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Huawei GR3 2017 Review - Style Meets Performance And Affordability?

Previously, we unboxed the new Huawei GR3 2017. It's one of the few affordable phones that left us impressed on style, specs, and cameras out of the box. After a week using it as either our main or secondary phone, here's our full review.
Huawei GR3 2017 Review - Style And Performance Matters
Is this new sub PHP 10K phone to beat?

For the review part 1: Huawei GR3 2017 Unboxing And First Impressions

Display Quality

The 2.5D 5.2 inch FHD screen
The 2.5D 5.2 inch FHD screen

While most competing international brands are still on HD screens, Huawei opted for a better and sharper full HD IPS display with sharp 1920 x 1080 resolution at 424 pixels per inch.

GR3 2017 on full HD while most similarly priced phones are still on HD!

Not only that, its a good type of screen! Even if it's a little bit saturated and has slightly yellowish tint, blacks are deeper, colors are richer, and contrast is better than most competing phones in its class. Then since its using IPS technology, the screen of GR3 2017 has better color range, accuracy, and viewing angles compared to lower-end TFT panels.
10 points of touch!
10 points of touch!

The display also has an accurate light sensor (auto brightness), adjustable color temperature, and eye comfort mode. Then it has 10 points of multitouch for great touch response.

Battery Life

Good battery test score!
Good battery test score!

More than enough! On our PC Mark battery test, it clocked a score of 10 hours and 7 mins. That's a little better than expected since this phone has a "should be power hungry" full HD screen.

All day battery life!

On actual usage, we managed to record 7 hours and 20 mins of screen on time. It includes our normal heavy type of phone usage with a lot of social media, camera, and listening to music involved.

Tip: To increase battery life further, you can use the low screen resolution or the ultra power saving modes. Also follow the phone's occasional reminders to turn off some unused background apps.

Charging time is slow by default. Why? Huawei only bundled this handset with a 1A USB wall charger. You'll need 2 hours and 45 mins to 3 hours by default from 0 to 100 percent.

Note: We recorded a faster charging time at around 2 hours using our Aukey PA-T11 Charging Station with up to 2.4A AiPower port. Not sure if it'll work with other faster chargers though.

Audio Quality

Huawei is getting better and better in the audio department even for lower-end smartphones. The single speaker of the GR3 2017 is quite good! Entire presentation is musical and pretty detailed. Vocals are clear and highs are just fine. Slight grains and bass aren't that heavy though. Understandable for a small speaker.

For audio headphone output, BASS lovers will LOVE this! By default, the sound signature is already bassy with tight bass punch and good sub-bass reproduction. Not only that, the mids remained clean and well separated on most parts. Highs are quite detailed too. 
FLAC files are playable and it can really go LOUD for an affordable smartphone.

Note: If you need more bass, use the SWS mode found in the music player. It'll add more bass depth and rumbling bass punch. However, expect it to muddy the rest of the audio spectrum.

Microphone quality is nice as well. For calls, clarity isn't a problem. Noise are also well cancelled. For regular audio recordings, it isn't the best for the price, but still acceptable and usable.

Cameras

The capable single camera behind
The capable single camera behind

Unlike its higher-end GR5 2017 sibling with dual cameras for bokeh shots, the GR3 2017 is only equipped by a single camera setup. 
Camera modes
Camera modes

It boasts a 12 MP f/2.2 main camera w/ 1.25μm pixels, f/2.2 aperture, and PDAF focus. It's complete with most of the basic camera modes on found on Huawei's EMUI skin. It includes the usual HDR, panorama, and all focus.
Pro photo mode
Pro photo mode

This phone also comes with nice type of light painting mode (tail light trails, light graffiti, 
silky water, and star tracker) and a Pro photo mode with ISO (100 to 1,600), shutter (1/4000 to 8 secs), white balance, exposure, and focus adjustments. It's also complete with grids and levels as guides.

The main camera of this phone can focus and shoot with decent speed. It also has the ability to tap to focus on subjects up to 3 inches near.

The main camera is capable for the price.

