It rises from the still blazing embargo, slowly but surely. The Honor 50 is back with a vengeance, armed with Google services, and thus has become a smartphone phoenix that rises from the ashes. Not only that, you will be stoked to hear that support for all your favorite apps will also be part of the deal. Hardware-wise, Honor picks up where they last left off. Of course, you are more than welcome to read all about it in my full review of this handset for NextPit!
Comes with Google services!
Quick charging with 66 watts
Powerful main camera
Curved display doesn’t appeal to everyone
No IP certification
No wireless charging
A Brief Look
The Chinese manufacturer is no longer shackled by Huawei, having returned to its roots with its latest release, the Honor 50. This smartphone is an excellent masterpiece that comes with a sticker price tag in the region of less than $600, offering high-quality hardware and filling a design gap that was left vacant in recent times. If you like thin smartphones with a curved display and are mourning the Huawei P30 Pro, then you should seriously consider picking up this bad boy.
Buy the Honor 50 from Amazon
However, features such as IP certification or wireless charging support are missing, where having both of them would have given the smartphone an even higher-quality touch. Overall, Honor has succeeded with its comeback attempt that includes Google services. However, the Huawei Nova 9 also showed just how the two companies are still connected in one way or another. Be daring, Honor! You can do it on your own!
Design & Display: A Familiar Formula
For a smartphone with a 6.57-inch display, the Honor 50 is surprisingly compact.
It measures 160 x 73 x 7.8 millimeters and tips the scales at a mere 175 grams. The manufacturer achieves this by using a curved display that shrinks the screen’s bezels by a considerable margin. However, the smartphone does lack an IP certification which might bother some.
What I liked:
Chic design that follows the design language of the Huawei P-series.
Nice display with a 120 Hertz refresh rate and 1 billion colors
What I disliked:
Extremely slippery to the touch
No IP certification
Hardly an outstanding device
Visually, Honor continued from where the previous Honor models and Huawei’s P series left off. This means the manufacturer has armed the smartphone with a 6.57-inch OLED display that sports a 120 Hertz refresh rate. The screen-to-body ratio is great thanks to the curved screen, and the notch is also small enough not to be particularly noticeable in everyday use.
Honor has really come up with something interesting at the back! / © NextPit
Both the front and the back are made out entirely of glass. This makes for a high-end feel with a lot of rigidity, but there is a downside to this. It also involves plenty of sliding around be it while it is in your pants pocket, tables, and other surfaces. This makes the use of a case is almost mandatory. Fortunately, Honor does include a suitable case right from the get go.
The display hardly features any edges / © NextPit
Like many smartphones in 2021, the Honor 50 offers a refresh rate of 120 Hertz. The installed Android operating system is therefore nice and fluid to use, delivering a positive overall impression while providing an excellent brightness level. However, I still have to criticize Honor for the lack of IP certification and the low degree of customization. If you buy an Honor 50, you basically have a rebranded version of the Huawei Nova 9, which also makes it a quasi-clone of the Huawei P50 that was released in selected countries only.
Performance: One of my favorite processors
The Honor 50 draws a lot of power from a Snapdragon 778 chipset, which is, of course, 5G-capable.
In addition, there are up to 8 GB of working RAM and either 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. You will have to make do without any memory expansion via micro SD cards. Honor has thrown in NFC support as part of the deal.
What I liked:
No overheating issues
Solid working speed in the operating system
What I disliked:
Another camera smartphone without any micro SD support
Poor position of the mono speaker
Mediocre vibration motor
There are very few surprises when it comes to the Honor 50’s performance, which isn’t a bad thing after all. After all, the Snapdragon 778 is a well-known SoC that has proven itself. The processor allowed Call of Duty: Mobile to be played in the highest graphics settings without any issues whatsoever. There were no dropped frames and I did not notice any overheating during longer gaming sessions. The high refresh and sample rates are very pleasant when it comes to mobile games.
The SoC in the Honor 50 also performed admirably in benchmarks. The stress test in 3D Mark confirmed that there are hardly any performance drops even after 20 minutes of working under a full load. The Snapdragon 778 SoC lags behind the SD 888 in terms of performance, but that is not noticeable in everyday use. The preloaded operating system also ran without any stutters. Apps also loaded without any noticeable loading times.
Unfortunately, there’s only a mono speaker on the bottom of the smartphone / © NextPit
While the Honor 50 supports all existing wireless standards such as 5G, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC and WiFi 6, you have to make do without a memory expansion via microSD cards. This is one sore point for me, especially when you take into consideration how this is a smartphone that is marketed by focusing on its photography and videography capabilities. Apart from that, I would say that Honor has not skimped on other details.
It is mainly the mono speaker that would inhibit your gaming and video enjoyment. This is because when you hold the Honor 50 horizontally, you automatically tend to cover the speaker a bit with your hand. Since there is no stereo speaker configuration, sound quality will suffer a lot. The vibration motor is also rather below average in my opinion.
Camera: 108 megapixels with a focus on video
A quad-camera configuration is arranged in the form of two circles at the back of the Honor 50.
Its main sensor has a resolution of 108 megapixels, which is downscaled to 12 megapixels via pixel-binning, which is what many of the current smartphones do. Alternatively, there is an ultra wide-angle camera with 8-megapixel resolution as well as two 2-megapixel sensors for depth information and macro. You can snap selfies at 32-megapixels resolution.
