Honor 90 Review: how good is this affordable smartphone?

Honor 90 at a glance:

  • £449.99-£499.99
  • 200MP wide camera, f/1.9 aperture, PDAF
  • 12MP ultra wide and macro camera, f/2.2 aperture, AF
  • 2MP depth camera, f/2.4 aperture
  • 6.7-inch AMOLED Quad-curved floating display, 120Hz
  • 4K video at 30fps
  • 1080p video at 60/30fps
  • Android 13
  • Processor: Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 Accelerated
  • hihonor.com
  • Honor 90 features:

    Sitting in the middle of Honor’s current-line up of smartphones, the Honor 90 is designed to offer a range of features at a much more affordable price than its flagship models.

    That means that while you get a headline-friendly 200MP main camera, there are other compromises to be had, such as a lack of a telephoto camera and so on. However, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t break the bank and provides a good all-round experience for the majority of situations, it could be just the ticket.

    Honor 90 review

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/8 · 1/100s · 63mm · ISO360

    At its current price, it competes extremely well with other mid-range models such as the Google Pixel 7a, Samsung Galaxy A54, and coming in cheaper than the likes of the Xiaomi 12T Pro. It’s more expensive than the Oppo Reno8 Pro, but that’s ridiculous cheap at the moment.

    So what do you get for your mid-range money? There’s the aforementioned 200MP main camera, with an 1/1.4” inch sensor that is larger than the previous model’s version. It is joined by an f/1.9, 27mm equivalent lens. An ultra-wide 12MP camera module is also included, with an f/2.2 16mm equivalent lens. A third 2MP f/2.4 camera is a “depth” camera and can be used for assisting with creating portraits and shallow depth-of-field effects, but isn’t in essence selectable by itself.

    There are 4K video options, but you are limited to 30fps. Unsurprisingly, there’s no 8K available here, which is generally reserved for top-level expensive flagship models but probably isn’t actually necessary for most users anyway. Full HD at 60/30fps is also available.

    Other useful features to think about here include storage options between 256GB / 512GB (at a small price bump for the latter), the 6.7-inch AMOLED screen and a 5000 mAh battery which has the ability for very quick charging with Honor “SuperCharge” which can see the battery powered up to 45% in just 15 minutes with a 66W charger (not provided in the box as standard). Wireless charging is not available – a common factor among mid-range smartphones.

    Honor 90 handling and design:

    Honor 90 home screen

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/8 · 1/125s · 59mm · ISO320

    The 6.7” AMOLED screen makes the Honor 90 a little on the large side, but that seems to be the popular trend these days. It’s the same size as the Oppo Reno 8 Pro 5G’s screen, slightly smaller than of the flagship models, such as the 6.8” Samsung S23 Ultra, and larger than some other mid-range options such as the 6.1” Google Pixel 7a and the 6.4” Samsung Galaxy A54.

    Whether you like a large smartphone screen is up to personal preference – it can be a little awkward to use one-handed, but, it makes your videos, photos and other entertainment look good. Speaking of which, with its high resolution of 2664 x 1200 and 120Hz refresh rate, it’s an excellent screen – especially for the price, being much more detailed than other mid-range options like the Oppo Reno 8 Pro and Google Pixel 7a.

    Honor 90 cameras close up

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/8 · 1/125s · 70mm · ISO400

    Moving away from the physical size of the device, the design itself is very sleek, with nicely curved edges and an ultra-shiny finish for the “Midnight Black” colour way we’ve been using. Emerald Green, Peacock Green and Diamond Silver are also available with a matte finish.

    The camera units themselves are housed in two separate small round protruding units at the back of the phone. One contains the main and ultra-wide cameras, while the other contains the depth camera and the flash unit. It’s not a common look for smartphones, but it is quite striking.

    As this is a mid-range phone, there’s no special promises of toughness here, so it’s probably worth investing in a case to protect the phone from accidental drops and scratches. That said, during our tests it was used case-free and seems to have stayed damage free.

    Honor 90 native camera app:

    Honor 90 camera pp

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/8 · 1/125s · 70mm · ISO360

    You might be forgiven for thinking that since this is a mid-range model, the native camera app might be a bit limited. However, similar to other Android devices, the Honor 90’s standard photo app is very well-featured with lots of choice when it comes to shooting modes and so on.

