Tiz the season to be jolly and merry. Tiz also the season for gifts. This time around Huawei’s “gift” to us was the Huawei GR5 2017. We previously reviewed the Huawei GR5 AKA the Huawei Honor 5X. The GR5 2017 is as we assume, the updated successor to the GR5 for the year 2017.
Available in Silver, Gold and Grey, the Huawei GR5 2017 is priced at LKR. 35900 and is available at all Huawei showrooms and leading Singer retail outlets throughout the country.
So what does the GR5 2017 bring to the table that’s new?
Well that’s what we decided to find out.
Packaging is nothing much to brag about. It packs the basics accessories and utilities one would need such as a microUSB cable for data transfer and charging, earphones, a user manual and protective screen guard to keep your screen from scratches and bumps on a day to day basis. Measuring 5.71 x 2.79 x 0.28 inches, the device weighs around 144g, almost identical to its predecessor.
Huawei does seem to have a thing going for attractive designs and the GR5 2017 hold true to it. Whichever way you look at it, with a 5.5” display, the GR5 2017 is a phablet. No beating around the bush about that.
Located at the bottom of the device, you will find the MicroUSB port for charging and data transfer. On either side of the port you will find dual downward flaring speakers for stereo sound. Located on the right side are the power/lock buttons and the volume rocker whilst the SIM tray is located on the left. The tray also acts as a MicroSD card slot via the second SIM tray, but more on that later. On top, you will find the 3.5mm audio connector and the microphone. Located just above the Huawei logo at the bottom of the display are the hardware keys (Back, Home, and Recents)
Huawei is really pushing the aluminum unibody with their mid to high end devices. The back of the GR 5 2017 is curved along the edges with only the camera lenses sticking out. You notice I said “lenses”. Yes, the GR5 2017 actually has two individual camera lenses, one below the other. Right below that, you will find the center mounted fingerprint scanner and the LED flash on the right side of the lens.
The Huawei GR 5 2017 – The Hardware
Being a successor to the GR5. We wouldn’t expect Huawei to skimp out on all the bells and whistles. To that extent, the GR5 2017 packs a Full HD 1920*1080 5.5” IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 401 ppi. IPS is clearly the way to go for those clear and vibrant displays and the GR 5 2017 certainly does not disappoint.
With dual NanoSIM support and full LTE (4G) support, the GR5 2017 will attend to all your networking needs. Coincidentally, this is one of the phones that supports the new VoLTE protocol. It’s yet to be implemented in Sri Lanka on a consumer level but it’s nice to know that if it is, this phone can make use of it.
In terms of storage, the GR5 2017 comes either with 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage with expandability upto an additional 128GB via the second SIM tray.
The third generation fingerprint sensor located just below the camera towards the middle of the phone does a quick job of unlocking the phone. Rather than press buttons to wake up the phone and then unlock it, all I need to do is simply place the top of my finger over the sensor and the phone is unlocked. Total time: a little over a second.
Under the hood, we have a HiSilicon Kirin 655 Octa Core Processor clocking in at 2.1 GHz Quad Core + 1.4 GHz Quad Core to keep everything smooth and snappy and a Mali T830 MP2 GPU to handle all your graphical wants and needs. Run lots of apps? No biggie. The 3GB of RAM will handle most if not all of your multitasking needs. In addition, the phone will switch to the higher clocked cores during heavy loads and switch back to the lower clocked cores at idle to keep everything cool and calm thus saving your battery.
Huawei’s choice of IPS displays is pretty much a no brainer as it allows you to see pretty much everything even at low brightness. With a gamut of 16.7 million colors, you’ll pretty much see everything you ever wanted to.
The Huawei GR5 2017 – The Software
Huawei’s EmotionUI or EMUI is pretty much a skin for Android. You get a collection of apps, some that you need, and some that you’ll never use at all. Nonetheless, you also get standard Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and Google Play Store. The Mirror app seems to be a staple on any and all Huawei phones. It allows you to exhale onto the screen and then wipe away the dew like a real mirror. You also get a compass that uses the device’s accelerometer and gyroscope to give pinpoint your direction.
