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Honor Holly 2 Plus first impressions: a budget smartphone that bets big on battery life

|January 28, 2016 |Android Phones, Mobiles, First impressions, Honor

"The latest budget offering from Honor packs in a 4,000mAh battery"

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In late 2014, Huawei's sub-brand Honor was still struggling to find its place in the great Indian smartphone league. The company got off to a strong start with the Honor 6 (review), but failed to capture our interest with its second device, the Honor Holly (review). The budget smartphone lost its steam in the face of more exciting budget devices like the Xiaomi Redmi 1s and Moto E, at the time. Fast forward to 2016, and Honor has become an established player in the market. The company has been focussing on its mid-range and flagship devices so far, but it's now taking a second shot at the coveted budget smartphone segment with the Holly 2 Plus. The new phone brings some big improvements over its predecessor, and packs in a couple of features that differentiate it from other devices in its price range. We got a chance to spend some quality time with the handset, and here are our first impressions.

Design-wise, the Honor Holly 2 Plus is visibly more polished than its predecessor. The ungainly curves at the top and bottom have been replaced by a cleaner lines and sharper edges. The front of the smartphone is a simple affair, with the 5-inch HD IPS display taking centre stage. The screen seemed sharp, clear and responsive during our brief usage. Above the display is where the earpiece, sensors and front 5-megapixel camera are located. The Android navigation keys are present as onscreen controls, leaving the space below the screen bare.

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The edges of the smartphone feature a plastic trim in a metal finish. On the right spine, you'll see the power button and volume rocker, while the left side is empty. The bottom edge is home to the micro-USB port, loudspeaker grill and primary microphone, while the top holds the 3.5mm audio jack. The plastic rear panel of the Honor Holly 2 Plus sports a textured finish that reminds us of the Honor 4X's back panel. It features the primary 13MP camera and LED flash on top, and Honor branding in the centre. The back panel can be yanked open via a small notch in the side, and reveals itself to be disappointingly flimsy on doing so. 

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Underneath the rear plate is where things get interesting. The Holly 2 Plus features a sealed 4,000mAh battery, a feature not many phones at its price can boast of. The battery comes with support for fast charging, and is also capable of charging other USB-powered devices via USB OTG – both extremely useful features. Above the battery you'll find two micro-SIM card slots, as well as a microSD card slot. Both the SIM slots support 4G LTE, and the first SIM slot is also CDMA compatible. In fact, Honor says that it supports all CDMA networks in India. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

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The Holly 2 Plus is powered by the 64-bit quad-core MediaTek T6735P chipset clocked at 1.3GHz, paired with 2GB of RAM. There's 16GB of storage under the hood, out of which 9.35GB was available on our demo unit. The storage can be expanded by an additional 128GB. The smartphone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop as a base, overlaid with Honor's proprietary EMUI 3.1. Like the Honor Holly, the Holly 2 Plus runs a Lite version of EMUI, which means you won't get access to all the features of the interface. 

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The Holly 2 Plus comes nowhere close to the 5X in terms of sex appeal, but then it's a budget device. The plasticky build doesn't work in its favour, but at least Honor has managed to keep it slim and lightweight despite the huge battery. The handset has been priced at Rs 8,499 in India, making it more expensive than competition like the Lenovo Vibe P1m. While only long-term use can reveal whether the Holly 2 Plus can hold its own in the budget smartphone space, the large battery and CDMA support are two features that help to differentiate it from the competition.



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