- Premium quality display you'd expect only on a more expensive phone
- Overclocked Snapdragon chip packs a punch
- Primary camera is excellent and offers incredibly detailed shots in hi-res mode
- Good low-light performance and noise reduction on video
- No stereo sound playback
- No case or charger in box
Following the budget Honor 90 Lite comes the sub-£450 Honor 90 – doubling up the megapixel count with an impressive 200-megapixel camera.
I was most impressed with the performance from the 100-megapixel camera on the Honor 90 Lite, which is a great phone for people with more moderate needs from a smartphone, but still wanting a solid camera experience.
There are obviously going to be compromises over a flagship like the Magic 5 Pro, but if you aren’t up for spending the best part of a grand on a phone, the Honor 90 series may better suit your needs with the things you want, and less of what you’re not so worried about.
Whereas the Honor 90 Lite comes with a smaller battery, slower charging, a more budget chipset, slower Wi-Fi and a more average display (but still offering a good experience to users), the Honor 90 gets much closer to the Magic 5 Pro in terms of functionality with far fewer omissions.
But can it still offer a good enough alternative? Well, let’s find out…
UPDATE: 1st September 2023 – A new limited edition Peacock Blue colour variant was announced, see image below.
Design & Build
The Honor 90 comes in three different colours, and the model sent for me to review is the Diamond Silver variant, an exclusive to the Honor web store.
Based on a survey of one person, my wife, I’m not sure this is enough to determine the likely customer demographics for each colour – but I can say there was a very positive thumbs up for the silver/diamond motif design – even if I have to confess that I initially thought the pattern was a protective film that needed to be peeled off! (Note to Honor; don’t worry I didn’t break your device!)
If the silver seems a little too bright, green and black models offer up a far more ordinary ‘safe’ look. Honor does talk up the area around the camera lenses with an association to jewellery design – and I can honestly say the Diamond Silver phone definitely has bling value!
The Honor 90 has the same screen size as the Honor 90 Lite (6.7-inches), but this times it is an AMOLED panel, with a 10-bit colour resolution that gives over 1.07 billion colours, HDR, and a curved edge that gives it a further premium look and feel.
If someone saw this phone, they’d be certain to assume it was a high-end flagship.
The screen also has a higher resolution (1,200 x 2,664 pixels) for a higher pixel density, and a variable refresh rate that goes up to 120Hz.
To reduce eye fatigue, the Honor 90 continues to offer a range of features such as the Circadian Night Display first introduced on. the Magic 5 Pro (it adjusts the colour temperature throughout the day, reducing blue light), and ultra-high 3,840Hz PWM dimming when the brightness is turned down – to further reduce eyestrain.
The latter is considerably higher than even the Magic 5 Pro, and has earned Honor a DxOMark rating of 140 – ranking it 11th in the global display rankings.
The phone can also enhance video playback on a number of apps, including YouTube, Prime Video, Netflix, TikTok and many more.
On the right-hand side of the phone you’ll find volume keys and a power button, with a SIM tray at the base next to the single down-firing speaker (which is amplified), and an additional microphone at the top for video recording.
There is no case included in the box, just as was the case (sic) with the Honor 90 Lite. However, the phone does come in a full-size retail box so a case may be included in selected markets. I asked Honor for clarification, and the company stated that UK customers won’t get a case so you should consider buying a third-party cover yourself.
Amazon has plenty to choose from with prices starting at around £8. Or, of course, you can use it without a case to let everyone else see the impressive design aesthetics.
The camera setup is, obviously, not as advanced as the Magic 5 Pro, but the primary camera here is a 200-megapixel sensor, and there are many camera features from the flagship included to make the overall package very versatile, even if you don’t get a telephoto camera, 60fps 4K video recording, and a lower pixel count ultra-wide camera.
If the main camera suffices for most of your needs, why spend hundreds more on things you won’t use?
The 200-megapixel camera is capable of taking solid photos at 2x and 5x digital zoom, thanks to its high pixel count. Even at 10x you will get perfectly good photos for sharing on social media, in particular where recipients will be looking on their phone display instead of pixel peeping on a desktop.
But, with all those pixels comes the hi-res photo option that doesn’t 16-to-1 pixel bin to produce a 12.4-megapixel photo as with the regular camera mode. Instead it captures the full resolution, which equates to 198.2-megapixels or 16,256 x 12,192 pixels – and these photos are absolutely perfect for pixel peeping!!
You need good light to get the most from the image, but the results can be stunning – as you can see in the examples below (they take a while to load given their huge size!). This is a feature that isn’t even available on the Magic 5 Pro, which tops out at ‘just’ 50-megapixels.
Video recording is capped at 30fps in 4K mode, and 60fps in 1080p mode, but you can record 4K from both the rear and front (50-megapixel) cameras. There’s no OIS but you get electronic image stabilisation (something lacking on the Honor 90 Lite).
Finally, when some phones still come with 2-megapixel macro cameras, it’s refreshing to see that the ultra-wide camera, that also serves as a macro lens, is a rather more generous 12-megapixels.
While Honor doesn’t include a custom chip for image processing, which is another thing you’ll get if you pay more for the Magic 5 Pro, the phone will still enhance photos to create incredible HDR shots – it just takes a little longer to process. The phone also uses AI to actively cut noise from video recording.
Full size images (198.2-megapixels)
Performance & Software
The Honor 90 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 gen 1 SoC, albeit an uprated version named as ‘Accelerated Edition’.
