Honor 3C – Camera
The Honor 3C has clearly done its best to outdo the competition with the spec of its cameras. It has an 8-megapixel sensor on the back with an LED flash and a 5-megapixel one one on the front.
This sort of load-out wouldn’t look out on place on a £200 phone, so it clearly seems impressive on a £110 one.
In reality, there’s still the whiff of compromise we expect from cameras of entry-level phones. It’s fairly slow, with shutter and processing lag meaning the Honor 3C misses out on much of the immediacy we look for in a phone camera. The 2014 Moto G is better in this respect, offering a more solid shooting experience.
Still, there’s a lot to like given how cheap the phone is. In daylight you’ll be able to get a fair bit more detail than a 5-megapixel sensor camera, and full autofocus is on-board. We’ve seen a worrying number of around-£100 phones in 2014 that use fixed focus lenses, something we find completely unacceptable at this price.
The app is reasonably good too. It’s not flashy, but is quick and easy to use, with an interface designed for two-handed operation. Your left thumb chooses what mode to use while the right takes pics. There are plenty of modes too, including HDR, panorama, filters and one that lets you separately pick metering and focus points.
The resulting pictures tend to be a little noisy even in daylight and colour can look a little unsophisticated with – as is common in cheaper phones – red tones looking a little unnatural at times. Low-light performance is not good either, with plenty of noise, limited detail and no dynamic brightening-up of scenes to make them clearer. This is no less than we’d expect of a phone this cheap, though.
Here are some photos we took with the Honor 3C:
In unchallenging lighting you get more detail than you would with a 5-megapixel sensor
There’s some fine noise even in decent lighting, but it’s only visible close up
Dynamic range and low light shooting aren’t too strong, but you could improve the above with post-processing or the HDR mode
We were a little more impressed with the Honor 3C’s front camera, which has a 5-megapixel sensor where most at the price have, maximum, two megapixels.
Some higher-res selfie cameras just introduce more noise but we found noise fairly well-controlled even with indoors lighting. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s 3.7-megapixel sensor gets much more detail even though it’s lower-res, but what do you expect from a phone five times the price?
Video resolution goes up to 1080p, but 720p is the standard res. Comparing the two, we imagine this is because 1080p doesn’t appear to add dramatically to the detail captured, perhaps because of the fairly basic sensor quality.
Honor 3C – Battery Life
The Honor 3C has a 2300mAh battery, which is a fair but not staggering size for a 5-inch 720p screen phone. Unlike the pricier Honor 6, it doesn’t hugely ramp up battery capacity to ensure decent stamina – that phone has a 3100mAh battery while having the same screen size as the Honor 3C.
However, we found battery life to be fairly good. Other recent Huawei phone have underperformed relative to their battery capacity, but here the Honor 3C offers roughly the stamina we’d expect, perhaps because it uses a MediaTek processor rather than one of Huawei’s own HiSilicon ones.
In anecdotal testing, we found the Honor 3C easily last a day even with fairly extensive browsing sessions. While you’d have to try pretty hard to squeeze two days’ use off a charge, you should end up with a good 25-30 per cent chunk of battery left by bed time to tide you over until midday or so the next day. It’s not an astonishing performance, but a good one at the price that outdoes the 2014 Moto G by a small but significant margin.
The way the battery drains is out to help you too. It holds onto its last four per cent like a dog with a chew toy, offering an extra bit of insurance time to let you find a charger.
You can see this in our battery drain graph below, part of our video battery test. The Honor 3C lasts for nine hours when playing back an MP4 720p video file, which is again better than the 2014 Moto G, closer to the original 2013 Moto G.
The phone was still going duing the ‘flatline’ at the end, only turning itself off at 2-3 per cent
Honor 3C – Missing Features
By now you hopefully have a good idea about what the Honor 3C’s strong and weak points are. However, as with any budget phone you need to consider the features that are flat-out missing.
The most important one here is 4G. This is a 3G phone, and while there is a 4G version of the Honor 3C, it doesn’t yet seem to be widely distributed in the west.
Most connectivity extras are absent too. There’s no aptX, no ac Wi-FI, no NFC and no IR transmitter. However, it’s only 4G that we really miss. If these other bits matter to you, check our the Honor 6, a good-value phone that offers most of them.
Should I buy the Honor 3C?
The Honor 3C is actually a year old. It was announced in December 2013 for the Chinese market, but for some reason it look a year to make it to UK shops.
This dated-ness shows in some respects. The UK version doesn’t have 4G, and it runs an old version of Android with a custom interface taped on top that doesn’t feel as well optimised as the latest versions we’ve seen in phones such as the Huawei Ascend Mate 7.
As such, the Motorola Moto G remains a better choice for most people. But that doesn’t mean you should rule the Honor 3C out entirely. It offers better handling than the Motorola, and the same grade of screen quality that makes these phones real stand-outs at the price.
If you’re willing to put some effort into applying a few tweaks, the Honor 3C is a very attractive device whose screen and stature mean it can can compare at least superficially with phones twice the price. We just wish Honor hadn’t already ruled out giving it an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop – just because it’s not a new phone doesn’t mean it’s not new to markets other than China.
An excellent screen helps us live with the Honor 3C’s dated elements: Android 4.2 software and non-4G mobile Internet.
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How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Battery Life 8
Calls & Sound 7
Screen Quality 9