Honor 90 Review: Look at me!

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Honor 90 review: Look at me!

Honor 90 Intro


Back in November 2020, Honor decided to split from Huawei and carve its own path in the metaphorical smartphone jungle. Ever since then, the company has been dishing out some very interesting devices, arranged in different lineups.

We have the cutting-edge Magic series, including the extra-slim Magic V foldable models; the Honor X series offered some great value and features; and now we have the new core model, the Honor 90, pushing the midrange category way up and adding some impressive features down the pipeline.

Actually, the Honor 90 adds some flagship-grade innovations that deserve the "world's first" title. Let's check them all out in detail!

What’s new about the Honor 90?
  • 200MP Main Camera with a 1/1.4-inch sensor, 16-in-1 pixel binning (2.24µm pixel size equivalent)
  • 3840Hz Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Dimming, highest on the market
  • 1,600 nits of peak brightness
  • New Portrait Mode
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • Snapdragon 7 Gen 1

Table of Contents:


Honor 90 Unboxing




These days, most smartphone manufacturers play the environmental card to justify "Spartan" retail boxes with nothing but the phone inside. Honor does it old-school, adding not only a hefty 66W fast charging brick but also a USB cable and a transparent silicone back, so you don't have to buy those.

Honor 90 Specs

Midranger with pinches of flagship here and there


Honor 90 Design & Colors

Thin, light, and flashy


When it comes to design, the Honor 90 follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Honor 70. We have the same thin plastic frame, reinforced glass on the front and back, and a quad-curved AMOLED display with a punchhole for the selfie camera in the top center.

The back has a texture that reflects the light in an interesting way, adding something of a 3D effect to the overall look. Our review unit came in Diamond Silver, and it looks pretty classy, but there are more flashy options with even flashier names, such as Midnight Black, Emerald Green, and Peacock Blue (the last one is for the Eastern market only, at least for now).



The situation with the back camera system is similar to what we had last year, but this time around, the two circles featuring the lenses have been slightly squished into a more elliptical shape. 

Honor 90 Display




The Honor 90 comes equipped with a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with 2,664x1200 resolution, up to 120 Hz display refresh rate, and an industry-leading 3,840 Hz pulse width modulation dimming. Honor also boasts 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness and 100% of the DCI-P3 color space.

There are other bells and whistles about this panel, we have an Always On mode, smart resolution, dynamic refresh rate, you can manually adjust the color temperature to your liking, and there's also an eBook mode that turns the display monochrome.

Display Measurements:

The Honor 90 impressed us in our display tests; we were able to measure almost 1,000 nits of brightness on a sunny day, and the color accuracy was also top-notch. The 3840Hz PWM dimming thing also deserves a few words here after spending some days with the phone. In practice, you probably won't notice a huge difference compared to other phones, as many manufacturers already offer pretty fast PWM dimming.

The good thing, though, is that even if you don't feel it immediately, having this tech onboard definitely helps with eye strain during prolonged periods of usage. Our subjective feeling is that the Honor 90 display is easy to look at, and every tech that aims to help in keeping you healthier is very welcome.

The under-display fingerprint scanner is not the fastest out there, especially if the screen is cold (no Always On engaged), but it does the job. There's also a Face recognition option, but as it uses only the front camera, it's not the most secure option out there.

Honor 90 Camera

A classic setup



The vanilla Honor 90 goes for the classic wide-ultrawide camera combo on its back, swapping the telephoto of the Pro model with a depth sensor to help with portrait shots (gimme that bokeh!).

The star of the show is the main camera, which uses a 200 MP sensor that is also pretty big at 1/1.4-inch and is also able to do some radical 16:1 pixel binning that should help with light sensitivity, especially in low-light scenarios.

The ultrawide is a pretty standard job at 12 MP, and there's also the said 2 MP depth sensor. The selfie snapper is a pretty powerful 50MP ultrawide one, capable of taking selfies with a 100-degree field of view.

