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Asus ZenFone 5 vs Huawei Honor 3C: Affordable War Begins

Update: We have retested the ZenFone 5 with retail unit.

Before we start the comparison please be noted that the Asus ZenFone 5 we are reviewing is a media sample unit with 1 GB of RAM, which is different to the unit that selling in the markets now. We will update the review once we have received the retail unit.

Two years ago when the LG Nexus 4 was announced, its main selling point is the low price tag but with high-end performance. Followed by it, the Xiaomi Mi 3 is another smartphone with high-end performance but even lower price tag at RM 769. This time around, Asus and Huawei have joined the affordable smartphone war. The Asus ZenFone 5 and Huawei Honor 3C are the smartphones that priced below RM 600, and both have mid-range specs. We know that many people is still thinking whether to consider the Asus ZenFone 5 or Huawei Honor 3C. Hence, we have compared both devices to give you some idea.

Asus ZenFone 5 Specifications
- Dimensions: 148.2 x 72.8 x 10.34 mm
- Weight: 145 g
- Display: 5" HD (720 x 1280 pixels) IPS
- Processor: 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology
- RAM: 1 GB
- Memory: 8 GB, microSD card slot
- Camera: 8 MP PixelMaster Camera, 1080p video recording, 2 MP front
- Battery: 2,110 mAh
- OS: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (Upgradable to Android 4.4 KitKat)

Huawei Honor 3C Specifications
- Dimensions: 139.5 x 71.4 x 9.2 mm
- Weight: 140 g
- Display: 5" HD (720 x 1280 pixels) TFT
- Processor: 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582
- RAM: 2 GB
- Memory: 8 GB, microSD card slot
- Camera: 8 MP Camera, 1080p video recording, 5 MP front
- Battery: 2,300 mAh
- OS: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Both devices have different designs but stick with boxy design with slightly rounded edges. Apparently, the Asus ZenFone  5 is slightly thicker and heavier than the Huawei Honor 3C. However it has a better handling thanks to the curve back design.

Huawei Honor 3C and Asus ZenFone 5

The ZenFone 5 has a very special design with metal plate below the display. The metal plate below the display is inspired by the ZenBook series and it is the only part that feels premium, the rest is built with the rubberized plastic material. Overall the ZenFone 5 is quite comfortable to hold but it may having some hard time with one-handed operation. The rubberized material provides enough grip to hold the device.

The Huawei Honor 3C design is quite normal, nothing much special on the smartphone and it is built by plastic material, which gives us a cheap feel. However the device is very light at just around 140 g, and we have no complain on its design. It is nice to hold and it just fits in our hands, one-handed operation is not a problem but its handling is not as good as the ZenFone 5. Although it doesn't have slim bezels but it still considering comfortable enough.

Both devices have the same 5" display with 720p resolution at 294 ppi pixel density. However the ZenFone 5 uses IPS panel while the Honor 3C uses TFT panel.

Huawei Honor 3C and Asus ZenFone 5

The Asus ZenFone 5 has above average contrast display, which gives us better viewing experience compared to the Huawei Honor 3C. The Huawei Honor 3C display lacks of contrast but more details can be view on it.

Huawei Honor 3C and Asus ZenFone 5

Both devices have wide viewing angle but the Honor 3C colour will turn too bright.

Powering the Asus ZenFone 5 is a Intel Atom Z2560 dual-core processor with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology clocked at 1.6 GHz. As for the Huawei Honor 3C, it is powered by 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor.

Asus ZenFone 5 benchmark results

Asus ZenFone 5 benchmark results

Huawei Honor 3C benchmark results

As you can see the Asus ZenFone 5 scored higher marks than the Huawei Honor 3C, but the benchmark results do not represent the actual performance of the device. Both devices are powered by mid-range chipsets, so there are some hiccups and lagging while playing high graphics games like Real Racing 3.

The Quadrant Standard score is a little bit lower at 8,787 but the AnTuTu benchmark score has increased to 23,047. This is probably the difference of RAM affects the scores.

The Asus ZenFone 5 runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Asus latest ZenUI and it is upgradable to Android 4.4 KitKat in the future. The new ZenUI comes with simple and flat look, which is current trending look. The Huawei Honor 3C is running on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Emotion UI 2.0. Huawei hasn't shared to us any news regarding to the software update.

Asus ZenFone 5 (left) / Huawei Honor 3C (right)

The Asus ZenUI has more flatter look and polished design, which actually looks better than previous Asus custom UI.

Asus ZenFone 5 lockscreen (left), homescreen (middle) and apps drawer (right)

The lockscreen has been redesigned in ZenUI, it has the spotlight effect when you are swiping the screen to unlock it. The new homescreen now looks more like Android 4.4 KitKat - white status bar and flat look, though it is still running on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Entering the apps drawer you will no longer find the tab for adding widgets, which is similar to the Nexus 5 interface. The icons are now bigger and overall the transition is fast.

The lockscreen and homescreen

The Emotion UI looks identical to Apple iOS 7, it doesn't have applications drawer instead of all apps are at the homescreen. The lockscreen has a nice unlock effect and overall the user interface is smoother than Asus ZenUI.

Asus ZenFone 5 User interface

The Asus ZenFone 5 packs an 8 MP f/2.0 camera with PixelMaster technology. The camera interface stays unchanged, but with new modes and features. With PixelMaster technology, the ZenFone 5 now has new modes and features such as time rewind, low light, selfie, miniature and depth of field modes.

Asus ZenFone 5 camera interface and modes

The Huawei Honor 3C has an 8 MP shooter at the back with LED flash. Another selling point of it is the 5 MP front-facing camera, which you don't usually get in an affordable smartphone.

Huawei Honor 3C camera interface

Both devices photo capture and video record mode share the same camera interface at one screen, which makes the framing a little bit tricky.

Asus ZenFone 5 camera samples

Asus ZenFone 5 camera samples

Huawei Honor 3C camera samples

The Asus ZenFone 5 camera has better low-light images quality, while the Huawei Honor 3C camera is better in indoor shoots. You can actually check out our camera comparison between Asus ZenFone 5, HTC One (M8) and Huawei Honor 3C at here.

The Asus ZenFone 5 has a 2,110 mAh non-removable battery. Based on our test, the battery stand-by time is not impressive and the use time is quite average. It is able to last for around 8 hours with heavy to moderate usage.

The Huawei Honor 3C packs a 2,300 mAh removable battery. The battery stand-by time is long lasting and it is able to last for around 6 hours for heavy usage. As for the moderate usage, it should be able to last for around 19 hours.

Final thought
The Asus ZenFone 5 is priced at RM 519 (16 GB) while the Huawei Honor 3C is priced at RM 499. So, the Asus ZenFone 5 or Huawei Honor 3C? Well, actually it depends what you need. The Asus ZenFone 5 is suit for those who want stunning design, updated Android version and good low-light shooting. The Huawei Honor 3C is better with selfie shoots, good battery life and lower price tag.

Asus ZenFone 5 over Huawei Honor 3C
- Better build material
- Better viewing experience
- More updated Android version
- Better low-light shoots

Huawei Honor 3C over Asus ZenFone 5
- Better battery life
- More compact size
- Better selfie shoots
- Lower price tag

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