Honor 90 Review: Impressive Comeback with a Few Imperfections

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Honor, once a subsidiary of Huawei, returns to the Indian smartphone market after a hiatus that dates back to 2019. During that period, the brand faced formidable challenges related to geopolitics, impacting its ability to deliver timely Android updates. However, times have changed, and so has the smartphone landscape. Honor has since emerged as an independent entity, working in close collaboration with Google to ensure seamless integration of Google services on their devices. Furthermore, earlier this year, Madhav Sheth parted ways with Realme and took it upon himself to steer the Honor brand back into the Indian market.

Just ahead of the festive season, Madhav Sheth unveiled the Honor 90 5G as the first smartphone after its Honor’s comeback. Priced at Rs 37,990, should you consider the Honor 90 in the upper mid-range smartphone segment? Well, we have been testing the phone for the past two weeks, and based on that experience our Honor 90 review.

Honor 90 Review Snapshot

Editor’s rating: 3.75/5

Design

Display

Software

Performance

Camera

Battery

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Pros

  • Outstanding Display
  • Elegant Design
  • Dependable Battery

Cons

  • Unreliable Cameras
  • Limited Software Support
  • No stereo speakers

Honor 90 Price in India


Honor 90 review: Design

Honor’s design philosophy shines through with the Honor 90 5G, showcasing a premium aesthetic that catches the eye even from a distance. The phone boasts elegant curved panels both at the front and back, enhancing its visual appeal. Depending on your color preference, you can opt for a glossy or matte finish for the rear panel. The Emerald Green variant we received for review sports a delightful matte finish, while other color options available in India include Midnight Black and Diamond Silver.

The phone’s design seamlessly merges the glass-curved front and back into the middle frame. Although the frame appears relatively thin and is crafted from plastic, it offers robust structural integrity. Notably, the rear panel stands out with distinct camera accent rings and prominent Honor branding.

When it comes to controls and I/O, the Honor 90 sticks to a conventional layout without any standout features. The power button and volume rocker are thoughtfully positioned at an ergonomic height on the phone’s right side, delivering satisfying tactile feedback when pressed. At the bottom, you’ll find the SIM tray, primary microphone, charging port, and a mono speaker. Unfortunately, it’s worth noting that the Honor 90 lacks a stereo speaker setup.

Despite its expansive 6.7-inch display, the Honor 90 maintains a sleek and surprisingly slim profile, measuring 161.9 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm. Remarkably, considering its substantial 5,000mAh battery, the phone remains lightweight, tipping the scales at just 183 grams. This results in a comfortable and well-balanced feel when held in hand, contributing to an overall positive impression of the phone’s design and build quality.

honor 90 review: Display

The Honor 90 boasts a standout display that unquestionably steals the spotlight. Featuring a spacious 6.7-inch curved AMOLED panel, this phone is equipped with a high-resolution screen, boasting an impressive 1200 x 2664 pixels. The visuals on this Honor 90 display looked sharp I didn’t miss the 2K+ screen of my previous daily driver.

When it comes to color modes, the Honor 90 offers two options – the default “vivid” mode which delivers vibrant visuals. However, it’s worth noting that this mode tends to oversaturate colors, particularly blues and reds. The other option is “natural” mode, which can deliver much more realistic colors.

The Honor 90 offers flexibility in refresh rates with three modes to choose from 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz. The settings menu provides four options for display modes: standard (60Hz), medium (90Hz), high (120Hz), and dynamic (120Hz), allowing users to tailor their viewing experience to their preferences. The dynamic mode, which is the default setting, tends to prioritize power efficiency by frequently switching between 90Hz and 60Hz, even for various apps.

The brand has been talking a lot about displays 3840Hz PWM dimming, which is the industry’s best as per the claims. PWM dimming, or Pulse Width Modulation dimming, ensures a flicker-free screen at lower brightness levels, contributing to reduced eye strain, particularly in dimly lit environments. While this feature may not be immediately noticeable during casual usage, it offers peace of mind knowing that your eyes are spared from unnecessary strain, especially when using the phone in low-light conditions.

hONOR 90 review: Cameras

The Honor 90 boasts an impressive 200MP primary camera, featuring the Samsung ISOCELL HP3 sensor. This sensor employs a Tetra pixel arrangement, 0.56 µm pixels, and an expansive 1/1.4″ sensor size. Complementing the sensor is robust Quad Phase Detection AutoFocus (QPD PDAF), all tucked behind an f/1.9 lens. It’s worth noting, however, that the camera lacks Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) or any advanced features like laser autofocus.

In optimal daylight conditions, the primary camera of the Honor 90 captures photos with accurate colors and respectable dynamic range, though it may not outshine the competition in this regard. When zooming in, you might notice a slight drop in fine details, but overall, it delivers photos well-suited for social media sharing.

The Honor 90’s camera delivers sub-par results in low-light scenarios. The absence of OIS complicates capturing steady images in dimly lit environments. In low light, it tends to oversaturate images and struggles with color accuracy.

