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honor 90 emerald green back 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

HONOR 90 review: Should you buy it?

The HONOR 90 is miles ahead of the HONOR 70, but is it enough to compete against other excellent mid-rangers?
By

Published onJuly 6, 2023

aa2020 recommended

HONOR 90

The HONOR 90 is a great mid-range phone with several flagship-level specs. It lacks a few extras that keep it off the very top spot, but if you're looking for a great display, camera, and performance, plus fast charging, this is one of the best options on the European market.

What we like

Fantastic display
Great camera setup with a 200MP main sensor
Good performance
Long-lasting battery
66W fast-charging

What we don't like

No wireless charging
No IP rating
Mediocre mono speaker
Disappointing update policy
aa2020 recommended

HONOR 90

The HONOR 90 is a great mid-range phone with several flagship-level specs. It lacks a few extras that keep it off the very top spot, but if you're looking for a great display, camera, and performance, plus fast charging, this is one of the best options on the European market.

HONOR 90 review: At a glance

  • What is it? The HONOR 90 is the latest mid-range Android phone from HONOR. It upgrades the HONOR 70's camera to a 200MP shooter and the selfie sensor to 50MP. A larger 5,000mAh battery, faster Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor, and brighter 1,600 nits display complete the impressive package.
  • What is the price? The HONOR 90 is available for £449.99 in the UK and €549.99 in other European regions.
  • Where can you buy it? You can buy the HONOR 90 starting July 6 in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and other European markets. It'll be available on HONOR's official website and other online retailers like Amazon. The phone has been available in China since May.
  • How did we test it? I tested the HONOR 90 for two weeks. The review unit was supplied by HONOR.
  • Is it worth it? If you want an all-around great mid-range Android phone with an excellent display and an above-average camera, the HONOR 90 is definitely worth considering. But if you care about water resistance, stereo loudspeakers, or wireless charging, you should skip it.

Should you buy the HONOR 90?

honor 90 display on chrome browser in hand 1
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

At a glance, the new HONOR 90 looks quite similar to 2022’s HONOR 70, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a simple upgrade. The improvements run deep across the entire phone, making this an excellent choice in the mid-range Android market. It’s especially appealing in this matte, glittery, emerald color that morphs from green to blue to grey under different lighting.

The star of the show is the beautiful 6.7-inch AMOLED display. It can go up in brightness to 1,600 nits and didn’t have any visibility issues against the searing Lebanese sun during a recent vacation in the country. HONOR touts HDR10+ and Netflix compatibility, a DXOMark Gold Display certification, super high PWM 3,840Hz risk-free dimming, and more specs than I can remember. All of those marketing buzzwords are worth it, though. This is the best display I’ve seen on a mid-range phone and the fact that it can handle extremely bright environments as well as very dim rooms is a testament to that. I read and write a lot on my phone and I’m used to eye fatigue setting in after staring at white text on a black screen for more than thirty minutes. That never happened with the HONOR 90, even after more than an hour of use.

This is the best display I've seen on a mid-range phone. The HONOR 90's screen can be bright enough for extremely sunny days as well as easy on the eyes in very dim rooms.

The HONOR 90 also boasts an impressive camera setup, but is it one of the best budget camera phones out there? After snapping pics and videos in different settings for two weeks, I think the answer is a bit nuanced. The 200MP main sensor is fantastic in daylight, but HONOR’s color science and HDR performance remain, in my opinion, a step behind Google’s on the similarly-priced Pixel 7a. Low-light indoor shots are fuzzy, and the phone struggles with moving subjects — like a playful dog — in dim environments. HONOR, however, takes back the lead with its autofocus ultrawide camera and macro shots, its high-resolution selfie cam, and its impressively stable video performance. Seriously, check the handheld video sample below; it’s so smooth it feels like it was shot with a gimbal! (You can check the full-resolution samples in this Drive folder.)

Although the chosen Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset isn’t the hottest Series 7 processor anymore, it still does the job. I never felt any slowness or hiccups while browsing, scrolling, messaging, snapping photos, playing some light games, or editing videos. Even shooting a full-resolution 200MP photo doesn’t take more than a couple of seconds. It’s mostly impressive under heavy load, as the Wild Life stress test shows sustainable performance across 20 runs. Of course, we’re not looking at a flagship-level performance here, but the HONOR 90 should do the job for most users.

Rounding out the list of positives is a large 5,000mAh battery that easily lasted me 36 hours on a charge. I could stretch it to two full days with a bit of extra management and care, but why do that when I could always top up the phone in a few minutes? There’s a 66W fast charger in the box — a realistic speed that shouldn’t compromise on battery longevity — that can fill up the phone in less than an hour. It can even take it from zero to 20% in around five minutes. My only gripe is that it’s a USB-A charger with an A-to-C cable; I would’ve preferred a type-C charger for compatibility with other cables and devices.

honor 90 emerald green in box accessories
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Although there’s nothing inherently bad about the HONOR 90, I found myself missing a few high-end features that have started creeping up in other mid-range phones. With no water resistance, I had to be extremely cautious of getting the phone wet. No wireless charging is just as inconvenient. And the mono speaker felt decidedly old-school compared to the earpiece-plus-speaker stereo setup of other phones. Perhaps the biggest annoyance, though, was that HONOR didn’t make up for these with any decidedly budget but useful features like a 3.5mm headphone jack or SD card support.

