Huawei Honor Bee Puts Off Anyone Looking For A Budget Smartphone


It is only very recently that Huawei has established as a brand worth consideration in India. I’d say a major part of its success is because of the impressive Honor 4X and Honor 6/6 Plus to some extent. But it was never lucky enough in the budget segment. It’s been selling Honor Holly for quite some time now, but I haven’t seen many of them around. Huawei is making another attempt with Honor Bee.

When I first saw it, I thought Huawei is bang on target. But first impressions are a lot different than knowing a phone after using it for weeks.

Design:

Honor Bee has a design that is very simple to explain. It’s a block of plastic with smartphone features. It has a 4.5 inch screen. Below the screen are the Android Lollipop styled navigation keys which are itched in silver. That’s good as they are not backlit but you can easily see silver keys most of the time except for total dark. There are usual sensors above the display along with a front cam and an earpiece.

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On the back there is an 8MP camera placed at the top-center and accompanied by a dual LED flash.

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The volume rocker is on the left while power key is on the right side. Both the MicroUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack are on the top.

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Since the Honor Bee is compact, you won’t have any problems in handling the phone. And because it’s comparatively thick and heavy, it has a solid feel too.

Hardware, Performance and Battery:

Honor Bee is powered by a Spreadtrum 1.2GHz quad-core processor and has 1GB RAM. I bet most of you, except for the geeks, haven’t heard of this brand. MediaTek is a usual choice of OEMs for the phones in this range. It’s hard to guess why Huawei chose Spreadtrum over MediaTek.

It fares good enough in the benchmarking apps but hey, numbers are not everything. It’s especially true in the case of Honor Bee. It was annoying to use this phone on a day-to-day basis. I still managed to use it for a couple of weeks, I don’t know how.

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Another let down was its touchscreen which has just two points touch. Besides, those only two points wouldn’t register accurately and on time. You wouldn’t want to play games on this one which involve hitting the screen frequently.

The tiny 1730 mAh battery was indeed tiny and insufficient. I’d to be very conservative with the usage. I’m not a heavy user anyway and yet, the Bee’s battery would barely last for 10-12 hrs. The fact that it takes some 3 hours to fully charge from 0 makes the matter worse.

OS and UI:

Honor Bee runs on the Android KitKat, which is now ancient, with Huawei’s EMUI on top of it. The UI is the same as the one we saw on Honor 4X. While it’s really good in terms of functions, it needs the power which Honor Bee’s hardware fails to provide. Huawei should have cut on the customization which affects the performance especially on the phone like this. There was notable lag and sluggishness. The phone would take some time to open apps or perform actions after hitting the icons or buttons. The InFocus M2, another android phone for the same price, performs way better even with the customized UI.

Camera:

Honor Bee has an 8MP camera with a dual LED flash. In real world experience, it manages to capture good photos outdoors. Not so good in low light environments though. Camera isn’t obviously quick to detect the motion and compensate it, so you’d need to hold it steady to take photos.

The quality of the images is good enough for a cameraphone in this segment. Camera UI is easy to understand and use. It can record videos in 1080p FullHD, too. But don’t keep your hopes high.

Sample:

Connectivity and Multimedia:

Honor Bee has everything a $80 smartphone should have. There’s WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G support. It’s dual SIM, too. While I didn’t have any issues with signal reception, its earpiece was weaker even at the full volume. So, taking calls in noisy environments was frustrating as I couldn’t hear the other party properly.

My unit didn’t come with any sort of headphones but overall sound output wasn’t too great. It wouldn’t be able handle mid-high range headsets. The tiny, dull screen isn’t suitable for watching movies.

Conclusion:

Huawei has missed a big chance to re-establish itself in the budget segment. Sometimes, the first impression isn’t really the last impression. I indeed like the phone when I tried it during the launch. But as I spent enough time with, I realized how wrong I was. There’s no reason I’d recommend it to you guys. If you’re really strict on the budget, then consider InFocus M2, which I’ve reviewed and liked. If you can spend a little more, I’d recommend Lenovo A6000 Plus, which is a well-balanced phone.


About Swapneel Bandiwadekar

I'm into tech since 2006.You can find me on forums as @swap002. I also used to write reviews for Hindustan Times and been a member of pilot programs. Connect with me on Twitter or Google Plus.