At a midrange price point, you don't expect camera on this phone to be perfect. However, with more and more midrange phones coming out with pretty good cameras, your expectations rise. With Huawei Honor Play, you're getting dual cameras on the rear, coming at 16 MP for the main sensor at an f/2.2 aperture and 2 MP for secondary depth sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. Second sensor is just to allow you to take bokeh shots as well as enabling a few other smart tricks on device's shooter. This isn't likely to give you photography that's as good as Huawei Honor 10, but we found that it performed well in good lighting.
I wasn't expecting much from Huawei Honor Play's camera, and while some users might find it mediocre, I think that main 16MP sensor is rather adept. Shots of close-up subjects present plenty of crisp detail, with lower-light frames don't see color totally expose out into a bland wash. While Honor has touted a lot about “AI Camera” on Huawei Honor Play, I personally believed it to be a marketing gimmick at best. Now Honor claims that Huawei Honor Play's AI camera can recognize 22 objects in over 500 scenarios. Even though that might be true, during my testing I found that this AI feature robbed photos of their natural colors and instead made them overly bright and saturated. Same can be said in front facing camera as well. Many of portrait lighting features made me look more like an anime character rather than showing me my actual face. Low light photography is not up to the mark on Huawei Honor Play, though. Detailing in night shots is askew and it would seem that camera sensors are not large enough to capture low light. AI mode just leaves a lot to be desired and is nowhere close to value addition that camera and processing on Huawei Honor 10 provided. In short, you'll be able to capture some impressive shots during day, but not so much indoors or in dark.
Having said that, when Huawei Honor Play is not using its AI camera and its overzealous post-processing, phone manages to capture some nice photos. Camera UI, which looks heavily inspired by iOS, is quite easy to use and responsive. Photos are taken instantly, although camera app will ask you to hold your hand steady to increase sharpness after clicking a photo. In good lighting conditions, camera also showed decent enough dynamic range, but I still feel that exposure calibration on phone can be improved as it tends to overexpose images quite often. Portrait mode on this phone is not best I've seen in its price segment as in some cases, background blur felt very hastily done. However, overall bokeh mode produced a nice effect and photos clicked are passable enough for social media.
Selfie camera on Huawei Honor Play is a 16 MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. This is an AI selfie camera with 3D facial recognition (this isn't biometric) and 3D portrait lighting capabilities. Almost inevitably for a phone launched in 2018, Huawei Honor Play also has a AR camera mode that allows you to superimpose a variety of creative things on selfie shots or images in general. On video front, phone can shoot 4K video at 30 fps and 1080p videos at 60 fps. It has EIS out-of-the-box, but in my opinion, if you love shooting videos then this phone isn't for you. Videos shot on Huawei Honor Play are a bit jerky and tend to keep hunting for focus, which ruins video output.
In the end, I will say that Huawei Honor Play isn't great at photography. It isn't meant to be great at it either and its competitor Xiaomi Pocophone F1 performs much better in this domain. For people who are content with decent photography and don't want really good pictures, just turn AI mode off and you'd be good to go.