What I liked:
Great night photos
Numerous video functions
Beautiful portrait photos
What I disliked:
Big drop in quality when switching to other cameras
Photos often look artificial
The camera of the Honor 50 is divided into two circles / © NextPit
Photos during the day
If you read my newsletter from November 17, you would know all about my autumn issues. Because when it’s just gray and dreary outside, smartphone photos simply do not look good at all. That’s why I snuck into the NextPit studio and snapped some reference pictures using the Honor 50 just for you. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Standard camera mode
AI camera mode
Full resolution in High-Res mode
The Honor 50’s color reproduction is nice and neutral across all three modes. The light in the NextPit studio is quite cold and the white balance handled that well. The AI mode made the shots look a bit more gaudy though, and Honor doesn’t overdo it as much as the likes of Oppo. The sharpness level is good in all three pictures, especially in the third high-resolution photo where it becomes clear that 108 megapixels do not necessarily provide additional sharpness. When studied in detail, the photo looked as though it was drawn.
Above: HDR mode of the Honor 50, with a sample from the Pixel 6 below! / © NextPit
Due to the lack of sunlight, I tried out the HDR mode using a lamp. Above is what the Honor 50 captured, while below showcases the Pixel 6,’s capabilities which delivered a very good HDR shot. In comparison, the Honor 50 is clearly lower in contrast and more details are lost in dark areas. In return, the lampshade is less burnt out on the Honor 50.
How to zoom using the Honor 50 / © NextPit
When zooming, the Honor 50 surprises with a good degree of sharpness, even when using the digital 10x zoom. The results are usable despite rather mediocre lighting conditions. The fact that it stops at 10x magnification is fine by me personally. However, Honor lags behind in comparison to many other phones.
The front camera on the left, with the main camera on the right – both in portrait mode! / © NextPit
To test out the portrait mode, I took a selfie using the front camera as well as the main camera in portrait mode. I really like the portrait from the main camera, while I felt that the selfie camera image is a bit overexposed. The blur effect is also barely present on the left picture. When it comes to portrait shots, you would be better off using your main camera and perform some simple gymnastics with your hand and the smartphone.
Shooting in night mode
Left without, right with night mode / © NextPit
The HDR mode on the Honor 50 made it look as though another light source has come on in the background. This is very good, because many smartphones produce very artificial-looking shots at night. The details are preserved and apparently Honor is also picking up where Huawei and its former corporate subsidiary left off a few months ago. Very nice!
At night, you’ll lose quite a bit of quality when zooming in / © NextPit
The good night mode results only apply to the main camera, though. With the ultra wide-angle lens, the brightening of the image is barely noticeable. You should also not zoom in as the quality already noticeably decreases at 2x magnification and ends in a muddy mess of pixels at 10x zoom.
The macro camera is typically set at 2-megapixels – making it exciting enough to discover new perspectives albeit being not really usable./ © NextPit
Honor integrated selected video features that were obviously inspired by other manufacturers in the “50”. Among them, a dual video mode that allows you to record yourself and the action behind the smartphone at the same time. How does this end up looking exactly? I have captured that experience on video that you can view below. All recordings – apart from the clips of the smartphone itself – came from the Honor 50 without any editing done.
At most, you can record with the Honor 50 in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. When you switch to the ultra wide-angle mode, the resolution drops to Full HD. The story mode is also limited to FHD resolution. Animations and functions run smoothly for the most part. However, I was not really blown away by the quality of the recordings.
It becomes especially noticeable when walking, as the digital video stabilization resulted in artifacts while the beauty mode almost provides a feeling that you are in a horror movie. In general, the smartphone’s photos have a rather digital or even artificial look. Honor rather offers quantity than quality in this department.
Battery and Quick-Charging
Honor’s new top model boasts a 66 watts charger that supports Quick-Charging.
The included charger is obviously rather bulky in size, but it recharges the 4,300 mAh battery in an extremely fast manner. Realistically speaking, battery life should be able to last for close to two days of use. Unfortunately, there is no support for wireless charging here.
What I liked:
What I disliked:
Wireless charging support is not on board / © NextPit
Honor seemed to have looked to Oppo and OnePlus during their absence from the smartphone market. This is because the Honor 50 has a charging speed of up to 66 watts. For testing purposes, I timed it from a 5 percent remaining charge and came up with the following peak values:
30 percent in 5 minutes
50 percent in 10 minutes
75 percent in 23 minutes
100 percent in 45 minutes
Without a nearby power outlet available, the smarpthone’s performance is also pretty good. Despite the medium-sized battery capacity which measures 4,300 mAh (possibly restricted due to the thickness of the smartphone), the handset lasts a good two days in everyday use. Basically, this is the kind of performance we would expect from a smartphone in 2021.
However, there is also something that I would like to complain about: The smartphone lacks support for wireless charging. The new Honor Earbuds 2 Lite, which are sold in many places as a bundle with the Honor 50, cannot be charged via reverse wireless charging, either. That’s just too bad!
It might seem as though nothing much has changed at all with the Honor 50 at first glance, but there is more behind it than expected. After all, a lot has happened in the smartphone world since Honor and Huawei had to rein it in a bit in the handset market due to the trade embargo. This is exactly why the Honor 50 impresses in 2021.
Armed with a 120 Hertz display, a modern camera configuration complete with multiple video modes, and fast-charging support at 66 watts, Honor can keep up with many of its competitors. At the same time, the Honor 50 feels like its extremely popular predecessors. The Honor 50 fills a gap that has long been left empty for many former Huawei fans. However, these have in all likelihood moved on to the competition in recent years.
“Honor is back,” I would say confidently / © NextPit.
It’s likely that the Honor 50 has appeared too early for most of the defectors to be interested in a new purchase. However, for former Huawei/Honor fans, the smartphone should be a sign that there is a future with this brand. With curved displays, a slender and premium chassis, lack of water protection and – and this is the best thing about the Honor 50 – Google services! It remains to be seen just what kind of software support the Honor 50 will receive in the long run though.
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This post Honor 50 review: Phoenix that arise from the ashes was original published at “https://www.nextpit.com/honor-50-review”