Honor 50 Review – Now with Google but faces stiff competition at £449

Sharing is caring!

Honor 50 Review

Summary

The Honor 50 is an excellent phone and at £449 for the base model, they have done just enough to differentiate it from a highly competitive crowd of superb phones.

Overall
78%
78%
  • Overall - 78%
    78%

Today, the Honor 50 finally sees its official UK/EU launch. It is quite an important phone, being the first product launch by Honor now that they are fully separate from Huawei.

This now means that Honor can include Google Mobile Services on their phones with the extensive range of apps available on the Google Play Store vs Huawei App Galery.

Review Problems

There were a few issues that have limited my time with this phone. Honor was very kind and sent me out an early sample, but they highlighted that it might not perform to its full potential until the final retail software is pushed through. At the start of October, I was asked to return the phone as they needed to manually update it. The phone was only returned to me less than a week before the embargo date.

The early review sample had some serious screen flickering issues which is likely why they wanted it returned. Apart from that, it worked perfectly. The returned device has worked without any problems at all, and I received the glittery silver model which is a bit more visually appealing.  

Specification

  • Display: 6.57 inches OLED 120Hz 2340 x 1080P
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
  • RAM: 6GB / 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB
  • Rear Camera:
    • 108 MP, f/1.9, (wide), 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 17mm (ultrawide)
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • Front Camera:
    • 32 MP, f/2.2, 22mm (wide), 1/3.14″
  • Battery: 4300 mAh with 66W fast charging

Software and Google Play

Normally I put the software section at the end of my reviews, but one of the most important features of this phone is that it has Google.

Overall software experience was the same as normal Honor phones, it is still using Magic UI 4.2.

Display & Design

One of the highlights of the phone is the large 6.57-inch curved OLED display running at 120Hz 2340x1080P.

It looks amazing, and the 120Hz refresh rate provides the insane levels of responsiveness many flagship phones have. You also get a 300Hz touch sampling rate which is fantastic for gaming.

The display is important here because it is what makes the phone stand out from the superb OnePlus Nord 2, which is about £50 cheaper.

It is only the Realme GT Master Explorer that offers a curved display and great camera/chipset for a price similar to this, but it hasn't been launched in the UK!

My initial sample came in Midnight Black, which is a bit boring compared to some of the colour options. It has a mirror finish which makes it a nightmare to photo and also fingerprint management.

The returned sample came in Frost Crystal, which has a silver glitter finish. It looks visually impressive and I think it will be a very popular choice.

The selfie camera is annoying large, this appears to be due to Honor implementing some AI algorithms to enable a ‘wide-angle'. You don't notice it after a while and it is better than a notch.

Camera

My time using the camera was much shorter than I wanted. I was hoping to test it properly the week I was asked to return the phone.

From my limited time with it, it performs well. The 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2 1/1.52″ primary sensor allows the phone to produce shots that can compete with the most expensive phones on the market.

Coincidentally, when the return sample arrive I was also reviewing the Xiaomi 11T which has basically the identical camera specification and the overall phone specification is very similar to the Honor 50.

So it is interesting to see how the Samsung HM2 sensor performs in two similar phones.

The overall performance for both phones is superb, being able to consistently produce good photos in mixed conditions. The Honor seems to produce more muted and natural colours while the Xiaomi has a more vibrant but exaggerated palette.

On a windy overcast day in Blackpool, the phone was able to produce good shots consistently whereas many other phones I have used will end up with blurry and dull results.

One highlight with the Honor 50 was when I reviewed the Wired2fire Predator PC. I used the phone to produce the product shots using night mode. The photos came out significantly better than when I tried using my OPPO Find X3 Neo. Huawei and now Honor seems to have a unique ability to minimise blur generated during the long exposure night photos. I wasn’t able to test the Xiaomi in a like-for-like scenario but the Honor 50 seems to have superior overall low light performance.

The other rear cameras are rather generic, which is always the case with phones at this price. The 8MP ultrawide is good enough, in ideal conditions, it will take decent shots, but you will want o stick to the main sensor unless absolutely necessary.

The Honor 50 has quite a few additional features you won’t find on other phones. This includes six multi-video shooting modes that use the front and rear cameras at the same time, delivering a top tier recording experience. Offering even more choice when it comes to capturing content, users can also apply beauty mode, capture photographs from videos, and use pre-set video story templates on all their footage.

