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Huawei GR5 2017 Review - The New Midrange Wonder To Beat

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Following the company's "year of the dual cam" battle cry, Huawei has introduced the GR5 2017 to the Philippine market. It's one of the most affordable smartphone with dual main cameras consisting of a Sony IMX386 12 MP f/2.0 w/ 6P lens, PDAF and 2 MP secondary sensor for depth information.
Huawei GR5 2017 Review - The New Midrange Wonder To Beat
The new midrange phone to beat?

After unboxing the unit few weeks back, our first impressions were mostly positive. We think that this device has nearly all the right ingredients to make it the new midrange phone to beat. Let's check if our claims are accurate!

For our review part 1: Huawei GR5 2017 Unboxing And First Impressions - Curvy Metal With Dual Cam Made Affordable

Display Quality

10 points of touch, present!
10 points of touch, present!

Like the first GR5, this 2017 edition of the said handset is also packed with a 5.5 inch panel. It has a sharp type full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution at 401 pixels per inch. Picture quality is fine with its slightly cooler type of tone. Contrast and color pop could be better, but at least this phone isn't using TFT panels compared with its mainstream counterparts as of late.

Display is sharp, 2.5D glass is beautiful!

Viewing angles are also excellent, the 2.5D curved glass is beautiful, and brightness level can go high to be legible enough even under the sun due to its "increase readability under sunlight" mode.

Speaking of modes, this phone is complete with color temperature adjustments, automatic brightness, and eye comfort mode that filters out Bluelight to prevent eye fatigue. It'll also spoil you with 10 points of touch for better overall typing and swiping experience.

Audio Quality

The single speaker below
The single speaker below

Like what most midrange phones today, this device has a single bottom firing speaker. It is average in quality and loudness with pretty clear midrange. The rest of the spectrum doesn't just feel that full sounding. Understandable for a midrange phone.


Tunes through your headphones are enjoyable!

What makes this device shine in the audio department is its audio-out through your favorite set of earphones, in-ear monitors, or low-powered headphones. Why? Even with the "lack" of HiFi chip on paper, it delivers close to HiFi sounding tunes which reminds us of the P9 Lite.

The sound is balanced across the spectrum which can highlight most of the frequencies when needed. It simply sound full and crisp for a midrange phone. Bass response is excellent and separation and staging are enjoyable. While it can't play 32 bit HiFi files and there are minor parts that needs refinement, its hard to complain for a device this affordable.

Moving to its microphone quality for calls and recordings, clarity of voice is surprising! There are still audible noises around, but its overall microphone quality is still great.

Battery Life

Almost 11 hours!
Almost 11 hours!

Equipped with a 3,340 mAh of battery, the GR5 2017 has slightly bigger capacity compared to most of its popular rivals from mainstream brands. Huawei also paired it with their home-brewed battery efficient Kirin 655 octa core chip.

The result, we recorded a score of almost 11 hours using PC Mark Battery test in default mode. That's higher by 30 mins compared to their own P9 Lite. Then we recorded a screen-on time of 9 hours and 15 mins. In actual usage, the phone gave a little over a day of usage before charging the unit back.
The phone also has a great type of battery saving modes just like the rest of the newer Huawei devices!
The phone also has a great type of battery saving modes just like the rest of the newer Huawei devices!

Speaking of charging, it'll take you 2 hours and 20 mins from 0 to 100%.

Camera

Dual main cameras, made affordable!
Dual main cameras, made affordable!

Without the Leica branding, Huawei was able to squeeze a dual main camera setup on the GR5 2017. That's a rarity for a phone this affordable. Like what we previously stated, this device has a 12 MP f/2.0 w/ PDAF + 2 MP secondary sensor w/ LED flash behind.
All the modes found inside
All the modes found inside

Huawei ensured that it is complete with useful modes that's mostly found with their P9 and Mate 9 flagships. In particular, our favorites are the HDR, filters, good food, light painting, night (up to ISO 1600 and 24 seconds exposure), and pro mode.
The pro camera mode of GR5 2017 also has grids and leveling as a guide
The pro camera mode of GR5 2017 also has grids and leveling as a guide

Examining its Pro-mode is wonderful. It has more controls found inside than most midrangers we tested in the past except few phones like the Zen 3 Max 5.5 and Vivo V5. It has a more reliable and lag free software though. For manual controls, it has 1/4000 to 8 seconds shutter speed, up to ISO 1600, manual focus, exposure, and 2900K to 7000K white balance adjustment.

This device is designed to mimic DSLR-like bokeh!

Speaking of the bokeh or wide aperture mode, the GR5 2017 has the same effect found that we first saw with the Honor 6 Plus and P9. It can blur the artificially background of your subject to produce DSLR-like "bokeh and background blur" effects. Aperture opening can be adjustment from f/0.95 to f/16. Then after taking the photo, you can refocus your subject and even adjust how blur you want your background to be.

