The Honor Play is the phone for gamers who don’t have deep pockets

The Honor Play gaming phone costs just 330 euros, but isn't bound for U.S.

honor play ai camera lenses
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you’ve looked enviously at gaming-specific smartphones like the Razer Phone and the Asus ROG Phone, but are put off by the high prices, the Honor Play may be the alternative you’ve been waiting for. This is the first phone from Honor with the GPU Turbo enhancements built-in at the factory, rather than being added on as an update, creating a reasonably-priced gaming smartphone.

What’s GPU Turbo? It’s a software enhancement that works together with the phone’s hardware to provide an improved gaming experience. Honor says graphics processing efficiency is improved by 60 percent, battery consumption is reduced by 30 percent, and you can also expect better response times, lower jitter rates, and more stable frame rates. If you’re a PUBG Mobile player, Honor has data that shows a frame rate of 39fps with GPU Turbo, or 36 without, for example. You can check out our Honor Play review for more in-depth details.

The Honor Play has Huawei’s Kirin 970 processor and 4GB of RAM inside, with a 6.3-inch LCD touchscreen, which is not as high spec as the competing high-end gaming phones. That’s because it won’t cost anywhere near as much. At the 2018 IFA tech show, Honor announced the Play will cost just 330 euros or about $385. It won’t be coming to the U.S., sadly.

What else do you get for that? There is more for gamers. A feature called 4D Smart Shocks works like a PlayStation DualShock controller, with phone vibrations matching the onscreen action, plus 3D audio using the Histen feature. A Game Suite is part of the software package which mutes incoming calls and notifications, and locks navigation keys while playing, plus a recording feature to save your best performances. Honor will even sell you a special gaming screen protector with a smooth surface for fast touchscreen gaming.

It’s not gaming utopia though, because the GPU Turbo, 3D audio, and 4D Smart Shocks won’t enhance every game in the same way. If you’re a PUBG Mobile player, an Asphalt 9 fan, or a Mobile Legends addict, you’re fine; but outside of these and a few others, the GPU Turbo may not have such a dramatic effect. This isn’t unique to the Honor Play, as most games need to be specially designed or upgraded to take advantage of special phone features.

The camera will be familiar to Honor fans. The main lens has 16 megapixels and is joined by a second 2-megapixel camera. It uses artificial intelligence for scene recognition — it recognizes 22 different objects, and 500 different scenarios — and has an f/2.2 aperture. The selfie camera has 16 megapixels and an f/2.0 aperture that also uses A.I. to make you more beautiful. Other features include a 3,750mAh battery, Android 8.1 with the EMUI 8.2 user interface from Huawei, a MicroSD card slot, a headphone jack, a fingerprint sensor, and face unlock.

Like the sound of the Honor Play? You’ve got a choice of versions, all with 64GB of internal memory. In the U.K. a blue and black version of the Play will be sold, but the pinky-purple colored Play, called ultra-violet, will be restricted to other markets. Visit the HiHonor.com online store and you’ll be able to buy a special Player Edition Red or Player Edition Black, which features a different graphic design on the back of the device, and color schemes inspired by Honor’s partnership with Audi Sport. The Player Edition models cost 350 euros, which is a tad more than the regular model.  The phone is available today, and you can also nab it if you’re in the rest of Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, as well as the Nordic countries, the Middle East, Russia, India and the Asia Pacific.

Interestingly, Honor told us this is likely to be the first in a range of Play phones, so we should look out for more gaming devices under the name in the future.

Gaming

The history of Battle Royale: From mod to worldwide phenomenon

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in streaming and eSports in a way that might hint at the future of the industry.
Gaming

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.
Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

Bigger than Black Friday: Don’t miss the best Single’s Day deals

Thanks to AliExpress, Single's Day – the world's largest retail day – is no longer a foreign affair. If you're ready to do some early holiday shopping or want to score some discounts ahead of Black Friday, we've rounded up some of the…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Our favorite ebook reader is not a Kindle. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are five of the best ebook readers available.
Mobile

Samsung made a $2,700 flip phone with the brains of a smartphone

The Samsung W2019 is a high-end flip phone that comes with flagship specifications such as 6GB of RAM and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845. The device features a pair of S-AMOLED displays, a dual rear camera setup, and an eye-popping price tag.
Mobile

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.
Mobile

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Mobile

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.
Computing

Cloudflare’s privacy-enhancing 1.1.1.1 DNS service comes to iOS and Android

Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver service has been ported to mobile devices, and now anyone with an Android or iOS device can download it for free to take advantage of its speed and privacy-boosting features.