    At launch, it will start in the default Photo mode, which is what most will probably use for the vast majority of their photos. In this mode, you can access the 0.6x and 1x lens, but also a 2x digital zoom option directly by tapping on the numbers shown on the screen. To zoom even further digitally, you can also pinch on the screen to a maximum of 10x.

    Honor 90 camera app modes

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/5.6 · 1/200s · 70mm · ISO320

    Other options you can change here include switching on AI Photography (where settings are tweaked automatically to match the scene), enabling a flash, enabling different digital filters and switching on Moving Photos. A more extensive group of settings can be found by tapping on a cog icon, giving you options to change things like aspect ratio, switch on a grid and a level and so on.

    In this mode, you’ll find that “Night” is automatically activated should low light levels be detected, while “Super Macro” will also engage if you get close to a subject (at which point, the app will switch to using the super wide camera).

    Honor 90 camera app settings

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/5.6 · 1/160s · 70mm · ISO320

    Along the bottom of the screen, there’s a host of other shooting options. This includes Portrait mode for photographing human subjects with a shallow depth of field, a selectable Night mode, and an Aperture mode which gives you the option to create shallow depth of field effects with any subject.

    There’s also a Video mode, plus a “Multi Video” mode which allows recording from both the rear and front cameras at the same time. If you tap “More”, you’ll also find a range of additional shooting options including HDR photo, Slow-Mo, Panorama and so on. Two which might be of interest here are Pro mode and High-Res mode.

    Honor 90 review

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/5.6 · 1/250s · 63mm · ISO320

    With Pro mode, you can control certain shooting parameters, such as shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and so on. It’s also here that you’ll find the ability to shoot in raw format too. High Res mode is fairly self-explanatory, but it allows you to take advantage of the full 200MP of the sensor, rather than the pixel-binned 12MP images it produces as standard. It’s recommended that you use High Res mode in good light for the best results.

    The Video mode is fairly simple, with 4K available at 30fps. You can also switch on AI and have the phone automatically choose the best video mode for the purpose too, with Portrait Video, HDR Video, Close-Up, Multi-Video and Solo-cut available for the machine to choose between.

    Honor 90 review

    Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    NIKON Z 6_2 · f/5.6 · 1/200s · 63mm · ISO320

    Honor 90 image quality and performance:

    As we often find with smartphones, particularly in the middle of the range, the Honor 90 is very capable of producing some great shots in good conditions. So, if light is good, there’s not too much contrast and so on. The overall impression of images from the main sensor is that they’re detailed, vibrant and look especially good on the screen of the Honor 90, but also stand up reasonably well to closer inspection on a computer.

    Sample image taken by Honor 90

    The Honor 90’s main lens puts in the best performance. Picture credit: Amy Davies

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/950s · 6.12mm · ISO50

    Sample image taken with the Honor 90

    Shot from the same position, we can see the angle of view the ultrawide lens gives. Picture credit: Amy Davies

    REA-NX9 · f/2.2 · 1/1700s · 1.96mm · ISO50

    Unsurprisingly, the images from the ultrawide angle lens aren’t quite as good, particularly in lower light, with some smudginess on display, but this is only particularly obvious when zooming in quite close on images – they’re perfectly good for social media and the like.

    As there’s no telephoto zoom lens here, you’re left with the digital zoom option. But, with 200MP available from the main sensor, a crop actually produces decent results for the 2x option – again particularly if you don’t intend to examine too closely. Further digital zooming is generally best avoided if possible.

    Sample image taken with the Honor 90

    The 2x zoom is a digital crop, but with a 200MP sensor it produces very usable results.

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/1000s · 6.12mm · ISO50

    Sample image taken with the Honor 90

    The 10x zoom is less impressive, so it’s best avoided where possible. Picture credit: Amy Davies

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/1000s · 6.12mm · ISO50

    We’ve often found before than an AI mode can go a bit wild with colours, oversaturating blues and greens, but things appear to be a bit more controlled here, to the point where it’s hard to say exactly what the AI is doing in most cases.

