Honor 70 Review – The new 54MP Sony IMX800 camera helps this stand out in the mid-range

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Honor 70 Review Rating

Summary

The Honor 70 is a good mid-range phone with cameras that can outclass most competing phones. The chipset is power efficient, allowing you to get the most out of the big battery, and it is more than powerful enough for most users. The only real downside is that there are a lot of other good phones that are available for a bit less.

Overall
80%
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  • Overall - 80%
    80%

Pros

  • 54MP Sony IMX800 camera is superb, and the ultrawide has received a well-deserved upgrade too
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ has all the performance most users need
  • Excellent battery and good thermals

Cons

  • Launch price might be a little bit high
  • Apart from the camera, not much has changed since last year

I am glad that Honor is back launching phones in the UK/EU market running Google apps. The Honor 50 was a respectable re-entry to the market, competing in the very crowded mid-range segment. The Honor Magic4 Pro is possibly my favourite phone this year, though it has been an unremarkable year of phones.

We skipped the Honor 60 in the UK market because it was almost identical to the Honor 50. Therefore we now get the new Honor 70.

On paper, it doesn't look all that impressive, with minor upgrades from the previous generation. But, the new cameras make this a well-rounded phone that can hold its own against the best options in the incredibly competitive mid-range of the market.

Preview Product Rating Price
HONOR 70 Mobile Phone 5G SIM Free Unlocked 8+128GB... HONOR 70 Mobile Phone 5G SIM Free Unlocked 8+128GB... No ratings yet £349.00

Honor 70 vs Honor 50 vs Nothing Phone (1) Specification

Honor 70Honor 50Nothing Phone (1)
Display6.67 inches
120Hz OLED
1080 x 2400 pixels
6.67 inches
120Hz OLED
1080 x 2400 pixels
6.55 inches
120Hz OLED
1080 x 2400 pixels
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ Qualcomm Snapdragon 778GQualcomm Snapdragon 778G+
RAM8GB6GB / 8GB8GB
Storage128GB / 256GB128GB / 256GB128GB / 256GB
Rear Camera54 MP, f/1.9, (wide), 1/1.49", PDAF
50 MP, f/2.2, 122˚ (ultrawide), AF
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
108 MP, f/1.9, (wide), 1/1.52", 0.7µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 112˚ (ultrawide)
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
50 MP, f/1.9, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS
50 MP, f/2.2, 114˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.76", 0.64µm, AF
Front Camera32 MP, f/2.4, (wide)32 MP, f/2.4, (wide)16 MP, f/2.5, (wide), 1/3.1", 1.0µm
Battery4800 mAh4300 mAh 4500 mAh
Charging66W wired66W wired33W wired
15W wiresless
Price
£479.99 - 8GB / 128GB8GB / 128GB
RRP: £529.99
Current: £349.99

6GB / 128GB
RRP: £449.99
Current: £299
8GB / 128GB
RRP: £399
Current: £399

It is worth comparing the hardware specification of the Honor 70 vs the Honor 50 and Nothing Phone (1) due to the similarities.

The Honor 70 is an incremental upgrade from the Honor 50, the UK didn't get the Honor 60, but it was basically the same phone as the Honor 50. The Honor 70 has two main differences, the slight chipset upgrade to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ and then the new 54 MP Sony IMX800 camera sensor.

The Nothing Phone (1) was massively hyped, it might look pretty, but there was Nothing overly special about the specification. On paper, it is only fractionally better than the Honor 50 that launched the year prior. Thankfully, Nothing priced the phone attractively making it a solid option at the £400 price point.

Design and Display

The basic design of the Honor 70 is largely the same as the Honor 50. The dimensions are almost identical; the display is the same as the camera placements on the front and rear. The rear camera design has changed a little. The two circular camera bumps are now separate and give the appearance of protruding more.

