The Last of my Honor reviews have been a bit over the place, usually great hardware, with a critical flaw or two that just ruins it for me, but with the Honor 90, I don’t think there are any device ending, planet buster flaws that make it hard to recommend, and that is a great thing because I think they are becoming easier and easier to recommend because of it.
- - Great Screen
- - Amazing in-hand feel
- - Good main camera
- - Amazing battery
- - Tertiary camera shouldn't be here
- - Software getting better but still behind
- Jump to… Overview
- Jump to… Spec Sheet
- Jump to… Performance & Use
- Jump to… Camera & Samples
- Jump to… Software
- Jump to… Battery
- Jump to… Final Thoughts
The Honor 90 takes the design introduced with the Honor 50 and refines it once again. I’m still not the biggest fan of curved edges on phones, but it does make the device easier to hold and slip into and out of a pocket, in fact, the Honor 90 is deceptively easy to just throw around. At 183g it’s so nice to once again have a phone that somewhat disappears when thrown into a pocket, and 7.8mm whilst not the thinnest is a nice middle ground, those curved edges make the phone feel narrower than it is 74mm width would lead you to believe.
The display is obviously on the front of the phone, and I think 9to5Google’s Max Weinbach put it perfectly by calling it a flagship display. It’s incredibly bright at up to 1600 Nits, the 120Hz LPTO is fluid as all get out, it can show up to 1 billion colours due to the 10bit panel, and, once again, whilst I am not a huge fan of curved edges, Honor curving all 4 edges of this (and the panel itself in some amount) makes the Honor 90 feel much smaller than it’s 6.7” panel would lead you to believe, this doesn’t feel the same size as iPhone 14 Pro Max, for example.
At the top of the screen is the 50MP selfie camera, which is actually a wide-angle camera that they crop into to show you a “normal” selfie view and you can zoom out to take wide selfies, not the first time we’ve seen this, but I’m a fan!. Another thing I’m a fan of is how well-hidden the earpiece slit is, it’s hard to see even when looking at it because the glossy frame reflects light from the black edge of the glass, and I know I keep harping on about it, but the quad curves really do make such a large difference not just in visuals but in-hand feel as well, kudos to the design and manufacturing team at Honor.
Onto the frame, this appears to be a plastic frame, and I’m not mad about it, if it allows for weight reduction and doesn’t feel cheap, I’m a fan. Polycarbonate can be a beautiful material when appropriately done (Look at the Nokia N9 for instance) and whilst the glossy frame can be slippery, it is overall neutral to positive for me. An injection moulded plastic frame doesn’t have the same weak spots as a CNC machined aluminium frame with plastic antenna lines (look at any number of JerryRig Anything failed torture tests). The plastic frame has the power and volume buttons on the right-hand side, with nothing on the left. Up the top there is a solitary pinhole for the secondary microphone, and down on the bottom, we have the main speaker (the earpiece doubles as a second speaker), the USB-C port for charging and data transfer, the main microphone port, and the dual-SIM tray, no MicroSD though.
Lastly, we check out the rear of the Honor 90. I have the Emerald Green colour, and whilst it wasn’t my favourite on the Honor 50, I really like it here, mainly because it is frosted and not glossy, as well as the fact it has almost an iridescent colour shift effect to it, I really like it. Going up to the camera bumps there are now two-tier but also different shapes, they curve in different ways, and I hated it in photos, but I really like how it looks in person, again, especially in the Emerald Gren version
Once again the Honor 90 is a polishing of a design, not a ground-up redesign, but this works so damn well, and it feels like a progression, I can put the devices next to each and draw their parallels, and I’m glad we got to this from it.
- 6.7” AMOLED Display
- 10 bit panel, 1bn colours
- 1600 Nits peak brightness
- 91% Screen to body ratio
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen1 Accelerated edition
- 1x Cortex A710
- 3x Cortex A710
- 4x Cortex A510
- Adreno 644 GPU
- 8/12/16GB LPDDR5 DRAM
- 256/512GB Internal storage
- 200MP Main camera
- 1/1.4” sensor size
- 0.56µm pixel pitch
- 12MP Ultrawide/Macro camera
- 122 degree field of view
- 2MP depth camera
- 50MP Ultrawide selfie camera
- 100 degree field of view
- 5000mAh battery
- 66w wired SuperCharge
- Android 13
- MagicOS 7.1
For a more complete spec list check out GSMArena’s page for the Honor 90 here.
