Huawei GR5 2017 Review
The Huawei GR5 2017 is the successor to last year’s similarly named Huawei GR5. The new smartphone brings a bunch of improvements all across the board and has a few tricks up it sleeves that makes it stand out from the crowd of premium midrange smartphones.
I’ll get the elephant in the room out of the way first – the GR5’s dual rear facing cameras. One is a 12MP unit and the other is a 2MP unit and the selfie camera is an 8MP one. This is not huawei’s first dual camera phone and they are not playing around with a gimmick here. Huawei claims that the dual cameras allow for faster focusing and better low light images and that has been true in my experience. The pixels on the main sensor are 1.25 micrometers which means that the camera takes in more light and so produces better images in the dark.
In broad daylight, pictures look great. The camera tends to overexpose bright areas sometimes but really these are great pictures. By default, colours pop and there’s impressive depth of field. The manual camera mode does not hold back on features and is great fun to play around with. The selfie camera too takes impressive shots and comes with bonuses like a beauty mode and panorama which are likely to appeal to younger audiences.
The dual cameras also allow for a unique bokeh feature. Using the aperture mode, you can change the focus point and adjust the bokeh after you snap a picture. In my testing I found that most of the time the effect is very realistic but sometimes the background blur can be overkill. I ultimately ended up leaving this mode on by default as the shutter speed remains more or less the same and the mode allows me to adjust the image to my liking after the fact.
Another unique feature of the camera is a Professional Video mode. Pro camera modes are common these days but Pro Video modes are rarely found, even on high end flagship devices. The mode allows you to change the exposure, white balance and even the focus making for a more controlled video experience. I started off on YouTube using my smartphone camera and video controls like these would have helped a lot so I think these features will appeal to aspiring content creators. Overall, there is a lot to like about this phone’s cameras and loads of room to play around and experiment.
Design & Build
I’m sure you noticed that my review device has a few bumps and scratches on it. I accidentally dropped this phone from about 5 feet high and it landed screen first on a road. I thought I destroyed the phone but was genuinely surprised when the screen came out without a scratch. The metal body suffered some superficial damage but that’s it. The phone is still working 100%.
I may have been lucky with that drop but this is a testament to the device’s great build quality. The full metal body is excellently crafted and the back is curved to better fit the hand. It feels sturdy yet sleek. It’s a tad bit on the slippery side but nothing to worry too much about. The 3rd generation fingerprint sensor is on the back and does a superb job. It’s always on and so unlocks the device almost instantly. This new generation sensor is also equipped to deal with input from any direction so it does not matter from which angle you touch the sensor, it will work. Huawei also baked in some additional features such as the ability to toggle the notification bar by swiping the sensor and answering calls by pressing the sensor – which can be changed in the settings.
There is a single speaker on the bottom of the device and it gets plenty loud. Its position makes it very easy to muffle but once you get used to it, it’s no longer an issue. The right side of the device hosts the clicky metal buttons while the left hand side has the dual hybrid SIM slot which can accommodate either two nano SIMs or one nano and one microSD card.
The display is a 5.5 inch full HD unit with curved 2.5D glass. It looks very nice and sharp and has great viewing angles too. I would have preferred a slightly higher brightness level but the screen is still easily legible under the sun. The default color accuracy looks good too but Huawei added a setting that allows you to change the color temperature of the display to suit your requirements. Another bonus is the Reading Mode which filters out blue light to make for a more comfortable reading experience especially in the dark.
Huawei packed their own Kirin 655, Octa-Core (4×2.1GHz & 4×1.7GHz) processor inside this device along with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of built in storage. This combination not only delivers in benchmarks but also performs great in the real world. I played Modern Combat 5, Asphalt Xtreme, GTA San Andreas and Skyforce Reloaded on default settings without any lag or skipped frames. Even when I increased the graphics settings in Asphalt Xtreme, the phone showed no signs of slowing down. Memory management is not bad either as I could keep three of these games in memory at any given time.
Huawei has advertised 1.5 days of battery life I’m happy to see that they have not overexaggerated. The 3340mAh battery consistently lasted me one and a half days but with some of the built in power saving modes, you could stretch that a bit longer
On the software side of things, the Huawei GR5 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s EMUI 4.1. This user interface looks very different compared to stock Android but performs well in terms of animation speed and smoothness. Huawei packed in some cool software features with this but the one that stood out most to me was the ability to customise the soft keys along the bottom. This system level tweak is seldom found and offers a lot of convenience.
Price & Conclusion
The Huawei GR5 2017 costs 21,900 Taka and comes in gold, grey or silver colours. I have always said that my opinions about a product depend on my experience with it. The GR5 is no exception. It is a very powerful phone with excellent build quality but there are other similar phones in this price category. What really separates this device is the wonderful pair of cameras. Not only do they take great photos, they are also a ton of fun to play around with. Huawei has packed enough in the GR5 to make it an exciting entry in this premium midrange price segment. It brings something new to the table and so I highly recommend this device for those looking for a great and interactive camera experience.