If you’re the type that loves to take lots of photos with your camera, but doesn’t want to break the bank just to buy top-of-the-line smartphones of DSLRs, then Huawei may just have the perfect device you are looking for. The Huawei GR5 2017, not to be mistaken with Huawei’s earlier iteration of the GR5, takes the dual camera tech popularized by its higher-range brother Huawei P9, which enables it to take beautiful photos, despite the mid-range frame and specs. So if you’re interested, join me as we take a closer look at the device.
For those expecting typical review findings like benchmark scores, specific weights, etc, I’m not gonna go too in-depth with this review, rather, I’ll be giving my opinion on the device based on personal, everyday use.
What’s in the box
Right out of the box, we get the phone, headphones, charging cable, charger, and a plastic case for phone. It also comes with a SIM tool, and of course the quick start guide.
Looks and Build
In the looks department, it doesn’t look that exciting. The design is pretty basic, albeit bland. The front of the phone sports a 5.5” full 1080p HD IPS LCD display. The chin of the phone shows the Huawei logo, and at the bottom, you’ll find the speaker grills. At the back you’ll see the main highlight of the device which is the dual cameras, and LED flash. and right below it is the fingerprint sensor.
On the right side of the device you’ll find the volume rocker, and the power button, and on the left, you’ll find the SIM card and Micro SD slots, in a single tray. It’s a dual-SIM device, however, should you choose to expand the memory of the device with a Micro SD card, you’ll have to forego the option for a second SIM as it uses the same tray slot.
Right off the bat, it has a very simple design. No fancy glass sandwiches here found in higher end phones, but this guarantees that the phone will not be an ugly fingerprint magnet. Not a fan of the bottom speakers though, since viewing videos horizontally will mean that the sound will always come from the right side of the device. I recommend putting on headphones when using the device for gaming and watching videos, or risk muffling the sound of the game you’re playing.
Sound tends to be muffled in a bottom-speaker setup. We recommend using headphones when playing games or watching videos.
Despite the looks though, it feels solid to hold, and the slight curves make the device comfortable in the hand whether making a call, taking photos or playing games.
|Network||GSM / HSPA / LTE|
|Display||LTPS IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
1080 x 1920 pixels (~403 ppi pixel density)
|Chipset||HiSilicon Kirin 655
CPU: Octa-core (4×2.1 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
|Memory||32 GB, with 3GB RAM|
|Camera||Main: Dual 12MP + 2MP with phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1/2.9″ sensor size, 1.25 µm pixel size.
Front: 8 MP, 1080p
|Audio||3.5mm Jack + Loudspeaker|
|Radios||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot,
Despite the display being an IPS panel, it is capable of displaying rich colors, and can go pretty bright. So viewing photos and videos is a quite a treat to the eye.
It has an exceptionally great battery life but sadly, there’s no quick charge support on this one.
Lock ups and freezes rarely happen, which is good considering you might use this heavily for taking photos and videos. Although in terms of heavy gaming, it struggles to display consistent framerate, for example on high settings on Asphalt 8. You can try playing on lower visual settings for better performance.
Even after long use, it doesn’t get too hot unlike some higher end devices.
In terms of the interface – it’s running Android Marshmallow, and is pretty close to the stock Android experience, but not quite. The classic app drawer is missing and all apps are on the home-screen, just like how it’s implemented on the iPhone. However, since it’s an Android, it has great customizability as well in terms of settings.
I’m not quite a fan of the built in Swype keyboard, it’s finicky at times. Install something else like Swiftkey, or something that best suits your typing style.
For a mid-ranger, its fingerprint sensor is fast and responsive – even better than implementations found on earlier devices carrying the feature.
Huawei didn’t scrimp on this device in terms of its photography capabilities. For a mid-range smartphone, it takes impressive photos, even at low light. There’s great customizability in terms of settings through the numerous preset modes, or even through the Pro Photo mode.
However, don’t expect your photos to be as great as those taken using P9’s Leica dual 12MP cameras. Images tend to be a bit fuzzy, however it gets the job done. Colors however are vivid, and not too saturated, so images taken on this phone pop and are lifelike.
If you’re a fan of wide aperture shooting mode, you’ll be pleased with this device. You’ll have so much fun playing around bokeh and focus on shots you took. Plus, the image gallery has a histogram, so you can better analyze the tones of your images. This goes best too with the built-in photo editing which is awesome and offers tons of editing options.
When taking photos, the camera starts up fast so you won’t miss taking shots when needed.
Those fond of taking selfies will also enjoy the built-in beauty mode. Instant Photoshop!
In terms of video capture however, it is just so-so. It takes decent videos, but it’s not as impressive as when taking stills. There’s limited customizability when taking videos unlike the multitude of options offered by Pro Photo mode.
Video framerate is locked to 30fps, and there’s no way to tweak the settings and shoot in cinematic 24p, which is my preferred framerate for capturing videos.
There’s a feature to take slow mo vids at 60fps, but as with slow mo videos, it needs ample lighting, and it doesn’t really capture that slow-mo feel of the 120fps / 240fps modes offered by other devices. Videos captured in this mode tend to be fuzzy as well.
Unlike its options for photo editing, there’s no built in video editing options.
Lastly, there’s no video stabilization, so expect some of your shots to be shaky.
Overall the Huawei GR5 2017 is a decent phone. It doesn’t try to be an all-rounder, jack-of-all trades type of a device, but instead focuses on where it’s really good at. It has a great camera and great battery life, so you can take all the shots you want all day without needing to charge every so often. The GR5 2017 doesn’t try to be too impressive with its looks, but its solid build doesn’t make it look too cheap, and its camera and other highlight features more than make up for its rather minor shortcomings.
So for those wanting a no-frills smartphone, and just want to take decent photos, then this might just be the phone you’re looking for. It’s very well worth your buck.
Cross-published at https://theelectronicplayground.blogspot.com/