On well lit conditions, expect plenty of colors and details without much grains. We also managed to get shots with proper exposure which doesn't look unnatural. It can even produce decent bokeh effects occasionally even with the lack of dual camera setup.

For lowlight and night shots, don't expect it to perform as good as upper-midrange phones. There will grains and some loss of detail and colors. But, considering PHP 9K price tag, its dynamic range is acceptable. There are even times you'll get acceptable results! The flash is yellowish though.

Tip: If you have a tripod, use the Pro camera mode for higher-quality lowlight shots.

Rear Camera Samples

Window view at Marco Polo Ortigas in daylight
Window view at Marco Polo Ortigas in daylight
Well balanced and detailed daylight shot
Well balanced and detailed daylight shot
Indoor HDR, still detailed even if there's some noticeable grains
Indoor HDR, still detailed even if there's some noticeable grains
Decent dim light camera performance
Decent dim light camera performance
Indoor lowlight shot
Indoor lowlight shot
Another lowlight indoor sample
Night time shot
Night time shot
ISO 100, 2.5 seconds shutter
ISO 100, 2.5 seconds shutter
Flash test
Flash test

For selfies, the GR3 2017 has an 8 MP f/2.0 front camera w/ wide angle lens and screen flash. It has the basic beautify (adjustable up to level 10) and panorama modes.

The quality is good in daylight and well lit conditions where it can capture details and good colors nicely. In indoor shots, there will be some loss of detail, but it's still decent for the price. In lowlight, expect it to struggle. There's a screen flash mode, but it won't help that much.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie sample
Daylight selfie sample
Selfie indoor with dim light
Selfie indoor with dim light
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie

For videos, it can shoot up to 1080p at 30 frames per second at the back and up to 720p in front. It has several interesting modes like time-lapse and slow motion. But, considering the price and the lack of OIS (very few midrange phones have OIS), your videos will be shaky without stabilizers. 

Video Samples



Performance

Good benchmark scores
Good benchmark scores

It also has the company's home-brewed 64 bit Kirin 655 octa core processor found on the higher-end GR5 2017 which is one of the speediest chips in its class. It's paired with Mali T830 graphics and ample 3 GB of RAM for decent gaming and multitasking.

High benchmark scores, good actual performance!

The result, performance is identical to GR5 2017. It is speedy and rarely lags. Opening apps is fast and switching from and app to another is easy. It'll only struggle when you load very demanding games. Heating isn't an issue as well.



However, it only has 16 GB of storage. Only a little more than 7.5 GB of that is usable for installing apps and storing files. Fortunately, it is expandable up to 128 GB using a micro SD card slot.
EMUI 5.0, there's an option to bring back the app drawer
EMUI 5.0, there's an option to bring back the app drawer

By default, this device is one of the very few phones today that boots with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. To make it sweeter, Huawei's much improved EMUI 5.0 skin is on top to provide smooth transitions and plenty of usable features with less bloatwares.

It even has its own phone manager app and health tracker. The fingerprint scanner also ranks among fastest and most accurate in response out there. The fingerprint scanner even has the gestures found with GR5 2017.

Telephony-wise, performance is great like most Huawei phones. GSM and LTE signals are mostly strong on proper locations. The rest of connectivity options works as well. Then this even has the useful "Huawei Share" feature that uses Bluetooth and WiFi for faster Huawei to Huawei file transfers.

Pros - Best in style for the price, speedy and efficient performance, great battery life, good cameras, decent manual camera controls, accurate and fast fingerprint scanner, Android 7.0 Nougat OS w/ EMUI 5.0
Cons - No mention of Gorilla Glass protection, 16 GB of storage is quite small if you don't have a micro SD card, slow charging time, selfie screen flash is too white, prone to fingerprint smudges

Verdict

Style meets performance and affordability! The Huawei GR3 2017 is one of the best performers for its class. There are few shortcomings, but if you seek an affordable phone with great style, speedy performance, and good daylight camera performance, the Huawei GR3 2017 is a must consider.

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 4
Camera - 4
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.125 / 5
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