the device.