I am not sure exactly what colour mine is, either Icelandic Frost or Crystal Silver, but it is a two-tone matte silver/grey finish. I think it looks attractive without being gaudy; in comparison, the Honor 50 was a much more in-your-face glittery silver.

Again, the display appears to be identical. This is one of the few phones at this price that uses a curved AMOLED display. It gives the impression of a much more expensive phone, but a lot of people have mixed feelings about the overall usability of curved screens. The quality of the display itself is superb, and the 120hz refresh rate makes everything ultra smooth.

Camera

The camera is the main thing that has been upgraded from the Honor 50, in my opinion.

Honor has ditched the generic and mediocre 8MP ultrawide, which I feel has been the go-to ultrawide sensor for mid-range phones for about 5 years. They now have a 50MP sensor. Specifics of this are vague but cover a 122˚ field of view, which is wider than the 114˚ 50MP  sensor on the Nothing phone.

This is then the first phone to feature the 54MP Sony IMX800 sensor, which increases the sensor size to 1/1.49″, giving it an advantage vs the IMX766 on the Nothing and many more phones (mostly Realme/OPPO/OnePlus).

On paper, you'd think the IMX800 wouldn't be much better than the Samsung 108MP sensor on the old phone, which has a 1/1.52″ sensor. But, Sony sensors have typically outperformed their Samsung counterparts, and in my opinion, there is a significant improvement, especially with low light performance.

Massive improvement with low light performance

Taking some very low-light photos reveals a striking difference. The below photos are in a very dark room at 4 AM. The door is open in the background with the hallway light on.

None of the photos look good, but the lighting is well below what you'd ever likely take a photo in.

The Honor 50 does OK, I guess. The night mode extended exposure captures enough light to work out what is going on. In comparison, a normal photo is completely black.

The Honor 70 is completely different. After checking the images on my computer, I had to redo them because I thought I had forgotten to take a sample using the normal camera. Both shots look similar, capturing plenty of detail, albeit a bit blurry.

I also compared it with my Pixel 6. In this scenario, taking a normal photo yielded poor results, marginally better than the Honor 50. It is not completely black, but that's about it. However, the nightsight performance is significantly better than the Honor 70, both phones seem to capture the same sort of light, bringing out the colours, but the Pixel has minimal blurring and more detail.

Considering the Pixel 6 and Pro are often regarded as the best camera phones on the market, I think the Honor 70 performs amazing well.

General day-to-day performance is superb. The Honor 50 was already good, this is better.

Photo Gallery

Performance and Thermal Throttling

The only other meaningful change to the Honor 70, is the incremental upgrade to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+.

It is a little disappointing that there has not been a bigger upgrade. There wasn't much for Honor to upgrade to from the Qualcomm lineup. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 was announced the same month the Honor 70 was announced in China, and an 8 series chipset is too expensive and power hungry.

MediaTek would have been an ideal option, and the Dimensity 8100 is amazing on the Realme GT Neo 3. However, Honor has used the Dimensity 8000 on the Honor 70 Pro, and this is not coming to the UK, which is very disappointing.

Therefore, we have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+, which matches the Nothing Phone (1) and its almost identical twin, the Moto Edge 30.

Performance is, as expected, fractionally better than the Honor 50.

In the Wild Life Stress Test benchmark, you are looking at a 6.7% improvement in the best score achieved. Stability has dropped a little, but it is still superb, especially when you compare it to the recent flagship chipset from Qualcomm.

Battery drops just 2% during the test, and the temperature increases 13°C. In comparison, the Honor 50 with the SD778 had an 11°C rise in temperature and a drop in battery from 93% to 86%.

Antutu results are similar. There is a 5.7% improvement in the overall performance.

Geekbench results improvements are less remarkable, with just a 4.3% difference on the single core and basically the same multi-core result.

These incremental improvements in benchmarks don't make a huge difference in real-world usage. Both chipsets are good, and they are more than capable of running all your normal apps without lagging. The 120Hz display makes everything buttery smooth.

