Honor 70 Review: Great photos, mid-range everything else

Honor 70 Review: Great photos, mid-range everything else

Honor has been making a bit of a resurgence in recent times, launching the flagship Honor Magic 4 Pro in the west back in May. That came after the company’s first solo western venture in the form of the Honor 50, which was a mid-range phone with not a lot else to offer. The Honor 70 is now available in the west, having launched in China a few months back. It packs a Snapdragon 778G Plus, a 120Hz AMOLED screen, and a 54MP Sony IMX800 primary camera, meaning that it’s certainly no slouch. There’s a kicker though — this phone comes in at €549.

The Honor 70 is a really good phone that I think anyone can love, but the problem is that there are so many other options available for less. The company’s Magic UI is pretty polarising, and the rest of the hardware, while good, isn’t revolutionary, The Snapdragon 778G Plus is a great performer, but it’s roughly on par with a Dimensity 1300 or even Tensor if you want to go the Pixel 6a route.

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Is the Honor 70 worth buying? To be honest, probably not. It costs a lot of money, and you don’t get much bang for your buck. €549 is a tall asking price for a smartphone that has a worse camera experience than the Google Pixel 6a, a chipset on par with it, and a worse software experience. The only thing the Honor 70 has up its sleeves is the display, and if that’s something that draws you in, then you should probably just get something like the Nothing Phone 1 instead as it has basically the same specs for less. Unless you really love Honor or want some of the talked-about video features, the Honor 70 doesn’t have a great value proposition.

    The Honor 70 is a mid-range smartphone with some decent specifications, though it's a costly smartphone that you may find better alternatives for.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Honor 70
CPU Snapdragon 778G Plus 5G
Dimensions and weight
  • 161.4 mm x 73.3 mm x 7.91 mm
  • 178g
Display
  • 6.67 inches OLED 58°curved punch Display4
  • 1.07 Billion colors, 100% DCI-P3, HDR 10+
  • 120Hz
Camera
  • 54MP wide, IMX8000, f/1.9
  • 50MP ultra-wide, f/2.2
  • 2MP depth sensor
  • 32MP front-facing camera
Memory 8GB RAM, 128GB
Battery 4,800mAh
Network LTE: Enhanced 4X4 MIMO, 7CA, LAA, LTE Cat. 20
5G
Sensors Optical in-display fingerprint sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor (analog), Proximity sensor, Light sensor, Wacom layer for stylus input
Ports USB-C
OS Android 12 with MagicUI 6.1 on top
Colors Midnight Black, Emerald Green, Icelandic Frost
Price Starts at £479.99

About this review: I received the Honor 70 for review from the company on the 9th of August, 2022. While the company provided us a unit for review, it had no input into the contents of this review.


Honor 70: Design

The Honor 70 is quite similar in design to the Honor 50 and is also quite reminiscent of some Huawei devices like the Huwaei P50 Pro. Obviously, an element of that goes out to the fact that it’s clear that Honor was beginning to work on these designs when it was a part of Huawei, but it only tends to give naysayers of the company more ammo in accusing it of making use of Huawei’s resources.

It's a pretty beautiful phone

However, it’s a pretty beautiful phone, feeling light in the hand and showing a more “striped” design on the back when the light hits it in a certain way. It looks good, feels good, and I think that it’s still a unique enough design that differentiates itself from the rest of the market. The two camera circles house the “Super Sensing” IMX 800 camera, along with the 50MP ultra-wide and the 2MP depth camera.

Honor 70 display

In the display, the Honor 70 doesn’t really do anything super special. It’s curved on each side, and the front-facing camera is a hole in the center of the status bar. It’s a 120Hz AMOLED panel that supports HDR10+, making it pretty good for content consumption. It’s a pretty standard display in that it’s just a glass slab, though it has some pretty good specs that make it one of the most high-end aspects of this smartphone. It’s only full HD, which is one of the biggest sticking points.

However, an even bigger sticking point is the single-firing speaker at the bottom of the phone. I would’ve thought that dual speakers would make sense, especially with the inclusion of an HDR10+ display. That isn’t the case, and in fact, the single-firing speaker isn’t all that high-quality either. It’s a mid-range phone, sure, but I thought that the company was clearly poising this device to be more for media consumption.

The build quality of the phone is nice (even if it is plastic) and the haptics are good. Overall, it’s a nice phone with a good design, but I’m a bit confused as to what the philosophy behind its creation is.


Honor 70: Camera

The Honor 70’s camera is touted as special thanks to the IMX800 that’s included, but to be honest, we’re well past the point of sensors being the most important part of a smartphone photography experience. Smartphones like the Google Pixel 6a can still punch above their weight thanks to the incredible software processing algorithms that are employed, and while a new sensor helps in some aspects, you can use a new sensor and still have terrible photos.

I was greatly impressed with the pictures that I got

With that in mind, it’s important to approach the Honor 70 for what it is: a mid-range smartphone with a flagship sensor. I expected to have poor results, but I was greatly impressed with what I got. Honor did an excellent job with its HDR in particular, and I was surprised with what this phone is capable of. If you want a mid-range phone that’s capable of taking great shots, then this is certainly one of them. The phone may falter in other aspects (or may simply be okay), but this is where it really shines comparatively.

To be clear, the photos shown below are compressed. If you want to see the full uncompressed images, be sure to check out the Flickr album at the bottom of this section.

Honor 70 photo sample

This first photo was taken at the Gorillaz concert in the 3Arena in Dublin. It does a great job at balancing the bright parts of the image with the dark, without overexposing any particular part of the image. I was impressed by this, as I know a lot of similar mid-range phones would struggle in this instance.

honor 70 photo sample

This is one of the most impressive pictures that I took, and it’s because of how the phone handles the reflections off of the building. It has just the right amount of sharpness and contrast without making the photo look unnatural. I expected the phone to struggle, but it did a pretty good job here.

