Huawei GR3 2017 Unboxing and Hands On Review


This is one of the brand new smartphones that was recently launched in the Philippine market, almost immediately after the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus were officially introduced. In fact Huawei Philippines did not even bother to make a special announcement for this device as I think they were too focused and busy promoting the P10 and P10 Plus series here in the country. But thanks to our fellow local tech bloggers and eagle-eyed gadget enthusiasts as this particular smartphone didn't go unnoticed. The device I am talking about here is the Huawei GR3 2017. And in case you are wondering, this is the same device known as Nova Lite, Honor 8 Lite, and P8 Lite 2017 in some other countries.

In the Philippines we have the GR3 2017 variant. It is one of those smartphones that Huawei is offering now to budget-conscious smartphone users who would like to try what Huawei is offering with their versions of Android-powered devices for an asking price that will not hurt their pocket. For starters, this GR3 2017 packs a great set of specs for its price sticker of just Php8,990, that's in addition to this handset's great design language on the outside. Even though Huawei did not include metal in its design process, the GR3 2017 still does not feel cheap in the hands. Somehow the glass and plastic material combinations on this device made it feels more premium than is should. Also it provides better grip even if used in one hand.

And amazingly, TekPone, one of the longest running gadget and accessory stores in Davao City let me borrow one of their units to unbox and experience for a few days. So here is my unboxing and hands on review of the Huawei GR3 2017.

What's in the Box

Nothing so fancy about the Huawei GR3 2017 boxing unlike the P10 and P10 Plus. The unit comes in a red box with the model name shown on one the sides in gold lettering. You slide the outer cardboard off to reveal the inner box that carries the entire content such as the smartphone itself, charger, free clear casing, earphones and some default paperwork.



One of the first things I immediately noticed upon unboxing is this Huawei GR3 2017-customized clear casing. You can just snap it on the back of the unit to have the rear protected from scratches and shocks. Though I am not a big fan of casings and screen protectors it still nice to know that companies like Huawei cares to include one for buyers who want their newly purchased device protected from immortal scratches and other types of surface damages. The front panel of the handset too is already pre-installed with screen protector.


A bit disappointing though that the Huawei GR3 2017 does not come with an in-ear type of earphones for a more immersive listening experience and less outside noise. On the other hand, this basic earphones that comes in the box works okay and is able to deliver the job. Since the phone still has a 3.5mm audio jack port at the bottom, you can just plug in almost any available earphones or headphones with higher audio quality for a much better listening experience.



For the charger, it's pretty standard as well. No USB Type-C and fast charge technology but of course that is something we really cannot expect  from a sub-9K smartphone like this, maybe in the coming years but not today. On the good side, the wall charger is small and can easily fit in almost any pocket and pouch without eating up too much space.


SIM card ejecting tool and the dual-SIM card tray itself. So yes the Huawei GR3 2017, just like many other Android smartphones out there, is capable of handling up to two SIM cards at a time. Do take note that this is a hybrid type, which means the second slot supports microSD card for additional storage expansion.

The Huawei GR3 2017


While those accessories we have seen so far are not that appealing, I guess I can understand that part as Huawei looks to have made a lot of effort in keeping this device as affordable and powerful as possible. For example, this smartphone is running on the latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS right out of the box with EMUI 5.0 on top. That said, it is one of those very few Android Nougat-powered devices you can buy right now within its price range. Even the newest, more high end, and heavily priced devices like OPPO F3 Plus and ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom are still on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.


Screen and display wise, you will be happy to know that this GR3 2017 sports a 5.2-inch screen with Full HD resolution. Yes that is right, it has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. The display is great to look at, every image and text are sharp and clear. It has an IPS LCD panel where the default colors are not as vibrant as that of AMOLED displays but viewing angle is great and color quality looks more natural. It does not end there though as Huawei included options to allow users to tweak the display quality and colors in the settings according to their liking - Colour Temperature is one of those functionalities you can use.

Now more on the inside of the Huawei GR3 2017 are the processor and memory. Powering this device is a HiSilicon Kirin 655 processor, this is an eight-core processor with maximum clock speed of 2.1GHz. Together with this machine is a 3GB of RAM, and a default 16GB internal storage. Surprisingly this is a pretty powerful mid-range processor as I have never encountered any lags or hiccups since having this device. Having multiple apps in the background and switching back and forth too has never been a problem to me. It can definitely handle not so heavy games like Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, or Mobile Legends perfectly. I am not a gamer type of smartphone user actually, though I have tried playing those games, my most favorite mobile game of all are the Temple Run 2 and Alto's Adventure. And again with this smartphone, both games were handled smoothly.


On this side of the device are the volume rocker and power/lock key are located. Nicely placed here and are very accessible to the thumb.


On the other side is the place for the SIM card tray and nothing more.


