Huawei Honor Holly first impressions: heating up the budget smartphone arena

“With its expected price point of under Rs 8,000, the Honor Holly would be the contender to beat in its segment”

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Close on the heels of ZTE, which has started focussing on the Indian phone market with renewed energy with the launch of its budget-centric V5 (first impressions), its counterpart Huawei has also strengthened its product portfolio with the launch of an entirely new series dubbed as Honor for the upcoming festive season. The lineup includes its flagship Honor 6 (review), which takes care of the high-end segment, while the budget segment comprises the Honor Holly, along with the launch of a couple of tablets (stay tuned for our first impressions on them, coming soon).

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What piqued our interest about Huawei’s budget-oriented Holly smartphone is the fact that company claims it to be the “most affordable 5-inch HD quad-core smartphone with 16GB storage”. Sadly, the brand hasn’t announced its pricing or when exactly it will be going on sale, but based on the aforesaid statement, we can make an educated guess that its asking price would be in the ballpark of Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000. With that in mind, the device caught our attention and we managed to get hold of it during the launch event to see what it has to offer. Here’s what we found.

The Huawei Honor Holly bears a usual rectangular-shaped design, but instead of being blocky it features rounded corners and edges, making it very ergonomic to hold. The device has a dual-tone finish with the front in black and the rear in white. As usual, the front is largely covered by a 5-inch display that bears a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. During the brief usage, we liked the display and visuals reproduced by it. Apart from the display, you’ll also find an earpiece, a few sensors and a secondary shooter along with the row of capacitive navigation keys at the front. Sadly, the keys aren’t backlit, which is a bit of an issue since Huawei has implemented these keys in the reverse order compared to the standard setup, with the first key being used for back and the third key for accessing options. The purpose of the center key remains the same though – jumping to the main screen, initiating Google Now by long-press or opening the multitasking menu by a double-tap.

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The right side gets all the keys with a metallic finish for increasing or decreasing volume and putting the device to sleep or wake it up. The top is where the 3.5mm audio socket lies, whereas the bottom edge houses a micro-USB port. The rear is home to the primary snapper and an LED flash, along with a speaker grille towards the bottom. The back panel features a glossy finish, which is prone to fingerprints and can slip after prolonged usage. It can be removed to access the SIM slots and microSD card slot as well as battery. In terms of handling, the smartphone doesn’t come across as too bulky or thick, and fits well in the hands.

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The performance division is handled by the MediaTek’s MT6582 SoC with four Cortex-A7 cores ticking at 1.3GHz. Complementing the processor is a gigabyte of RAM. In our usage, we found the Huawei Honor Holly to be extremely smooth, but heavy 3D games might tell a different tale and hence we’d be able to give a verdict on performance when we review it.

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What we really appreciate in the Honor Holly is that unlike most budget options, the smartphone comes loaded with 16 gigs of onboard storage. Users will be able to access approx. 12.7GB out of it, which is ample for installing apps and stashing multimedia files. It can be further extended up to 64GB with the use of a microSD card.

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Software-wise, the handset runs Android KitKat with Huawei’s proprietary skin called Emotion UI. Akin to other Chinese custom layers, Emotion UI does away with the idea of separate home screen and app drawer, and thus all the apps are placed on the home screen itself. The phone is also preloaded with some apps from Flipkart. There are several other customisations done by Huawei in the smartphone, but we weren’t able to spend enough time with it to go into the details.

On the camera front, the Huawei Honor Holly offers an 8-megapixel Samsung BSI sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 at the back. For selfies and video calls, the device is equipped with a 2MP sensor at the front.

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Connectivity-wise, the smartphone has support for the usual features like dual-SIM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Providing juice is a 2,000mAh battery. Huawei claims that the battery will last a whole working day for heavy users, while it can even last two days with moderate usage, thanks to company’s patented 30 percent battery-saving technology.

It’d be difficult to conclude our hands-on impressions without knowing the exact pricing. But we are certain that the Huawei Honor Holly would be the contender to beat in the budget smartphone arena, giving a tough fight to the new breed of budget-performance offerings like the Xiaomi Redmi 1s (review | FAQs), Salora Arya Z2 (first impressions) and Oplus Xonphone 5 (review).

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One of the earliest members of the 91mobiles' editorial team, Nitansh is a walking encyclopaedia of product specs. Name a phone and he’ll tell you the specifics on screen resolution, processor and camera without blinking an eyelid. Ask him if he remembers the launch date of a noteworthy phone, and he'll tell you the dates when the device first leaked, its global unveil, its Indian launch, and when it got a significant update. He’s a lover of all things Android, and loves writing reviews and scouting for new apps. A Wordpress whiz, he’s always ready to help out a fellow writer. While he juggles between many things at 91mobiles, he always manages to find time to write. In his non-tech avatar, Nitansh is a philatelist, which is a fancy word for stamp-collector.