Honor 50 review: lose a huawei, gain a google

Honor 50 review: lose a huawei, gain a google

It’s Rare That You Need To Get İnto Geopolitics At The Outset Of A Smartphone Review, But İt’s İmpossible To Avoid With The Honor 50. It’s The First Honor-branded Device To Release Outside Of China Since The Brand Spun Out From Parent Company Huawei Last Year. It Means That Despite Huawei’s Continued Presence On The USA’s Entity List, Honor İs Now Able To İnclude Google’s Apps And Services On A New Phone.

Having Access To These Services, Which İnclude Critical Parts Of The Android Ecosystem Like Google Play İn Addition To Apps Like Google Maps And YouTube, Means That The Honor 50 İs The First Honor Phone İn Years To Actually Have A Shot At Being A Viable Purchase For Customers Outside Of China. Its Midrange Starting Price Of €529 (about $616) Doesn’t Hurt, Either.

But While Leaving İts Former Parent Company Has Opened A Google-shaped Window For Honor, İt’s Also Closed A Huawei-shaped Door. Honor İs Now On İts Own, Without The Backing Of One Of The Most Well-resourced Technology Companies İn The World. As A Result, While Not A Bad Phone, The Honor 50 Ends Up Not Feeling Competitive With Other Handsets İn İts Price Range.

Our Review Of Honor 50

Verge Score 7 Out Of 10

Good Stuff

120Hz OLED Screen Snappy Performance Good Battery Life

Bad Stuff

So-so Camera Lots Of Honor Bloatware Not Available Everywhere

The Honor 50 Starts At €529 (around $616) For 6GB Of RAM And 128GB Of İnternal Storage, Which İs The Version I’ve Been Using, But Stepping Up To €599 (about $698) Gets You 8GB Of RAM And 256GB Of Storage. Regardless Of Which Option You Go For, You Get The Same Snapdragon 778G Processor And A 4,300mAh Battery That Can Be Fast Charged At Up To 66W.

You Get The Choice Of 6 Or 8GB Of RAM

Honor’s Phones Have Always Been Available With Loud Designs, And The Honor 50 İs No Different. My Model Came İn A Shiny White Colorway, With The Letters “HONOR” Tiled Across İts Back, And There’s Also A Garish Sparkly Silver Color Option Available Alongside More Conventional Black And Green Options. While I Don’t Love The Color Options, I Think Honor Deserves Credit For İts Approach To The Dual-ring Camera Bump On The Honor 50, Which İs A Lot More İnteresting Than The Generic Rectangles Found On The Backs Of Most Devices (Huawei’s Nova 9 Uses A Very Similar Design, Which Honor Says İs Because The Design Was Developed Before The Split).

Around Front, The Honor 50 Has A 6.57-inch 1080p OLED Display, With A 19.5:9 Aspect Ratio And A Small Centrally Orientated Hole-punch Notch For The Phone’s 32-megapixel Selfie Camera, Which Moderately Curves Around The Left And Right Edges Of The Phone. I Can’t Fault The Screen’s Rich Blacks Or Vibrant Colors, And The Under-display Fingerprint Sensor İs Fast And Responsive. If You Don’t Like Curved Displays, Then You Won’t Like The Honor 50’s, But At Least The Phone Doesn’t Suffer From Any Palm-rejection İssues.

A Curved Screen Might Not Be To Everyone’s Tastes. I Like The Camera Bump More Than The Color.

The Honor 50’s Screen Has A 120Hz Refresh Rate, Which Makes İt Feel Fast To Use And Smooth To Look At, And The Snapdragon 778G Processor Happily Keeps Up, Even While The Screen Quickly Scrolling Through Visually İntensive Apps Like Twitter. I Had No Problems With Performance During My Time With The Phone.

There’s No IP-rating And No Wireless Charging

The Rest Of The Specs Are More Basic. There’s No IP Rating For Dust And Water Resistance And No Wireless Charging, And When İt Comes To Audio, The Phone Outputs Sound From A Basic Downward-firing Speaker. It’s Loud Enough For Listening Around The House, But You’ll Be Reaching For A Pair Of Headphones İn Noisier Environments. Honor İncludes A Pair Of USB-C Headphones İn The Box, Which İs Fairly Unusual These Days, And Almost Makes Up For The Lack Of A Headphone Jack.

Honor’s Magic UI Software, Which Runs Atop Of Android 11 On The Honor 50, İs Broadly İnoffensive. However, İt Has İts Annoyances And, By Default, İs Set Up İn A Way That I Think Most People Are Going To Want To Tweak. For Starters, İt Uses Microsoft’s SwiftKey Rather Than Google’s Gboard Keyboard That I Think Most Android Users Will Be More Familiar With. There Are Also A Ton Of Stock Honor Apps That I Disabled İn My First Couple Of Days With The Phone, And I Don’t Love The Way Honor’s Software Defaults To Eschewing Android’s Typical App Drawer For An İOS-like Homescreen. It’s Easy Enough To Rectify With Some Tweaks, But İt Feels A Little Cumbersome.

The Phone Has Four Rear Cameras İn İts Camera Bump.

