Honor Play US Review

What's the Honor Play like in 2019 in the United States?


The Honor Play was released in June or August ( depending on your region) as a budget focused gaming phone. The device packed:

  • Kirin 970 CPU
  • 4/6gb of ram
  • 64/128gb storage
  • 6.3 inch notched 2340×1080 display
  • 16/2mp cameras on the back
  • 16mp selfie camera
  • 3750 mah battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and USB C

The main selling point of the Honor Play is the GPU optimization labeled “GPU Turbo”. This feature optimized the Mali G72 GPU for more gaming oriented tasks. This feature was not limited to the Honor Play, however this was the highest end, lowest cost package you could get it in at the time. It promised more consistent frame rates on popular games such as Players Unknown Battlegrounds. This feature was announced for a handful of titles and has expanded ever since.

I’m going to look at as many aspects of the phone that are appropriate in the United States, a region this phone was not released in.


Many people are critical of EMUI, however, I enjoy it. Due to Huawei making the silicon and the skin on top of Android they have similar powers to Apple in making the software experience more fluid. In my time using the Honor Play I did not notice many hiccups.

I didn’t mind the style of the launcher like others do. It is very IOS like, however they give me access to an app drawer and the Google Feed by default, and that’s really all I need. I feel as though the blue tones in the software work well with this phone as the display seems to have a bluish tone. Maybe it was just me, but this aspect makes blues and blacks stand out a little more.

If I could make one comment it would be to get rid of all the redundant applications.  There are all kinds of Huawei focused applications. There are all kinds of repeats like pictures, and a device transfer application that didn’t work very well. Even a Huawei application store. Although it does a lot of things right these additional applications are confusing and don’t serve much purpose. I would recommend looking at them, and disabling which ever one you don’t like.

Android Pie Update:

During my time with the Honor Play it was updated to Android 9 Pie. Although this didn’t change how the software looked I was impressed Honor updated a budget device so fast and for the few days I had the update it was stable. Below I will be posting the change log. Good job Honor, Kudos on the update.

Honor Play Android 9 Update
The Device:

I’m not going to lie, I liked the Honor Play while I was using it. The device wasn’t huge, although I did have a problem with the notch. The display was an LCD so even when aspects of the screen are black they still light up. It didn’t draw too much attention to the notch but on occasion it was noticeable. The notch was also quite big with not much going on. Not even a front facing speaker. While I was a little disappointed I considered the price, and the target demographic and moved on.

The physical device is not very heavy which was a nice change of pace. It felt sturdy, and came with a bundled case, however the full aluminum felt nice and cool in my hand. If you do go with a case though, the device can get slippery. The device has a tall 19:9 aspect ratio but doesn’t feel huge to my already huge hands. If you do have larger hands though, be prepared for some hand gymnastics. Other than that though the device is pleasant to view content on as well as play games on.


I was unfortunately unable to play a lot of games on the device.I took the device to play Pokemon Go once and it performed admirably with very little lag. The lag may have been due to me only being able to get 3g service with the device in the US. The other game I played was a 2D game called “Flipping Legend”. It’s a 2D game but is so addicting. I found myself playing for 30 minutes or so with little drain from the battery.


I unfortunately can’t tell you much about the battery life unless you’re restricted to 3G like I was. On standby, the phone would consistently have 3 days of battery life with minimal use. If I spent a full day web browsing or playing some games on Wi-Fi and 3g the phone would get somewhere around 4-5 hours of screen on time. The 3750mah battery definitely does not disappoint, however I would take my numbers with a grain of salt though.


The camera experience on this device was OK at best. You’re obviously not going to get flagship grade cameras, however I don’t think that’s what you’re after with this kind of device. It takes serviceable pictures I just wouldn’t recommend doing much pixel peeping. You’ll be disappointed. I also wanted to note that using the AI mode can help in some situations, not all. In most cases it made the pictures a little more vibrant and a little cooler in saturation. I’ll let you look for yourself in the gallery below.



I enjoyed my time using the Honor Play to the best of my ability. I wish the US had more phones with flagship specs and low price tags. This is a very specialized device though. If you want a phone that will game like a champ and have good battery life, but don’t mind a sub-par display and camera then this is your phone. If you care about those aspects, then I would say to look elsewhere. I was also impressed that this device was able to get an Android Pie update. If you get this phone at full price or on sale I say get it, however if you’re in the US being limited to 3G is just not worth it.