Performance and Benchmarks

The chipset performance was as expected and during my time with it the overall performance was excellent. The Snapdragon 778G is an excellent upper mid-range chipset capable of handling the most demanding tasks.

My 3DMark Wild Life result was almost identical to the official 3DMark results page for the Honor 50. The SD778G also offered almost perfect stability-indicating there are no problems with thermal throttling. It is a long way off the SD888 and even behind the Mediatek Dimensity 1200, but it is more than capable of playing any game you want.

The Antutu result was also almost the same as the Realme GT Master. However, the PCMark 2.0 result was significantly higher with a score of over 12k. Looking at the CPU graph charts doesn't seem to reveal the phone leaving the clocks locked too high.

Battery & Charging

The Honor 50 comes with a 4300mAh battery and has 66W wired charging. There is no wireless.

The battery size is a touch smaller than some competing options, but I can't say I noticed. The SD778G is quite power efficient, so you should have no issues using it for a full day.

The PCMark 2.0 battery test was quite a bit lower than I had first expected, this is likely due to the very high PCMark score. With a score of 11 hours 7 mins, this is 3 hours shorter than the Realme GT Master. In real life usage, I can't say I noticed that much difference.

How much does the Honor 50 cost and when is it available?

The Honor 50 is launching for a price of £449 for the 6GB/128GB model and £529.99 for the 8GB/256GB model.

Starting from 12th November the HONOR 50 will be available in the UK from the following retailers: HiHonor.com, Currys, Argos, Amazon, AO.com, Very, JD Williams, Fonehouse and more. From 27th October to 11th November, the HONOR 50 will be available to pre-order from the above retailers. During this period, those who pre-order the device will receive a free gift upon redemption.

The pre-order bonus has been confirmed as the MagicWatch 2

What are good alternatives to the Honor 50?

I wouldn't say that the phone is overpriced. In fact, I have struggled to find more than one option I'd choose over this at the same price or below. But I think a lot of consumers may struggle with it for two big reasons.

  • I suspect the Honor reputation has been tarnished with the ongoing problems that Huawei has faced with the US. I personally am happy to continue using Huawei products, and I am sceptical of the claims against the company, but many consumers are wearier.
  • There are loads of amazing options just above this price point.

So let's look at the competition:

  • OnePlus Nord 2 for £399 –  £50 cheaper with an equally good camera, the chipset is as good if not better than the SD768G. The only downside is the flat 90hz display is less impressive. This is my favourite phone of the year so far.
  • Xiaomi 11T for £549 – Only the 8GB+256GB is available in the UK, Mediatek Dimensity 1200 is marginally better than the Snapdragon 778G, in my opinion, it has a slightly bigger battery and an IP53 rating.
  • Xiaomi 11T for £599 – Not vastly more expensive vs the 11T or Honor 50, but a much faster chipset and 120W charging
  • Pixel 6 for £599 – On paper, the specs may not look as good as the Honor 50 or Xiaomi 11T, but this will likely be one of the best phones of the year.
  • OnePlus 9 for £599 – Flagship chipset, with much better ultrawide camera, and wireless charging.

All of the above should offer exceptional flagship-like camera performance, and they all have fantastic chipsets. If you are less fussy about the camera, you can get plenty of options much cheaper. Realme has both the Realme GT and Realme GT Master.

Overall

The Honor 50 is an excellent phone and at £449 for the base model, they have done just enough to differentiate it from a highly competitive crowd of superb phones.

I think Honor may still face an uphill battle with this phone. They have to contend with 18-months of negative publicity due to the ongoing Huawei/US political issues.

Due to these potential reputation issues, I would have been much happier if the phone had launched at a lower price point. If this was closer to £400 it could have been an easy recommendation over the outstanding OnePlus Nord 2.

While it does cost quite a bit more, I think the Pixel 6 is going to dominate this upper mid-range price point for the foreseeable future. The Bose headphone pre-order bonus makes it a more attractive option than the Honor and the Pixel 6 has very favourable contract offers with both Vodafone and ID Mobile.

Overall the Honor 50 is a great phone and well worth considering if you want a similar level of performance of many flagship phones but you don’t want to pay the heft price. You are not sacrificing a huge amount by getting a phone like this, but it costs about half of what many premium phones do nowadays.

Last update on 2021-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.