Huawei GR5 2017, also Honor 6X for the Russian and European markets – a new mid-budget smartphone of the Chinese manufacturer, which uses the updated naming Huawei – the use of the year in the title. Let me remind you that we already reviewed Huawei P8 Lite 2017 with a similar designation. And here I have in my hands the second device from the Huawei collection, which uses the name of the popular model in the past. By the way, it was I who made a review of the classic Huawei GR5 (Honor 5X) and so it was especially interesting for me to look at the update of the line, find out what has changed, in which direction, and whether this smartphone is worthy of the buyers’ attention.
Design, materials, elements layout, assembly
Classic Huawei GR5 almost completely repeated the design of the flagship phablet of the 2015 – Mate 7, slightly reduced in scale – from 6 to 5.5 inches. The GR5 variation of 2017 also has some common features already with Mate 9. But this similarity is not as strong as its predecessor. You can see it from the back – both smartphones have a similar design of a vertical block of dual cameras. But that’s probably all. Therefore, we note the completely original appearance of the novelty. Design GR5 2017 can be called unique, not secondary. This is the main immediately noticeable distinguishing feature of the new smartphone from the previous model.
The front part of Huawei GR5 2017 is completely covered with protective 2.5D-glass. Between the glass and the ends of the case there is a thin plastic insert, probably to absorb shock when falling, in order to reduce the chance of damage to the glass. This insert continues the curvature of the glass and smoothly passes into the side faces of metal and plastic.
Around the screen along the perimeterwe can see the traditional black edging – it is very thin, but still there. The frame on the sides of the screen is also there, although not very wide.
Continuing the description of the front part of the GR5 2017, it is worth noting that the only serious drawback of the smartphone is the lack of an oleophobic coating on the touch panel, which makes the screen look terribly dirty when turned off. Therefore, customers are simply doomed to glue a protective film or glass here. But given that this is a widespread trend, should not this feature be considered a disadvantage? Moreover, the protective film on the screen should go with the smartphone (I can not verify, we have a sample without a box on the test).
Above the screen is a small cutout of the talking speaker, front camera, light and proximity sensors, on the left a small LED for notifications.
Below the screen, the margin is larger in height than above, and this asymmetry slightly spoils the design of the front part, as for me, making it rough at the bottom due to this feature.
Moreover, there are no touch buttons, only the manufacturer’s logo. For example, in Huawei P8 Lite, which we reviewed earlier, these fields are the same, which makes it look more stylish.
The case of GR5 2017 is made according to the traditional layout for Huawei mid-cost devices, when the metal back cover smoothly passes to the side faces. And the profile narrows with rounding to the edges, which makes the smartphone look thinner at certain angles.
The upper and lower parts of the smartphone are made of plastic, painted in the color of the metal cover, in our case of gold color.
On the back there is a block with two cameras, which slightly protrudes above the body. The block is completely covered with glass and framed by a metal edging along the perimeter for protection. The flash is located to the right of the cameras. Below is a round fingerprint scanner.
Let’s walk on the sides. On the right – the power button and the volume button, both buttons are smooth, it seems to me, they are made of plastic. On the left is a tray for two Nano-SIMs, the second is a hybrid one, instead of a SIM card, you can install a microSD card here. By the way, GR5 had a full-fledged slot for memory cards, and in the new smartphone – a simplification of the design. Perhaps because the amount of permanent memory in the novelty increased from 16 to 32 GB (there are also versions of Honor 6X with 4/64 GB of memory). On the lower edge in the middle there is a microUSB port. To the right of it is the speaker grille. On the left is the same grille, but underneath it is a talking microphone. On the upper edge – a second microphone and audio jack 3.5 mm.
As for the design of the device as a whole. Huawei GR5 2017 is a nice smartphone. But in front it is too simple, I would even say – ordinary. The frames around the display are large, as for 2017, besides, I do not like the asymmetry of the fields from above and below. If the bottom was the same height as the top, and the overall height of the smartphone decreased – it would be just perfect. Dreams…
But behind the GR5 2017 looks simply chic and very stylish. And in fact this part of the device will be seen by others, so your image will not suffer. Such a dissonance of impressions from the front and back. The average for a smartphone is normal, high quality, but nothing outstanding.
