The Huawei GR5 – A Beauty Indeed

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Our last Huawei reviews had us with the budget lineup of devices. Today we will be looking at the latest model to enter the Sri Lankan market: The Huawei GR5. Also known as the Huawei Honor 5X, the device is rumored to be the successor to the popular Honor 4X.

Priced at Rs. 38,999, (a simpler way of saying it costs Rs, 39,000), the GR5 is available at all Singer outlasts island wide.

As with standard packaging by Huawei, the phone comes wrapped up in a nice white cardboard box which includes the basics you would find with a smartphone (charging cable, dock, earphones). The charging cable also doubles as a standard micro USB cable for charging and data transfer.

The first thing you notice when you see the GR5 is that it is reminiscent of their higher end lineup such as the Mate 7 and the P8. Indeed, the GR5 shares many of their characteristics such as a brushed metal champagne gold body, and a center mounted fingerprint scanner. Measuring 151.3×76.3×8.2mm or 5.96×3.00×0.32 inches, the device weighs around 158g.

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The top of the device houses the 3.5mm audio connector and the front houses the front camera (5mp), ear piece and ambient light sensor. The bottom consists of hardware navigation (Back, Home, and Recents), microphone and the microUSB port. The power button and volume rocker are both housed on the right side of the device whilst the camera is located at the back of the devices towards the top left along with the flash.

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The Build Quality – Think of it as a budget P8 or Mate 8

As we have seen with the P8 and Mate 7, Huawei keeps doing a stellar job with regard to the build quality of their devices. Packing a Full HD 1920*1080 IPS LCD display, the GR5 has a 72.2 screen-to-body ratio and has a pixel density of 401 ppi which does quite a good job of keeping things clear on screen. With regard to network and connectivity options, you get dual MicroSIM support with full LTE (4G) support. As for storage, you’re looking at 16GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM for this model whilst its variants have 16GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. The device also supports upto 32GB via a microSD card.

Once you complete the initial setup and turn up the brightness of the phone, you notice the true beauty of the Full HD IPS display. Once I recovered from the solar flare it created, I demo’ed a few images and the clarity of the images was indeed noticeable. Text was clear and readable at both full brightness and at automatic brightness. All hail IPS displays. Photos and playback of videos was quite clear as well.

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The device ships with Huawei’s basic apps which include Kingsoft Office, weather, a flashlight, a mirror app and even a magnifier. You also get the standard Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and Google Play Store.

As for entertainment, you can take your pick from an FM Radio or a media player capable of handling almost all audio formats. It includes Dolby DTS, which seems to be the norm for most Huawei devices adds a certain level of clarity to the music. The built in loudspeaker is just right (again just like all other mid to high range Huawei devices.

The fingerprint scanner located just below the camera towards the middle of the phone. The placement offers an easy to access location and the scanner does a quick job of scanning my fingerprint to unlock the phone. In case you’re like me and you have sweaty palms, you may have to wipe your fingers before using the scanner. If all else fails, you can simply enter the pin code to unlock the device.

Real World Performance

As the Engine of a car is vital to its performance, is the processor vital to the performance of any smartphone. How about a Snapdragon 616 coupled with a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53? You can round that off with an Adreno 405 graphics chip and you have a phone that is almost on part with a handheld console. Needless to say, the 2GB or 3GB RAM plays a vital part here as well, helping you blaze through the days’ work.

The GR5 comes with Android Lollipop 5.1.1 coupled with Huawei’s proprietary EmotionUI 3.1 to deliver a seemingly flawless user experience. Homescreen switching is butter smooth and animations are fluid. Navigating within the app drawer is equally fast. As for multitasking, with 2GB of RAM, you can do almost anything your heart desires without breaking a sweat.

Equipped with a 13MP camera and a built in LED flash, the GR5 takes some pretty clear photos. The UI looks very iOS-esque but nonetheless, is very intuitive and has a host of features such as a beuty mode (for all you selfie enthusiasts, a video mode capable of recording at 720P and even a time lapse mode which is really cool.  The camera has a HDR mode and also a Panorama and Watermark mode as well. With regard to video, as we stated earlier, you can record 720p video with stereo sound. Videos are clear and again depend on the lighting condition but the inbuilt flash helps shed some light on things (pun intended).

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Now onto the juicy stuff

By now you probably know that Antutu is our bread and butter go-to benchmark for smartphones. The latest version (6.0.4) has some improvements for OpenGL and OpenESL standards which also means that the benchmarking tool has undergone some radical changes to make it more challenging. The entire test took around 5 minutes to complete. I was presented with a score of 34658 which isn’t too bad considering the Snapdragon 616 chip. I compared the GR5 against the previous generation Honor 4X where the GR5 soundly beat its predecessor. My next target was my OnePlus One. The OnePlus though scored 71415 points which means that it is still quite a powerful device.

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The final score of the Huawei GR5
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The Final score of the Huawei Honor 4X

A 3000 mAh battery would theoretically give you enough juice to last the whole day and the GR5 did not disappoint. With around 2-3 hours of screen on time, whilst using a plethora of apps, we still had around 25% battery at the end of a 11-hour work day with enough juice to hold up till the journey from Bambalapitiya to Dehiwala. Actual usage though depends on factors such as screen on time, network signal quality and how much you actually use the phone and its apps.

Final Thoughts

The Huawei GR5 is the newest entrant to the market alongside the much higher end Mate 8. Both share similar characteristics such as build quality, fingerprint sensor and featureset. As a successor to the Honor 4X, the GR5 AKA the Honor 5X does live up to the expectation placed on it and handles everything well. At this price range, it competes with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi4, the OnePlus One and numerous Samsung and Sony models. It does have a 64-bit octa-core CPU going for it, which is something to brag about. If you’re on the lookout for a new smartphone within the 38k to 40k price. range, then the Huawei GR5 AKA Honor 5X is indeed worth looking at. Coupled with Singer’s warranty terms and Huawei’s build quality, the device certainly deserves a round of applause.

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