Huawei GR3 Review

Our Huawei GR3 review is finally here. This is our second review of a Huawei smartphone here on MobilityArena.com. The first was the Huawi Honor 3C two years ago. Two years is a long time, and we wondered how the GR3 would fare. The GR3 is a humble 4G LTE mid-ranger and we have used it for a few weeks now. For non-techie people, immediately below is a summary of our findings, after which we dive into the full detailed review.

Huawei GR3 review - homescreen

Huawei GR3 Review: Non-techie Version

First, a short non-techie summary for everyone else:

Pros
– Slim, handy, and lightweight
– Good battery life
– very good network reception
– very good performance
– Works with both Smile 4G and Ntel 4G networks
– Superb in-call audio quality and clarity

Cons
– Screen is not very bright
– Does not support Google Calendar out of the box, but the app can be downloaded

Now, on to our detailed review. Grab a drink and some small chops!

Design

The Huawei GR3 has a simple, pleasant design. The device is built around an aluminium frame. Overall, it is an elegant design. The GR3 is also light in the hand (135 g) and very handy at a 7.6 mm thickness.

The display is only 5 inches large. There is no Gorilla Glass protection here. Also, the display is not very bright, though it works well even under direct sunlight if you crank it up to 50% brightness and above.

You can access a handful of functions via shortcuts without unlocking the screen by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Those functions include: music, settings, recorder, calculator, flashlight and camera.

Huawei GR3 locked screen shortcuts

The Huawei GR3 has two SIM slots on the left side – one micro and the other nano (the nano slot can also house a microSD card to expand your storage capacity above the 16 GB built-in instead of a nano SIM). The usual suspects are all there – 3.5mm port at the top end, microUSB port at the bottom, and volume and power buttons on the right side. They are all well crafted with nothing feeling out of place.

If you haven’t seen it, go enjoy our Huawei GR3 Unboxing for more photos.

Software

The Huawei GR3 runs Android Lollipop with a layer of Huawei’s custom Emotion UI skin over that. The native Android app drawer is gone. In its place, you swipe horizontally across panes to access all apps. We found Emotion UI to be light and easy to use.

When you setup your Gmail account, you have access to Play Store, get to manage your email and synchronise your Google Contacts. Unfortunately, while the built-in calendar app is comprehensive and user-friendly, it does not support Google Calendar out of the box. Worry not. The solution is simple. Download Google Calendar from Play Store, add your Google account in there, and your calendar entries sync into both Google calendar and the built-in calendar apps.

Google Calendar on your Huawei phone

Network Reception and 4G LTE Compatibility

The GR3 is a champ at holding on to a network signal even in weak coverage areas. Also, in our 4G tests, it worked with both Smile and Ntel 4G LTE networks. However, it worked in data-only mode. We were unable to place any Voice over LTE calls. See our Huawei GR3 4G tests.

Huawei GR3 dialler

Huawei’s phone dialer implementation in their dual SIM smartphones is also easily one of the nicest I’ve seen. You have two green “Call” buttons, one respectively for each SIM card, so you can make a call with either line directly. You can switch between the dialer, contacts and messaging easily too.

In-call audio quality and clarity is also superb. Top marks here.

Music On The Huawei GR3

The GR3 isn’t targeted at audio lovers, but that doesn’t mean that it is a slouch there. The built-in Music app is a delight to use. It has some nifty features too:

  1. You can set a timer such that after a period of time, the app shuts down.
  2. You can filter your music by time, such that songs less than an amount of time do not get displayed in your media library. You can filter by folders. You can show hidden songs in your library.
  3. You can toggle lyrics of playing songs to be displayed on the phone’s home screen

Huawei GR3 review - music app

Like all decent music apps, you can create and manage playlists, favourite songs and access a list of the most recent songs, among other regular features. It really is a compelling music app.

As far as audio reproduction is concerned, if you plug in a decent set of audio headphones to the phone, you get very good quality music. However, audio reproduction via the loudspeaker isn’t anything super. It isn’t bad. It just isn’t spectacular.

Camera and Photography

The 13 megapixel rear camera on the GR3 is good but again not spectacular. Your pictures won’t look horrible, but they won’t wow anyone either. There is an LED flash for low-light and night photos. Again, the results are just average.

Huawei GR3 review - camera

As for the 5 megapixel front-facing camera, it is standard selfie stuff. Nothing superb either.

Performance

Performance is one of the areas where the Huawei GR3 shines. It runs smooth for everyday tasks and won’t buck under more demanding tasks. The octa-core 1.5 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM are more than enough for everyday use. There’s a Mali-T720 MP3 GPU for assistance with graphics. In its class, the GR3 outperforms many others.

In our usual benchmark tests, the Huawei GR3 produces results that ere quite good:

  • AnTuTu: 40,585
  • GeekBench: 714 Single-Core, 3,240 Multi-Core
  • Quadrant: 25,370

You can check out our Huawei GR3 performance comparison tests against the Alcatel Idol 3 (5.5) and TECNO Boom J8.

Battery

With a fairly unimpressive 2,200 mAh battery, we were quite worried about what battery life on this 5-inch display smartphone would be like. It turned out not to be as bad as we assumed it would be. Huawei seems to have done some work optimising the device. We mentioned that the display brightness isn’t superb even when cranked up to the max. This appears to be one of the ways in which power consumption has been kept down to manageable levels. The display is usable even in direct sunlight when cranked above the 50% mark, so it doesn’t fail. It just isn’t super bright.

Huawei GR3 review - ultra power saving

And when you are running out of power in extreme situations, there is an ultra power saving mode that shuts down most smartphone functions and provides access to only the most basic functions (see above photo). This extends your battery life by hours.

Conclusions

Our first review of a Huawei smartphone turned out to be a delightful experience. It is average in many areas, but shines in network reception and performance. The music player is a delight too. The lack of Google Calendar syncing would have been a deal-breaker for users of that service, but a quick download solves that problem. And it supports both Smile and Ntel 4G networks. It is a shame though that there is no Gorilla Glass protection or similar on the display.

We ended up liking the GR3 a lot. Don’t forget to check out the full Huawei GR3 specifications.

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