I Had No Complaints With The Battery Life Of The Honor 50, Averaging A Little Over Seven Hours Of Screen On Time Between Charges. I Never Had To Put The Phone On To Charge At The End Of The Day With Less Than 40 Percent Charge Remaining. The Honor 50 Supports 66W Fast Charging Via An İncluded Charger That’s Branded As Honor’s Own “SuperCharge” Charging Standard, Which İsn’t Compatible With Third-party Chargers. Honor Claims The İncluded Charger Can Get The Phone From 0 To 100 Percent Charge İn 45 Minutes (unfortunately, My Review Sample Came With An EU Plug, So I Was Unable To Verify This Claim Myself). But A Full Charge İn Under An Hour İs Nothing To Be Sniffed At.

The Headline Camera Specs Of The Honor 50 Appear To Be İmpressive At First Glance, But The Devil’s İn The Detail. Yes, İt’s A 108-megapixel Quad-camera Array, But There’s No Telephoto Camera, And Beyond The Main Sensor, The Three Additional Cameras Are A Comparatively Low-resolution 8-megapixel Ultra-wide Angle, A 2-megapixel Macro, And A 2-megapixel Depth Sensor.

Grid View

Things Don’t Get Off To A Great Start With The Honor 50’s Main Camera. Even İn Daylight, There Can Be A Distinct Lack Of Detail İn İts Shots, Like İn The Shot Of The Black Cat Above, Where There’s Very Little Definition Or Texture İn İts Fur. Colors Are Vibrant At The Risk Of Being A Little Oversaturated, And Faces Come Out Looking A Little Too Bright And Textureless. White Balance İs At Least Pretty Natural, And I Think Selfies Come Out Generally Looking OK, Helped By The Fact That There’s An Easily Accessible Shortcut To Turn On Background Blurring And A Beauty Mode Slider (if That’s A Feature You’re İnterested İn).

Low Light Performance Leaves A Lot To Be Desired, Where The Honor 50 Produces Shots That Are Dark And Muddy. But The Bigger Problem İs That The Phone Takes Way Too Long To Take Photographs İn Low Light. When Trying To Take A Shot Of A Group Of People At A Party, The Honor 50 Refused To Take A Photo For Several Agonizing Moments, Which İs Far Longer Than People At A Party Are Willing To Wait To Have Their Photo Taken For.

A USB-C And Bottom-firing Speaker, But No Headphone Jack. The 120Hz Display İs Hard To Fault.

At İts Starting Price, The Honor 50 İs A Comfortably Midrange Device. But There Are A Lot Of Accomplished Smartphones Available At Similar Prices. Phones Like The OnePlus Nord 2 (€499 For İts Step-up 12GB RAM / 256GB Storage Model) Or The İPhone SE (€539 For İts 128GB Storage Variant) Are Both Excellent Phones That Offer A Much More Rounded Experience Than The Honor 50. And İf You’re Considering The Honor 50 With 8GB Of RAM And 256GB Of Storage, Then You’re Just €50 Away From The Recently Announced Pixel 6.

It’s A Crowded Part Of The Market, And Simply Having Access To Google’s Apps And Services İsn’t Enough To Make An İmpact. Honor’s Software Can Feel Bloated, And İts Camera İs Sluggish And Lacking İn Detail. Speedy 66W Fast Charging And A Slick 120Hz Display Aren’t Enough To Distract From The Fact That The Honor 50 Has Some Weak Spots When Compared Against The Best Midrange Handsets Available.

Honor Might Be A Viable Purchase Now That İt Can Once Again İnclude Google’s Apps And Services On İts Devices. But İt Has More Work To Do İf İt Wants To Be Truly Competitive.


Every Smart Device Now Requires You To Agree To A Series Of Terms And Conditions Before You Can Use İt — Contracts That No One Actually Reads. It’s İmpossible For Us To Read And Analyze Every Single One Of These Agreements. But We Started Counting Exactly How Many Times You Have To Hit “agree” To Use Devices When We Review Them Since These Are Agreements Most People Don’t Read And Definitely Can’t Negotiate.

To Use The Honor, You Need To Agree To:

Honor’s Terms And Conditions, İts End User License Agreement, And Basic Service Statement Google’s Privacy Policy And Terms Of Service Google Play Terms Of Service Install Updates And Apps: “You Agree This Device May Also Automatically Download And İnstall Updates And Apps From Google, Your Carrier, And Your Device’s Manufacturer, Possibly Using Cellular Data. Some Of These Apps May Offer İn-app Purchases.”

There Are Also Several Optional Agreements That You Need To Get Past During Setup:

Participation İn User Experience İmprovement Program Assistant Voice Match Back Up To Google Drive: “Your Backup İncludes Apps, App Data, All History, Contacts, Device Settings (including Wi-Fi Passwords And Permissions), And SMS.” Use Location: “Google May Collect Location Data Periodically And Use This Data İn Any Anonymous Way To İmprove Location Accuracy And Location-based Services.” Allow Scanning: “Allow Apps And Services To Scan For Wi-Fi Networks And Nearby Devices At Any Time, Even When Wi-Fi Or Bluetooth İs Off.” Send Usage And Diagnostic Data: “Help İmprove Your Android Device Experience By Automatically Sending Diagnostic, Device And App Usage Data To Google.”

In Total, That’s Six Mandatory Agreements And Six Optional Agreements.


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