Overview & Price
In this Honor Play review 2019 we will be going over what makes this phone special, and showcasing some of the best Honor Play contract deals.
The Honor Play was released in August of 2018, it is specifically target at the gaming market, and brings users a low cost but optimised gaming handset.
Check out the best Honor Play contract deals here..
An impressive 6.3-inch IPS LCD display with 4/6GB of RAM and a powerful 3750mAh battery are all some of the features you can expect from the Honor Play.
Priced at £279 in the UK, Honor has capitalised on the gaming epidemic among smartphone users here in the UK.
The Honor Play design is clean, a lot more subtle than you would expect with it being specifically designed with gaming in mind.
This phone ensures that they get whopping value for money and are able to keep up with their friends when it comes to playing the latest trending games.
Lets take a look at why this may be the phone for you..
Design & Display
So when taking the Honor Play out of the box you will notice that it has a rounded metal unibody, it was heavily influenced by the design of the Honor 10.
Although thanks to this metal unibody it feels nice in your hand, especially when holding the phone landscape when gaming, however weighing in at 176g it is slightly heavier.
We were lucky enough to review the Navy Blue colour of the phone, but it does also come in; Midnight Black, Violet, Player Edition Red & Player Edition Black, all looking super clean.
For a phone that is specifically targeted at gamers, we expected the phone to be more aggressive looking; it actually doesn’t look like a gaming phone at all and is extremely subtle.
Be sure not to drop this phone in the water too, as it has no IP certification, which was to be expected given the price.
The plastic and glass design is still rather slippy, and like most Honor devices, is a fingerprint magnet, so we recommend using the free case, which comes with the phone unless you want it to look grubby.
So on the front of the phone you will find a small chin at the bottom, just big enough for Honor to get their logo in, flipping the phone around you will find the dual camera setup which is tucked away neatly in the top left corner.
In the middle of the phone is where you will find the fingerprint sensor, which is in just the perfect place for your finger to rest naturally without having to cripple your fingers over just to unlock the phone.
Down the bottom is where you will find the USB-C, used for charging the device, you will also see the 3.5mm headphone jack which is nice to see as most brands have done away with that now.
Then finally you will find the single firing speaker, which is the only speaker on the phone, and is easily blocked by your finger especially when gaming, extremely strange that they don’t have a front firing speaker on a phone designed for gamers.
Overall the Honor Play design is nice, its minimalistic and we got lots of compliments when taking this phone out and about with us for the time we had it.
The Honor Play has a 6.3-inch Full HD +IPS LCD display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, taking up 89% of the front of the device.
There is also a small notch up the top of the display, which can get slightly annoying, thankfully though it can easily be turned off in the settings.
The notch is slightly bigger than what you will find on other phones on the market, it houses the front facing camera.
The Honor Play does have an extremely large screen, infact it is 0.1-inch away from being the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
The display is crisp and colourful and really does make for an awesome media experience, we found ourselves immersed in Fortnite videos for extended periods of time due to us enjoying the display so much.
We would have liked to have seen a little more brightness with the phone and better viewing angles, we could see using this phone out in direct sunlight being a bit of an issue, light would simply bounce off the glass and create quite a bit of glare.
Speaking of the glass there is no mention of it being Gorilla Glass, although it does feel nice under your finger anyway.
There is an eye-comfort mode in the settings, which is expected on a gaming phone, allowing you to play for longer as when turned on it reduced the harm done on your eyes, it essentially bumps up the colour temperate to reduce the strain on your eyes.
Another cool feature of the display was ‘smart rotate’, this only rotates the screen based on the phones orientation relative to your face, meaning the phone wont randomly flip out on you mid game.
Now onto the juicy stuff, the Honor play is the first of the company’s phones have is GPU Turbo update right out of the box.
The update claims to give 60% better graphical efficiency and 30% reduction in its power consumption, meaning that the update significantly enhances performance and frame rates thanks to its Kirin 970 processor.
The same chipset is used in the Huawei P20 Pro, and we all know what type of a phone that was (beast!).
This chipset coupled with the impressive 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage means that you get a flawless gaming experience without any lag or stutter.
We tested the Honor Play performance on some of our favourite games, the first being PUBG, which for those who don’t know is a pretty graphically demanding game, and the phone ran it effortlessly, no lag or freezes and we even forgot for a minute that this is a sub £300 phone.
The fact it was running PUBG so well was down to the GPU Turbo update being specifically designed for this game, so this was expected. Next we jumped onto our favourite MMORPG, Runescape.
Again just like PUBG the game is demanding but the Honor Play performed exceptionally well and didn’t cause us any disturbance at all even when in the higher graphical settings, extremely impressive for such a cheap handset.
An incredible feature of the Honor Play performance is ‘Smart Shock’, which uses AI technology to detect in game sound effects and then send a vibration to your phone,.
Much like Sony do with the XZ3, this makes for a truly fantastic gaming experience and enhances the realness of the game.
As well as the smart shock feature, Honor promises surround sound, which we were a little confused about considering it only has one single speaker at the base of the phone.
However when plugging in with some headphones, we did notice that when gaming we would be able to tell which was sounds were coming from, for example gunshots.
When not using the phone for gaming and just browsing through the UI, social media and watching videos, the phone is like a steam train and plows through any task you throw at it, extremely snappy and responsive with no signs of slowing down.
The Honor Play software is Android 8.1 Oreo out the box, but it does have Huawei’s latest EMUI 8.2 software onboard, allowing you to customise homescreens, themes and the overall interface of the phone.
