Huawei Honour U8860 Review: In Depth

When we first handled the Huawei Honour U8860 we thought: zippy, affordable and functional. It enters the ring at £180 with its non-descript design and capable spec sheet, so off the bat this phone makes sense. Looking like a T-Mobile Vivacity and BlackBerry OS 10 Alpha device’s love child though, it’s design is questionable to say the least. Can the qHD display, hearty battery, 1.4GHz processor and 8-megapixel camera compensate though?

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: Design

Bland is a good way of summing up the front of the Huawei Honour U8860. It looks like an archetypal generic Android phone. There’s a bit of personality on the reverse thanks to the fine lattice pattern across its moulded hard back battery cover, though this doesn’t feel particularly rich to the touch and is far from a saving grace.

Buttons around the Honour have a chrome effect with a volume rocker to the left and a power button up top, with ports are kept to a mimimum. There’s a micro USB at the base and a 3.5mm jack up top. Underneath the back cover is the full sized SIM card slot, microSD card slot and generous 1930mAh battery.

Measuring in at 11mm thick and weighing 140g, the Honour therefore neither has personality like the Xperia U for example, nor is it skinny or light. This leaves us with a functional, solid, uninspired chassis and not much more to say on the subject.

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: Screen

The Huawei Honour U8860’s 4-inch LCD screen turns things around though, delivering qHD resolution and a pixel density of 245. It’s sharp, very sharp for a phone costing £180. Fortunately, it’s also bright and delivers good colours and respectable viewing angles, making for an impressive viewing experience on the whole.

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: User Interface

The Huawei Honour U8860 runs Android 2.3, Gingerbread. This is a huge stumbling block with other phones in the price range like the HTC Desire C and the much cheaper Sony Xperia Tipo running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). That the Huawei Ascend P1 also runs ICS shows Huawei can do it, they just haven’t with the Honour for its European release.

Huawei do however customise the interface heavily with aHome launcher. This is a UI that consists of 3D transitions and personalisation galore. You can download themes for it and tweak to your hearts content. That you can also switch to a stock Android theme which is a nice touch, despite it just being a stock theme and not stock Gingerbread.

Frame rates are smooth when swiping across menus and everything is responsive and snappy, making the experience inside the phone feel more premium than we expected given the price tag. Having said that the out of date version of Android really does hurt the Huawei Honour U8860.

The default keyboard on the Huawei Honour U8860 is TouchPal which is an interesting mix of long presses and options. This works for some, though should you wish to you can revert back to the stock Gingerbread keyboard in your settings or install Swiftkey 3, our keyboard of choice.

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: Camera and Multimedia

With an 8-megapixel autofocus camera, the Huawei Honour U8860 delivers some great quality pictures considering the price. Detail is sharp when exported to a large screen and the autofocus and flash mean macro and night time shooting are very realistic expectations.

Standard shots in good light come out well. The flash is good, as you can see from the shots in the middle row on the grid above, but won’t compete with flashes on Samsung Galaxy S cameras or xenon units. Macro shots also come out well with decent depth and detail as can be seen from the almond shot above. In the face of no touch to focus, the standard autofocus is very competent, performing well and allowing you to re-frame your shots with ease. What’s more, HDR mode delivers a huge boost in terms of dynamic range, with the two bottom left images above illustrating this nicely. The only area the camera falls down is in terms of the UI with small on screen options and an ugly interface.

720p HD video recorded on the Honour looks pretty good, though is let down by poor audio quality. Smoothness won’t rival the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 or Sony Xperia P and autofocus is absent, so close-up recording is out of the question.

There’s a very stock music player on the Huawei Honour U8860 and audio quality is good through the 3.5mm headphone jack. The loud speaker is also nice and loud, though naturally gets very tinny at higher volumes.

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: Connectivity and Storage

With 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS on board, the Honour U8860 is very well connected out of the box. The 1.4GHz processor copes well with web pages and they look great on the qHD display. The 4-inches also make the experience comfortable making browsing a high point.

We’re happy with the 2GB of memory out of the box with support for an additional 32GB via microSD card.

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: Performance and Battery

1.4GHz single core with 512MB RAM is respectable for a phone that costs around £180. 3D games look great on the display and frame rates are decent for the most part, with occasional choppiness. If you don’t game, then you can be confident in the Honour as the user interface and the majority of apps are handled perfectly well.

Add to the solid performance an ample 1930 mAh battery and this competent phone will last you a full day to two with pretty moderate use, rounding off the overall performance section and review on a high.

Huawei Honour U8860 Review: Conclusion

Despite being one of the blandest looking phones we’ve seen for a very long time and Android 2.3 being behind the curb, the Huawei Honour U8860 still manages to deliver great value and performance. The £180 asking price off contract pits it just below the Sony Xperia U and Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 which is perfectly reasonable. We would therefore recommend the Honour U8860 to anyone looking for a sub £200 phone with exceptional battery life, screen performance and camera quality.

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