Main Camera - Day


The main camera samples taken with the 200MP sensor turn out pretty decent, with good level of detail both in good lighting conditions, and indoors. The Honor 90 has a slight tendency to overexpose some shots, especially during super bright days (just look at the funny side-stepping bird) but overall the quality and dynamic range are both pretty good on the Honor 90.

Main Camera - Low-light


Night samples are a mixed bag. The 16-in-1 pixel binning of the main 200MP camera definitely helps with low-light sensitivity but there's a good amount of post-processing going on anyway, as is the case with all Honor phones we've tested so far. You can't get a true dark picture unless you shoot in manual (even with night mode turned off), but most people will be pleased by the level of detail and HDR results in low-light conditions. That being said, the ultrawide camera definitely lags behind when it comes to night shots, and the difference between the main and the ultrawide is very prominent.

Zoom Quality


There's no telephoto camera on the Honor 90 (it's reserved for the Pro model) but Honor promises near-lossless zoom with the huge 200MP sensor. 2x shots actually turned out pretty decent, given the fact that there's no optical help anywhere in sight (pun intended). 

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Portrait Mode


Portrait mode has been upgraded and is also aided by the dedicated 2MP depth sensor. The end results are good but not great. If there's a hair or two sticking out somewhere (or if you're a stuffed lama), Portrait mode will take the hair stylist job and swiftly cut them off the shot. Bokeh is good though, pretty convincing, especially in close ups.

Ultra-wide Camera


The problem with slapping a good main camera on a midrange phone is that most of the times the ultrawide is not on par, and there's some glaring quality difference between the two. The Honor 90 is no exception. The dynamic range is not on the same level as the main camera, and details are somewhat lacking when comparing the two. If you look at the images from the ultrawide in isolation, they're not half bad, actually.

Selfies


The 50MP selfie camera snaps great selfies, with natural tones and pretty realistic perspective. There's an ultrawide mode to help you get your friends (or lamas) inside the frame, and your usual beauty effects, if that's your thing.

Video Quality

Video Thumbnail
Video Thumbnail


Video quality is pretty good, there's an AI which applies some clever tricks to the video, and image stabilization is also decent, both in 1080p and 4K resolutions. We recommend shooting in 4K, though, as 1080p samples tend to be a bit overexposed in some areas, and colors also do look better in 4K in our opinion.

Honor 90 Performance & Benchmarks

Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 does a solid job



The Honor 90 uses a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, which is the spiritual successor to the 778G found in the previous model. It's a pretty capable upper-midrange chipset, manufactured using the 4nm process, making it also pretty efficient.

Furthermore, the Honor 90 uses the Accelerated Edition of the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, which, despite the bold name, just overclocks a bit the main Cortex-A710 performance core. Plenty of memory configurations are available, starting from the basic 8GB/256GB and going all the way up to 12GB/512GB.

Performance Benchmarks:
Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Honor 901102
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G994
Apple iPhone SE(2022)2234
Google Pixel 71452
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro966
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Honor 903195
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G2765
Apple iPhone SE(2022)5168
Google Pixel 73318
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro2342
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Honor 90864
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G809
Apple iPhone SE(2022)2382
Google Pixel 71854
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro636
Huawei Nova 10 Pro695
Honor 70742
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Honor 90860
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G805
Apple iPhone SE(2022)1737
Google Pixel 71521
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro632
Huawei Nova 10 Pro692
Honor 70739


Honor says that the new chipset should bring about a 20% increase in performance compared to the Honor 70, and looking at the benchmark scores, this is more or less the case. In real life scenarios, the Honor 90 is pretty snappy and quick; you won't notice any laggs, stutters, or mishaps of any kind.

There's no microSD card slot onboard, but the aforementioned memory configurations should be more than enough even for heavy multimedia users. Unlike last year, this time around the phone starts at 256GB built-in storage.