We found it to be a big update from the previous EMUI as apps seemed more responsive and we glided through the UI effortlessly, overall in the performance department we were extremely impressed and had no issues to report here.
Throughout this Honor Play review 2019 we found the performance aspect of the phone to be fantastic, with some serious specs to keep you breezing through games all day without breaking a sweat.
The Honor Play camera is impressive too; it has a 16MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, coupled with a 2MP depth sensor for that added detail.
The camera is exactly what we would expect from this phone, it has lots of pros but also has lots of cons.
The Honor Play camera does struggle in low light situations, we noticed lots of noise and grain when trying to shoot images without much ambient light.
However when in them good lighting condition, images looks great with bright colours and good detail, there are tons of settings and features to play around with in the camera app.
One of our favourite being the 3D lighting effect, which essentials lets you change how your subject appears to be lit even after you have taken the image, often resulting in a better looking image.
AI technology is implemented in the Honor Play and of course scene recognition, this works well for the most part however we found ourselves disagreeing with the AI sometimes and turning scene recognition off.
It works by detecting the setting you are in and automatically adjusts settings like exposure and saturating supposedly producing a more Instagram worthy shot.
We found this to be useful for the most part and especially if you are a novice photographer and don’t want to fiddle around changing settings, it can help you produce some great images.
Portrait mode is fun to use too especially when going for the social-media shots, as it lets you adjust background blur thus resulting in a more focused shot.
The Honor Play camera does struggle with dynamic range, the phone find it hard to give you darks and lights at the same time and often results in images looking average.
We found night-mode to be great on the Honor Play; it somehow manages to draw in more light than is present resulting in a clearer, crisper image.
The phone has a 16MP selfie camera too, which can be used for some impressive selfies, most modes are present on the front facing cam too, such as bokeh and portrait mode.
We would have liked to see optical image stabilisation here but that would have ramped up the cost significantly, instead we see EIS (electronic image stabilisation) that is average and extremely limited.
Video recording can be played at 4K and at 1080p both in 30 or 60fps, although the EIS is only available at 30fps.
The Honor Play is more than capable of producing some great video footage, video looks clear with lots of detail especially in good lighting environments, when zoomed in you will notice a dip in the quality but that it to be expected and overall we were impressed.
The Honor Play has a big 3750mAh battery, which is needs to power that huge phablet like display; you can expect this to get you through a full day of usage.
As always this is dependent on the individual user and seeing as though this is a gaming phone and we expect users to be smashing PUBG for hours, we recommend bringing a charger in your bag with you to keep you topped up throughout the day.
The phone does come with fast charging, ensuring you can grab a quick top up before making a dashing out the house, although it does lack wireless charging which would have been the icing on the cake.
Charging is fast and you can expect it to go from 0-100% in just under 2 hours, impressive for such a large battery.
So is this phone worth your cash?
Well for a sub £300 phone we were extremely impressed, we had a lot of fun reviewing this phone and found it lived up to our expectations.
Especially that networks are offering some incredible Honor Play deals, meaning you can get the phone for around £25 per month here in the UK.
It does have some downfalls but that is to be expected for such a cheap device, it has impressive gaming capabilities and will keep you going for a full day even when watching lots of Netflix and playing games for hours.
The Honor Play camera is strong and surprised us with its ability to produce some stunning images almost effortlessly.
The Honor Play design is very easy to like, its user friendly and easy to use, and you also get a free case to use to stop it being covered in fingerprints.
The large screen makes for an incredible media and gaming experience; the value for money here is great, especially if you are someone who is going to be using the phone for what it is designed for.
However you should definitely check out our Honor 10 review before making any purchase decisions or some of our other Honor smartphone reviews.
We hope you have enjoyed our Honor play review 2019, and feel free to check out the best Honor Play contract deals at the top of this post.
Full Spec Below:
Launch: 2018, August
- Dimension: 157.9 x 74.3 x 7.5mm (6.22 x 2.93 x 0.30 inches)
- Weight: 176g (6.21 ounces)
- Sim: Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
- Type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
- Size: 6.3 inches, 97.4cm² (-83.0% screen-to-body-ratio)
- Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (-409 ppi density)
- OS: Android 8.1 (Oreo); EMUI 8.2
- Chipset: Hisilicon Kirin 970 (10nm)
- CPU: Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8GHz Cortex-A53)
- GPU: Mali-G72 MP12
- Card slot: microSD, up to 256GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
- Internal: 64GB, 4/6GB RAM
– 16MP, f/2.2, PDAF
– 2MP, f/2.4, depth sensor
- Features: LED flash, HDR, panorama
- Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 1080p@30fps (gyro-EIS)
– 16MP, f/2.0
- Video: 1080p@30fps
- Loudspeaker: Yes
- 3.5mm Jack: Yes
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
- WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot
- Bluetooth: 4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR, aptX, HD
- GPS: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
- NFC: No
- Radio: No
- USB: 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
- Sensors: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
- Non-removeable Li-Pro 3750 mAh battery
- Charging: Fast battery charging 18W
- Colours: Midnight Black, Navy Blue, Violet, Player Edition Red, Player Edition Black
- Price: As seen in above post
- Performance: Basemark OS ||: 3693 / Basemark OS || 2.0: 3294 / Basemark OS X: 32238
- Display: Contrast ratio: 1135:1 (nominal), 3.349 (sunlight)
- Camera: Photo / Video
- Loudspeaker: Voice 68dB / Noise 73dB / Ring 75dB
- Battery life: Endurance Rating 94h