The 4nm process 7-series chips may lack the performance of the 8-series, but not by a huge amount, and the phone is certainly not slow. The AnTuTu benchmark of 707,913 proves it has plenty of power. In comparison, the Honor 90 Lite scored 371,200 (with AnTuTu v9) and the Magic 5 Pro (also v9) 1,203,823.
The reason for the drop over the Snapdragon 8 gen 2 powered Magic 5 Pro mostly comes down to the GPU performance difference – with the CPU actually being fairly similarly matched. However, compared to the original 7 gen 1, there is a 20% better GPU and 30% better AI performance.
If you’re a hardcore Genshin Impact addict, you may well notice the difference. For anyone who prefers more simplistic mobile games to dip in and out of during spells of dead time, or doesn’t play mobile games at all, the Snapdragon 7 gen 1 will surpass your needs and expectations with ease.
In terms of RAM and storage, Honor isn’t cutting back at all – with 8GB or 12GB RAM options, and 256GB or 512GB for storage. Frankly, the 12+512GB model seems decidedly overkill – so I’d recommend saving £50 and going for the 8+256GB model. But, it’s great to have the choice.
MagicOS 7.1 is the same as other Honor phones based on Android 13, proving itself to be very stable, fast to navigate, and allowing you to customise the phone with themes, icons, fonts, and a huge range of always-on-display choices. Previous Huawei and Honor phone users will appreciate the familiarity.
The phone also supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, as well as supporting two 5G SIMs (one of which can be an eSIM). The Qualcomm 5G modem also uses AI to adjust the antenna settings to get the most from the available signal, and when doing speed test comparisons appears to perform near identically to the Magic 5 Pro.
Thanks to its 5,000mAh battery (with 66W SuperCharge wired charging), the Honor 90 offers a better overall package than the Lite model, but lacks the wireless charging of the Magic 5 Pro.
Like the Honor 90 Lite, there is no power supply included in the box. The phone can use any USB-C power adapter, but for the fastest speeds you will need either a Huawei/Honor SuperCharge power supply or something supporting USB-PD. Otherwise you’ll likely top out at around 18-22.5W, which is quite a drop.
Like with the (lack of a) case issue, some markets may ship with a power adapter in the box.
The Honor 90 is a great offering for its price, and while the camera isn’t quite as versatile as the Magic 5 Pro, it comes with a great main camera that most people will use most of the time.
With an amazing display, great battery life, copious amounts of RAM and storage, and a great hi-res mode that gives huge images you could print on a motorway billboard, and a price that’s less than half that of Honor’s flagship, you should not discount this from any shortlist.
The Diamond Silver edition is also a nice alternative to many other more conservative designs, plus if you get in early enough there are some additional discounts and benefits to enjoy. (Don’t worry, Honor runs regular promotions so if you are reading this review later then keep a check for further deals).
|Size/Weight||161.9 x 74.1 x 7.8mm|
|Screen||6.7-inch AMOLED Quad Curved Floating Display|
10-Bit colour (1.07bn colours) with 1600 nits peak brightness
1200 x 2664 pixels
120Hz refresh rate
Circadian Night Display Technology with 3840Hz PWM Dimming
(Upgraded speaker with low-frequency sound amplification)
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 gen 1 Accelerated Edition (4nm)|
Octa-core, Max freq 2.5GHz
Adreno 644 GPU
|RAM||8GB or 12GB|
|Storage||256GB or 512GB|
|Camera (front)||Punch-hole 50MP|
4K Video recording max 30fps (1080p 60fps)
AI Noise Reduction
|Camera (rear)||Primary: 200MP (f/1.9)|
Ultra-wide & Macro: 12MP (f/2.2)
Depth: 2MP (f/2.4)
4K Video recording max 30fps (1080p 60fps)
|Connectivity||Dual band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
5G NR (SA & NSA) Sub 6
4G+ with VoLTE, ViLTE and VoWiFi
66W fast-charging (SuperCharge protocol) wired
|Other||MagicOS 7.1 (Android 13)|
In-glass fingerprint sensor & facial unlock
Factory fitted screen protector
Dual SIM (Dual Standby)
No case or power adapter included in box
Early-bird deals available with price discounts and bundled accessories
Pricing & Availability
The Honor 90 is available in two configurations:
- Honor 90 8GB+256GB – £449.99
- Honor 90 12GB+512GB – £499.99
Honor is offering a 5% or 10% discount and a chance to get a Honor Pad X8 for just £9.99 extra via its own web store.
In total, you can purchase the Honor 90 at the following places:
- Honor (see link below)
- Amazon (free Honor Pad X8 tablet if ordered between July 7th and July 18th)
- Very (free Honor Pad X8 tablet if ordered between July 7th and July 18th)
- Currys (free Honor Pad X8 tablet if ordered between July 7th and July 18th)
- Argos (from July 19th) with free Honor Pad X8 tablet
- Three (from July 26th) with free Honor Pad X8 tablet on pay monthly tariffs – plus various trade-in offers detailed on their site
- Diamond Silver (as reviewed – and exclusive from the Honor website)
- Emerald Green
- Midnight Black
- NEW! Limited Edition Peacock Blue (see below)
Disclosure: This device was loaned from Honor for the purpose of writing an independent review. The company had no prior knowledge of the content published, and no money changed hands.