Up top are the 3.5mm jack port sitting next to the noise cancellation mic.


Down at the bottom are the two six-hole speaker grilles. Just be advised that only the ones on the right work or where the speaker is really located. I am not sure where there are two grilles, but I think it's for aesthetic purposes only. The speakers are not that great in quality but still manages to sound good and loud, just don't push it to the max level if you don't want the audio quality to get a little distorted.

Then right at the center is the microUSB which which can be used for charging the device and transferring files. Speaking of charging and battery, this GR3 2017 has a quite big battery for its size, a 3000mAh battery pack. This device is able to last me a the whole day with remaining battery life of about 20% by evening. Just bear in mind that I am not a heavy type user of smartphone. Most of the time I only check my Facebook and Instagram accounts for updates like a few times per hour and some random and short Temple Run 2 playing. And I am always on 4G all day at work. So yes, I can definitely say that the battery is not that bad either. And it takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge the phone from less than 5% of battery life.


On the back side of the Huawei GR3 2017 are the LED flash, 12MP camera with f/2.0 aperture, Backside Illumination and  PDAF or Phase Detaction Autofocus, and then the Fingerprint 4.0 sensor. When it comes to this fingerprint scanner, I never encountered any issue or delay in reading my index fingers. It works just fast.


Front camera has an 8MP resolution and is also equipped with simple beautification mode.


What about the Performance?

Performance wise, there is really nothing to complain about. The octa-core processor and the roomy 3GB RAM are just fine and do not lag. Like I already said, the phone still continues to work fine and fast even multiple apps have been running in the background.

However, on the software side, I guess Huawei still needs to make it more optimized and responsive. Based on how I mostly use this phone, you know for social media stuff, my most common issue is the screen was not that responsive. For example, when liking a post or photo, about 10% of the time my quick taps on the screen are not recognized, and I would need to do it again with a little more pressure and precision on the like button to make it work. It does not only happen on social media apps alone, sometimes in browsing the internet as well using apps like Google Chrome. I don't know if that has to do with the pre-installed screen protector or the software itself, but that's one of the issues I had with the phone.



Camera

To be honest, I really did not expect much from its camera especially when I learned that it was only priced under Php9k. But when I started taking photos, the quality was even better than I though. Even in low light scenes, noise are noticeable depending on how much light you are getting but it does not really affect the entire output. See sample photos below which I have taken using this phone.















What's more nice about the camera of Huawei GR3 2017, is that it also comes with different modes, settings and customization options for users to play with to improve their photos and videos. 


Storage and Antutu Score
  
The GR3 2017 only comes with a 16GB built-in storage and as most of us already know, not everything is available to users. A portion of it is already being used by the software, pre-installed apps, and reserved for future software updates when needed. As you can see in the image below, out of 16GB only around 7GB remains accessible by users upon initial booth. And believe, it will take no time for you to use that up immediately when you start downloading all the apps that you have been using and intend to use with this phone. So the solution? Throw in a microSD card, you can use up to 256GB size. And then for Antutu benchmark score in case you are interested, it got 55,138. 

 Final Thoughts

My overall experience with the Huawei GR3 2017 has been nothing but great especially knowing that it is only for Php8,990. The screen is sharp, clear and bright, colors are reproduced very good and definitely not dull. The system never lags and the interface is customizable as well. Plus the camera are really good. But I wanna say that Huawei needs to optimize the software more at least for this model as those issues I encountered, which are I think very minor, and can easily be fixed via software update. On the outside, the smartphone sports a good build and design except for it is fingerprint and smudge hungry. And finally, the review unit I got is in gold but I really like the one in black as the curved glass on the edges both front and back are more pronounced.

Huawei GR3 2017 specs:
  • 5.2-inch Full HD IPS Display
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 2.1GHz Octa-core Kirin 655 processor
  • Mali-T830 MP2 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 256GB (uses second SIM slot)
  • 12MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, Autofocus and LED flash
  • 8MP front camera
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.0
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Dual-SIM
  • 4G LTE
  • Gold or Black
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Php8,990 
As of posting, this device is now officially available for purchase at Huawei concept stores, kiosks, and retail partners nationwide, again, for just Php8,990. For Davao City based people, you can also get this device from TekPone stores. This particular unit which TekPone let me unbox and try for a few days was from their Abreeza branch. There are also Huawei Shops at 3 floor of SM Lanang and Gaisano Mall Davao that you can visit. You can also buy this from Lazada for the same SRP with free shipping and cash on delivery option.

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DugomPinoy | A Philippine Blog: Huawei GR3 2017 Unboxing and Hands On Review
Huawei GR3 2017 Unboxing and Hands On Review
We unboxed the latest midrange smartphone from Huawei called the GR3 2017. Read our unboxing and quick hands on review of this device here.
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