Honor 70£529.99 or less
- Stunning display and smooth operation
- Fast charging and dependable battery
- Sony's IMX 800 camera is excellent in all lighting conditions
- Video quality punches above its weight, with clear audio at all times
- No stereo sound
- Handset design might not appeal to everyone
- Magic UI feels a little dated compared to other handsets
Honor’s latest mid-ranger boasts a lot of performance for the money, but does it have enough to truly stand out amongst the competition?
When Honor kicked back onto the scene around this time last year, it brought with it the mid-range Honor 50 that I was very impressed with. One year on, the Honor 70 brings a few updates to make it even more appealing.
The Honor 70 design still shows the close relationship with Huawei during the time of developing this phone. There’s no doubt the camera design is a clone of Huawei’s P-series smartphones, but as I’ve said before, that’s no bad thing.
There are plenty of long-term Huawei fans who likely ended their relationship with Huawei in 2019 because of the loss of Google services, and are very happy to once again enjoy the hardware and functionality they loved – along with access to the essential Google services we rely on so much.
That said, the two overly large ‘lenses’ which contain much smaller cameras is a pretty controversial look. I’m not sure I like the design that much, but this is subjective and you may have different feelings. The rest of the rear looks and feels great, with an extremely comfortable feel in the hand.
Looked upon at the front, the screen is where the Honor 70 shines just as much as the Honor 50 did – but now with an even larger display size (6.67-inches over 6.57-inches).
Despite its mid-range market positioning, the screen looks amazing with one billion colours (HDR10+) and a choice of 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rates.
Curved edges aren’t for everyone, but for those who like an upmarket look and feel, this phone delivers in spades. The centre-top position for the selfie camera reminds me of when George Zhao (Honor CEO) proudly proclaimed the better positioning as top-left, because in landscape orientation it effectively disappears. But, I’m nitpicking here as it’s very small and easily lived with.
Perhaps the only objective disappointment is that the phone comes with a single down-firing speaker. That’s quite an omission on a phone that otherwise has the ingredients to satisfy all your content capture and consumption needs. The Honor 50 was the same, and I wish Honor had managed to bump up this spec to properly complete the package.
The Honor 70 is the first phone to use Sony’s new 54-megapixel IMX800 image sensor, and it’s quite the beast. It lacks OIS but is extremely sensitive to light and works well in all conditions as you can see from the gallery below.
The phone’s primary camera is accompanied by two more sensors; a 50-megapixel ultra-wide and a 2-megapixel depth-sensor. It’s good that this phone offers more than just one good sensor, giving more overall versatility.
The phone can also capture video at up to 4K 30fps, which is a limitation due to its mid-range chipset. While that might be limiting for some, the quality of the video capture exceeded my expectations considerably, and the audio capture was also beyond what I expected too.
The video below demonstrates how the audio is bold, crisp, clear, and distortion free. I generally used the phone to record video at 1080p 60fps.
On the front is a 32-megapixel selfie-camera with HDR, and it comes with a range of beauty and bokeh effects.
Honor has also added a clever auto-tracking feature that can follow a subject around in a video, in a similar guise to some webcams and other smart camera devices that will track movements so you don’t need to constantly reposition the camera.
Once the subject is selected, the phone will follow it – and even remember if they go off camera and return later.
You can either opt to capture the subject as it moves around, or save both the original non-moving footage with an inset image of the tracked subject. As a further take on the dual-video feature (that combines the front and rear camera images in a range of different formats), this is a phone designed to appeal to vloggers.
Overall, it performs admirably for everything a budding content creator on a budget might want – or is equally good for holiday photos, or pictures down the pub.
- See more photos from Leeds Castle in my separate photo gallery
Features and Performance
The Honor 50 was powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset, and a year on the Honor 70 comes with the slightly updated Snapdragon 778G+ 5G chip. Not everyone wants or needs a top-spec performance.
As long as the phone doesn’t stutter or lag in normal everyday usage, like almost every recent smartphone from any manufacturer, many users will be more than happy.
The Honor 70 works just fine and it shows just how far we’ve come in processor and GPU performance in the last few years, where the days of stuttery phones with too little RAM or storage (the Honor 70 comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage) are long over. You can even add virtual memory to the RAM at the expense of some of that cavernous storage.
The phone also performs well in the battery department also, with a boost from 4,300mAh to 4,800mAh in capacity over the Honor 50. It still comes with 66W wired fast-charging, and the power supply included in the box.
There’s a protective plastic (clear) case included also, a feature that may be coming to an end in the name of ‘sustainability’.
Indeed, the days of including a power supply may be numbered too – at least as and when the industry can sort out a way of working together on faster charging standards. Currently, if you want the fastest charging times offered by the likes of Honor, Oppo, OnePlus, Xiaomi etc (all above what USB-PD, the supposed industry standard, can offer), you must buy an adapter from that manufacturer supporting that particular charging standard.
The phone offers good connectivity with both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth 5.2 and USB-C (USB 2.0) with USB On-The-Go.
Android 12 is the version included out of the box, with Android 13 hopefully coming before the end of the year. Honor’s enhancements to Android are fairly limited, which gives a fairly nice native Android look and feel. You can change themes, icons, and fonts, as well as managing the always-on display settings.
Beyond that, it’s all pretty basic and some users will long for a few more menu options and settings.
There’s really only one thing that stops this becoming a near-perfect mid-ranger, and that’s the lack of stereo sound. As someone who enjoys watching video with the phone in a desk stand, it’s something I absolutely noticed.
However, if you are more likely to stream audio to wireless headphones or earbuds, you may not consider this a dealbreaker. For everything else, the phone performs well and can easily stand in for a much more expensive phone.
As time goes on, more and more people may be looking at phones around the £400-£600 mark instead of those costing up to, or more than, a £1000. It’s a time of such uncertainty where nobody wants to waste money unnecessarily, and why the Honor 70 is amongst a group of phones for the moment.
Honor’s Magic UI may feel a little dated for those who have experienced the customisations on devices from the likes of OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Xiaomi and Redmi, but many prefer a more basic look and feel.
You’ll have to decide what works best for you, but if you want a great camera experience with impressive video recording, put this on your shortlist.
With the various offers that come from Honor from time to time, this phone becomes an even bigger bargain – so always look out for deals around the time of Amazon Prime Days, Black Friday, Halloween, Christmas and so on.
Pricing and Availability
- 8GB + 256GB: £529.99
Midnight Black, Emerald Green or Crystal Silver
Special Offer at time of publishing the review:
Honor 70 (8+256GB) with free Honor MagicWatch 2 46mm Charcoal Black (worth £169.99) and PU Case for just £499.99 until October 17th 2022. (As stated above, look for deals to coincide with other big calendar events)
|Size/Weight||161.4 x 73.3. x 7.9mm|
FHD+ 1080×2400 pixels
120Hz refresh rate
|Audio||Mono (down-firing) speaker|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+|
Octo-core, Max freq 2.5GHz
Adreno 642L GPU
|Camera (front)||Punch-hole 32MP Auto Focus|
Video: 1080p 30fps with EIS
|Camera (rear)||Primary: 54MP (f/1.9) Sony IMX 800 |
Ultra-wide: 50MP (f/2.2) 122 degree FoV
Depth: 2MP (f/2.4)
Video: 4K/30 & 1080P/60 EIS
|Connectivity||Dual band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
5G NR (SA & NSA) Sub 6 with 2 Carrier Aggregation
4G+ with VoLTE, ViLTE and VoWiFi
|Other||Factory fitted screen protector|
Dual SIM (Dual Standby)
66W Power Supply in box
Clear plastic protective case in box