Tip: You can shoot bokeh selfies easily using the main camera by pressing the volume up button and looking at the dual camera sensors at the same time.

The GR5 2017 also has speedy focus which is average for something with phase detection. Close-up shots up to 3 inches near is also possible. Normal shutter speed is quick even if its not the fastest at this price point. Fortunately, its shutter speed in HDR mode is faster than most.

Checking its imaging capabilities, it has better than expected quality. Images have sharp details and close to accurate colors as long as you're in a well lit environment. Dynamic range is acceptable too. It isn't just as saturated compared to pricier camera phones. Understandable.

Looking at its lowlight performance, the main cameras of this machine surprised us. Considering its low price, most of our indoor and lowlight shots doesn't have much loss of detail and grains.

Rear Camera Samples

Silky water mode test
Silky water mode test
At f/4.0 mode to blur the background
At f/4.0 mode to blur the background
f/4.0 mode created bokeh in the background
f/4.0 mode created bokeh in the background
Good food mode rocks!
Good food mode rocks!
Dim light shot
Dim light shot
Night mode in auto 1
Night mode in auto 1
Night mode in auto 2
Night mode in auto 2
Flash mode

See also: Huawei GR5 2017: Camera Samples From Amsterdam And Paris!

Checking its 8 MP f/2.0 front facing camera, it has wide angle lens and auto face detection. It also goes with several interesting features like face beauty, time lapse, and make up modes. There is also a on-screen flash for selfies in the dark. It just does't have touch to focus feature and grid lines for guides.
Front camera interface
Front camera interface

Checking its quality, it is decent most of the time. It has average details and colors as long as you're in a well lit spot. However, it falls short in lowlight shots where loss of colors are very evident.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie w/ beautify level 3
Daylight selfie w/ beautify level 3
Selfie indoor w/ natural lighting
Selfie indoor w/ natural lighting 
Dimlight selfie
Dimlight selfie
Screen flash mode
Screen flash mode

Both the back and front cameras can shoot up to 1080p videos. Quality and colors are mostly like what you'll see with its front and back camera samples. Surprisingly, the back and front cameras have the nearly the same level of shakiness. The main camera has a pro video mode though. They both come with beauty video modes.

Video Samples


Performance

Antutu and Geekbench scores!
Antutu and Geekbench scores!

This phone highlights Huawei's home-brewed 64 bit Kirin 655 octa core processor with performance and efficiency in mind. It is paired with standard 3 GB of this RAM and 32 GB of expandable storage standards for this price range.

One of the highest benchmark scores we ever recorded from a mainstream midrange phone!

Generally, this phone is swift! Opening and app / switching from an app to another is quick and we hardly felt hiccups on basic phone phone task. Running you Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media apps altogether is possible in here.
NBA 2K17 is smooth on all medium settings!
NBA 2K17 is smooth on all medium settings!

For gaming, Mali T830 GPU isn't the best for this price range, but Huawei proved that their optimization mastery can still get the job done most of the time. We tried Asphalt 8 on all high settings and hardly felt lag. For NBA 2K17, it is very smooth on all medium settings. On high settings, frame drops are evident, but players are still controllable.
EMUI 4.1 skin
EMUI 4.1 skin

Moving to its software, this handset boots with Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS w/ EMUI 4.1 skin. It is easy to use and doesn't have an app drawer anymore. What we liked here is it has few bloats and most of them are uninstallable. Its pre-installed phone manager app, health tracker, and gestures for shortcuts are useful as well.


Android 6.0 w/ EMUI 4.1 skin is clean loaded with features!

Like the P9 and Mate 9 series, the fingerprint scanner found with this handset is fast and accurate. It even has gestures for shortcuts like taking photos, answering calls, stopping your alarm, open the notification panels and eve photos quicker just swiping left and right.

Report: Huawei GR5 2017 Nougat Update Now Available

Telephony wise, GSM signals for calls and text are mostly strong as expected. LTE connectivity is good too in places with good signals. Bluetooth is stable, gyroscope sensor works well for Pokemon GO's AR mode, GPS is decent, and OTG works!

Pros - Stunning style, speedy performance, long battery life, accurate fingerprint scanner, feature packed EMUI, OTG, LTE, gyrocope sensor, and solid dual main camera
Cons - No glass protection mentioned, single speaker could be louder, front camera is decent, but falters in lowlight

Verdict

Huawei started the year with a bang with the GR5 2017. This is the most enjoyable midrange phone we had early this year that's equipped with style, performance, long battery life, and solid camera to beat.

If you are looking for an all around midranger and you love taking photos, we will recommend this smartphone in a heartbeat.

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.25
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