Honor Play Smartphone Review

The Honor Play is billed as a smartphone for mobile gamers who are on a budget but can its cameras also tempt photographers? Let's find out.

|  Huawei Honor Play in Camera Phones
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Honor Play

Quick Verdict

The Honor Play is another lovely looking smartphone from Honor that doesn't cost the earth. It's got an excellent screen, decent battery and can capture a good photo. Yes, there are times when images can lack a little 'oomph' and, at the opposite end of the scale, times when the AI can add a little too much 'pow' but generally speaking, it's a decent shooter for the price point. Plus, there are some cool features built in that make photography fun, and creative. If you don't want to spend much more than £250 on a smart device, the Honor Play is a good option. 

+ Pros

  • Metal Design
  • Display is excellent
  • Decent photo quality 
  • Good battery
  • Price

- Cons

  • AI mode can over saturate images 
  • Extreme wide dynamic range can be tricky for the camera 
  • Clipping issues with the depth sensor
  • Poor low light performance 


Honor might be the budget branch of Huawei but that doesn't mean they skimp on design with smartphones, such as the Honor Play on test, looking just as smart as more premium designs. 

The Honor Play is available now in midnight black or navy blue with an RRP of £279.99 but you can pick it up over on Amazon for under £240 (at the time of writing) which makes it an even more reasonable price. 

With such a bargain price point, can its camera impress so photographers can take decent photos without spending a huge amount of cash? Let's find out. 


Honor Play Features

Honor Play

The Honor Play is billed as a 'performance beast' by the Honor marketing team and it's meant to attract the attention of mobile gamers but faster graphics processing is also useful for those who edit images on-the-go, in programs such as Lightroom for mobile. Plus, a decent 3750mAh battery should mean power isn't an issue either. 

Inside there's 64GB storage and 4GB of RAM (no other options are available) and you can view images on a large 6.3-inch FHD+ screen. As for the camera specs, the Honor Play has a rear dual camera featuring a 16MP + 2MP (depth sensor) lens and a 16-megapixel selfie camera is built into the front top notch. 4K video is built in (a nice touch for the price point) or you can shoot 1080p if you want to save on space. 

Plenty of creative camera features are built in and the smartphone looks, well, smart with its metal body and rounded corners that ensure it looks/feels modern.  


Honor Play Key Features: 

  • 6.3-inch FHD+ screen with 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • Metal design
  • USB-C
  • Rear dual camera featuring a 16MP + 2MP (depth sensor)
  • 16-megapixel selfie camera
  • Aperture mode
  • 4K video with EIS
  • Creative shooting modes
  • Pro mode 
  • 3750mAH battery
  • 64GB storage and 4GB of RAM


Honor Play Handling

Honor Play

Design-wise, the Honor Play seems to be influenced by the design of the Honor 10 with its metal body (no glass back, though), rounded corners, top notch and thin chin. Although, many smartphones do look very similar nowadays but why change a design that works - right? If you do want a device with a slightly smaller top notch (the one on the Honor Play does look big when compared to others) then the newer Honor 10 Lite could be for you with its drop design. Having said that, the Honor Play and Honor 10 Lite both have a 19.5:9 aspect ratio display, with the Honor Play featuring thin bezels and a 6.3-inch screen. 

The Honor Play isn't a particularly big smartphone and fits well in the hand. Plus, as there's no glass back, it's not slippy so it's less likely to slide off surfaces. A silicone case is provided with the Honor Play which gives the smartphone a little more protection and as it's clear, it doesn't hide the eye-catching blue colour from view. A lack of glass back means no wireless charging but it's no real hardship plugging a smartphone into a USB-C cable (provided) and hitting a switch (you never know, it might feel nostalgic). 

To the side is the usual power/volume controls and a fingerprint sensor is built into the back of the smartphone which is easily found with your index finger. As with most Honor smartphones, the rear dual lens and flash are sat in the top corner of the smartphone so you won't mistake it for the fingerprint sensor and smudge the lens. On the bottom is a speaker USB-C port and headphone jack but no headphones are included in the box. 

The screen is a Full HD+ panel and even though the specs aren't on par with the likes of flagships, colours are good, images are clear and you won't have too many issues viewing outdoors. 


Honor Play

Those who have used Honor or Huawei smartphones quite a bit will be familiar with the camera app but those switching to the brand will soon learn how to navigate it as everything is labelled well and is easy to use. There's the main 'Photo' option then you swipe left or right to access modes such as Aperture (pick an aperture between f/0.95 and f/16), Video, Portrait (with a beauty feature), 3D Lighting (like Apple's stage lighting) and a Pro mode where you can adjust ISO, shutter speed etc. Under the 'More' tab are plenty of creative options including a night mode, light painting HDR and a panorama mode. 

As for the rear camera, it's a dual-sensor with a 2MP depth sensor and 16MP f/2.2 main lens. This does mean you don't have optical zoom but it does mean you can shoot portraits with bokeh. The selfie camera uses a 16MP f/2 sensor and you can also use bokeh mode when using the front camera (but it's all done with some clever tech rather than a depth sensor). 

An AI assistant is built in which will recognise what's in front of the lens (22 scenarios to be precise) and optimise settings to help you capture the best image you can and Automatic Image Stabalisation helps steady shots (when the device thinks it's needed) as there's no optical image stabilisation built in. 

The Geekbench score is 1895 single core and 6626 multi-core while the AnTuTu score is 206991.

Battery life - The battery is rated at 3750mAh which is pretty decent and the device does offer fast charging so if you do need a battery boost, it shouldn't take too long for it to charge. There's no wireless charging but it's no biggy really. 


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