My Huawei GR5 Review
Huawei hit it out f the park with the Nexus 6P, so I was pretty excited when they asked me if I wanted to try the GR5 (Huawei KII-L05); s a mid-range phone which on paper, looks promising. Let?s check it out.
The GR5 I'm reviewing is running on the Rogers LTE network.
What about the ZTE Axon?
For $50 more you can get a ZTE Axon. Like the Huawei the ZTE has a metal body, 5.5? HD display, 13 megapixel camera, 32GB of storage and a 3000mAh battery. It ups the ante with a second rear-facing camera, 3GB of RAM and a powerful Snapdragon 801 SoC.
The second camera is a neat trick which you might use occasionally but the thing is the ?main? camera on the ZTE is pretty terrible. The extra GB of RAM makes switching tasks more smooth. The biggest difference is the Snapdragon 801 SoC which offers quite a bit more graphics performance and speed.
What about the Motorola Moto G4 Plus?
You can also pick up a G4 Plus for an extra $50. It lacks the GR5?s slick metal body but it also comes with a 1920x1080 5.5? display which has a slightly better calibration.
It also equals the GR5 with a 3000mAh battery and 2GB of RAM and pulls ahead with handy finger print reader, slightly faster SoC, a vastly superior camera and speakers, 802.11AC support, 32GB of storage and a clean mostly vanilla Android overlay that?s more up-to-date.
Honestly, the fingerprint reader and 32GB of storage alone make the Moto G a better buy while the better camera, speakers, faster SoC and WiFi plus the more recent version of Android are all icing on the cake.
- 5.5? LCD display
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC
- 13/5 megapixel cameras
- 3000mAh battery
- Dual band 802.11N
- Android 5.1
- Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
- 151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15mm
Aesthetically, the GR5 is kind of understated.
Looking closely it appears that the edges around the front are plastic. It feels well made but the front doesn?t look all that memorable.
You get a metal back which looks pretty amazing. And boy, is it ever photogenic.
The buttons have some knurling on them.
They press in with a reassuring click.
The rear mounted fingerprint reader works fast and well.
You get some slick looking drilled holes at the bottom. One is for the speaker, the other is for the microphone.
In front is a large 5.5? 1920x1080 LCD display. If you look closely you?ll notice that it comes installed with a plastic screen protector.
It?s very bright with excellent viewing angles. Color is okay - it?s a tad cold compared to the Moto G4 Plus but not enough that you?d notice unless you had them side-by-side. Black levels aren?t as deep as the Moto?s.
Outdoors it works well.
On the back is a 13 megapixel camera. In isolation it?s not a terrible camera but the Motorola G4 Plus? camera completely outclasses it.
It works fine outdoors while indoors it can get a bit soft and noisy.
Video lacks a bit of dynamic range so dark and bright areas lose a bit of detail. The microphone sounds muffled.
You get Android 5.1 along with Huawei?s EMUI user overlay. Since some of the competition is now using Android 6.0 I?m a little disappointed that the GR5 is running last year?s 5.1. Further, given Huawei?s track-record with phones that run EMUI in Canada, I would be surprised if the GR5 received any major updates
EMUI copies Apple?s iOS menu setup so that only has a bunch of home screens instead of the usually homescreen/app drawer setup you usually get with Android. It also tries to put all your app icons into a box. It looks fine with the built-in apps but many 3rd party app icons look weird with this setup - it looks cheap.
It also tries to re-jig the notification area, something I feel isn?t really needed anymore and in fact will alienate a lot of users who are coming from a different brand Android phone.
There are also a few minor changes and tweaks here and there but in the end I don?t find they add much to the user experience. The same thing goes with some extra utilities, there are just so many 3rd party apps and utilities available for Android now including them with the phone is unnecessary.
The thing with the GR5 is that it has a case of overlay-itis. When I use the GR5 I don?t feel the included software makes it any better - on the contrary, the fact that the GR5 comes with an older version makes EMUI a con instead of a pro since it probably wouldn?t have been easier for Huawei to ship it with 6.0 if it didn?t come with EMUI.
Under the hood is a Snapdragon 615. Compared to the more recent 617, the 615 gives up a tiny bit of performance, plus the GPU lacks support for OpenGL ES 3.1.
The older Snapdragon 801 is considerably more powerful.
As a Phone:
The earpiece maximum volume is average. The speakerphone maximum volume is below average.
Earpiece sound quality is good while the speakerphone sounds like it?s inside a box.
RF performance is good - calls remain stable right up until they drop.
You get a 3000mAh battery which isn?t user removable. I do notice 2 screw heads at the bottom of the phone so I?m hopeful that changing out the battery in the future isn?t too much of a hassle.
Despite the largish 5.5? display, the energy sipping Snapdragon 615 SoC means battery life isn?t too bad.
The speaker at the bottom is reasonably powerful but it sounds very tinny and cheap.
You get 16GB of storage which in itself is pretty usable but for an extra $50 you can get 32GB of storage with the Moto G4 Plus and ZTE Axon.
If you need more space there?s a MicroSD slot.
In the the GR5 has decent specs but the execution is a mixed bag.
16GB of storage, 2GB of RAM with a 3000mAh battery and a 1080P display sound reasonable but the competition gives you a lot more for just a bit more money.
With that in mind I think the GR5 is priced a tad too high. It would be much more competitive if it had a $50-100 price drop.
2.5 Howies out of 5.
- Metal back
- Fingerprint reader
- Only comes with Android 5.1
- EMUI overlay feels weighty and pointless
- only 16GB of storage
- lousy speakers
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