Huawei and Honor are on a phone launching spree. The last few weeks have seen the launch of as many as three new smartphones – the Honor 9N, the Nova 3 and the Nova 3i – here in India. And the company seems to be in no mood to stop. As you might have already read in one of our previous news articles, Honor has issued invites for the India launch of its new mid-ranger, the Honor Play. The handset will be officially unveiled in India on August 6. We do have a review unit of the Honor Play with us that I unboxed yesterday. I also had the opportunity to use the handset for a couple of hours and thought now would be a good time to write a first impressions piece.

Honor Play: Design and Build

Honor Play Hands On

The thing that struck me when I opened the box and held the handset for the first time was the family resemblance that the Honor Play had to its less-expensive siblings like the Honor 9i and the Honor 7X. The metal body of the handset feels quite similar to these devices with the major difference being the way the lenses are stacked for the dual camera setup at the rear. While my colleague Asif was of the opinion that the handset felt ‘cheaper’ when compared to the more expensive options from Honor and Huawei, I thought the build quality was fine. In fact, I actually preferred the less-slippery (and less flashy) body of the Honor Play to the likes of the Honor 10 and the Nova 3.

The front fascia of the Honor Play is dominated by the large 6.3-inch panel which prima facie seems to be the same one used on the Nova 3. This is an IPS LCD panel in the unusual 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. Like its more expensive siblings, the Honor Play also gets a notch at the top that houses the front facing camera, the earpiece and the proximity sensor. The Honor Play also has a significant ‘chin’ that is big enough to tote the Honor logo. The rear panel is plain for the most part except for a faint AI Camera logo, the camera assembly, the LED flash and the fingerprint scanner.

Honor Play: The Hardware

This is perhaps the most interesting aspect about the Honor Play. While the company is yet to announce the official price of the product, indications are that this will become the most affordable handset with a flagship-grade processor upon its launch and would be priced below Rs.25,000.

Update: The Honor Play has been launched on August 6.

The Honor Play is powered by Huawei’s own powerful Kirin 970 chipset which is also found doing duty on the P20 Pro that costs upwards of Rs.60,000. The Honor Play comes in two versions; a single 4GB RAM + 64GB version and a pricier 6GB RAM version with the same storage capacity. Save for the scaled down camera hardware and the plain colour options, the Honor Play matches its more expensive siblings in the sheer number of features it has. For example, features like AI Camera, 4K video recording, and slow motion support – all make it to the Honor Play. It does, however, skip a monochrome sensor at the rear like the Nova 3 and gets by with a 16-megapixel primary camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front camera is a single 16-megapixel, f/2.0 unit.

I have just started reviewing the Honor Play and will post a series of articles on this device in the next few days. Watch out for our live blog on the launch day of the Honor Play. The event starts at 11 am on Monday, August 6, 2018, and the device will be available for sale on Amazon as well as Honor’s own store.

Meanwhile, you might want to let us know what you think about the Honor Play now that you have read the hands-on.

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Having spent the better part of the last decade writing about technology, Rahul is among the most experienced tech journalists in India. His writing career began back to 2006 when he started off as a member of the Microsoft PYPC (Protect Your PC) team. At Microsoft, most of his time was spent on creating and updating Microsoft’s Knowledge Base articles. In 2008, thanks to his proclivity for consumer technology, he joined Techtree, then India’s most popular consumer tech website. In his decade-long career, Rahul has contributed to several Indian and International publications including GQ Magazine, Onlygizmos, iPhoneHacks, and The Inquisitr.