Honor Play: How Good Is the Notched Display on This Phone?


This is the second article in a series of posts around the Honor Play, the newest smartphone from the cost-effective sub-brand. In the first article, you read about the build quality and design aspects of the Honor Play. In this article, let us take a closer look at the display that the Honor Play uses.

As you read earlier in the Huawei Nova 3 display article, the IPS LCD panel on the Nova 3 while decent, pales in comparison to the AMOLED panel on the OnePlus 6 (Review) and the LCD panel on the ASUS Zenfone 5Z (Review). The Honor Play, however, especially the 4GB unit that I have been using, is a few notches down the price ladder. The 6.3-inch screen panel on the Honor Play is identical in size and type to the one you saw on the Huawei Nova 3. In fact, I was also wondering if both the panels are from a shared parts bin. Anyway, it is time to find out.

Honor Play Display: The Panel Hardware

Honor Play Display

The Honor Play, like the Nova 3, gets an IPS LCD Panel with support for 16.7 million colours. The display is in the 19.5:9 aspect ratio and as mentioned earlier, measures 6.3-inches across and has a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels. The tiny bezels of the handset mask the overall large size of the display. Like the Nova 3 that does not feature any known form of scratch resistance, the Honor Play too does not get scratch resistance features. Xiaomi’s cheaper Mi A2 and Oppo’s F7 (Review) which sells for around the same price does come with Gorilla Glass 5 for added durability. Overall, though the display was decent for the price you pay for the handset and unless you have are very careless with your device, I can probably live with the lack of scratch and drop resistance features.

Honor Play Display: Customisation Options

The Display settings on the Honor play is identical to the one we saw on the Nova 3. You get the option to switch between a normal mode and a vivid mode in which, as you might have assumed, all colours look over saturated. Surprisingly, unlike the Nova 3 that turned the whites into blues after you switch the vivid mode on, the level of bluishness on the Nova 3 isn’t as pronounced. In fact, colours seemed more accurate than on the Nova 3 when both the handsets were in the Vivid mode.

I am assuming most people would want to switch to the vivid mode as consumers generally tend to like over-saturated colours. I found myself using the handset in the Normal mode during my time with the handset. Like the Nova 3, the Honor Play does not support DCI-P3 colour modes. You can, however, customise the display using the colour wheel that can be used for manual adjustment.

The Honor Play also gets the now ubiquitous Eye Comfort mode that helps prevent eye fatigue while looking at the display in low light conditions for hours. This mode is also customisable and you can adjust the warmth of the display. For those of you worried about battery life, Honor also allows you to switch to a lower display resolution.

Honor Play Display: Performance

Honor Play Display Performance

If you are still wondering why there are so many references to the Nova 3 in this review, it is because both the displays are identical in size, resolution and type. However, as you will read in this section, there are some differences in the way they have been set up. I figured that the Honor Play had a cooler colour tone in the default settings when compared to the more accurate warmer tones on the Nova 3. This, however, wasn’t a major cause for concern as I was able to manually set the colour tone thanks to the colour wheel that the phone offers. Again, being an LCD panel, turning up the brightness all the way up will affect black integrity. Like on the Nova 3, gamma values were off by a significant margin. In our colour gradient tests, the Honor Play had a difficult time rendering the magentas and the blues.

The Honor Play’s panel does display the typical weaknesses that plague LCD panels on budget Android smartphones. That, however, doesn’t mean that this is an inherently bad panel with really bad colours and viewing angles. I am pretty sure most laymen will not even notice the ‘flaws’ that I talked about. Also, the onboard software customisation options help address some of the issues that I talked about.

In the next article, we will talk about the overall performance aspects of the Honor Play, which is being marketed as its strongest suite. Till then, why don’t you have a look at our Honor Play video.