Honor 70 ReviewOctober 11, 2022
Officially launched during my coverage of IFA 2022 in Berlin, Germany, the Honor 70 series, especially the Honor 70 (official page) is designed to bring a high-end design look and feel to the competitive $600+ market segment. We have had time to look deeper, and here is our experience and analysis of this beautiful smartphone.
This phone does not have an official retail channel in the USA, so the $650 street price is based on more expensive import channels. Outside the USA, the official UK price is 499.99 UKP for the base model (8GB RAM, 128GB storage). In Spain and France, the official price is 549 Euros. If you want 256GB of storage, it’s 599 Euros.
The Honor 70 is built around a thin and light chassis with glass on both sides and a “super dual curved screen,” which means that the curve is present on the front and the back, making the edge look and feel extra thin.
This type of design used to be super-expensive to produce, and it’s nice to see it coming into mainstream segments like this $650 phone (street price). Not everyone likes curved screens, but I think they look really cool, and the chassis feels agreeable in hand.
Some people might remember the issues with the grip inducing unwanted touch events, but I haven’t experienced this in recent phones with a curved screen, so that should not be a problem anymore. I’m curious about what other people think.
Our unit is the “Emerald Green,” and it looks great with its anti-fingerprint matte textured surface in the back, However, Honor has other cool back covers, notably the Crystal Silver, Icelandic Frost, and Midnight Black.
The chassis is light (178g) for a 6.67-inch phone and very thin, too: 7.91mm. Many people like that very much, especially when you carry your smartphone in (tight) pants or shirt/vest pockets.
Unfortunately, there’s no water-resistance certification (IP Rating), so please be careful around water. At this price range, it’s not surprising as the IP certification does cost extra. However, it would have been very nice to have some unofficial water protection. It seems that’s not the case.
A single speaker delivers clear and distortion-free audio on the bottom right. It is very decent but is not loud and good as phones with dual speakers, it’s just physics. At the same time, it’s understandable that resources have to be moved around when building affordable premium phones.
The 120Hz FHD+ (2400 x 1080) 6.67″ OLED display looks great and has all kinds of tuning options in the settings. I like to set the Color and Temperature mode to “natural” rather than “vivid” (default), but the other default options work well for me.
The dynamic refresh rate should provide a good ratio between scrolling smoothness and battery life. The refresh variability is not as granular as more expensive phones and does not go all the way down to 1Hz or 10Hz. However, the overall system power efficiency makes up for that.
As usual with OLED, colors do look great, and Honor has included a default background image that matches the unit’s color (green in our case), a nice touch.
We measured the maximum brightness at 784 NITs with manual settings, which is a great number. There isn’t an extra boost in brightness if you’re in direct sunlight, so that’s pretty much the ceiling. The most expensive displays can spike temporarily to more than 1500 NITs, but it’s temporary because your eyes will adapt and negate that extra brightness if left ON for too long.
Finally, there’s an under-screen fingerprint reader, which shines a strong light to read the fingerprint. In our experience, it worked well and was efficient. The most visible downside compared to an ultrasound reader is the extreme brightness of the fingerprint reader’s light when your eyes are accustomed to the darkness.
Honor 70 camera
The new Honor 70 camera sparked quite a bit of excitement on the web because it is the first to use Sony’s new IMX800 camera sensor in its f/1.9 27mm primary camera.
The IMX800 is a 50 MP sensor with 1.0-micron sensing pixels, which therefore makes it a sensor that’s approximately 50mm² (54 mm² actually) large. That’s similar in size to the Samsung GN5 found in the Galaxy S22’s primary camera, for example.
The Honor 70 ultrawide camera is intriguing and features a 50MP sensor as well, although we think the pixel size is probably very small, perhaps in the 0.6 to 0.7-micron range (that’s our guess, looking at the photos we shot). Ultimately, the f/2.2 13mm lens might not let enough light go through to fully take advantage of this sensor.
The third camera is a depth sensor to assist with portrait mode background blurring.