MagicOS 7.1, which is based on Android 13, is another mitigated experience. It has access to the full suite of Google apps, including the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, and more, but it also fills up the phone with some unnecessary bloat. Out of the box, there’s a secondary email app, another gallery, two preinstalled games, Facebook, Netflix, Booking, TikTok, TrainPal, Trip.com, WPS Office, plus several HONOR services. You can uninstall most of these, but it feels too much for a first experience. Plus, there’s always a new privacy policy to agree to and permissions to grant when you open any app or service. If you’re used to this with other phone brands like Xiaomi or POCO, you shouldn’t find it unpleasant. I come from a Pixel background and this left a bad, albeit temporary, first impression.

HONOR is only offering two years of Android updates, which makes it harder to recommend as a long-term purchase.

You can’t count on timely or frequent updates either. The HONOR 90 will only get two years of Android updates with an extra year of security patches; an update policy well behind several of its competitors.

Overall, though, the HONOR 90’s package is impressive, especially when you combine that excellent display with a good camera and chip performance. The phone’s value and attractiveness will depend on where you live, though. The £449.99 asking price is competitive in the UK, making it one of the best phones under £500. However, €549 feels a bit excessive in the rest of Europe where other brands are offering more interesting alternatives. 

HONOR 90HONOR 90
AA Recommended
HONOR 90
Big camera • Powerful mid-range phone • Big battery • Rapid charge
Mid-range smartphone with flagship specs
The HONOR 90 is a great midrange phone with an award-winning 6.7-inch display, a 200MP main camera, and a 50MP selfie shooter. It boasts great performance, a 5,000mAh battery that easily lasts a day and a half, and 66W fast charging.

What are the best HONOR 90 alternatives?

honor 90 emerald green pixel 7a white
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Speaking of alternatives, the midrange market is full to the brim with options in the £400-500 range, though no matter what you choose, you’ll win something and lose something. Such is the law of budget devices; you have to be OK with some compromises.

  • Google Pixel 7a ($477 at Amazon): At a similar price, the Pixel 7a offers a significantly different package from the HONOR 90. It has a better overall camera, wireless charging, IP67 rating, a better processor, and longer and more consistent support. But its display isn’t as good, it charges much slower, and the battery lasts significantly less. The choice between the two depends on your priorities, though Google’s software promise does mean it’s a much safer long-term buy.
  • Galaxy A54 5G ($379.5 at Amazon): If you prefer Samsung’s One UI experience or want an ecosystem of products that work very well together, the similarly-priced Galaxy A54 5G is a good alternative to the HONOR 90. You get an IP67 rating, a microSD slot, stereo speakers, four years of Android updates, but beware, the base A54 5G configuration has less RAM (6GB). Performance and camera experience should be similar, even if the specs are different on paper. The only downside is that it charges at 25W max.
  • Sony Xperia 10 V ($415 at Amazon): Those looking for a smaller package should consider the Xperia 10 V. It’s more compact with a 6.1-inch display and lighter at 159g, but it doesn’t skimp on features like a 5,000mAh battery, stereo speakers, a 3.5mm plug, microSD card slot, IP65 rating, and Gorilla Glass Victus display. The Snapdragon 695 5G processor is a bit slower, though, and Sony’s image post-processing is disappointing unless you know your way around RAW photos and Adobe Lightroom.

HONOR 90 specs

HONOR 90
Display
6.7-inch AMOLED
2664 x 1200 resolution
120Hz refresh rate
435ppi
1,600 nits peak brightness, HDR10+
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 Accelerated Edition 5G
RAM
8GB, 12GB
Storage
256GB, 512GB
Power
5,000mAh battery
66W HONOR SuperCharge fast charging
Cameras
Rear:
- 200MP wide, f/1.9, 1/1.4-inch sensor, 16:1 binning
- 12MP ultrawide and macro, f/2.2
- 2MP depth camera, f/2.4

Selfie:
- 50MP, 4:1 binning
Audio
Mono speaker
Video
Primary: 4K/30fps, 1080p/60fps
Durability
Plastic back, aluminum frame
Connectivity
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
Biometrics
Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Face unlock (via camera)
Ports and switches
USB 2.0 via USB-C
Software
Android 13
Dimensions and weight
161.9 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
183g
Colors
Diamond Silver
Emerald Green
Peacock Blue
Midnight Black
In the box
HONOR 90
66W HONOR SuperCharge charger
USB Type-A to Type-C cable
Clear TPU case
SIM tool

HONOR 90 review: FAQ

Yes, the HONOR 90 has the Google Play Store loaded out of the box. It also has access to all of Google’s apps including Search, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Photos, and more.

No, the HONOR 90 doesn’t have wireless charging. It only supports fast wired charging at up to 66W.

No, the HONOR 90 doesn’t have an SD card slot.

Yes, the HONOR 90 has NFC.

The HONOR 90 comes with a double-sided SIM tray that supports two physical SIMs.

Yes, you can switch one of the two available SIM slots to use eSIM instead.

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