Honor 70 photo sample

I expected the Honor 70 to struggle with this photo too, and I’m impressed that it didn’t. The sun visible atop the building was actually filling the phone’s viewfinder entirely, and I couldn’t see a lot of the detail captured here until I actually took the photo. The bird in the sky is perfectly shown too, with the photo balancing the brightness from the sun very well with the darkness and shadows in the lower part of the image.

Overall, this phone did a fantastic job. I also tested with a short recording from the concert, and the audio quality is excellent for those who may want to record in loud venues.

Honor’s “Solo Cut” video mode is an important feature of the Honor 70, and it will let you pick out a person in a crowd. You select your subject, and it’ll show the person in an extra cut on the right-hand side, even if they’re in a group of people.

I’m really surprised by the camera here. It’s not the best phone camera that I’ve ever used, but it does a lot better of a job (particularly in HDR) than I expected from a mid-range smartphone. If you want a phone that takes decent photos, then this is a pretty strong contender in its price category. I’m not sure I’d call it a flagship camera, but it’s pretty close.

Honor 70


Honor 70: Performance

The Honor 70 packs a Snapdragon 778G Plus, and to be honest, it’s pretty good. It’s powerful, it’s fast, and I’m impressed by this particular chipset. It’s obviously not a flagship chipset, but that’s not what most people need anyway. For what it’s worth too, this phone feels more fluid than the flagship Honor Magic 4 Pro did, though I demonstrated that Honor was heavily restricting the performance of that smartphone. I don’t have any fluidity issues when it comes to opening the camera or using the launcher, unlike last time.

As for tests and benchmarks, this phone is obviously very powerful. It’s not flagship level, but it’s performant enough (and funnily enough, looks close to being on par with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the Honor Magic 4 Pro) that you won’t notice most of the time that it lacks in flagship performance. The most evident form of that will be when gaming, as the GPU is what will really take a hit. We also tried to run our jank tests, but the app would crash when trying to export the results. Because of that, we can’t scientifically deduce how smooth (or laggy) the phone is, but I will say that it feels fluid in normal usage, and nothing has particularly made it feel like I’m using a mid-range smartphone.

You'll not have any issues whatsoever with using this phone for your normal day-to-day activities

As you can see from the benchmarks above, the phone does a pretty good job both in thermals and in general processing power. It does a great job at pretty much any normal workload you can throw at it and is definitely an argument for not everyone needing a full-on flagship phone. The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is a surplus to requirements for most people, and this phone pretty much proves it. You’ll not have any issues whatsoever with using this phone for your normal day-to-day activities.

However, when it comes to gaming, this is absolutely not the chipset that you should use. The Adreno 642L GPU struggles with some pretty basic workloads, and you won’t be getting into any hardcore gaming on this phone as a result. It struggles to run Genshin Impact on the lowest settings at times, so that gives you an idea of the kind of power (or lack thereof) that this phone has in that department.


Battery life and Charging

The battery life of the phone is good though, and it can deal with a whole lot. The Snapdragon 778G Plus is a pretty efficient chipset, and the phone doesn’t heat up a whole lot when using it. I’ve had really good battery life considering what I’ve been putting this phone through, including a litany of tests and other heavy usages. With a ton of CPU Throttling Tests to run down the battery, I still got nearly five hours of screen on time. You can expect this phone to last you all day, and as a daily driver, that’s exactly what it did for me.

As for charging, the 66W charging is pretty fast and aims to get the phone up to 60% in just 20 minutes. That’s really quick, and given the efficiency of the phone as well, it’ll last you a long time if you need to charge your phone in a pinch. With leaving the screen on though, I noticed that it charges nowhere near as quickly. To make use of that 66W charging, it seems that you can’t be using your phone at the same time.


Should you buy the Honor 70?

The Honor 70 is merely just a mid-range phone with some additional extras, and that means it’s not a particularly unique or special smartphone. It does a good job at pretty much everything, but there are phones that are a whole lot better than it at various different tasks. Want a good camera? Get a Pixel 6a. Want cleaner software (though with a bit of an unproven track record)? Then the Nothing Phone 1 might be worth it. Then there’s obviously the likes of the OnePlus Nord 2T and the litany of options from Poco and other device manufacturers, and you end up in a situation where the Honor 70 just seems overpriced.

There’s not a whole lot more to really add, to be honest. The phone is a good one, but it costs a lot for what you get. Why spend so much on a phone that’s only a little bit better than some phones that cost 20% less? If this phone ever goes on sale, I’d consider it then, but otherwise, the other phones that it competes against are already available for a lot lower price. Google services and the echos of a Huawei-driven smartphone aren’t enough to coast off of when commanding a premium price — there needs to be more. Honor does well with what it has, but to charge a price that much higher than the rest of the space, it needs to do more.

    The Honor 70 is a mid-range smartphone with some decent specifications, though it's a costly smartphone that you may find better alternatives for.

As a result, I love the Honor 70, but it’s hard to justify its price. If it goes on sale, then it’s hard to pass up on it. However, there are so many good options that simply cost less, that it’s hard to argue that this is the phone you should get instead.

About author

Adam Conway
Adam Conway

I'm the senior technical editor at XDA-Developers. I have a BSc in Computer Science from University College Dublin, and I'm a lover of smartphones, cybersecurity, and Counter-Strike. You can contact me at [email protected] My Twitter is @AdamConwayIE and my Instagram is adamc.99.

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