REVIEW: Huawei GR5 2017, long battery life and top notch dual camera made affordable.

The Huawei GR5 2017 is a great phone with an affordable price tag. It has a well-rounded blend of features to satisfy almost every type of taste out there. If you like beautiful designs, you will get them here, if you are a shutterbug, the dual camera at the back got you covered and if you are a road warrior, the big battery longevity and battery saving features got your back. The only question remains, do these features deliver on their promises?

Design


Just as we noted on our first impressions, the Huawei GR5 is beautiful. The gold metallic back of our review device is a head turner. I got friends who asked for a minute to touch and look at the phone closely. It’s not only in looks that it excels at, the ergonomics are amazing too, the front has a 2.5D glass that curves slightly on all 4 edges. When swiping through pictures on the gallery, your finger doesn’t keep bumping on the border between the screen and the rear casing like it does in other phones thanks to the 2.5D glass curvature. The back is also curved to conform to the curvature of your palm for better handling. It also gives the illusion of the device being thinner than it is. Still on the rear, the borders of the dual camera and the fingerprint scanner reflect light in a way that makes them shine and exude a premium look.

Display
The GR5 2017 comes with a 5.5 inch IPS display. The screen is bright enough to read under direct sunlight. However under extreme light such as when the sun is shining directly above your screen, the screen is very reflective and might hinder the legibility but in most other cases, it delivers well. At night you have ‘eye protection mode’ that applies a yellow tint on the display to filter out harmful light. Also, the brightness can go low enough to make you not to squint when reading in a dark environment.
The color temperature can be changed in the display settings from ‘cold’ – punchy LED like colours to ‘warm’ – Natural LCD like colors. The default mode is a balance between the two. You can custom set yours too.
Camera

The rear camera comes in a 12MP+2MP dual setup. The 2MP is a depth sensor that is used when taking those trendy shots with blurred background. The picture quality of this camera is stunning, shots have natural colour representation, great dynamic range and the details are preserved.

The cool bokeh effect; Blurry background
Selfie in good light, wide angle
Indoor selfies are a bit soft on details but overall still great

The selfie camera clocks at 8MP, it has great pictures in good lighting with lots of detail thanks to the high resolution sensor. In dark areas however, the shots come out a bit soft.

In terms of modes, one of my best is pro photo and pro video, they let you fine tune all aspects of a photo or video from white balance, ISO and so much more.

Good food is my second favourite mode makes pictures have very punchy colours and brightness. I found myself using the mode on all sorts of things other than food.

Beauty photo and beauty video let you adjust a beauty meter of up to 10 to remove any spots or blemish from your subjects.

The night mode also has a way of bringing in lots of light into the photo even without using the flash. But you have to remain very still for around 15 seconds which might poof impossible at times. This mode could really have benefitted from optical image stabilization (OIS)

There are other modes that we can categorize as fun to use, they include time lapse mode which stitches together many videos into one very fast clip, there is also slo mo that does the opposite of time-lapse and finally we have a light painting mode that makes beautiful light streaks. Most of these features are shared by both the front and rear camera.

Software

No app drawer; floating dock activated

The Huawei GR5 comes with EMUI, it is a comprehensive skin that covers every trace of the Android 6.0 running underneath. It has a redesigned notification panel that has two tabs, one consists of the actual notifications while the other one has the quick settings that can be rearrange to the users desire. You also get some helpful features that are not available on stock android such as the ability to reorganize the navigation bar, for instance, I prefer the back key to be on the left. In case you want your navigation keys even more accessible, there is a floating dock that can move them to any corner of the screen. If the 5.5 inch real estate is too big to operate with one hand, there is a unique one handed mode present. Unfortunately, you cannot resize the dimensions of the one hand mode.

The Huawei GR5 also brings dual window mode which really makes good use of the big 5.5 inch screen. Most stock apps are supported by this mode but there is no browser app out of the box. You will need to download one that can be supported by split screen multitasking.

comprehensive search

Speaking of omissions, there is no app drawer; all apps are on the home screen. Fortunately, you do not have to go searching for what you want through all the pages, there is a comprehensive search feature that is accessed by simply sliding down from any home screen page. The search looks into apps, messages, contacts, music playlist, notepad and lets you go online on twitter handles or Google search. It is a great feature that saves you time, I think all phones should have it.

Performance

The phone comes with a Kirin 655 an octa core chip that is fast enough to handle whatever you throw at it. It is coupled with 3GB RAM that makes multitasking very fluid and effortless.  It has a 32GB internal storage but a very big chunk of it is taken by the system, you get less than 20GB at your disposal; fortunately GR5 has memory card expansion. Gaming on the device is smooth with no stutters, the big screen and loud speaker makes it very immersive.

Multimedia

The GR5 2017 comes with two speaker grills at the bottom, but only one has a speaker. Fortunately the speaker is loud enough to hear even in a noisy environment. The ear jack produces well balanced music but it is not loud enough. There is an SWS mode that helps things a bit but not much.

Battery

The battery is superb, the 3340mAh is a champ despite fitting in an 8.2mm body. Huawei has made optimizations that make battery life much better. With normal usage, this phone can take you through two days. In case you want the battery to go even longer, there is a battery manager section under the ‘advanced settings’.  It contains ultra-mode, power saving mode and protected apps, a feature that lets you choose which apps are allowed to keep running in the background.

You will get alerts when an app uses too much battery. The charging speed is not as fast as other phones of this class but the super long battery life makes up for this.

Pros

  • Great design
  • Long battery life
  • Stunning pictures and many useful camera modes
  • Smooth system performance
  • Useful custom UI features such as dual window, one handed mode and more

Cons

  • No app drawer
  • Earphone jack loudness doesn’t match that of the loudspeaker
  • No optical image stabilization (OIS)

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About the Author: Dennis Mathu