Honor turned a number of pricing equations on their heads when it announced the Honor Play at a price of Rs 19,999 for its 4 GB/ 64 GB variant (the 6 GB / 64 GB one costs Rs 23,999). The price makes it perhaps the most affordable flagship level device in the market, which actually brings it face to face against another that has laid claim to that mantle, the OnePlus 6, which flaunts the flagship killer moniker. Both devices deliver surprisingly good hardware at remarkably affordable prices. But which of them is the one for you? We find out.
Design and appearance
This is a clash between two schools – that which believes in glass and that which prefers good old metal. There is no doubt both phones cut smart figures in their own ways – the Play with its minimalist finish and the OnePlus 6 with its shiny curved glass back. Both have also display dominated fronts, with bezels cut to the minimum (both have around 83 percent screen to body ratio). The OnePlus 6 is slightly shorter at 155.7 mm (the Honor Play is 157.9 mm), but it is the Honor Play that seems more compact thanks to its being slimmer (7.5 mm as against 7.8 mm) and less wide (74.3 mm as against 75.4 mm). Both are also about the same in terms of weight, at 176 grams for the Honor Play and 177 grams for the OnePlus 6. It is really a matter of taste here – those who like a bit of flash will like the OnePlus, while those preferring understated class and solidity will love the Honor Play. Interestingly, the blue variant of the Play and the Red variant of the OnePlus 6 are perhaps the most eye-catching devices you will catch in the market today. We are calling this one a tie.
This again is a clash of different schools. The OnePlus 6 has a 6.28-inch full HD+ display with a 19:9 aspect ratio, while the Honor Play has a marginally larger one at 6.3 inches with 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The OnePlus 6 has an optic AMOLED display, but that does not really give it too much of an edge over the Honor Play, which has a bright and colorful IPS LCD display in its own right. Both devices run on flagship level processors – the OnePlus 6 has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 which is the choice of many Android flagships, but the Honor Play comes with the HiSilicon Kirin 970 which has proved its mettle in devices like the Huawei P20 Pro and Honor 10. The OnePlus base model comes with 6 GB RAM and has an 8 GB variant while the Play comes with 4 GB RAM and has a 6 GB variant, but then the Play gives users the benefit of using expandable memory even beyond its 64 GB storage, while the OnePlus does have 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB variants but has no expandable memory options. The OnePlus 6 packs in more megapixels in the camera department coming with a 16 and 20-megapixel rear camera combination and a 16-megapixel selfie snapper, while the Play has a 16 and 2-megapixel rear combo and a 16-megapixel selfie camera. Both devices come with face unlock and a rear fingerprint sensor, but the Play comes with a much larger battery: 3750 mAh as compared to 3300 mAh. It is a very neck for next battle, but we think those who count specs will perhaps opt for the more RAM and megapixels on the OnePlus 6. It is very close, though.
Winner: OnePlus 6
Right, and again a clash of cultures. Both phones run Android 8.1 but have very different overlays over it. The OnePlus 6 comes with Oxygen OS which is minimalistic in nature and tries to mimic stock Android. On the other hand, the Honor Play comes with EMUI 8.2, which is a very elaborate UI with a number of features. Stock Android lovers will prefer Oxygen OS, but most mainstream users will love the touches that EMUI adds to the Android experience, including elements of AI that identify faces in photographs and group shots together. There are also a number of camera smarts that EMUI adds to the Play. Yes, we know there are those who prefer a plain experience, but it is difficult to say no to the power features at EMUI adds to Android.
Winner: Honor Play
This is a fascinating tussle. The megapixels might lie with the OnePlus 6 as we mentioned in the hardware section but when it comes to actual performance, the cameras of the two devices are actually neck and neck. The reason for this lies in the fact that the Honor Play’s camera not only comes with a much richer app (the OnePlus’ camera app remains a little minimalistic) but actually comes with a lot of AI tricks, including the ability to identify scenarios in real time and even tweaking settings accordingly – it can even have different settings for different objects (say the sky and a tree) in the same scene. Yes, you can turn off AI if you wish but given the results, we really would not recommend doing so. You also get Portrait Lighting with a dose of AI in the selfie camera, which gives the Play the edge over the OnePlus 6 in the vanity snapping department. And of course, AI also helps identify objects in the pictures and groups them not only on the basis of time and location but also by the occasion. The OnePlus 6 does have the edge of higher resolution snappers and better low light performance, but the software and AI smartness of the Play pulls it back into contention. We are calling this one a tie too.
This is the zone where the Play comes into its own. It not only comfortably matches the OnePlus 6 when it comes to handling most gaming titles but even throws in a few touches of its own, thanks to its GPU Turbo feature which allows gamers to get more out of their experience, especially when playing high-end games. The difference in performance however really comes to the fore when playing the popular PUBG where not only does the Play easily match up to what the OnePlus 6 offers but also thanks to its Smart Shock feature actually delivers different vibrations as per different scenarios – firing a gun is very different from riding a bike, for instance. Add to this, the 3D gaming sound that is delivered over headphones, and the Honor Play pretty much bosses the OnePlus 6 in this zone. It is not as if the OnePlus 6 is bad – it handles games brilliantly, but it is just that the Honor Play brings so much more to the gaming table. The presence of a suite of games on the Play further ensures there is only one winner here.
Winner: Honor Play
Both phones sport large, tall displays of roughly similar resolutions, and as we said earlier both deliver very good performances in terms of handling colors, contrasts, and details. The real difference, however, comes in the sound department, where the Honor Play pulls away with its 3D surround sound, which delivers much better audio over headphones. We also found the sound quality to be better on the Play over the loudspeaker as compared to the OnePlus 6. If you are someone that likes hearing music, we are going to go with the Play on this one. Once again, it is not a case of the OnePlus 6 not doing well, just one of the Honor Play doing better.
Winner: Honor Play
You would have thought that the OnePlus 6 would be a runaway winner with its much-hyped Dash Charge feature which lets you go from 0 to 60 percent in a mere half an hour, but the Honor Play is no tenderfoot, and packs in a large 3750 mAh battery which can easily see off a day and a half of normal usage and with careful nursing can even go up to two days. Yes, the OnePlus 6 might charge faster, but the Honor Play just lasts longer. We are giving this one to the Honor Play.
Winner: Honor Play
In day to day routine performance, we found both phones matching each other with a degree of comfort. Tasks like web browsing, running multiple apps in the background, and constantly pinging social networks and messaging apps were handled without any problems whatsoever. The fingerprint sensors on both phones worked very well, but we think the face unlock feature on the Honor Play worked better. There is not too much to choose between the two here, so we are calling this a tie.
Value for money
Perhaps the most lopsided round of all is this. For, while the OnePlus 6 base model (6GB/ 64 GB) starts at Rs 34,999, the Honor Play’s base model (4 GB/ 64 GB) starts at a much lower Rs 19,999. Even if you were to opt for a 6 GB/ 64 GB variant of the Honor Play, you would still have to shell out only Rs 23,999. There is only one winner here, really.
Winner: Honor Play
The battle for the budget flagship crown is a fierce one no doubt, and of the nine rounds contested, only one (value for money) was clear cut. The others were close calls. But even then, there is no doubting the winner: winning five rounds out of nine, holding three even and losing only one, it is the Honor Play. If you are looking for a flagship performer in general that rocks gaming in particular and comes with a generous dose of AI IQ, then the Honor Play is your best option.