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Honor Play Review: Great Performer At An Affordable Price

Now you might be thinking what’s the big deal about this phone right? Every other handset at this price is pretty much the same? Well, we have used Honor Play for more than two weeks, let’s find out whether it’s worth buying or not.

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Huawei sub-brand Honor has been working really hard to dig its roots deeper into the Indian market by launching smartphones in each segment. Honor Play is a mid-range handset which the Chinese brand has recently launched with Huawei’s flagship processor Kirin 970, huge 6.3-inches notch display, AI backed dual cameras and many other tempting features at just Rs 19,999 onwards.

Now you might be thinking what’s the big deal about this phone right? Every other handset at this price is pretty much the same? Well, we have used Honor Play for more than two weeks, let’s find out whether it’s worth buying or not.

Design and Display

With Honor Play, the Chinese company has opted aluminium body instead of glass body which many of the Honor phones are getting now.

Honor Play’s front is all-screen with minimal bezels, thin chin at the bottom and a notch at the top that houses selfie camera, earpiece, proximity sensor and a tiny pulse LED notification light.

The handset features a 6.3-inches FHD+ (2340x1080) TFT LCD FullView display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The display is vivid, crisp and offers great viewing angles. Also, it is bright enough to be used under direct sunlight.

Users also get a lot of options to customize the display like notch can be masked, colour temperature can be changed to warmer or cooler colours, and the display quality can also be dropped down at lower resolution to save battery.  

Even though the device has a massive 6.3-inches display, it doesn’t feel bulky when you hold it. Thanks to the notch design with 19.5:9 ratio, the handset measures 157.91 x 74.27 x 7.48mm and weighs 176 grams only.

The bottom bears 3.5mm headphone-jack, USB Type-C port, and a loud speaker. The volume buttons and power button sits on the right, while the dual-SIM tray is on the left side.

At the back sits vertical dual camera module with antenna lines above it. Unlike Honor View 10 and Honor 10 which had fingerprint scanners embedded inside their chins, Honor Play gets a circular rear mounted fingerprint scanner.

Also Read: Honor 10 Review- Best Smartphone Of Its Category?

Software and Performance

The biggest pro of buying Honor Play will be its super performance. At this price range, you’ll get Octa-core Huawei Kirin 970 coupled with Mali G72 GPU, Neural Processing Unit (NPU) and 4/6GB RAM. The Kirin 970 is Huawei’s flagship chipset which also powers the Huawei P20 Pro and Honor 10.

That’s not it, Honor Play is the brand’s first phone in India to feature GPU Turbo out-of-the-box. GPU Turbo is said to improve graphics processing efficiency by 60 percent and reducing SoC energy consumption by 30 percent by keeping a balance between performance and energy consumption.

So with abundant RAM and Huawei’s high-end processor, how well did it perform? The overall performance of Honor Play is solid, it handles multitasking, heavy apps very smoothly. Gamers too will be satisfied with Honor Play’s snappy performance. From the design perspective, Honor Play looks like an average Android smartphone but this phone is all about what it got under the hood.

I played PUBG on this phone quite a lot and there was never a moment where this phone lagged and frame rates were smooth too. I am not sure if it’s the GPU Turbo, Kirin 970 SoC or the Neural Processing Unit (NPU), this phone performance is way better than other phones in this price range.

The handset comes in two RAM+Storage configurations of 4GB+64GB and 6GB+64GB. There is also an option to expand storage in both variants up to 256GB through a Hybrid dual-SIM configuration where second SIM slot doubles as MicroSD card slot.

It is backed by a 3,400mAh battery which supports fast charging, it reaches from zero to hundred percent in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The battery backup is as good as it should be. However it varies from user to user, if you are a heavy user, Honor offers battery saving modes for extended battery life.  

Talking about the software, Honor Play runs on EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Talking about EMUI, it has still got much bloatware like every other Honor and Huawei phones but you can always remove almost all of the unwanted apps. One thing Honor has missed with this handset is ‘Gestures’. Now that handset has an all screen front, Gestures similar to OnePlus 6 (which also has a similar design) could have been much appreciated.

Honor 10 also got navigation gestures where the fingerprint sensor doubles as the navigation button for Back, Home Screen, Recent Apps. With Honor Play the company has moved the fingerprint sensor at the rear and vanished the option for using navigation gestures.

Talking about its facial recognition feature, you can unlock the phone by looking at the front camera but it isn’t as fast as OnePlus 6’s face unlock feature. Whenever a phone’s facial recognition is slow and laggy, the user switches to fingerprint sensor for unlocking, which is not so fast as well.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C (2.0), NFC, 4G VoLTE, and Location. Also, both SIM slots can support 4G networks.

Camera

Honor Play features a dual-rear camera setup with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a secondary 2-megapixels sensor. On the front is a 16-megapixel selfie snapper with Portrait mode, and studio lighting effects.

Huawei’s high-end processor is not the only thing which Honor Play inherited from the company’s flagship phones, it also comes with AI scene recognition.

Honor Play's camera is backed by Artificial Intelligence, thanks to its Neural Processing Unit which automatically optimizes the photos by recognizing more than 500 different scenarios in 22 categories.

For an example when to point the camera towards a flower or tree, it automatically to a different mode which shows enhanced results.

Similarly, if you aim at a person, it automatically switches to Portrait mode and blurs the background. Also, the images clicked in the night were clear and had a good amount of detail.

Now the argument is that photos clicked using this phone aren’t real, they are beatified version of original ones but does it even matter? The photos clicked with Honor Play are good. However, if you don't prefer using the AI mode, it can be turned On/Off through the camera app while taking photos. There is also an option to view original images by disabling the AI in Gallery app.

The rear camera is capable of shooting 4K videos at 30fps and 1080p videos at 60fps. The handset alos comes with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and Huawei’s AIS (Artificial Image Stabilisation) which prevents jerk and shakiness while recording. Take a look at the video sample, the quality is crisp and clear but OIS is a major feature missing in the new Honor phone.

The camera app is full of features like Pro Mode- where you can tweak ISO, Shutter Speed, White Balance, and Aperture. Also, there are AR stickers, Panorama, Monochrome mode, HDR, and slow-motion video. To be honest, the photos clicked from the front camera are good but this studio lighting effect wasn’t required at all. Also, it is a pure copy of iPhone X’s Portrait lighting.

Bottomline

Honor Play has a good display, snappy performance and decent cameras which could have been a little better for a phone at this price. But the handset’s great overall performance at Rs 19,999 out shadows these minor downsides, which makes Honor Play one of the best option to go for in this price segment. If you are someone who prefers performance over camera than Honor Play is the right device for you.  

 Specifications Honor Play
 Software EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
 Processor Huawei Kirin 970
 RAM 4GB/6GB
 Storage 64GB, expandable up to 256GB
 Display 6.3-inch FHD+ (2340x1080) with 19.5:9 ratio
 Rear Camera 16-MP+2-MP dual camera
 Front Camera 16-MP
 Battery 3,750mAh
 Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type-C (2.0), GPS


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