Honor Play launched in India with Kirin 970, price starts at ₹19,999 ($291)

Honor Play launched in India with Kirin 970, price starts at ₹19,999 ($291)

Huawei and Honor have certainly not slowed down when it comes to launching new phones in 2018. So far this year, Honor, an online-only subsidiary of Huawei, has launched the Honor View 10, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 10, and the Honor 9N in India. Its parent company Huawei has launched the Huawei P20 Pro and the Huawei P20 Lite, while the Huawei Nova 3 and the Huawei Nova 3i will be made available later this month. Now, at an event in Delhi, Honor has launched the Honor Play in India. It’s the cheapest Honor phone to be powered by the high-end HiSilicon Kirin 970 system-on-chip.

The Honor Play aims to be an affordable gaming-focused smartphone as it features Huawei’s much hyped GPU Turbo feature. In terms of specifications, it’s very similar to the Honor View 10, the Honor 10, and the Huawei Nova 3. In fact, it can be thought of as a hybrid of the aforementioned phones. In terms of pricing, though, the phone does manage to stand out as it competes with mid-range phones rather than affordable flagships with a starting price of ₹19,999 ($291).

Let’s take a look at the specifications of the Honor Play:

Honor Play – Specifications at a glance

SpecificationsHonor Play
Dimensions and weight157.91 x 74.27 x 7.48 mm, 176g
SoftwareAndroid 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2
SoCOcta-core HiSilicon Kirin 970 (4x 2.36GHz Arm Cortex-A73 cores + 4x 1.8GHz Arm Cortex-A53 cores); Mali-G72MP12 GPU clocked at 746MHz; Neural Processing Unit; i7 co-processor
RAM and storage4GB/6GB of RAM with 64GB UFS 2.1 storage; hybrid microSD card slot
Battery3,750mAh; 9V/2A fast charging
Display6.3-inch Full HD+ (2340×1080) IPS LCD with 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 409 PPI
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
PortsUSB Type-C port (USB 2.0), dual nano SIM slots (nano SIM + nano SIM/microSD), 3.5mm headphone jack
BandsGSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
WCDMA: 850/900/2100MHz
FDD-LTE: Bands 1/3/5/8
TDD-LTE: Bands 34/38/39/40/41
Rear camera16MP primary camera with 1.1μm pixels, f/2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus (PDAF), single LED flash
2MP depth sensing secondary camera
Video recording up to 4K at 30fps, electronic image stabilization (EIS) for 1080p video, AIS
Front-facing camera16MP with f/2.0 aperture

The Honor Play has a full metal construction, unlike recent Huawei/Honor phones that have glass backs. This means that it has its own distinct design identity like the Honor View 10. On the front, the Honor Play has a 6.3-inch Full HD+ (2340×1080) notched IPS LCD with a tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The dual cameras are placed at the top left on the back, and Honor has chosen to go with a back-mounted fingerprint sensor for this device.

Performance-wise, the Honor Play should easily be the fastest phone in its price segment. The Kirin 970 makes a lot of sense in this phone. Despite being released in 2017, it’s still HiSilicon’s flagship SoC (it will be succeeded by the Kirin 980 later this year). Peak GPU performance, in particular, should be significantly faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660’s Adreno 512 GPU.

In terms of hardware, it’s good to see that the phone retains the 3.5mm headphone jack. The dual camera module is downgraded from the Honor 10, as the secondary camera is a depth sensor instead of being a monochrome camera for capturing more light.


The Honor Play is powered by Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2. As usual, Honor places emphasis on the phone’s AI features, including scene and object recognition in the camera, facial recognition, AI-based Face Unlock, Notification Safety, and more.

The phone also features Hi Touch, a new AI-based shopping experience that lets users take photos of products to quickly find and purchase them on Amazon India. This feature is also included in the Honor 9N.

Honor Play – Pricing and availability

The Honor Play will be available starting 4PM IST today from Amazon India. The 4GB RAM/64GB storage variant of the phone costs ₹19,999 ($291), while the 6GB RAM/64GB storage variant costs ₹23,999 ($349). It will be available in Midnight Black and Navy Blue colors.

Launch offers include a bundled Vodafone offer that will provide users 10GB additional data per month for a year, an Amazon Prime subscription, and more.

In terms of pricing, the Honor Play is the cheapest phone in India with a high-end system-on-chip. The Kirin 970’s performance roughly matches that of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, and it outperforms the Snapdragon 660. The phone’s primary competitors with respect to pricing are the upcoming Xiaomi Mi A2, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo F7, and the Huawei P20 Lite. Thanks to the Kirin 970 SoC, the phone has the same performance as the Honor View 10, Honor 10, Huawei Nova 3, and the Huawei P20 Pro.

In terms of specifications, the Honor Play clearly delivers a lot of value in its price segment, at least on paper. The competitive pricing strategy used here can have a positive impact on sales of mid-range phones. If Huawei/Honor could have provided an unlockable bootloader, the phone’s appeal in terms of value would have been increased.

Note: Huawei has stopped providing official bootloader unlock codes for its devices. Therefore, the bootloader of the Honor Play cannot be unlocked, which means that users cannot flash Magisk/TWRP/Project Treble Generic System Images/AOSP-based custom ROMs.

Buy the Honor Play on Amazon

About author

Idrees Patel
Idrees Patel

Idrees Patel is a smartphone enthusiast from India. He has been an Android user since the time he got the LG Optimus One in 2011. He has a bachelor's degree in Management Studies. The subjects in which he is interested are mobile processors, real-world UI performance, in-depth camera quality analysis, and many more. Contact him at [email protected]