Huawei GR3 2017 Review: A Budget Phone That Covers All The Basics

Huawei GR3 2017 Review: A Budget Phone That Covers All The Basics

We review the GR3 2017!

International brands and budget phones don’t usually go together. While big brand advertising and marketing efforts try to convince you otherwise, the truth is that well known international brands are usually beaten in terms of value-for-money by smaller, independent local players like Cherry Mobile and their ilk in the sub 10K segment. The brutal truth is that lower you go in price, the less value you get from phones offered by international brands compared to local players.

That’s why we were pretty surprised at Huawei’s silent launch of the GR3 2017. Known as the P8 Lite (2017), Honor 8 Lite and even the Nova Lite in some countries, the new phone delivers surprisingly good value for a phone under the 10K price point. While Huawei had to cut a few features from the phone that’s usually standard on its contemporaries, the GR3 nonetheless is in attractive option for people looking for a solid budget phone that doesn’t skimp on the basics.

Huawei GR3 2017

  • HiSilicon Kirin 655 octa-core processor
  • ARM Mali-T830 MP2 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 5.2-inch FHD IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 2.5D glass
  • 16GB expandable storage, up to 128GB via microSD
  • 12-megapixel rear camera, BSI, phase detection AF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM, 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat (EMUI 5.0)
  • Php 8,990

A beautiful, if smudge and scratch-prone exterior

Huawei’s known for making solid, good-looking phones, and that design DNA extends to even their budget offerings. The GR3 2017 is certainly a looker, and actually resembles the Google Pixel a little bit when viewed from the back, thanks to the glass front and back.

Of course Huawei had to skimp out on premium materials to try and keep the price of the phone low. The frame is made from plastic, and the neither the front nor the back glass has Gorilla Glass or similar protection, so you’ll want to use a screen protector and a case for the former and latter. Run the phone naked as we have over the past few days, and you’ll start seeing unsightly scratches on both sides of the device.

On the rear sits the 12-megapixel rear camera, as well as the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. There’s not really a lot of heft in the GR3 2017, which isn’t surprising thanks to the plastic frame of the device. While the glass front and back of the GR3 2017 make it a pretty phone to look at, it attracts smudges like there’s no tomorrow. Thankfully Huawei includes a plastic transparent case and a screen protector with each purchase, though our review unit did not come with the screen protector.

Going around the phone, you’ll see the power and volume rocker on the right side, while the 3.5mm jack sits on the top. On the left side sits the microSD/SIM slot, while the USB port is on the bottom. There’s two speaker grilles that flank the USB port, though only one of those actually work to deliver audio.

The GR3 2017 has a 5.2-inch full HD display that’s pretty good. One of our major gripes with it is that it accumulates smudges like crazy without a screen protector. We constantly had to wipe the screen down since we really can’t stand a dirty display, though the smudges didn’t really get in the way of using the phone to be honest, and would be easily remedied by the included screen protector.

As far as color reproduction goes, the display on the GR3 2017 is quite alright. Seeing jagged edges isn’t a problem since the phone has such a small screen (5.2-inches) and full HD resolution. Color reproduction is good, with good colors and sharp contrast.

Same hardware as the GR5 2017

The GR5 2017 has very similar internals to the GR5 2017. For one, both phones run HiSilicon’s Kirin 655 octa-core processor, and are both paired with 3GB of RAM. It’s not surprising then that both phones have very similar AnTuTu scores in our head-to-head match up. Kirin 655 is good enough for daily use, and you’ll only feel the processor’s limitations when you try to play with demanding Android games in high settings.

Of course the GR3 2017 had to lose quite a bit more in the hardware department though. It only has 16GB of storage, compared to the GR5 2017’s 32GB, has a smaller screen and battery. That 16GB storage is a big limitation, especially if you’re the type to install large, space-consuming games.

The GR3 2017 does have an ace up its sleeve though, and that’s Android Nougat and Huawei’s EMUI 5.0, putting the phone on par with the software that’s on the company’s flagship P10 and P10 Plus smartphones.

Moving onto the boring stuff: GPS and LTE antenna performance is outstanding (this is a Huawei phone, after all). Audio performance is okay, but it’s not great – you’ll want to switch to headphones or plug the phone into a decent set of speakers if you really want to enjoy music.

Camera isn’t that great, but it’s good enough for the price

A lot of people are probably wondering how the GR3 2017’s camera performs considering its price point, and well, the camera isn’t that great. Don’t get us wrong though, given enough light the GR3 2017’s camera is able to capture plenty of detail with its 12-megapixel rear snapper.

The issues come when there’s not that much light, since the GR3 2017 doesn’t have OIS the phone has no way to compensate for camera shake, which results in less than ideal photos in low light. We lost quite a bit of detail in some indoor shots that had less than ideal lighting as well, and the phone struggled to capture photos during night time.

All-day battery life

One of the things we like about HiSilicon’s Kirin processors is how power-efficient they are. The Kirin 655 octa-core processor doesn’t really consume a lot of juice, and even with the full HD panel and a 3000mAh battery, the phone managed to last us an entire day of use with around 20% left in the tank. PCMark’s Battery Benchmark put the device at around 8 hours and 59 minutes, which is impressive for a phone that only has a 3000mAh battery.

Verdict: One of the best options in its price range

Like we said earlier, the Huawei GR3 2017 is a shockingly good value proposition, considering its price point. The Kirin 655 octa-core processor is good enough for daily use, the display is excellent for the price point and the battery is able to last an entire day even with heavy use.

Sure, the plastic frame, fragile screen and lackluster camera performance in low-light might give you pause, but again, the GR3 2017 is excellent value considering its heritage and its competitors in the same price range. At Php 8,990, you’d be hard pressed to find a solid alternative to the GR3 2017. Check the articles down below to see how the GR3 2017 stacks up to the competition.

Read more:

Head-to-Head: Huawei GR3 2017 VS Zenfone 3 Max 5.5

Head-to-Head: Huawei GR3 2017 VS Huawei GR5 2017

Huawei GR5 2017 Review: Dual-cam Mid-range Winner



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