Honor 50 Review: This Android smartphone goes beyond expectations to deliver a slick experience and premium performance – James Ide
Since their separation from Huawei, Honor has been setting themselves apart, creating more unique and bolder devices aimed at a younger audience and this new style is incredibly apparent with the new Honor 50.
The Honor 50 is a mid-tier phone that dreams of being the flagship model, and it’s very close. Incorporating some of the high-end features without the eye-watering, high-end price.
The Honor 50 measure 33.8mm x 160mm and it’s also skinny at only 7.7mm thick. This makes it a little large, but it somehow manages to not feel bulky.
It has a beautiful, curved body and display though despite its size felt very comfortable in the hand.
Available in 4 colours Frost Crystal, Emerald Green, Midnight Black and Honor code, which is covered in holographic Honor logos, if you want something that looks a little showier.
Branding is minimal and understated (unless you have the Code model) which I personally always appreciate and features one very small Honor logo on the bottom of the back of the phone.
Due to the semi-glossy nature of its glass back it looks stunning but is an absolute magnet for fingerprints unless you keep it in a case or clean it constantly.
While it’s not the lightest phone I’ve ever held at 175g, it’s certainly not the heaviest either, especially when you consider its size and build quality.
The solid aluminium frame feels study and solid along with the grass front and back. My only worry was the camera is slightly raised from the body, while this makes the camera stand out more it took a while to get used to feeling my finger nudging the camera, and I was sometimes worried about scraping the camera on a table.
There is no 3.5mm audio jack in sight which will turn off some buyers. Like most modern devices it uses either wireless headphones or USB-C headphones, which luckily the latter are provided.
Build quality was great and felt solid and what I’d normally expect from heavyweights like Samsung and Google making this feel like a reliable, premium device.
As with most smartphones, the screen is the main event here and the 94% screen to body ratio is exactly what you want from a modern smartphone.
Boasting a gorgeous 6,57″, 75° curved, OLED display outputting a resolution of 2340 x 1080 which is on par with the Samsung S21 and while is not the highest still looks awesome.
The Honor 50 is also capable of to 120Hz refresh rate offering much smoother visuals which make it excellent for gaming, at the cost of battery life.
The screen is incredibly responsive and perfect for gaming with its 300Hz touch sampling allowing you to be a little more accurate and faster to respond especially in competitive games like COD, Fortnite and PUBG.
I found the screen slightly dull and it isn’t the most vibrant or contrasty I’ve used. Colours still look great, it is still brilliantly bright but I found this screen easier on the eyes for long term use.
Despite the 75° angle of the screen wrapping neatly around the device I’ve so far had no accidental presses or issues that are common with curved typed displays.
The single speaker does an adequate job but is very easily covered and as it’s the only one when it’s covered you lose audio, I would recommend using earbuds or headphones.
The photographer in me can’t help but love the Twin lens reflex inspired look on the camera.
The dual ring design looks sophisticated and eye-catching which is hard to do as a lot of cameras look very out of place on some phones.
With 4 cameras the Honor 50 isn’t messing around wanting to appeal to vloggers and social media superstars.
The primary camera on the back uses a 108 Megapixel sensor, this gives you a lot to work with when you need to use digital zoom.
Pictures were sharp and detailed, with natural-looking colours and I was pleasantly surprised by the cameras great low light performance.
An 8 Megapixel camera is also included which is great for landscapes and shooting in small spaces, the quality was good without too much distortion. For those who love insects and detailed close-ups there is a 2 Megapixel macro camera is included which does a pretty decent job.
It also benefits from a 2 Megapixel depth sensor that sensor helps create the shallow Bokeh effect which is great for portraits and isolating your subject from their background.
32 MP selfie camera on the front of the device which gives detailed shots and footage if you are a make-up artist this is fantastic, but also great for video calls too and social media obsessives.
The video was also very detailed and look amazing. You can shoot from 720p all the way up to 4k. 4K can be recorded up to 30 fps
Footage shot for the wide-angle lens can record up to 1080p at 30 fps, which isn’t bad at all but some users will wish the ultra-wide could also do 4K.
