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Honor 50 smartphone review

The challenger brand is back with a vengeance and a 108-million pixel camera sensor

Honor 50 Review Hero
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Honor 50 5G smartphone is a very capable handset, one that doesn't cost the Earth and comes with a solid, if not compelling set of features. It remains one of the cheapest 5G smartphones with a 108-megapixel camera and 256GB of storage.

Pros

  • Very nice design
  • Top-of-the-range camera sensor
  • Very good performance
  • Bundled TPU case

Cons

  • Only one year warranty
  • Type-C connector still USB 2.0
  • Only one speaker
  • More expensive than expected

ITProPortal Verdict

The Honor 50 5G smartphone is a very capable handset, one that doesn't cost the Earth and comes with a solid, if not compelling set of features. It remains one of the cheapest 5G smartphones with a 108-megapixel camera and 256GB of storage.

Pros

  • + Very nice design
  • + Top-of-the-range camera sensor
  • + Very good performance
  • + Bundled TPU case

Cons

  • - Only one year warranty
  • - Type-C connector still USB 2.0
  • - Only one speaker
  • - More expensive than expected

Nearly a year after Honor was acquired by Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology, the brand is planning its revival outside of mainland China as it embarks on a comeback campaign that is bringing the Honor 50 5G to British shores. The phone was launched in June 2021 in its home country and won’t be available in the US or in Australia.

It is important to note that the Honor 50 5G comes with full support for GMS (Google Mobile Services) and that it is not Honor’s flagship smartphone. That honor (pun intended) belongs to the Magic3 Pro, a powerhouse that uses a Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset.

Pricing and availability

The Honor 50 5G smartphone is available directly from Honor’s website in the UK and costs as little as £450 for the 6/128GB model and £530 for the 8GB/256GB. Both come with a free Honor MagicWatch 2 46mm worth £120; it will be available in a number of territories worldwide and at the time of writing, the Chinese version of the phone can be ordered from online retailer Banggood albeit at a premium. Depending where you are, Honor will also release a 4G-only Honor 50 Lite (or SE) as well as a more powerful Honor 50 Pro.

Rear of Device

(Image credit: Future)

Design

The phone is available in four finishes: silver, green, black or a special edition. We got the first one and were taken slightly aback by how big it is. Despite its dimensions (160mm × 74mm × 7.8mm) though, it weighs only 175g and that’s partly because it uses plastic rather than glass for most of its body. Sure, the material is less glamorous but it is also more resilient - and cheaper - than glass.

A massive 6.57-inch curved OLED display occupies more than 90% of its front fascia with a 32-megapixel punch hole selfie camera sitting right in the middle of the top edge of the screen.

Rear Cameras

(Image credit: Future)

At the rear are a 108-megapixel camera with an 8-megapixel wide angle camera, a 55mm-equivalent Bokeh camera and a 2-megapixel Macro camera, all arranged in what Honor calls a dual-ring design, an unsightly but necessary bump.

USB-C Port and SIM Tray

(Image credit: Future)

On the bottom is a Type-C USB 2.0 connector, which is a bit of a disappointment. Likewise the lack of a 3.5-mm earphone jack might put some potential users off. All physical buttons - a volume rocker and the power button - are located on the right hand side of the device.

Camera Bump

(Image credit: Future)

Hardware and in use

Despite its midrange status, the Honor 50 has some features that you’d expect to find on high end smartphones; that includes Wi-Fi 6, 66W charging capability (zero to 70% in 20 minutes) and that 108-megapixel camera sensor. The rest is solidly midrange.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G is paired with 8GB LPDDR5 and 256GB onboard storage (likely to be UFS 3.1). There’s also a 4,300mAh dual-cell battery, dual 5G SIM support (but no card reader), GPU Turbo X graphics acceleration engine and what Honor calls “dual VC liquid cooling and high thermal conductivity graphene technology to improve the efficiency of heat dissipation”.

Display

(Image credit: Future)

The display is one of the highlights of the phone: other than the characteristics mentioned before, it has a 120Hz refresh rate, a 300Hz sampling rate, a 75-degrees curvature, can display more than one billion colours, a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio, an under display fingerprint reader and has a screen resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. Inside the box is a fast charger, a TPU case, a USB cable and a SIM pin.

Microphones

(Image credit: Future)

Honor added a few other features that improve the Honor 50’s street cred as a video editing/vlogging powerhouse. Three microphones, the ability to capture simultaneously from the front and rear cameras as well as using 5G and Wi-Fi connections to boost downloading speeds. Note that the phone has only one speaker rather than two which is a bit of a letdown.

The phone runs on Android 11 with Honor’s own skin, Magic UI 4.2; we’d rather have stock Android. As expected, there’s some bloatware; Honor Store, Honor Club, Optimiser - which contains a stripped down version of Avast Antivirus, Tips, Notepad and about a dozen others.

The phone comes with a standard one year warranty and Honor has not confirmed how many major firmware updates (or Android versions) the device will get over its lifetime. However, we got two of them during our review (the current version is 4.2.0.149).

The Snapdragon 780G is nippy, scoring a respectable 788 and 2826 points on Geekbench 5, which places it between the Snapdragon 860 (as used in the Poco X3 Pro) and the Snapdragon 865 (found in the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G). The compute test on the other hand, which looks at the GPU, is a sore point with the phone hitting just over 2200, which places it slightly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S9, which turns four in 2022.

3DMark benchmarks painted a far rosier picture, a good indication that the device will perform well if used for gaming, on par with the Huawei P30 Pro which will soon turn three after launching in March of 2019.

The competition

Honor has been quick to come to market with a competitive device but the market has not waited and has moved on. Oppo, Xiaomi and to a lesser extent, Vivo and OnePlus, have filled the gap left by Huawei, Sony and LG. The phone launched in June 2021 in China and is reaching shores outside China almost five months later during which a lot has happened.

The Xiaomi Poco F3 (8GB/256GB version) surpasses the Honor 50 when it comes to the CPU (it uses a Snapdragon 870) but lags behind when it comes to the camera subsystem with a 48-megapixel shooter the best it can offer. £349 gets you a potent rival if you’re happy with a lower pixel count.

Even more aggressive is the Motorola Edge 20 which opts for the same 108-megapixel sensor and processor but is cheaper than the Honor 50 at £429. However, it has a slower charger, half the storage capacity and a smaller battery.

Verdict

So there we are, the comeback kid has delivered a superb device, one that comes with the full array of Google Services. The Honor 50 is a decent handset that delivers just enough to fall in the “better than average” category. The current promotion makes it almost a must have but we’d still question the rationale behind a mono speaker and a USB 2.0 port. Once the freebie is gone though, things will get tougher.

The Verdict
4

out of 5

Honor 50 smartphone review

The Honor 50 5G smartphone is a very capable handset, one that doesn't cost the Earth and comes with a solid, if not compelling set of features. It remains one of the cheapest 5G smartphones with a 108-megapixel camera and 256GB of storage.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.