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Honor Play! Remember?

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

Released at a very interesting price point in August 2018, this device has went through a lot of changes both in price and the experience it has to offer. Let’s see how it holds up in the year of high refresh rate displays.

Yep, pretty weird though but I do it anyway right? To be honest I like the way this device feels. Yes, maybe Honor nailed the build. It fits in my hand perfectly, edges are round and nice, my hands are able to flex to the top, buttons are reachable with one hand and the fingerprint scanner is at the spot where your index finger will land naturally.

The smooth metal at the back feels and looks good; but it’s too smooth for my liking, smooth to the extent that it sometimes just slips when holding with one hand. Well that’s why we’ve skins, so I skinned it. Also, it is so slim that it doesn’t feel that it houses 3750 mAh battery; so that’s good. The notch however is annoying but it’s sweet that you can hide it and it won’t bother you again.

What’s not sweet though, is the button quality; I would’ve enjoyed if they were more tactile. Also, this camera bump is quite annoying too.

An LCD panel with FHD+ resolution was a very nice touch back in 2018. Provided, Honor did some good tweaking with the display as it offers some good viewing experience with those good looking color which can further be tweaked in the display settings according to your taste. Like I’m a person who would prefer cool and natural colors over those saturated colors. Also, I've noticed that it has an edge over the Poco F-1 in this department. The panel would also get bright enough; we won’t get into the numbers but this has okay visibility outdoors. Of course it does suffer in direct sunlight; but the good part being, it gets pretty dim at night which means late night chats are not a stress on the eyes.

I personally like a display without a notch as notches decrease the view-able area during movies and lesser notification show on the status bar; but since we are able to hide the notch, we can generate that old school experience.

The speakers are above average too. I've seen that the hardware used by honor is mostly of a better quality than the competition! The use of materials here considering the price is excellent. I like the speaker output; loud and clear for daily use. One might suffer during the times of watching some movies or YouTube videos in a little noisy environment. But yet, very rarely it happened that the phone would ring and I would go unnoticed. On the darker side, this is a bottom firing speaker and the only speaker! The earpiece doesn't doubles as a secondary speaker for highs. So that stereo effect is definitely missing; this decision is both good and bad. Good that over the time of use, earpiece won't distort; the bad one thou, the mono speaker can be easily blocked and we know the rest.

Over the time of using this device, I kept realizing how much I miss the stock android experience. The EMUI is not at all close to stock android, plus the android updates and new features are delayed like forever. Android 10 has been around for a while now, but no news of it receiving the update. Moreover, UI itself feels so heavy sometimes that you'd want to replace it with a custom ROM since the device has been out for more than a year and warranty is gone anyway. However, this freedom is also something Huawei has blocked for it's users in name of device security! It's much more worse than what Xiaomi has been doing; the devices cannot be unlocked, so no chance of even having root and those crazy modules to enhance the user experience on the stock firmware.

But, if you're someone who's a Honor Play owner already, someone who isn't bothered about these issues or have already got some other device and now it's a secondary (like me).

In that case, it's not that bad of a deal in terms of software. We get timely security updates and not all OEMs do that. The app opening times are really insane here; it might be due to animation which Honor has used or maybe they've optimized the UI in such a way that the app launches are real quick. Again it's a perk anyway! Also, it's loaded (really loaded) with features that you may never use; but they are there just in case you want to show it off to someone.Nevertheless, some are really useful like: The face unlock! It's accurate and safe mostly, plus it's very fast; a direct competition to the speed of the OnePlus devices. Also, the pick up to wake and silence, flip to mute etc; they come in handy a lot of time. In return, they might drain a bit of battery but won't be very harsh. What's missing thou are some some basic features like double tap to wake or double tap to sleep, dark mode. But nonetheless, software part is not very strong here, it's moderate in my opinion.

Speaking of experience, battery-life is what a user expects from a flagship level phone. And this isn't a disappointment either in this case. Housing a standard 3750 mAh battery, it easily makes through a day of heavy usage; a day and half to a two-day cycles for a medium and light usage respectively.

Heavy usage here refers to having some video streaming and gaming during the time, medium refers to little video streaming, texting and stuff; and, light is mostly using phone just for mundane stuff like calls, texting and that's pretty much it. Though how I feel is that the usage is subjective but this is just to give a general idea that the battery life is at par with the competition.

It does lack in charging time thou! with the stock charger it takes around a little above 2 Hr for a full charge from <5%. But one good thing is 0-60% is quite fast! Also, I noticed that the device gets considerably hot during charging; so hot that you may not even be able to hold the device for longer times. It's a metal back and hence it's bound to happen but yet, you don't want your hands to be ablaze right? I don't.

The photos from this are something which is totally individual's choice; in my opinion thou, photos are good here! I like the AI recognition of scenarios and adjustment of saturation based on that, detecting human subjects and automatically switching to portrait mode (might be annoying sometimes tbh). The saturation done by the AI is what I like; it definitely doesn't feel very natural anymore, but it isn't as bad as some people assert. Saturation isn't bad if the final output is good. So yeah, Those were my thoughts on the much older Honor Play. Thankyou for reading! Talk to you guys in the next one.

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