Marketed as a gaming phone, the Honor Play’s powerful processer renders it an all-encompassing fluidity.
In 2013, Huawei, the Chinese tech behemoth, established its ‘Honor’ sub-brand, intending to cater to the mid-range clientele. Honor’s modus operandi is to provide affordable smartphones by virtue of specific cost-cutting strategies, such as by primary selling their products online. Starting in China, the sub-brand progressively broadened to other parts of the world with an array of budget-friendly yet powerful, desirable products.
Honor marked its debut in Nepal on January 2 with the launch of four smartphones, with Honor Play being their premium offering in the local market. The phone, marketed as a budget gaming phone across major markets, is expected to occupy a distinctive segment here owing to the dearth of gaming-centric smartphones in Nepal.
After spending a week with the Honor Play, below are my key takeaways.
The Honor play is enclosed in a metal unibody and weighs a nimble 176 grams. The device is aesthetically appealing and conjures a sense of premiumness. Our review model, which is the ‘Navy Blue’ variant, is instantly arresting with its stylish blue-hued matte finish. Concerning the build quality and handling, the phone is sturdy and ergonomically sound; it fits easily into the hand. An aspect that bolsters the phone’s ergonomics is the metal back, which provides a reliable grip, particularly when contrasted with the glut of glass-back smartphones penetrating the market. This allows users to operate the phone with a degree of assurance and also the ability to flaunt the attractive design without wrapping it up in a case. Although in the absence of a case, the phone wobbles when planted on a flat surface due to the protrusion of the rear camera module. That slight niggle aside, the Honor Play boasts a stable yet attractive design. The unlocking options present here is the fingerprint scanner at the back and face unlock, both of which are quick and reliable.
This is where the Honor Play comes into its own. The 6.3-inch display has a 2340 x 1080 resolution with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 409 pixels per inch (PPI). While those numbers by themselves may not appear earth-shattering, Honor has constructed a wonderful screen. Thin bezels on the side, exquisite colour reproduction and screen clarity, a minimal chin, all contribute towards an excellent viewing experience. The gorgeous screen, which has an impressive 89 percent screen-to-body ratio, coupled with the 7.1 Channel Histen Audio allows for immersive media consumption. The display comes with a sizeable notch, a staple of 2018 devices but it isn’t unduly obtrusive, and there is an option to camouflage it with a black bar, although at the expense of screen real estate.
Software, Performance and Battery
The Honor Play runs on EMUI 9 on top of Android 9. The EMUI operating system is light and polished. Powered by the powerful flagship-grade Kirin 970 SOC, the phone is lightning fast. Throughout the duration of my use, there wasn’t a single lag, stutter or performance issues of any kind. While that should be a given considering the performance-adapted nature of the device, often the specs on paper don’t perfectly translate to real-world usage, but they absolutely do in the instance of Honor Play.
The dual rear cameras are efficient if not spectacular. The cameras come equipped with Honor’s AI features, which include object and scene recognition.
The 16 MP primary shooter produces excellent shots under appropriate lighting conditions. Captures in the day are sharp, attractive and adequately lit. However, in low light conditions, the cameras aren’t able to replicate those results; night shots are grainy and have a fair bit of noise. This is to be expected given the camera tech and the Honor Play’s performance-oriented nature. Moreover, the Honor Play’s night captures are thoroughly in line with the output of other phones in this segment. The secondary sensor is employed to capture portrait shots and is perfectly capable. Also present, are 3D lighting and AR features.
Essentially, the phone is well equipped to capture spectacular photos in the daytime but doesn’t fare as well under less than adequate lighting.
The Honor Play is a fabulous smartphone. It has an attractive design language, a gorgeous screen and exemplary performance. Most pertinently, it delivers on the promise of being a capable gaming device.
The rapidity of the Kirin 970 SOC, in conjunction with the device’s GPU Turbo Tech, culminates in a seamless gaming experience, thoroughly justifying its standing as a gaming smartphone. Whether it be graphically demanding games such as PUBG, Asphalt, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor or more quaint offerings in the ilk of Temple Run 2, the Honor play runs each of them with a degree of smoothness and graphical fidelity reserved for upper-tier gaming phones. The frame rate hardly drops, there is no lag whatsoever, and the overall experience is snappy and gratifying. The dedicated Game Suite complements the phone’s gaming credentials through features such as muting incoming notifications and recording gameplay.