Honor 90 review: Taking on the midrange

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The midrange smartphone market is seriously heating up. With devices like the Pixel 7a, Galaxy A series, and OnePlus Nord devices, it’s hard to imagine what someone else could bring to the table. But Honor thinks it has what it takes to crack the code, and to that end, launched the new Honor 90.

The Honor 90 has an uphill battle ahead of it, however, the company has proven itself on numerous occasions over the past few years. How does the Honor 90 perform in the arguably crowded world of midrange devices? I’ve been using it for a while to find out.

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Honor 90 specs

Dimensions 161.9 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm
IP rating None
Display resolution 1200 x 2664 pixels
Display size 6.7 inches
Display type AMOLED
Display refresh rate 120Hz
Display brightness 1600 nits (peak)
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Memory 8GB, 12GB, 16GB
Storage 256GB, 512GB
Rear cameras Standard: 200MP, f/1.9
Ultrawide: 12MP, f/2.2
Depth: 2MP, f/2.4
Video 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps
Front camera 50MP, f/2.4
Ports USB-C 2.0
Battery size 5000mAh
Charging 66W wired
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.2 WiFi 6, 5G
Colors Midnight Black, Emerald Green, Diamond Silver, Peacock Blue
Price £450

Honor 90 design

The Honor 90 isn’t built to be a flagship, and as you would expect, it doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel when it comes to design. It sports a 6.7-inch display on the front, with a hole-punch cutout for the front facing camera and a fingerprint sensor towards the bottom. For the most part, the sensor was accurate, but it was a little slow.

Honor 90 In hand

On the back of the phone, as you would expect, are the cameras. There are two large camera modules, with the top one housing two cameras, and the bottom one containing a third camera and the flash. It’s generally not a bad look.

On the right side of the phone, you’ll get the volume rocker and the power button, while the bottom is where you’ll get a USB-C port. All pretty standard stuff.

The phone is pretty lightweight, which is a good thing. But it can also feel slightly cheap at times. Not overly so, though, and most will be perfectly happy with how it feels in hand.

Honor 90 display

On the front of the phone can be found a 6.7-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 1200 x 2664 resolution. This isn’t an LTPO display, so it can’t vary the refresh rate like higher-end phones can — but it can still move between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz, which is a start.

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Honor 90 display

Generally, I found the display to look relatively good. Colors were vibrant, and the display felt smooth. It was decently sharp too, given the fact that it offers a 1200p resolution, instead of a 1080p one.

The display got nice and bright too. I was easily able to see it outdoors, even in direct sunlight. I expect most will find it more than good enough.

Honor 90 performance

The Honor 90 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, coupled with either 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB of RAM. I found that, for the most part, the phone easily performed well enough. It handled multitasking without issue and loaded games quickly. Sure, it’s technically not as powerful as Qualcomm’s highest-end Snapdragon 8 chips, but most people just won’t notice the difference unless they’re truly the most demanding users.

Of course, there is an area in which even slightly better performance will help, and that’s towards the end of a phone’s lifespan. I, obviously, didn’t have years to test this phone — but it does still make sense to buy the best-performing phone you can afford if you want to use it for as long as possible.

Benchmark results confirmed the relatively good performance. The phone achieved a single-core score of 1104 and a multi-core score of 3185 on GeekBench 6. These are definitely respectable scores, and while they don’t reach the heights of the flagship phones in and out of Honor’s lineup, they still show a capable device.

Honor 90 battery and charging

Honor 90 USB-C port

Under the hood, the device offers a 5,000mAh battery, and I found that the battery was able to keep the phone running for a whole day with ease, and into a second day. Most people will still want to charge their device at night, but if you’re a moderate user, you shouldn’t expect to run out of juice before the end of the day.

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When you do run out of juice, you’ll be able to charge relatively quickly — thankfully. The device offers 66W wired charging, which should allow you to fully charge the phone in less than an hour. Unfortunately, in 2023, there’s no wireless charging here. I remember using wireless charging on my phone 10 years ago. It’s a little disappointing that there are still phones without it.

Honor 90 camera

The Honor 90 comes with a triple camera array, but only two of those cameras are usable. The device has a 200-megapixel main camera, and it’s accompanied by a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 2-megapixel depth camera.

Honor 90 Camera Modules

The main camera is quite good. In well-lit environments, the camera was able to capture detailed and vibrant images, likely thanks at least in part to the fact that the Honor 90 uses pixel binning for more vibrant images. The camera was still able to capture pretty good images at 2x zoom, which leverages that high resolution. Low-light images weren’t quite as impressive, though they actually weren’t bad for a device in this price range, which was nice to see. In particularly poorly-lit situations, the camera did struggle a little, though.

The ultrawide camera is pretty great too. Like with the main camera, images taken here were relatively bright and vibrant, without losing quality much around the edges, which is helpful. The ultrawide performed worse in low light than the main camera, however.

On the front, the device has a 40-megapixel selfie cam, and like the cameras on the back, the one on the front performed quite well. Again, colors and details were good, and again, it struggled a little in low light.

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Video quality is pretty good too. The phone can capture 4K video at 30 frames per second, or 1080p video at 60 frames per second. I found that footage looked quite good, however, as you might expect, the phone isn’t great at stabilizing footage.

Honor 90 software

The Honor 90 comes with Honor’s MagicOS, which I don’t hate, but I don’t love either. It’s pretty far from the stripped-back and sleek version of Android shipping by Google on its Pixel phones, but there are some touches that I like, like the iOS-style control center. While when it’s first booted up, it’s a little cluttered, with a little work, most should be able to move and delete apps and widgets to their liking. Users used to other versions of Android will also want to dig around for settings like the app drawer.

Honor 90 Front

The biggest issue with MagicOS is that there’s quite a bit of bloatware on it, both from Honor itself and from other companies.

The device ships with Android 13, and unfortunately, the device is only slated to get two years of Android updates, and three years of security patches. I hope Honor starts offering a little more.

Conclusions

The Honor 90 clearly has a lot to offer. The device offers good performance, a solid camera, and great battery life — three of the most important aspects of a modern smartphone. Safe to say, anyone looking for a solid phone at a reasonable price should seriously consider the Honor 90.

The competition

Of course, there is some serious competition in the price segment, though. The Pixel 7a is still the best phone in the price range, thanks largely to its even-better processor and stunning camera. Alternatively, there’s the Galaxy A series, including the high-performance Galaxy A54.

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Should I buy the Honor 90?

Yes. It’s a great phone at a solid price.

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