    Sample photo taken with the Honor 90

    Night mode produces nice results – particularly from the main (1x) lens. Photo credit: Amy Davies

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/14s · 6.12mm · ISO10000

    The Night mode copes quite well, with the best results seen from the main lens. There is a bit of smudging in some areas of the frame, but the overall impression is pretty good. The ultrawide lens puts in a reasonably good performance, but it’s best if you don’t examine too closely. Portrait mode does a good job on the whole, with the Depth camera coming in to help create a realistic outline. So long as the subject’s outline isn’t too fussy, you get a reasonably good result, with both the 1x and 2x options both performing quite well.

    Sample image taken with the Honor 90

    This image taken with the HighRes mode shows a lack of detail. Photo credit: Amy Davies

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/100s · 6.12mm · ISO800

    Sample image taken with the Honor 90

    This comparison shot taken in the phone’s standard mode is much better.

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/100s · 6.12mm · ISO500

    High-Res mode shows off the full 200MP available from the main sensor, but the results aren’t great if light is anything less than super bright. Our image taken in good light here is quite smudgy and missing in detail – with the standard 12MP output file much better. It doesn’t seem like a mode you’ll actually want to use that often overall.

    Sample photo taken with Honor 90 Portrait Mode 1x

    Portrait mode gives you the choice of either a 1x or 2x point of view. The results are pretty natural. Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    REA-NX9 · f/2.4 · 1/780s · 6.12mm · ISO50

    The SuperMacro mode allows you to get super close to a subject and while the results look reasonable on the phone screen, as soon as you get them on a larger screen, you can see some loss of detail – again if you’re only ever looking / sharing on your phone, this is less of a problem. There are much better smartphones for macro on the market – but they tend to come with a much higher price premium than the Honor 90 so it’s not so bad for a mid-range device.

    The standard video options produce fairly smooth, steady and well-detailed video when used in good light. You can use either lens and digital zoom when shooting in all resolutions. If perhaps you’re an advanced vlogger or content creator looking for a range of different shooting modes and higher resolutions, such as 4K 60p or even 8K, this won’t be the phone for you, but for the average user who just wants to grab video clips of certain moments, the Honor 90 is more than adequate.

    Sample photo taken with Honor 90 SuperMacro Mode

    Super macro mode means you can get very close to a subject. Results look good on the phone screen, but there’s some smudginess if you examine more closely. Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    REA-NX9 · f/2.2 · 1/33s · 1.96mm · ISO250

    Honor 90 value for money:

    These days, high-end smartphones can cost a relative fortune. Models like the Honor 90 which sit in the mid-range can save you a tonne of money if you’re willing to compromise on certain features.

    For the price, the Honor 90 is a decent performer for photographers – particularly if you’re happy to stick with the main camera and aren’t too worried about telephoto performance, or don’t need something fairly niche such as 8K video recording.

    Sample photo taken with Honor 90

    The standard lens produces nicely detailed shots. Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/100s · 6.12mm · ISO1600

    It compares extremely well with flagship models, even from Honor’s own range such as the Honor Magic 5 Pro, pricewise, and is several times cheaper than bigger-name flagships from the likes of Samsung and Apple. In terms of other mid-range competitors, it’s also good value for money, offering a good main lens, a stylish device and a broad functioning native camera app. Arguably only the Oppo Reno8 Pro offers better value for money right now.

    Honor 90 verdict:

    Honor has been produced some great smartphones for some time now, and the Honor 90 continues that legacy. If you’re not bothered by the bigger names, flagship models and high prices, then it’s always worth looking at what the company is up to.

    Sample photo taken with Honor 90

    The Honor 90 takes good photos in a variety of scenarios. Photo credit: Amy Davies.

    REA-NX9 · f/1.9 · 1/910s · 6.12mm · ISO50

    The Honor 90 is ideal if you’re looking for something that can handle a variety of different shooting situations reasonably well, but don’t need all the extra advanced features that others bring. It’s fair to say that image quality from other models is better in certain circumstances, such as macro, but if you’re happy with most everyday shots being well taken care of, it’s a great buy.

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