Performance & Use
When I got this, I was shocked to hear it wasn’t a flagship-grade SoC. The Snapdragon 7 Gen1 (Accelerated edition) from Qualcomm is, for all intents and purposes, a rebadged Snapdragon 778G+, I didn’t have the best experience with that chip the last time I’d used it, but kudos to Honor here, bar a few software glitches which made the phone hang for seconds at a time, the 7 Gen1 has been fine. Would I have preferred one of the new MediaTek chips? Sure, but what Honor has been able to pull out of the 7 Gen1, due to their work with Qualcomm over the years with GPU Turbo etc has made a midrange chip, feel peppy and up to snuff.
The issue for the Honor 90, for me at least is the signal strength. The Honor 90 is getting significantly weaker WiFi performance than the OnePlus Nord 2, Tecno Phantom V Fold and CAT S75 on my desk, and what’s worse, it seems to not want to hand over back to mobile very quickly either. When I’m out of WiFi range and I’m just on mobile, the 5G radio is sufficient but the 4G radio seems a bit gutless, stepping off quicker than other phones in areas I know it is fine with, And Lastly, I don’t know if this is an Honor issue, a Qualcomm Issue or a three UK issue (my carrier) but even with full signal, not in low power mode, if I’ve been out of the house, and I drive back home, once it connects to the WiFi I will get a flurry of notifications that I never received whilst I was out, with a mobile signal, I know because I was streaming music, browsing Twitter (eurgh X.com) and Bluesky and watching stuff on YouTube, but none of those notifications came to me until I came back into WiFi range.
There was one time during my testing wherein the Honor 90 got hot, very hot, hot enough to have the system limit the brightness of the screen to about 25% for safety reasons. It was uncomfortable to touch or hold. What was I doing? Nothing. The phone was in my pocket and randomly started to get hot, when I realised, I pulled it out of my pocket, saw how dim the screen was and turned it off for a few minutes to cool down. It only happened once, but it was weird. I’m putting it down to a software glitch, but thermally this can get very toasty. It likes to get warm when watching YouTube videos because of that gorgeous screen, but this was next level.
The fingerprint scanner, an optical unit under the display is nice and fast, though it is not the largest, it still has no issues with reading my battery and scarred thumbprints, although it did take longer to train than similar-sized scanners on other devices. But hey, at least it is not on the power button. Before I move onto the camera I want to give praise to the GPS module in the Honor 90, because, unlike every other phone I’ve had in the last 2 years, I haven’t had to recalibrate this once during the review period, which means not once have I had to look like a right knobhead on the street doing an imaginary figure8 with my phone.
The Camera system is where the Honor 50 struggled a lot, and the 200MP main camera here is not struggling ladies and gents, it really is a joy to use, and Honor’s automatic mode is just getting better and better. It still focuses pecks a bit more than I’d like in video mode, but I’m enjoying the colours, the exposure and weirdly, the natural bokeh of this lens.
I say weirdly enjoying the bokeh because whilst this is a dense sensor at 200MP, it is actually not that large all things given, at 1/1.4” there are larger sensors with 50MP, making each pixel larger, and that is actually one of the ways you get a better sensor, make each pixel larger and it can take it more light, each pixel on the 200MP main camera here is 0.56µm, a third of the size of Sony’s newest 50MP units for example. Yet despite this, the output here is good, really nice, and much nicer than I was expecting. Of course, it isn’t perfect, it can struggle with fast motion, but I think that might be exacerbated by the weaker ISP in the Snapdragon 7 Gen1, but more often than not I was happily surprised by the Honor 90’s main camera.