Avid music fan? Then you can take your pick from an FM Radio or a media player capable of handling almost all audio formats. Dolby DTS, another staple seen in mid to high end Huawei devices is present again, adding that extra bit of clarity to your music to dream it possible. The dual speakers are also quite clear and loud but as with any phone speaker, you can’t expect much bass out of it. Alerting you of phone calls, yes. Dropping the bass like Skrillex on a fishing trip, maybe not.
Real World Performance
The GR 5 2017 ships with Android Marshmallow 6.0 skinned with EMUI 4.1 running on top of that. The result? Well, nothing too different to any other Huawei phone, actually. It’s pretty much your standard EMUI features. Looks good? Check. Snappy and fluid? Check.
To ensure that your device is optimized, Huawei also ships a Phone Manager, that scans and intelligently optimizes your device so that it’s always at peak performance. The built in Phone Manager also has a few other tricks such as a Call Harassment filter, data traffic manager and a trash file cleaner. All in all, a decent approach seen in many Huawei devices both flagship and budget and also one that gets the job done.
Testing out the camera on the GR5 2017
If you recall, I noted that the GR5 2017 has two lenses on the back. The dual camera setup includes a 12MP and a 2MP rear camera. This is supposedly for depth of field. The 1.25um large pixel option helps the user to achieve a cleaner shot with more clarity for photos that would be captured in the night.
Simply click the camera icon on the homescreen and you’re ready to take pictures.
If you want a bit of a challenge, then you can swipe left to have everything and the kitchen sink thrown in. From Slow Mo to Panorama to Food to Beauty and everything in-between, the GR5 2017 has everything you would need to take that perfect click.
If you still need more features, there’s also a manual mode that gives you full access over elements such as Shutter speed, ISO, focus and exposure levels.
Images are quite clear thanks to the IPS display and the photo quality itself is quite detailed. Object tracking and a live ISO meter are also present so that you can see the amount of noise in an image and adjust lighting accordingly. If your selfie game is strong, then you can make use of the 8MP front mounted camera as well. This too has a plethora of features for you to tweak to your liking.
Check out some sample shots that I took
With regard to video, as we stated earlier, you can record Full HD 1080p video at 30fps with stereo sound. You can also record in slow motion for that extra kick. Video playback is quite clear but is dependent on the lighting condition so you may want to adjust the lighting of the scene before you shoot any videos. Worst case scenario; you can use the inbuilt flash.
Making the GR5 2017 break a sweat
Antutu’s 6.2.7 version of the benchmark and 6.1.1 of its 3DBench are all I need to see where the GR5 2017 stands against the competition. A typical test takes around 5-10 minutes depending on the hardware capabilities of your device. A drawback I noticed was that as the GR5 2017 sports an aluminum unibody, the phone does tend to get a little hot when running the benchmark. Hitting up a score of 56015, the GR 2017 does a lot better than its predecessor, the GR5.
Got a long day ahead of you? Don’t make it a hassle. With a 3,340 mAh capacity battery, you have all the juice you need for pretty much a full day of use. If you spend most of your time online and on LTE, then you will experience a bit of a battery drain. For best use, switch to WiFi when possible and you’re good to go.
Lack of support for quick charging was rather a letdown for me. Mind you, the supplied charger does a good job of charging the phone as fast as possible but it’s not as fast as a fast charger. With around 2-3 hours of screen on time, and a multitude of apps running in the background including Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, I still had around 20% battery at the end of a 11-hour work day with just enough juice to hold up from my office in Bambalapitiya to Dehiwala. Again, 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.
The newest entrant to the market by Huawei, the GR5 2017 is indeed a worthy successor to its predecessor, the GR5. Packed with a decent set of specs along with a killer camera, the device competes with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi4, the OnePlus One and numerous Samsung and Sony models and even a few HTC and Oppo models as well. If you’re on the lookout for a sleek, powerful phablet that won’t leave a hole in your wallet, then have a look at the Huawei GR5 2017.