Not many Irish smartphone users will have heard of Honor but most will have heard of Huawei, or rather know the name to look at but not to hear. Honor is a sub-division of Huawei’s smartphone group and they make the Honor range of smartphones and tablets. Their latest low cost but not in the spec department is the Honor Holly.
The Honor Holly is like the good looking girl or guy you take on a date and then they pay for the meal. So yes, the Honor Holly is a good looking device and it will not break the bank. Thanks to some clever marketing from Honor, users were able to register their interest in the lead up to release, the more interest the lower the price got. You can pick an Honor Holly up for only €99 and given that devices with equal or only slightly higher specs can cost €200 that is fantastic value.
Read on for my full review.
The Honor Holly is made of plastic, its a cheap phone but it feels solid in the hand and at 156g it feels just about right. The seems between the removable back cover meet perfectly with the front of the device, it really does not feel like a €99 phone, even the buttons are silver giving a premium look.
The Holly has a 5″ LCD IPS display which gives a PPI of 294 which is not bad, it’s a 720P resolution and it looks well on this size screen. The colours I felt did feel a little washed out compared to the Honor 6 but nothing to be alarmed about. Viewing angles are pretty good but given the nature of IPS displays the distortion at extreme angles is present. The Honor Holly also has another trick in its arsenal of features and that is a microSD and dual SIM card slots which make it perfect for travellers who also need lots of space.
The device itself is very nice, the front is a nice black slab of glass and the rear a simple but elegant white plastic. Moving around the device the left side is void of buttons and the right has the volume and power buttons, sadly no dedicated camera button. The top of the Holly has a 3.5mm headphone jack and the bottom a microUSB port. Moving to the rear is an 8MP BSI camera sensor which produces decent images as I will discuss later, a microphone and a single LED flash. Finally on the bottom is a single speaker which is just so so for sound quality and volume. Honor chose to stick with a 2MP camera for the front of the Holly to keep prices down as did also choosing not to include a light behind the capascitive keys. It is this last decision that I found most troublesome as in darker conditions I found myself stabbing the screen trying to find them.
Software and Performance
The Honor Holly is running Android KitKat 4.4.2 but will over time hopefully upgrade to Lollipop. However, this is not stock Android, Honor are using their traditional Emotion UI 2.3 which for those that don’t know is basically a skin over the top of stock Android. This provides a very nice home screen interface but one that may not suit everyone. With the Emotion UI you do not get an app drawer, all new apps just install straight to the home screen so you will need to keep on top of your house keeping to make it look neat.
Honor have also included some nice simplifying features such as ‘Simple Home’ which almost turns the Holly into a Windows Phone with square-ish tiles replacing the tradition icons. This ‘Simple Home’ is a feature that would suit children and perhaps new comers to the smartphone world along with senior citizens. I do enjoy the Emotion UI but some aspects still feel unfinished such as the Gallery app and even the camera app, nothing that can’t be changed however with a 3rd party offering.
The Honor Holly is no slouch in the silicon department either, it has a Quad-Core Mediatek MT6582 with 1GB of RAM. General day to day performance was pretty good, slightly slower at some things compared to flagships and graphically intensive games tripped it up a little but but overall very good. In benchmark tests on AnTuTu the Holly scored a very good 19364. Comparing this to the €229 HTC Desire 620 which got 20262 you can further see the great value.
Storage wise the Holly comes with 16GB of expandable memory so anyone worried about not having enough space fear not. Sadly the Honor Holly does not come with 4G which may be a deal breaker for some.
Camera and Battery
Usually with cheaper devices one aspect that suffers is the camera but thankfully the Honor Holly has a very respectable 8MP camera which gives decent performance and images. It is not going to worry any of the big boys in any way but for shots of family, outdoor spur of the moment shots and everything in-between it should serve most people well. Remember this is a €99 phone so you cant expect amazing quality and images do suffer pixelation when you zoom in.
The battery on the Holly is a 2000mAh removable unit which should see you through a day if you are not using it heavily. I personally think that all 5″ plus displays should now start to look at having a 3000mAh battery as the minimum and perhaps for cheaper devices a 2500mAh battery.
There is no denying that the Honor Holly brings amazing value to the bottom end which is where everyone seems to be racing to these days. If you want an Android phone that will do everything give or take a few things that a €5o0 device can do then the Honor Holly is it but at a fraction of the price.
Did I prefer the HTC Desire 620 that I recently reviewed, yes in terms of hardware, but if push came to shove I would buy the Honor Holly over it.