Price (RRP): $399
All the talk is about the Huawei Mate 9, the Chinese giant’s premium model. Sadly we haven’t been able to lay our hands on one of these. Perhaps not so sadly, because while everyone loves a premium phone, not everyone can afford it. Well, a couple of weeks ago Huawei launched the budget Huawei GR5 2017 phone, priced at $399 and with a camera of which Huawei seems particularly proud. So we had a look at that instead.
The phone comes with a full HD, 5.5 inch LCD display behind unspecified glass (so I’m assuming not Corning Gorilla Glass). As such, it’s moderately large, but not excessively so. It’s 151mm tall, a hair over 76mm wide, and 8.2mm deep. There’s a slight camera bump for the twin lens camera. It weighs 162 grams.
The glass is “2.5D”, which means rather than being sunk into a bezel, it sits slightly above it with curved edges to the glass making for a smooth curve. Out of the box it comes with a stick on screen protector of the kind for which you’d pay $20 to fit to many a more expensive phone. It was bit of a fingerprint magnet, and slightly undersized, detracting from the style of the phone, so I pulled it off and the phone looked quite a bit nicer as a result.
I think the back case is plastic. At least, that’s the impression I got when tapping it with my fingernails, but it can be hard to be certain. Certainly the phone did not feel to my grasp to have quite the “body” and solidity of a premium model. But it looked pleasing with its black front, curved glass edges and space grey back with twin lenses, flash and fingerprint sensor.
Yes, you can use your prints to unlock the phone. It also comes with a side-and-back protective case.
The phone supports 4G. Specific band coverage isn’t indicated. It of course has WiFi built in, but this is single band (2.4GHz) WiFi supporting the 802.11n standard, not 802.11ac.
Hey, low cost does involve some sacrifices.
In the same vein, neither is there NFC (Near Field Communications), but of course there is Bluetooth (version 4.1). The charge and communications connector is Micro-B USB. There are two speakers on the bottom and a headphone socket at the top.
The phone runs a Kirin 655 Octa-core processor, four of the cores running at up to 2.1GHz, four at up to 1.7GHz with 3GB of working RAM. The OS is Android 6.0. There’s 32GB of storage built in, and you can either use two SIMs or one SIM and a microSD card to expand storage. I added a 128GB card and this worked fine. The phone automatically started using it for photos.
The non-removable battery has a capacity of 3340mAh.
Huawei’s tweaked interface – EMUI 4.1 – overlays the standard Android. It has the soft apps and return keys the Android way around, with return to the left. The home button is also soft, with all three showing at the bottom of the display area when required.
I rather liked the interface. Aside from anything else, when I pressed and held a black area to bring up the Widget editor, it turned out not to be the method used with this phone, but rather than leaving me not knowing what to do, it popped up a message telling me to pinch the screen. And that worked.