Depending on what you’re looking for from your phone, there’s usually something for you available today, and that’s what makes the smartphone space so interesting right now. Of late, many buyers have been using their phones for gaming, as smartphone games get better and more graphically capable. This has led to a new space for smartphones focused on gaming and performance in particular.
While some of the best gaming phones are expectedly premium in their positioning and prices, there’s undoubtedly space for a performance-focused devices that doesn’t cost a lot. Huawei-owned Honor showcased just that when it launched the Honor Play in China in June. The phone comes with flagship-grade hardware, software tweaks to aid a better gaming experience, and more. The Honor Play is priced from Rs 19,999 onwards in India, and goes on sale on August 6 on Amazon India. I’ve had a chance to use the new phone, and here are my first impressions.
It’s like a metal Honor 10
Honor’s current flagship device, the Honor 10, is a phone that tries to get many things right. One of those is the look and feel, and the phone does get the aesthetics and build right thanks to its glass back and flashy colors. The Honor Play isn’t quite as flashy or lightweight; the focus here is on efficiency, and being built to handle heavy use and performance-based tasks.
Therefore, you get a solid metal build with a matte finish. In this day and age of glass-back flagship phones, I’ll admit that I’ve missed using a solid metal unibody phone. It’s refreshing to go back to this classic design language, and even the way the logos are positioned – laid out horizontally – show that Honor intends for this phone to be used in landscape mode, which is how you’d have it while playing most games.
The phone sports a 6.3-inch full-HD+ IPS LCD screen, and has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It’s around the same size as a classic 5.5-inch screen phone, and in line with the current size and weight trends. The phone is a bit top-heavy though, which is also the reason why its fingerprint sensor is at the back, unlike on the smaller and lighter Honor 10. This helps the user keep the phone steady when using the sensor.
Of course, there’s also face unlock, which is quick and usually works well. The screen itself is sharp, and most apps and games can be configured to ignore the notch, and run entirely under it for best results. You additionally get a 3.5mm jack at the bottom alongside the USB Type-C port, while the rest of the layout is as you’d expect.
Gaming and performance is key
The Honor Play is being marketed as a gaming-focused phone, and has the specifications to go with that push. The phone is powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, which although a few months old, is still Huawei and Honor’s flagship smartphone chipset. You also get up to 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3,750mAh battery, along with Huawei’s Quick Charge standard.
WATCH: Honor Play First Look
Notably, you also get GPU Turbo out-of-the-box, a software-based feature that promises a boost in performance and battery life. We haven’t had a chance to test this out extensively yet, but GPU Turbo does offer improvement on compatible games, as well as on EMUI itself. Huawei and Honor have been talking up GPU Turbo for a while, and we’ll be speaking about how it works in our full review.
There are no other features in the phone that specifically tout its gaming prowess, as is the case with some other gaming-centric devices such as the Asus ROG Phone and Razer Phone that boast higher refresh rates and the like. You do get support for surround sound through the 3.5mm jack on the Honor Play though, and a design that is geared around keeping the phone cool even under intense use.
The ‘affordable gaming’ positioning of the Honor Play focuses on offering top-end specifications at an affordable price, and indeed you get all of that at a price of RMB 1,999 (approximately Rs 20,100). Although there are no hardware-based features that improve the gaming experience, the software hopes to offer enough to justify the Honor Play’s tag as a gaming and performance friendly device.
We don’t have any firm word on pricing or availability of the device in India, but it’s likely that we could see even the higher 6GB RAM / 64GB storage variant priced under Rs 25,000. If Honor does manage to achieve this with the Honor Play, this phone has the potential to do particularly well. We’ll be bringing you our full review of the Honor Play soon, so stay tuned.