Check out our Honor Play review for our full thoughts, but to give you a better idea if it’s the phone for you, here are the top five Honor Play features.
This isn’t technically a feature, but you can’t talk about the Honor Play without mentioning its price.
While Honor hasn’t confirmed pricing for the global market — we’ll apparently have to wait for IFA for more details —the Honor Play is out in India and you can grab the 4GB model for just 19,999 rupees (~$286).
Check out our $300 showdown for a better idea of how the Honor Play stacks up against other phones in the same price bracket, but the main takeaway is the Honor Play has raised the bar for power and performance on a budget, alongside Xiaomi’s new Pocophone F1, .
If you’re looking specifically for a gaming phone with game-specific features, the Honor Play is far and away the lowest entry point, beating out the previous cheapest gaming phone, the Nubia Red Magic, by over $100.
Huawei’s flagship SoC may be getting a little long in the tooth at this point, but there’s no denying the pedigree of the Kirin 970.
Capable of matching and sometimes outperforming rival chipsets, Huawei and Honor devices have offered high-end performance on various budgets ever since the SoC debuted with the Huawei Mate 10, and now you can add the Honor Play to that list.
As with other Kirin 970 phones, the Honor Play benefits from the chipset’s NPU, which enables camera scene recognition that adjusts image color and exposure to produce eye-catching photos.
With the Huawei Mate 20 series just around the corner, the Honor Play may be the Kirin 970’s swansong, but it’s hard to feel short-changed when you’re getting a flagship SoC on an ostensibly mid-range phone.
Of course, a gaming phone wouldn’t be a gaming phone without a raft of features to enhance the gaming experience.
Honor’s big gambit is its much vaunted GPU Turbo tech, which the Chinese brand claims increases GPU efficiency by up to 60 percent and reduces single-frame SoC energy by 30 percent.
Honor says this results in a much smoother gameplay performance with increased frame rates rivalling and often beating the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and the iPhone X.
There’s also AI 4D Smart Shock, which is a fancy way of saying the phone will vibrate in different ways depending on the action in-game. Honor says this, along with the 3D sound 7.1 Channel Histen Audio, could give you the edge if you’re under fire in a shooter, as you’ll be able to feel where the shots are coming from.
The latter is part of the Honor Play’s Game Suite. Here you can decide which games will be optimized for faster performance, block notifications during play, and disable virtual buttons so you don’t accidentally exit out of a game with a wayward tap.
The enormous caveat to all of this is that you can count the amount of games that support the Honor Play’s two main features — GPU Turbo and 4D Smart Shock — on one hand. Unless you’re playing PUBG Mobile or Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, you won’t get the full Honor Play experience. Here’s hoping more titles get support in the near future.
It’s no good sitting down for a tense game of PUBG Mobile only to have your battery cut out halfway through. Thankfully, the Honor Play’s solid 3,750mAh cell should get most users through the day with juice to spare based on average use.
As for gaming, Honor says its GPU Turbo tech also reduces overall power consumption by as much as 15 percent If you’re playing supported titles you should be able to game for a bit longer than on an equivalent Android phone.
It’s basically an Honor 10 but a bit cheaper
The main thing separating the Honor Play from the rest of the gaming phone entourage is its design.
At a glance, you’d have no idea that the Honor Play is a gaming phone and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for any of Honor’s other recent phones, especially the Honor 10.
In fact, with the exception of the added notch, relocated rear fingerprint sensor, and the slightly downgraded dual-lens camera, the Honor Play is essentially the Honor 10 with a metal unibody and a lower price tag. Considering the Honor 10 is already a great sub-flagship phone, it’s a pretty good deal overall.
This will be a welcome change from the in-your-face designs of the Asus ROG Phone and the Xiaomi Black Shark. If still want your Honor Play to stand out, there are always the snazzier Play Edition colorways instead, with their etched sci-fi patterns on the rear.
That’s it for our look at the best Honor Play features. What’s your favorite Honor Play feature? Let us know in the comments!