Honor Play hands-on: A gaming phone for the masses
The Honor Play brings the Kirin 970 to the $300 price point.
Honor is now the fifth-largest handset manufacturer in India, and the brand is continuing to build momentum in the country with its latest product. The Honor Play is the third phone Honor has launched in the country over the last three months, and it’s clear that the Chinese manufacturer is going after Xiaomi’s Mi A2, which is slated to launch in the country later this week.
The highlight of the Honor Play is that it is powered by the Kirin 970, making it the most affordable phone yet to feature HiSilicon’s flagship chipset. The Honor Play also comes with GPU Turbo out of the box, with the feature touted to deliver higher sustained peak performance while gaming. Honor is also rolling out an AI-assisted gaming feature that offers custom haptics when using different weapons in titles like PUBG.
Up front, the design is near-identical to that of the Honor 10, with a large cutout at the top for the front camera and associated display sensors. The 6.3-inch FHD+ (2340×1080) FHD+ display is slightly larger than that of the Honor 10, but the added height doesn’t affect one-handed usage. One key difference is that the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back of the device, with the front sporting the Honor logo instead.
|Screen||6.3-inch FHD+ (2340×1080) LCD|
|Chipset||HiSilicon Kirin 970|
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo (EMUI 8.2)|
|Rear Camera 1||12MP, ƒ/1.8|
|Rear Camera 2||2MP, ƒ/2.4|
|Front Camera||16MP, ƒ/2.0|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, BT5.0, dual VoLTE|
|Colors||Midnight Black, Navy Blue|
|Dimensions||157.9 x 74.3 x 7.5mm|
|Price||₹19,999 ($290) | ₹23,999 ($350)|
The back isn’t as exciting, however, as the device features a unibody metal chassis. The phone comes in Navy Blue and Midnight Black color options, and although it isn’t as evocative as the Honor 10, it has a sturdy build quality. And yes, there’s a 3.5mm jack located next to the USB-C charging port at the bottom.
The Honor Play comes with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM as standard, and the 64GB storage module is based on the UFS2.1 standard. It has dual VoLTE out of the box, and the hybrid SIM card slot lets you use a MicroSD card in the secondary SIM card.
The Kirin 970 is a known quantity at this point — the Honor Play is the sixth device to feature HiSilicon’s chipset. We’ve seen the dedicated NPU on the Kirin 970 in use over the course of 2018, and the experience on the Honor Play is similar to that of the Honor 10 or the P20. A lot of the NPU’s processing power goes toward the AI camera, which significantly boosts the overall image quality, particularly in low-light shooting scenarios.
The Honor Play has a 12MP + 2MP camera configuration at the back, and in real-world shooting scenarios, the camera is on par with the likes of the Mi A2. I’ll go into much more detail over the cameras over the coming weeks, but for now it looks like the AI-assisted feature gives the Honor Play a distinct advantage in this segment.
What do you do when you’re at a boring event? Take a lot of photos. Xiaomi Mi A2 on the left, Honor Play on the right. In this instance, the Play does a much better job. Huawei’s AI is crazy good when it works. pic.twitter.com/9jvq8RQSiS
— Harish Jonnalagadda (@chunkynerd) August 3, 2018
Honor is also rolling out its HiTouch feature that lets you scan real-world objects with the camera, which you’ll then be able to purchase via Amazon India.
On the software front, the Honor Play comes with EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Aside from the addition of features like GPU Turbo, EMUI should be immediately familiar if you’ve used an Honor or Huawei-branded phone in the last 12 months.
The Honor Play is marketed as a gaming phone in China, but as the Indian gaming segment isn’t as mature, the device will be billed as a performance-oriented phone in the country. As for pricing, the Honor Play will be available in the country for ₹19,999 ($290) for the variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage will be available for ₹23,999 ($350), just shy of what the Nokia 7 Plus retails for in the country.
It’s clear that Honor is looking to build on the success of the View 10 and the Honor 10, and the aggressive pricing combined with the hardware on offer makes the Honor Play a very enticing option in this category. The phone will go up for sale from 4p.m. on August 6, and is exclusive to Amazon India.
What do you guys make of the Honor Play?
See at Amazon India