Now about the assembly. As you understand, in the case of the Huawei GR5 2017, we do not have an all-metal casing, so it creaks slightly at the junctions of plastic and metal, with strong compression from above and below. In general, the assembly is dense, although in some places there are unobtrusive microcracks between the front glass and the plastic frame. Of course, Huawei GR5 2017 is not a flagship, so it’s possible to forgive these small and subtle flaws.
In this regard – nothing unusual, ergonomics typical for a 5.5-inch smartphone. Buttons are in the right places, groping well, being pressed clearly. The fingerprint scanner is also groped without problems and works just lightning fast.
The smartphone lies perfectly in the hand thanks to the corners of the case. But, as is usually the case with metal, the smartphone is slippery enough when your hands are dry. A cover or bumper are highly recommended when using the Huawei GR5 2017.
Of course, this is by no means the flagship level, but, in fact, the tested smartphone does not claim such a high rank. Downgrade is especially noticeable after the transition from Huawei P9, which, in my humble opinion, has one of the best displays among modern smartphones. Huawei GR5 2017 slightly loses to him at maximum brightness and decently drops in contrast and color saturation. Because of this, the image and text on the screen is not so clearly read on the street in sunny weather. If we proceed from the closest analogs to subjective sensations, then I can compare it with the display of the iPhone 6 Plus. “Well, the iPhone has a good screen!” – many of you will exclaim. This means that the Huawei GR5 2017 display is also quite good.
By the way, the brightness sensor by default greatly underestimates the brightness level of the backlight, which also negatively affects the first impressions of the screen. And this happens at any level of illumination. The display seems somehow dull. It is necessary to twist the brightness above the slider in the blind. And, oh miracle! Over time, the smartphone “learns” and begins to adjust the backlight more correctly. In fact, after such a calibration, which takes about a day or two, you get used to the screen and even start to like it. In general, the color rendition is naturally calm, the viewing angles are wide, although the brightness and contrast decrease slightly if you look at the display slightly at an angle.
In the screen settings you can find a number of useful functions – turning on the mode of protection of vision (for reading at night), color adjustment.
Hardware and performance
As for the hardware component, it is basically the same in Huawei GR5 2017 as in Huawei P8 Lite 2017. It is the new proprietary Huawei middle CPU- Kirin 655 and GPU Mali-T830. And only more permanent memory is installed (32 GB in our case). Accordingly – impressions of performance and test results in benchmarks are roughly similar. The filling is not flagship, but it can perform all tasks and provide smooth interface, quickly launch applications and switch between them.
AnTuTu and Geekbench tests results:
You can play games on the Huawei GR5 2017 too, maybe in some of the heaviest there will be a subsidence of FPS on the maximum graphics settings, but with an average quality the smartphone will run them.
I will not say much about the front camera, not a fan of the selfie. It has a 8 Mp module and is quite good, not worse than the others, in addition to the camera software there is a face improvement mode. So, if you like to post “selfie”, you have something to play with. After “learning” the camera will save the settings of the “improver” and will use them for all your selfies.
The main camera in the Huawei GR5 2017 is dual. Rather, the main camera is actually here one – the top 12 Mp module Sony IMX386 with phase autofocus, which provides fast focus. The second (lower) camera is additional, with a resolution of only 2 megapixels. The purpose of installing a dual camera is to create beautiful bokeh with the effect of a wide aperture and postfocus the resulting images. For such shooting, you must activate the special camera mode.
As for the quality of the photo – it is very decent. The camera Huawei GR5 2017 takes pictures slightly worse than the flagship level, but, probably, it is one of the best in its price class.
The camera software is about the same for all Huawei smartphones. There are a lot of settings, there are HDR, panoramas, tracking autofocus, color effects, various shooting modes, including a professional with manual settings.
Let’s take a short look at the audio capabilities of the Huawei GR5 2017. The main speaker is loud enough, does not wheeze at high volume. But then I noticed a small trick that the manufacturer used to avoid overloading the speaker – at a low and medium volume the sound is saturated, even with low frequencies. But when you increase the volume, the high and medium ones break out ahead – the sound really gets louder, but loses its quality. In general – a normal speaker for smartphone tasks – it provides notifications, sound in games and when watching video. Conversational speaker is also good – no complaints.
The sound in the headphones when listening to music is worse than the flagship level (again a comparison with P9), but also quite good. Also in Huawei GR5 2017 there is a built-in “enhancer” SWS, which is turned on through the built-in player, but works on third-party (Google Play Music, for example) and slightly extends the frequency range and adds volume to the sound.