The chipset is also more than capable of playing the latest games. Most games can run on a wide range of phones. You may just need to dial down the settings a bit.

Battery

The phone comes with a 4800mAh battery which is quite large for a mid-range chipset that is a lot more power efficient than flagship phones and a 12% improvement in capacity from the previous generation.

Most days I finished the day with over 50% of battery life, and on heavier use days, I still got through to bedtime with ease.

It has a 66W charging which is advertised as being able to do a 60% charge in just 20 minutes. For me, I’d say 60W to 80W is the perfect charge speed. I rarely need to charge that fast and normally use a slow charge for my daily requirements, but it is incredibly handy when travelling or on a day of heavy usage when you are in a rush.

Software

When I originally got my Honor 50, I had quite a few issues related to the early release software it was running. It was bad enough that the PR company requested the phone back so they could send me out an upgraded phone. It worked perfectly after that. With the Honor 70, I have experienced no such issues.

Unsurprisingly, the overall software experience is largely the same as the Honor 50. After using my Huawei P30 Pro for so long, I am quite familiar with the skin both brands use. Magic UI might be slightly different now, but it is still very similar.

There are a few unwanted apps installed and a few Honor branded apps. I'd prefer less on the phone, but this is sadly a problem across many brands and they are normally uninstallable.

Price and Alternative Options

Preview Product Rating Price
HONOR 70 Mobile Phone 5G SIM Free Unlocked 8+128GB... HONOR 70 Mobile Phone 5G SIM Free Unlocked 8+128GB... No ratings yet £349.00

The Honor 70 is priced at £479 for the 128GB version or £529 for 256GB.

For orders placed before the 16th of September, you can get a free pair of Honor Earbuds 3 Pro, which are worth £170. I assume these will be the same as the superb Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, and if you need a new pair of ANC true wireless earbuds, this makes the launch price much more appealing,

The older Honor 50 is just £299 for 6GB/128GB or £349 for 8GB/256GB. When it launched last year, it was priced at £449 for the base model.

You can get the Nothing Phone (1) with 8GB/128GB for £399.

The OnePlus Nord 2T is worth considering, it is £369 for 8GB/128GB and has a better Dimensity 1300 chipset, but a smaller 6.43-inch display that only runs at 90Hz and its ultra-wide is only a basic 8MP camera.

The popular Google Pixel 6a is just £390. The hardware specs look poor compared to the above phones, but many people regard this as the best mid-range phone. At the time of writing, you can also get the Pixel 6 for just £440. It is smaller with a 90hz display, slower charging, and a lower resolution ultra-wide However, it is probably the best alternative option, with a more powerful chipset, better primary camera and superior software support.

Overall

The Honor 70 is a good phone, and I'd say it was a great phone if there were not so many other great phones around this price. 

I'd say the price feels a touch high when you compare it to the previous phone, and I had similar reservations about the price of the Honor 50.

Just like the Honor 50, I think the Honor 70 does just enough to differentiate itself from other phones around this price point. I'd say the Honor 70 is better at launch than the Honor 50 was. The camera improvement is significant, making it a well-rounded phone.  

Looking at the Honor 50 on Keepa, it arrived on Amazon in late October, and by Black Friday onwards (1 month later) it was consistently £380 or less. This is well worth considering, all phones drop in price, but Honor and other Chinese brands have a tendency to roll out discounts quite quickly.

If you need a pair of truly wireless earbuds, then the launch offer makes the RRP a lot more appealing.

Minor gripes with the launch price aside, this is a solid mid-range phone. The SD778G+ is a great chipset ideal for anyone that is not a heavy gamer and it is easier on the battery than other Qualcomm chipsets. Then you have the camera, which is excellent, and the first phone on the market to use the IMX800, which gives it a bit of an advantage over the swathes of phones currently using the Sony IMX766.

Last update on 2023-01-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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