Accompanying the primary camera is a 12MP ultrawide lens with a wide 112-degree field of view and an f/2.2 aperture. Notably, the ultrawide lens supports autofocus, allowing it to double as a macro camera when needed. The color representation across the ultrawide camera on the Honor 90 can be inconsistent, as images tend to appear less saturated and lean towards the blue spectrum compared to the primary camera. I also noticed the ultra-wide struggling with low-light indoor scenes as a fair amount of noise would start to creep in.

The 50MP selfie camera on the Honor 90 impressively captures selfies at 12.5MP resolution, delivering images with excellent detail and texture. It excels in rendering natural skin tones and exhibits competent color reproduction, resulting in high-quality self-portraits.

Honor 90 Review: Software

The Honor 90 operates on MagicOS 7.1, layered over the Android 13 core, offering a complete Android 13 experience, complete with full compatibility with the Google app suite. For those who’ve experienced EMUI, the MagicOS interface may invoke a sense of nostalgia.

In terms of software, the Honor 90 keeps bloatware to a minimum. While it does come with a selection of pre-installed apps, notably from Honor’s own suite such as Honor App Market, Game Center, and Honor’s Email app, most of these apps can be easily uninstalled if you prefer a cleaner user interface.

In everyday use, MagicOS 7.1 proves to be user-friendly and operates smoothly for the most part. Noteworthy features include intuitive gestures, like a double-knock gesture for taking screenshots or recording the screen. There’s also a handy side panel that appears when you swipe back from the edge, allowing you to use certain apps in a windowed mode. Swiping down on a popup notification opens the corresponding app in a windowed mode, offering a convenient way to respond to messages without exiting your current app.

However, it’s important to note that Honor commits to providing only two major OS updates and three years of security patches, which falls short compared to some competitors in the same price range, such as Samsung, OnePlus, and Google, who offer more robust software support.

Honor 90 Review: Performance

Under the hood, the Honor 90 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, a modern component introduced in 2022, manufactured on a power-efficient 4nm Samsung process. The phone utilizes a slightly overclocked version of the chipset, known as the “Accelerated Edition,” with the prime Cortex-A710 CPU core running at up to 2.5 GHz, exceeding the standard 2.4 GHz. The CPU configuration comprises three additional Cortex-A710 cores (Kryo Gold) clocked at up to 3.36 GHz, alongside four Cortex-A510 cores, operating at up to 1.8 GHz.

The base model offers 256GB of storage as standard, but for a reasonable increase in cost, you can opt for the 512GB variant. This provides ample room for local file storage or for gamers who prefer to keep numerous games readily available on their device.

In everyday use, the Honor 90 impressively handles routine tasks such as messaging, email checking, social media browsing, and multitasking between apps, thanks to its generous up to 12GB of RAM. It’s also capable of running demanding games like BGMI at HDR settings with an Ultra frame rate, though you might encounter occasional stutters at these graphics settings. However, the thermal efficiency of the chipset is noteworthy.

When it comes to gaming performance, the Honor 90 excels. During online matches in games like Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile, the phone maintains smooth gameplay without slowdowns or overheating issues, providing an enjoyable gaming experience.

Honor 90 review: Battery and Charging

The Honor 90 5G is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery, providing sufficient power to last most users throughout an entire day of usage. In my testing, I managed to achieve just under 5 hours of screen-on time, demonstrating its good endurance levels. Even during intense gaming sessions in Call of Duty Mobile, I observed a mere 5% battery drop over a 30-minute period, and notably, there was no evident heating of the phone.

However, it’s worth noting that, for the Indian market, the Honor 90 doesn’t include a bundled charger, despite its support for 66W fast charging. Honor offers the 30W charger as a separate accessory at no additional cost. Unfortunately, due to our unit not including a charging brick, we were unable to confirm the exact time required to fully recharge the Honor 90’s battery.

Honor 90 review Verdict: Should You Buy It?

With an initial price tag of Rs. 37,999 for the 8GB + 256GB variant, the Honor 90 presents a compelling offering in the smartphone market. What makes it more compelling is the introductory offers which bring down its price for Initial sale to Rs 27,999 after bank discounts and other offers. While it will face stern competition at Rs 37,000 the introductory price makes it a strong contender in the mid-range smartphone.

It shines particularly in terms of its gorgeous display and striking looks. Where it fails to outclass the competition is camera performance and future software upgrade promises. The lack of stereo speakers is also easily noticeable.

Reasons to buy

  • Outstanding Display
  • Elegant Design
  • Dependable Battery

Reasons to not buy

  • Unreliable Cameras
  • Limited Software Support
  • No stereo speakers
Deepak RajawatDeepak Rajawat
Experienced technology journalist with over 7-years of experience. Before embracing online journalism, he has worked with several legacy publications including print editions at Hindustan Times and The Statesman. He also has a keen interest in Sports, which he used to cover with equal enthusiasm in his early career.

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1 Comment
Sathish Mechy
Sathish Mechy
@sathish_mechy
10 months ago

Awesome work

Reply