The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictWhile it can’t keep up with flagship gaming phones, the Huawei Honor Play packs a serious punch at an affordable price. Unless you need a top-of-the-line camera, its combination of performance and price make it an excellent value.
- Snappy performance
- Plenty of storage
- microSD support
- Colorful, bright display
- All-day battery life
- Camera so-so
- Fast charging not so fast
- Heavily modified software
- Display notch larger than most
Huawei’s Honor series has established a name for great performance and upscale designs at a mid-range price. With the Honor Play, they look to compete with the year’s latest gaming phones at an affordable price.
The phone features an aluminum chassis and weighs 176g -- light enough for extended gaming sessions but enough heft to not feel cheap and flimsy. The back features a design that looks like a circuit board and an almost matte finish. While not as flashy as many of this year’s high-end releases, reviewers found the finish made for fewer fingerprints and no worries about slippery hands during intense gaming sessions.
Around front, you’re greeted by a 6.3-inch, 1080-by-2340 pixel IPS display with a notch at the top. Reviewers found the screen nice and bright with excellent viewing angles. They found the thinner, longer display ratio great for games as well with visuals filling the screen. Some reviewers found the notch a little large but, otherwise, reviewers loved the phone’s display.
Huawei chose an octa core, 2.4Ghz Kirin 970 processor with 4GB of RAM to power the phone. There is a 6GB variant available in some regions. Their GPU Turbo technology claims a reduction of up to 30% in battery use and boosts gaming performance by up to 60%. While reviewers found GPU Turbo works well, few games support it at the time of writing. Regardless, reviewers had no issue with performance -- whether they were playing the latest games, streaming video, or checking email.
There’s also plenty of room for your favorite games, apps, and media. You start with 64GB of internal storage and can add up to 256GB more using the microSD slot on the phone.
While the phone features high-end specs, it includes the older Android 8.1 operating system with Huawei’s EMUI 8.2. Reviews on the software are mixed. As with previous versions of EMUI, Huawei mashes features of Android and iOS together. Most found that this version is less heavy-handed than earlier attempts but if you’re looking for a stock Android experience, this isn’t the phone for you.
Reviews on the 16MP rear and front-facing cameras are also a mixed bag. The rear camera is a dual-lens arrangement using a 16MP and 2MP lens combination. The biggest complaint about the camera was that AI mode tends to over-saturate colors. Otherwise, it captures images with sharp details and well-balanced lighting -- though performance dips in low-light situations.
The front-facing lens received an odd complaint -- it captures too much detail. So if you’re not used to ultra-detailed selfies, lean on filters or beautification modes to polish your shots before sharing.
The 3750mAh battery used in the phone is good for a full day of standard use. If you’re looking to play games, you’ll get 3-4 hours of play at 50% brightness when connected to Wi-Fi. The only criticism found related to the included USB Type-C fast charging. Most reviewers felt the battery took too long to charge. Still, if you plug it in at night, it should be good to go the next morning.
Overall, the phone punches well above its price -- as long as you’re not focusing on camera performance.
Tech Goondu says, “It may not be the best for photography, despite the promise of being a low-cost Huawei option. However, gamers who care more about game performance that the Kirin CPU offers than the camera might find this mid-range offering appealing.”
The Next Web praises the phone’s power, saying, “The Honor Play performs pretty well for a mid-range phone, and it certainly can handle demanding games without breaking a sweat. So if you’re looking to get into multiplayer mobile gaming on the cheap -- or don’t care for things like RGB lighting and aggressive styling -- this is a good way to go.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Dominic Preston, Tech Advisor
At £279, it's very easy to recommend the Honor Play. The display is no match for the likes of the Razer Phone or Asus ROG, but the Play offers top notch performance at a far lower price than either of those, which might make it the ideal phone for gamers on a budget.
- Pierre Vitré, AndroidPIT
With this Play, Honor returns to its first love by addressing a young and playful audience directly. The manufacturer offers an attractive terminal for gamers that is affordable and solid in terms of technical characteristics. The smartphone also has specific features, especially at the GPU level, t...
- Alexander Maxham, Android Headlines
This is a smartphone geared towards gaming, but that shouldn’t be the only reason why you pick up this smartphone. That is because this smartphone still has a great camera with plenty of AI features, as well as a large capacity battery that should last you all-day long, and a pretty low price tag –...
- Wilson Wong, Techgoondu
It may not be the best for photography, despite the promise of being a low-cost Huawei option. However, gamers who care more about game performance that the Kirin CPU offers than the camera might find this mid-range offering appealing.
- Rei Padla, Android Community
The Honor Play appears well-designed. It offers a nice look and feel and is enough for mobile gaming. It may not beat the Razer Phone 2 or the ASUS ROG Phone but the Huawei Mate 20’s display offers cool and brighter images.
Prices (Where to Buy)
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Huawei Honor Play user manual here.
Huawei backs up the Honor Play with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Honor Play has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Huawei support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Huawei's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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Manuals / User Guides
- Huawei Honor Play Manual (PDF)
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