The Honor Play is just another smartphone cobbled with different cosmetic and performance abilities.

Honor's been working hard and continuously drilling into Indian markets to entice customers. This time they've shoved the mighty HiSilicon Kirin 970 chipset onto a ₹20k mid-ranger, making it their cheapest smartphone to flaunt a flagship chipset with AI abilities.
Does it perform for the price? We think so. Why don't you continue reading to find out why we rewarded this a full five stars...

Design - Matte solid

The Honor Play wraps itself around in solid matte finish metal body (Midnight Black and Navy Blue and Ultra Violet coming soon) and its rounded edges makes it feel just about like an iPhone 6 Plus in the hand. Not that we're complaining.

The 6.3in screen size isn’t too big for the hands, and pretty slick to use. We didn't need to look for a complaint form. The crisp Full HD+ LCD (2340×1080p) display is smooth and endlessly scroll through Instagram. It isn’t the brightest out there, but colours pop bright enough to enjoy your regular Netflix binge or a play a round of PUBG.

It manages to stay slender and cool despite its 3,750mAh battery, which can juice up through the USB Type-C port instead of a Micro USB. Phew, now that feels like 2018.


Performance and OS: I've got the power!

Like we said earlier, the Honor Play is the cheapest mid-ranger to sport the mighty HiSilicon Kirin 970. That's flagship material mate. It’s even loaded with an AI Neural Processing Unit (NPU) so it’s always on nerd mode, understanding the way you use the phone and making sure you’re getting the best experience.

The Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei Nova 3 and the Honor 10 are currently thriving on this geeky chipset. There’s a 4/6GB variant with 64GB storage (expandable to 256GB) and we’re hoping there’s another 128GB variant coming some time soon.

Asphalt 9 Legends played brilliantly and never felt like we’re gaming on a sub-20k smartphone. On the other hand PUBG ran absolutely fine. There were a few jitters here and there, but we toned down the graphic setting a bit to avoid misfiring bullets and lags. Lower graphic demanding games like Clash Royale, Monument Valley, City 2048 ran as smooth as melted butter.

Here’s some geek talk - the GPU Force on the Honor Play boosts the overall gaming performance by 60% and reduces battery eating by 30%. Higher graphic games need lesser rendering, because it keeps learning and saving what it’s already rendered. Basically, it eases the load on the processor and helps the phone to be energy-efficient.

Continuous switching between WhatsApp, social media, music and video streaming didn’t feel cumbersome and slow. The phone gilded without heating up or showing any sign of engine trouble. The Honor Play is an absolute powerhouse to quench your thirst for power.

Oh, don't you worry about the 3,750mAh battery draining before dusk. Once it's juiced to 100%, it can suffice for more than a day. So go on, work hard and play harder.

It’s got the brains to learn your mug so well, that if just gives it a slight glance, it’ll unlock in a flash. Even the fingerprint scanner at the back is placed well and has the caliber to unlock within a few milliseconds.


Amongst other interfaces out there, EMUI has been one of Stuff India's favourite user interfaces till date. It looks and feels just like the classic UI you’d find on a regular Honor/Huawei smartphone. Nevertheless, it's fully customisable, user-friendly, sharp looking and always room for improvement in the future. The Honor Play runs on EMUI 8.2 (Android Oreo) and everything seemed smooth and under control. Just like how it is here at Stuff India. No pun intended. There’s no word when it’s getting a piece of Android’s Pie 9.0 but we're keeping our fingers crossed and so should you.

Camera: Hey, not bad

Nowadays, every other smartphone has a college major in artificial intelligence. AI photography's job is to pre-edit your photo to make it seem eye-pleasing, colourful and ready for take-off to the world of social media.

It basically understands the scenario/object and accordingly, ramps up the saturation, lowers the shadows, plays with contrast levels, and voila, your photo is decked up for the gram. Fancy a little point and shoot? The 16+2MP dual lens shooters on the back have abilities to shoot OK pictures, decent enough to please an audience on social media. Don't expect too much from it.





If you're into selfies, the 16MP front shooter performs well for this price point and photos turn out good enough to spam your friends across Snapchat and the rest of them. Oh, you could also add AR stickers, backgrounds, enhance beauty levels and add custom filters to your liking.

The Portrait Lighting mode isn’t at par quality with what the Huawei P20 Pro or Honor 10 can do. We’re hoping Honor tries to improve it in the future. If you happen to compare this to others in the sub-20 category, this does not rack up to be the best but secures a top 5 spot contesting amongst others.

Honor Play verdict

From the looks of it, Honor’s made a wonderful phone, ready to rival a bunch of other brands in and around this budget segment. The Honor Play oozes with speed and power, it's more than sufficient to last you an entire day and doesn't get boring to look and use over time. The only disappointment was the camera bit, which hopefully could get a little better in the future....or with another phone.

It's worth the buy if you're not too keen on clicking pictures, looking for something that offers a flagship like experience for just 19,999. Need a little extra power? There’s a 6GB RAM variant for just 4k extra.

Stuff says... 

Honor Play review

This brainy ₹20k mid-ranger is a beast ready to outdo rivals
Good Stuff 
Cheapest Kirin970 with AI
Great screen
USB Type-C in the house!
Face and fingerprint unlocking is super fast
Out performs for its price
Bad Stuff 
Rear cameras are OK
Speakers could be louder