With this moment everything is fine. The device keeps the mobile network confidently, with 2 SIM cards works without problems. WiFi also works without problems, as well as Bluetooth. To the GPS work I also have no claims – quickly find the satellites, positioning is accurate.
As in other Huawei smartphones with Kirin chips, the GR5 2017 has a Sensor Hub+i5 coprocessor that takes most of the undemanding background tasks (even provides music player operation) and positively affects the overall energy efficiency of the system.
Battery capacity in the GR5 2017 3340 mAh and it does not seem to be a record in 2017, but the smartphone shows itself very decently in terms of autonomy. With my fairly active use the device works day and another light day on one charge. That is, you need to charge it in one night. By the way, the smartphone is charging for a very long time – about 2 hours. There is no support for fast charging technology.
If you mainly use Huawei GR5 2017 with a connection to the mobile Internet outside your home or office, you can count on 5-6 hours of the active screen at 1-1.5 days of work. If the smartphone is mainly in the coverage area of the WiFi, then it leaves 9 hours. In the mixed mode, we get something average. With less intensive use, you can count on 2 days of work. Very decent result!
Traditionally for Huawei smartphones, this element works fine. It works quickly, there are practically no errors. In addition to directly unlocking the smartphone, you can perform some gestures with the help of the scanner – open the notifications bar, answer the call, flip through the photo in the gallery etc.
Huawei GR5 2017 is still running EMUI 4.1 (Android 6.0), but the update to EMUI 5.0 (Android 7.0) is just around the corner. Literally – the manufacturer promises that it will fly by air as early as this month.
We have repeatedly covered the Emotion UI shell theme, which is almost the same in all Huawei smartphones, so I will not tell you about it again. You can read the following materials on the topic:
EMIU 4.1 features a lock screen with a quick launch panel, a flashlight and other necessary functions, a removable wallpaper that is constantly updated via the Internet. Desktop without a separate application menu (the ability to turn it on appears in the 5th version of the shell), all items are located on tables and folders. The notification bar is divided into 2 windows – the actual notifications and the switch panel. The shell has a built-in theme manager – there are several local options, the ability to download and install themes from the corporate store, and you can install third-party themes – just throwing them into a folder. The possibilities of customizing the appearance of the system in EMUI are very wide.
The firmware out of the box has everything a regular user needs – a dialer, SMS application, a gallery, a file manager, a music and video player, a dictaphone, a clock with a timer and a stopwatch, weather with cool widgets, a compass, a flashlight, a fitness app “Health” with counting the steps, FM radio, calculator, calendar and notes. There is a built-in application for data backup and recovery. All applications are quality, convenient and stable. There is no need to replace them. There is a full set of Google applications in the firmware. In addition, the Russian/Ukrainian version of the smartphone has Yandex programs and several more programs, such as Booking.com and Trip Advisor. By the way, all superfluous applications can be easily removed directly from the desktop – just by dragging them to the trash.
In addition, it is worth noting the application “Phone Manager” – here you get the optimization of the system, the setting of energy-saving functions, security tools, application locking and protection, blacklists and much more.
The firmware and the shell work quickly and stably, I have never encountered bugs and crashes of programs. Hard delays and lags are also not observed. Good optimization of the software can be noted.
Huawei GR5 2017 (Honor 6X) – a worthy upgrade to the line of mid-budget smartphones Huawei. In comparison with Huawei GR5 (Honor 5X) there were improvements in terms of performance, increased the amount of RAM and permanent memory, the camera has become much better. The smartphone makes quite decent pictures, perhaps best in its class. In addition, I really liked the autonomy of the device. I even began to suspect that the manufacturer had cheated and installed a battery in the device more capacious than stated in the specifications. Of course, this is a joke. In fact, the secret of good autonomy is the combination of energy-efficient hardware and well-optimized software.
Huawei GR5 2017 can be recommended to buyers who are looking for a relatively inexpensive balanced smartphone from the A-brand with good support, as an alternative to cheaper Chinese smartphones on the market. This is primarily about stable, regularly updated software, which can be used immediately after the purchase of the device, rather than engage in its refirming and configuration. Also do not forget about after-sales service and repair.
The Huawei GR5 2017 has practically no serious disadvantages. Personally, I did not like the asymmetrical design of the front of the smartphone and upset the lack of oleophobic coverage of the screen. Also I noticed some insignificant flaws in the assembly – there are microscopic cracks between the glass and the plastic frame. But in fact – even I myself consider this as a nit-pick.