Huawei U8860 Honor review:

Huawei U8860 Honor

You'll find additional features in the settings--everything from enabling tethering or turning on the mobile hot spot to adjusting visual preferences in the phone's interface.

Earlier, I mentioned that the Honor has an 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash. It's now time to evaluate how well the camera actually performs. I took a variety of indoor and outdoor shots, and a few self-portraits for good measure. I wish Huawei had extended its skin to the default camera app, which could use some work when it comes to surfacing settings and visual appeal.

The software itself can dial up a variety of scenes, and takes photos in 8-, 5-, 3-, or 2-megapixel sizes, and also a small VGA size. It also has the usual presets for white balance and color effects, and autofocus, and there's support for HDR (high dynamic range, a setting often used in landscape shots).

Flowers in bloom outside of CNET's office look vivid.

I took photos using the automatic controls. Images were hit or miss, but overall lacked the clarity and sharp edges of the best smartphone cameras out there. As usual, outdoor shots were better than indoor shots, especially in scenes with even lighting.

The packets of gum on my coworker's desk should be more detailed.

In addition, I tested the 720p HD video capture on the Honor, which shoots video at a rate of 30 frames per second. The video playback looked good on the phone, without any noticeable compression, pixelation, sputtering, or jaggedness. Volume sounded a little constricted and mechanical.

Although there's a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, I wouldn't recommend using it to produce your own glamour shots. Even the best image I took was highly pixelated when viewed in full, whereas other cameras fare better.

The Honor comes with 1GB built-in storage, and holds up to 32GB if you insert a microSD card.

I tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) unlocked Huawei Honor in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was acceptable, but less than stellar. Voices sounded slightly hollow and muffled to my ears, and I heard a high-frequency whine every time the caller spoke. Although the sound was faint, once I heard it, it was hard to ignore, and began grating on my ears. After prolonged use, this could be a phone that someone could learn to hate listening to.

Callers, on the other hand, said I sounded pretty good, though they could tell I was on a cell phone and not a landline. They said my voice sounded a little muffled.

Huawei Honor call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone threw me for a loop when I held the Honor at waist level. I've never heard a phone produce sounds in quite the way the Honor did. My caller's voice sounded human, but not like it came from him. Instead, it sounded halting and overly deep, as if the person at the other end were tightening his cheeks and pursing his lips, much as you would to play a musical instrument like the saxophone or flute.

The only complaint about the speakerphone call on the other end was that I sounded kind of quiet and was a little hard to hear, but otherwise all sounded fine and clear in a quiet room.

I had few complaints about the Honor's internal speeds, drawing on its 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor. Animations flowed smoothly, and apps opened fairly quickly. Not every app will snap open instantly on any phone, especially if, like the image gallery, there's a lot of content to load.

I couldn't say the same about the Honor's data speeds. In theory, an unlocked 3G world phone (which this is) should be able to produce 3G speeds on these shores using a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM card. I tried both and unfortunately never got past EDGE. Performance was terribly slow at those 2G speeds, and was likely not indicative of the typical user experience.

The Honor has a rated battery life of up to 10 hours of talk time on its 1,900mAh battery. Huawei claims that's a three-day life span. Of course, I'll still be performing a battery drain test and will update this section when I do.

The Huawei Honor, while not the best phone on the planet by a long shot, has the potential to be a very good midranger. There are several red flags though when it comes to aspects of the camera and call quality, and I didn't feel I was able to accurately test data speeds at all. Still, 720p video capture was good, and the phone's hardware and software are easy to use.

I'd never recommend buying the Honor at its unlocked price in the mid-to-high hundreds, but I will say that Cricket customers should keep their eyes open for the Huawei Mercury, the first U.S. version of this device. It's sold without a contract for $249.99.

What you'll pay

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