The selfie camera also records at a maximum of 1080p and 30 fps which is fine and was more than detailed enough.
The most interesting feature of the camera is its Multi Video mode. This mode allows you to shoot footage with two different cameras at the same time.
This means you can record yourself while recording, great for reaction vids, you can also take footage, for example of a band, and have one camera capture the whole group and another focus on one individual.
Footage recorded in this way is saved as one file so you cannot change or alter it after it’s recorded.
For connectivity, the Honor 50 uses Bluetooth 5.2 which is stable and great for connecting to wireless buds like the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite.
5G is supported for your fast browsing when you’re out in the wild, which will really entice those who like to take and upload content while on the go.
For a fast connection and downloading at-home Wi-Fi 6 is also supported. All-important, NFC for handy, cardless payments is also here.
The device also bafflingly uses USB 2.0 which is bizarre as is slow compared to most modern phones. I also had to download Honor Suite Android Smart Device manager to access the phone from my PC which is strange for an android device but does make it feel more secure.
The Device uses Android 11 OS with the Magic 4.2 UI, and this still feels like a pretty standard android experience and practically the same as EMUI, thankfully it’s not bogged down with built-in apps like some other smartphones, I’m looking at you Samsung and Apple.
The Snapdragon 778G processor was able to handle anything I could throw at it without breaking a sweat, performance was impressive with apps opening and responding very quickly. I never felt it get too hot like some other devices.
I also tested it with several games including COD, PUBG and Genshin Impact, on medium settings and it ran perfectly, looking great with smooth frame rates and responsive performance.
On benchmarking tool Geekbench 5 the device did pretty well. The score is calculated against the Intel Core i3-8100 processor as a baseline.
Single-Core scored 782, and Multi-Core was 2762, Which is higher than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and The Microsoft Surface Duo.
It’s great to see the return to Google play services, especially as these were removed due to trade restrictions issued by the US on Honor and Huawei previously, as like most non-apple users I’m heavily invested in google apps and services.
As an unrestricted device, the Honor 50 features the return of pre-installed Google apps, like the Google Play Store, Drive, YouTube, Maps, Gmail etc.
There are two storage options depending on which version you purchase, either 128GB or 256GB and sadly there’s no Micro SD expandable memory which I found baffling.
This won’t bother some users, but if like me you swap out files and prefer to not be limited by built-in capacity it’s a downer.
Magazine unlock was a really nice touch offering a different image to the lock screen each time and it allows you to pick customs images too.
A clear Thermoplastic polyurethane case is included, which while it is a little basic, its inclusion is very much appreciated. It also comes with USB-C headphones, as there is no 3.5mm jack.
The phone comes with a robust set of standard tools too for taking notes, operating the phone one-handed, a clone tool built-in, a notepad, and optimisers as well as a few others.
Annoyingly at the time of writing, no Netflix or Disney plus app support yet which is such a shame as these apps would really benefit from that screen.
The Honor 50 does bear a striking resemblance to the Huawei Nova 9, which isn’t surprising considering the companies intertwined past and it was likely on the drawing board before the companies parted ways.
The 4300mh battery on the Honor 50 is pretty good, while this isn’t huge it does a superb job, when combined with the energy-efficient snapdragon 778 processor the battery will last the whole day easily and this included video watching and gaming.
Thanks to the 66w fast charging the Honor 50 can be juiced up to 70% in just 20mins and 100% in about 50 mins. Sadly, it doesn’t support wireless charging so you can’t throw away those cables just yet.
This is a great Smartphone aimed at a young audience of content creators and gamers and has the tech to back it up.
The Honor 50 is a premium-looking package that aims high and for the most part, hits the mark. It’s an attractive and affordable mid-range phone that offers some of the luxuries of a top-end device but has some baffling omissions.
It’s a quick and nimble device that can stand up to the big boys, and while it certainly doesn’t feel like a top-end flagship, it’s more than capable, making this a terrific and dependable device.
The Honor 50 is available now for £449 for the 6Gb 128 version and £529.99 for the 8GB + 256 version and are available on Amazon.co.uk