Our Ubergizmo CAMERA HW score for the Honor 70 is 147, which places it near the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, also equipped with a comparable primary and ultrawide set of cameras.
|Camera HW benchmark scores|
|203||Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra|
|164||OnePlus 10 Pro|
|155||Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4|
|148||Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4|
|125||Huawei Nova 10 Pro|
The primary camera captures good photos that are detailed with proper HDR, even in difficult high-contrast situations, like nature shots that have a mix of extremely bright (sun, sky, cloud) and shadowed (low vegetation) areas.
There’s no telephoto, but the 2X zoom probably uses a 50MP sensor cropping technique that is, in our opinion, similar to an optical 1.7X zoom. It’s more useful for portrait pictures (~50mm) than for actual long-zoom (5X-10X).
The ultrawide camera can capture shots that are sharper and clearer than the iPhone 13 Pro’s ultrawide camera. However, the experience is not always consistent. Honor’s ultrawide camera captures tend to be a bit on the soft (blurry) side for both day and night pictures unless you’re really careful holding the camera still (more than normal). The Ultrawide camera doubles as a macro camera since it can focus on a subject located only 2.5cm away!
Honor has added a cool software feature called “Solo Cut Mode” to build an additional vertical video ready for TikTok, Instagram, and the like. The idea is brilliant: while you film a movie in landscape mode, you can select one person to be tracked. The phone will generate a separate vertical video for that subject, which you can post immediately as a story, no editing required!
The Honor 70 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G (5G), a computing platform initially designed for more expensive smartphones. In its price category, it does offer good CPU performance, and most users should be completely satisfied with day-to-day utilization and basic gaming.
Not surprisingly, this phone has exactly the same performance as others that run on the same Snapdragon 778G platform, including the Honor 60 and Honor 50 smartphones.
Since this chip has been around since May 2021, it’s not surprising that some phones like the Oppo Reno8 feature a faster processor like the MediaTek Dimensity 1300. That said, the Oppo Reno8 has completely different tradeoffs concerning design and luxurious materials.
Heavy users and gamers might find other phones dedicated to performance. However, they’ll probably have to forgo some of the design or camera advantages (including the selfie camera) of the Honor 70. Again, it’s a balancing act in these price ranges.
For users who truly want extreme high performance, a phone like the OnePlus 10T is a formidable competitor for about the same budget, although its primary camera is not as powerful as the Honor 70’s.
It goes without saying that Honor has complete access to Google Services like other android smartphones. Some people ask because of the past Honor status as a Huawei subsidiary, but Honor is now an independent entity.
This phone runs on Android 12, with Honor’s Magic UI 6.1 as a top layer and custom interface. For those familiar with Honor, things have not changed much, so you’ll feel right at home. The same is true for Huawei HarmonyOS since both software have a lot of the same logic in common.
For those coming from another Android skin, don’t worry, as Magic UI is similar and intuitive enough for any Android user.
The 4800 mAh is a bit larger than the previous Honor 60, but the overall battery life remains very similar because of the higher display refresh. Objective battery benchmarks like PCMark Work 3.0 (200 NITs) show a 10h20mn battery life under continuous load and on-screen time.
In the real world, this translates to a stress-free smartphone experience, and you should go by your day and come home with battery capacity to spare. By the way, the amount of capacity crammed into such a thin chassis is remarkable (mAh per cubic inch).
When you need to charge, the included 66W AC adapter (a ~$45 value at big brands) will get the battery from 0 to 80% in about 30mn, which is much faster than the iPhone 13 Pro, although not the absolute fastest on the market.
The Honor 70 is a smartphone that caters to users who demand beautiful craftsmanship, premium looks, and a great primary camera experience. And for them, Honor does deliver. Keep in mind there are two other phones in this product line: the Honor 70 Pro and Honor 70 Pro +, so this is the baseline.
Honor-oriented resource utilization to specific materials and components to make this happen. As such, this is not a gaming phone, nor it pretends to be the best camera phone. Honor has other options for that, like the Honor Magic4 series.
With a street price of about $650, we find this phone to deliver interesting value for users who care about its strengths. There’s no question that’s one of the most competitive market segments, but Honor is more likely to sway buyers based on design, brand trust and user experience than sheer technical specifications and benchmark numbers.
Honor 70 Review