It has a flagship chipset with GPU turbo technology but camera needs improvement in low-light conditions
Honor Play is powered by Android 8.1 Oreo and EMUI 8.2 user interface with more customizable features.
Dubai: Huawei’s sub-brand Honor’s new mid-range smartphone – Play – is a toned down version of Huawei’s Honor 10 and Huawei P20.
Honor has launched many models this year such as Honor 10, 9i, 9 Lite, and 7X, and the company is in no mood to stop.
The 6.3-inch device Full HD+ LCD screen with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 (1080 by 2340 pixels) is powered by 2.36GHz Kirin 970 octa-core chipset with AI, same chipset powering Huawei’s flagship phones, and coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage capacity. It has a pixel per inch density of 409.
It is powered by Android 8.1 Oreo and EMUI 8.2 user interface with more customizable features.
Like its siblings, the device has a notch but sports a smaller one than iPhone X. When viewing photos, videos or surfing the net, the sides of the notch turns black and does not obstruct the experience, whether in landscape or portrait modes.
But if you are in the setting mode, the notch will obstruct you in the portrait mode and not in landscape mode. The notch can be turned off in the settings.
It is just 7.48mm thick and the matte metal back is curved at the edges for a better grip. It weighs 176 grams.
It is the first smartphone to incorporate Huawei’s GPU Turbo technology out-of-the-box to improve the gaming efficiency and battery life.
Honor claims that it can deliver 60 per cent more efficiency and consumes 30 per cent less battery.
When playing games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile and multiplayer online games and Mobile Legends, the device is smooth and gives more frame rate and lower jitter rate than the competition and it does consumes less power.
When playing Mobile Legends, you will hear a variety of distinctive sounds such as footsteps, gunshots, crawls, explosions, glass breaking and of the vehicles from the battlefield.
Honor has also added 3D surround sound and 4D smart shock to give a realistic haptic feedback when you fire a gun, similar to dual shock controllers on gaming consoles. The 3D surround sound is good when you wear a headset as the device sports a single speaker grill but Honor has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack on this device.
The trick is done by the software optimisation and not by the hardware and Huawei is also going to roll out it on its devices such as P20, P20 Pro soon. Honor is targeting the gamers with this device at a budget-friendly price.
It also comes preloaded with games such as Asphalt Nitro, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Dragon Mania, Puzzle Pets and Sonic Runners.
Honor Play supports dual SIM hybrid-style tray which means it can support dual nano SIM or one SIM and 256GB microSD card.
The facial recognition technology on this device is super-fast and opens the device in less than one second, much faster than iPhone X and Galaxy S9 and even in very low-light conditions. It is faster than opening with the fingerprint. It also got motion gesture and voice controls, and one-hand operations.
The fingerprint sensor on the back is placed a bit high as the device is a bit longer and it may be uncomfortable for some to place your finger.
Coming to cameras, it sports dual set up with AI – 16MP colour sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and a 2MP depth sensor with a f/2.4 aperture but not with a monorchrome sensors found on its siblings.
By clicking the AI icon from the top of the bar, Honor claims it can recognize more than 500 scenarios in 22 categories in real-time.
It is a hit and miss and some may like it. One thing is sure, the AI can capture more light compared to the normal shot but the shots turned out oversaturated. I recommend cancelling the auto mode in a bid to get the natural colours. You can also see the non-AI version of the image by clicking the AI symbol off from the bar and see the difference before you click.
The dual lens produces very good snaps with decent lighting but struggles in lowlight conditions as the aperture size is not big enough. The images show accurate colours, high detail level and good dynamic range when shot in well-light conditions.
There is also Pro mode for those who want to tweak things further. If you’re a photography fan, you’ll likely find the Pro mode useful and enjoyable. In Pro mode, you also get extra options like the ability to save images in both RAW and JPEG formats.
There is no option for auto HDR and you need to select it from the settings. The camera has tons of modes such as augmented reality lens, panorama, portrait, aperture, HDR, time lapse, night shot, black and white, slow motion, light painting, document scan, HDR, 3D panorama, 3D creator, artist mode, watermark and pro. There are nine different filters.
It does not super slow motion at 960 frames per second but at 120 frames per second.
As there is no optical image stabilization and EIS supported at 4K, so you may struggle a little when shooting videos. OIS and EIS are supported only at 1080p. It can also record 4K videos at 30 frames per second and full HD videos at 60 frames per second.
Both the front and rear cameras support RAW format only in pro mode.
With ‘Ultra Snapshot’ mode, the device can capture an image in as little as 0.3 seconds by just double-clicking the down volume button, even from an off screen.
The 16MP front camera with f/2.0 aperture takes decent selfies in good daylight conditions. It also has AI beautification and 3D portrait lighting.
The front camera takes good pictures in well-light conditions but struggles in low light and noisy. The new beauty algorithm uses 3D facial recognition technology to enhance your natural features, from skin smoothening to eye and lip brightening but the tone of your changes. The beautification feature is available on both rear and front cameras.
The audio quality from the single speaker at the base of the device is good but not loud.
Regarding connectivity, it has, it has WiFi, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC.
The 3,750mAh battery gives more than a day for moderate users due to its LCD screen but it has quick charge technology to drive the battery from zero to full in 90 minutes.
In video playback test, it ran for just over 14 hours which is pretty good. The ultra power saving mode can also extend the battery life. The standby time is close to 16 days, much better than the competition.
It is priced at Dh1,299 and comes in midnight black, navy blue, ultra violet and player edition red colours.
Honor is projecting the mid-range device as the performance and gaming device rather than a good shooter with value for money.
• Attractive design
• Value for money
• Helpful AI features
• GPU turbo technology
• Good battery life
• Some AI camera modes are a hit-and-miss
• Slow motion is at only 120fps
• No zoom supported in AI mode
• No wireless charging
• Camera needs improvement