The Ultrawide isn’t my favourite, there is a significant resolution disparity for sure, and even with the 16:1 binning the 200MP sensor becomes a 12.5MP image you can see the difference, you can feel the difference in the images, there is less depth, the colours don’t match as well, all the goodwill they earned on the main camera feels wasted with this. It most certainly isn’t the most egregious example of a secondary camera but you can definitely see where they spent the money and their engineering efforts, both hardware and software. Oh, and there is a 2MP depth camera, that is all I will say on the matter.
Moving to the front we get to talk about their 50MP selfie camera and It’s more than I expected honestly. It’s not autofocus which is a shame, and the exposure compensation isn’t the best, but the software is once again pretty well tuned to the hardware and, in a surprise to me, using the phone with TikTok or Instagram Reels doesn’t look like you smeared vaseline on the lens of a Handycam from 1999 like a lot of android devices still do, sadly. As stated, this would have been great to have autofocus, given how much they’re pushing creators with this device, it’s a shame to not see it here.
Lastly, I want to talk about the video capture, and it’s a bit over the place here, the 1080p capture is, to put it kindly, garbage, but everything else seems fine? I think that it is mostly a software issue as everything else works fine, but check for yourself below. 1080p60 is better than 1080p30, but the colours are off, details are entirely crushed and look like they were shot on a smartphone from 5-7 years ago
If you go back far enough with my Honor reviews, you might find a time when I liked MagicOS, but it’s been a long time, and whilst I don’t explicitly like MagicOS 7.1, the software here is so much more up-to-date and comfortable to use. It still feels behind compared to OneUI, Oxygen/ColorOS and even Huawei’s EMUI in HarmonyOS but the chasm now feels like a little gap, which might sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s still a compliment. With Android 13 on board, it is up to date with the most currently available distribution and the June 1st security it’s one month behind, but that could be updated soon.
What does annoy me here is that there are still some deep-seated Huawei/EMUI niggles, one of the biggest ones for me is the gestures. These are not the stock Android gestures, I mean they’re the same gestures but it is not the same code, it doesn’t work the same way. You can’t swipe left or right from the nav bar to swipe between apps or scroll through them in the app switcher. When the keyboard is up there is next to no gap between the bottom of the screen and the bottom of the space bar, meaning rarely hitting the bottom row the first time, but also no button to hide the keyboard.
Honor has been better about software support in recent years, which is nice but I’m still not sure I trust them yet. Updates are hard and expensive, and Honor has been ramping up the number of devices they’re selling sure, but they’re been ramping up the SKUs they’re selling as well as spreading themselves thinner, not to mention the wearables and the tablets, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s stretched a bit thin right now, I want to be pleasantly surprised let’s say.
This section is easy, it’s a freaking baller. The 5000mAh battery here is a champ, 2 days easy for my usage with 6+ hours of screen on time, and something that is nice to see after my last few devices is the low idle drain. If I leave the phone at 55% at night I might wake up to 52% or so that’s great for an Android device these days, also my inability to have things turned off
There is no wireless charging here, and the 66w Wired charging is great, but even charging it on the 20w USB-PD charger I usually use, it seems to charge up faster than it should, it might not be a linear battery voltage curve? I don’t know, but I’m impressed with how quickly it charges and how long it takes to discharge. My unit did not come with a 66w SuperCharge brick in the box, and as far as I know, yours will not too, it sucks that Honor has stopped providing them as well, at least they give you the SuperCharge cable, but you can buy the power brick from them for about £25, which in the grand scheme of things is reasonable, but I have al od of USB-PD chargers lying around and they all work just fine, just not at 66w
I’ve been loving my time with the Honor 90, it feels like Honor finally getting their stride back, it is a beautiful phone, that is lovely to hold, performs well, the main camera is good, and the front camera works decently well with social media apps and the battery is killer, I mean heck even the software is usable these days, they’ve done this whilst also keeping the pricing somewhat reasonable. On the Honor site right now, whether you get the 8GB/256GB or the 12GB/512GB model you’ll pay just £449, with certain colours and specs coming with goodies, for example, a Black 8GB/256GB model lets you snag an Honor Pad X8 for £9.99, yes, you read that right, a tenner!.
I really hope Honor keeps this up, the Magic Vs looks like it kickstarted something in them, and I hope they don’t rest on their laurels after this.