Honor 90 OS/Android version




The Honor 90 comes with Android 13 out of the box with Honor's proprietary MagicOS 7.1 UI on top. The most important thing here is that Google Services are onboard, and you don't have to sacrifice anything if you're already in the big G's ecosystem.

The MagicOS works pretty smooth and fast, and it won't make you cringe. There are far less bloatware than one might expect, and most of it is hidden anyway. There's a smart assistant (YOYO) that you can use if you want, and the Magic Text feature that helps you select any text onscreen and transfer it pretty much anywhere you like. The latter is a bit hit-and-miss, but you can make it work if you're persistent.

When it comes to software support, there's nothing mind blowing here, but then again, we're talking about a midranger. Honor promises two full years of major OS updates, meaning that the Honor 90 will receive Android 15 and that will be the last big OS update. The security patches will go on for another year after that.

Honor 90 Battery

Slim but tough!

The Honor 90 comes with a hefty 5,000mAh battery onboard, which is impressive, given the thin waistline of the device. Unfortunately, the way Honor manages display brightness renders this phone incompatible with our battery test procedures, so we had to rely on the good old real-life usage.

A full day of autonomy is a pretty easy feat, courtesy of the efficient chipset and the aforementioned big battery. You can easily stretch that to a day and half, and even two days if you're not the fiddly type and use the phone moderately.

The 66W fast charging support is a nice feature to have, Honor says the phone will charge from 0 to 45% in around 15 minutes, and we confirmed it during our charging test. There no wireless charging (and hence reverse wireless charging) onboard but it's a logical sacrifice when the device is just 7.8mm thick.

Honor 90 charging profile:
In 15 minutes -> 44%
In 30 mintes -> 86%
Full charge takes 47 minutes

Honor 90 Competitors


The upper midrange space is getting pretty crowded lately. We have the excellent Galaxy A54 5G, with its 120Hz display, big battery, and attractive price tag. We also have the Google Pixel 7 and 7a, and we also shouldn't forget about the Huawei Nova series (although the Huawei lacks GMS, which can be a turn off).

The Galaxy A54 can be found for less money ($449) and is more widely available, while the Pixel 7 is a true flagship that delivers better camera hardware and software for more or less the same kind of money ($599 for the Pixel vs 549 euros for the Honor). It will be hard for Honor to compete with those models, but the brand has a solid and healthy followers in Europe and sales could turn out good too.

Honor 90 Summary and Final Verdict



The Honor 90 is a well though off, well rounded midrange phone. It's slick, lightweight, and stylish. It also has a great display: very bright, with vivid colors, 120Hz display refresh rate, and neat features such as 3840Hz PWM dimming, and dynamic circadian rhythm color adjustments. There are plenty of things to like about this phone, it's pretty snappy with the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, there are plenty of memory configurations to choose from, and battery life is pretty good as well.

On the other hand, there's no wireless charging, the price is a bit high for what this phone has to offer, and availability might be problematic. Two years of major software updates might not be everyone's cup of tea, and the camera system is kind of a mixed bag. The main one can shoot some pretty decent photos, albeit a bit oversaturated and sometime overexposed, but the ultrawide in just not on par, and Honor decide to go with a 2MP depth sensor and skip the telephoto.

At the end of the day, it will be hard for the Honor 90 to compete with more popular options out there but this doesn't mean that the phone's not good. Quite on the contrary. Some of the feature onboard of this model might make the big guys sweat or at least work a little bit harder, which is great for everyone.

Pros

  • Slim, lightweight, and stylish
  • Fast and responsive (Snapdragon 7 Gen 1)
  • Flexible memory configurations
  • Bright and vivid AMOLED display
  • 3840 PWM dimming to reduce eye strain
  • Big battery and fast wired charging
  • Generous retail box
  • Decent main camera

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • No telephoto camera
  • Short software support cycle
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP rating
  • Plastic frame

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

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