Honor 5C unboxing and first impressions: powerful innards in a compact form factor

“The 5C is the first smartphone in Honor’s lineup that comes with the latest iteration of Android, i.e. 6.0 Marshmallow”

We’re seeing a reversal of trends in the smartphone market nowadays. While phablets used to be extremely popular earlier, it seems manufacturers have started to focus on the comfort of one-hand usage again, especially if you consider the recent launches in the high-end segment. If you’re looking for a compact smartphone in the affordable segment, then Huawei’s sub-brand has just launched the Honor 5C for you.

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At Rs 10,999, it seems like a capable option on paper and our review will certainly dive into its worthiness. But before we do that, let’s take a peek at its box contents followed by our initial impressions.

Like most budget offerings these days, the Honor 5C comes hidden in a compact rectangular retail box. The packaging is very minimal too, although its blue colour gels nicely with brand’s identity. Prying open the lid brings up the smartphone itself. Underneath the tray holding the phone, there’s a cardboard box which neatly keeps the charging adapter and a micro-USB cable. And, that’s it… you can count us surprised too, since we were expecting at least a pair of earphones in the sales pack.

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Now let’s put the spotlight on the Honor 5C. We have already mentioned that it’s compact, all thanks to its 5.2-inch display. We really liked the in-hand feel of the phone since we could easily reach the corners of the screen single-handedly. While it might not be the thinnest (8.3mm frame) or the lightest (weighs 156g) device around, it does manage to inspire a certain confidence when it’s held in the hand.

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The build quality is top notch as well, thanks to the use of metal. The brushed aluminum finish on the back also adds to the charm and so do the chamfered edges. However, from the front, the Honor 5C looks quite similar to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, instead of its own sibling, the Honor 5X (review).

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Apart from the screen dominating the proceedings at the front, you get an earpiece, front-facing snapper and a couple of sensors above. There’s Honor branding at the bottom, and the navigation keys are available as part of the software interface.

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The edges offer a premium look thanks to the textured pattern. Towards the right, you’ll find both the volume buttons and the power toggle, whereas the ejectable tray is available on the left. The Honor 5C can accept two nano-SIM cards or one nano-SIM and a microSD card, at the same time.

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Another benefit of the finish at the back is that it manages to keep scratches at bay. Our review unit sports gold hue, but you can also get it in grey or silver options. The primary camera along with LED flash, a fingerprint scanner can be found here, with the company’s branding further below. Sadly the Honor 5C has a camera bump, which means that the device would wobble when kept on a flat surface.

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The 5.2-inch display on the Honor 5C is a 1080p affair. It offers sharp text and vivid colours. However, the colours don’t seem to be as punchy as we’d have preferred. The brightness levels are pretty good though, and so are the viewing angles. Sadly, just like the 5X, the 5C omits a protective layer for its display panel.

The highlight of the Honor 5C is Huawei’s own Kirin 650 processor. While we typically talk about the clock speed and the number of cores on the SoC, we often ignore its size, which also plays a big role in battery life as well as the thermal efficiency of the mobile. With the 16nm fabrication process, the Kirin 650 matches up to 14nm size of flagship chipsets such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Apple A9. The octa-core processor on the 5C is coupled with 2GB of RAM, and the combination ensures that the smartphone is able to handle anything to everything. Of course, our review will give you the complete lowdown on its performance, especially while playing graphics-heavy games.

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For storage, the Honor 5C comes with 16GB of memory on board, which has around 9.6GB after the first boot. You can also top it up further up to 256GB with the use of a microSD card.

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The 5C is the first smartphone in Honor’s lineup to offer the latest iteration of Android out of the box, which is skinned with its custom EMUI 4.1. There aren’t any cosmetic changes as such, since you still get all the apps on the homescreen itself. There are some useful apps in the form of Phone Manager, and thankfully, there’s no bloatware as such.

In the camera department, the 5C offers a 13-megapixel camera at the back and an 8MP front shooter. The primary shooter is supplemented by an LED flash to illuminate the scene in poorly-lit conditions. The camera app on the handset is packed with options, with modes like Beauty, Good food, and Light Painting among others. We also liked the fact that you get a professional mode for not just photos, but videos too.

Juicing up the Honor 5C is a 3,000mAh battery, and the company claims that it’ll ensure a day’s worth of use thanks to its optimisations. You can also extend the battery life with Ultra Power saving mode, which lets you use the core functionality only.

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There’s a dearth of compact smartphones in the budget segment, and that’s where Honor 5C makes a strong case for itself. It’s an ideal device for one-handed use, and packs in enough power too. But if size isn’t an issue, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (review) and LeEco Le 2 (first impressions) would prove to be tough opponents for Honor’s latest offering.

Photos by Raj Rout

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