Honor has launched a few products during its IFA 2022 keynote, and the headliner among those devices is almost certainly the Honor 70, its latest midrange phone. While it isn’t as flashy and stuffed with sensors and cameras as the flagship Honor Magic 4 Pro, it’s still a phone that can compete toe-to-toe with many other high-end phones. Honor itself positions it as a great vlogging and selfie machine, so we went hands-on to find out if this phone can hold up to its lofty claims.
|CPU||Snapdragon 778G Plus 5G|
|Display||6.67-inch curved 2400x1080 120Hz 20:9 OLED|
|Battery||4,800mAh, 66W Honor SuperCharge|
|Operating System||Android 12 (Magic UI 6.1)|
|Rear cameras||54MP primary, 50MP ultrawide, 2MP depth sensor|
|Connectivity||Dual SIM, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C|
|Dimensions||161.4 x 73.3 x 7.91mm, 178g|
|Colors||Crystal Silver, Icelandic Frost, Midnight Black, Emerald Green|
|Included accessories||Honor 66W charger, USB Type-C cable, TPU case, TP protective film (pre-applied)|
|Bands||2G bands: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 3G bands: 1,2,4,5,6,8,19 4G bands: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,12,13,17,18,19,20,25,26,28,32,66,34,38,39,40,41 5G bands: 1,3,5,7,8,20,28,38,40,41,66,77,78 Speed: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A, 5G|
Honor 70: Availability
Before diving in, we need to have a word on availability. Honor doesn’t sell its phones in the US, and you'll need to do some good research before deciding to import. Even if your carrier supports the needed bands, it’s very likely that the Honor 70 isn’t certified, meaning that you might have difficulty taking phone calls and getting the connectivity you expect. That said, the Honor 70 supports a variety of bands which you can check out in the spec sheet above.
Honor 70: Design
At first glance, the Honor 70 could just as well be a flagship phone. The Emerald Green color variant we have received has a beautiful back to look at, with the matte green color shifting ever so slightly depending on how light falls onto it. The soft-touch finish also does an excellent job of hiding fingerprints, though it’s not as good as the Vivo X80 Pro and the OnePlus 10 Pro. Honor went for an interesting design for the camera array here, which consists of two big protruding circles with the main IMX800 54MP camera and the depth sensor living in the top one and the 50MP ultrawide and the LED flash in the lower one. Apart from the usual branding, some details on the camera, and the regulatory signs still required to be physically available in the EU, the back is clean and understated and curves gently around the edges. Speaking of the frame, it's made of plastic, though it doesn't feel too cheap.
The same curves can be seen at the front, as the 6.67-inch 2400x1080p 120Hz 20:9 screen is curved – by 58 degrees, to be exact. With many other manufacturers returning to regular flat screens, it’s a bold decision, but it does help give the phone a narrower footprint when holding it in hand. In fact, the Honor 70 is extremely pleasant to hold. It fits in one hand easily and isn’t as heavy as you would expect it to be when looking at it, with Honor apparently ensuring that its 178g are well balanced and evenly distributed.
Honor 70: Display
Based on the time we’ve had with the Honor 70, it looks like the company stepped up its display game significantly compared to the Honor Magic 4 Pro. The viewing angles are ever-so-slightly better, which is important on a screen with curved edges. We also haven’t noticed any egregious unevenness when viewing dark gray backgrounds at low brightness levels. This was a big problem with the Magic 4 Pro, and it’s great to see that its midrange sibling doesn’t suffer from the same problem.
The only thing I wish for the display is that I would like it to get a tad brighter, especially in broad sunlight.
The Honor 70 sports a quick under-display fingerprint scanner in addition to a face unlock option, though from what we can gather, it doesn’t use any sensors besides the front-facing camera. It’s supposed to be a biometric system, but Honor warns that it might not be as secure as a PIN, pattern, or password. Since the fingerprint scanner is pleasantly fast and accurate (looking at you, Pixel 6), you might not even feel the need to add your face at all.
Honor 70: Hardware and performance
On the inside, a Snapdragon 778G Plus 5G processor is responsible for the computing prowess. It’s accompanied by 8GB of RAM and either 128 or 256GB of storage. This all is powered by a 4,800mAh battery that supports Honor’s proprietary 66W SuperCharge bricks, allowing you to charge up to 60% in 20 minutes. Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, and 5G connectivity rounds out the package.
Overall, the phone is quick to react to input. Its 120Hz display makes everything on it a smooth operation. While we haven't been able to test too many apps with it, these first impressions are promising.
Honor 70: Software
When it comes to software, we’re looking at Honor’s Magic UI 6.1, which is still based on Android 12. Sadly, Honor still doesn’t support Material You, but it makes up for this shortcoming with a selection of preloaded themes for the home screen and lock screen, which allows you to get a more personalized look and feel with a selection of custom icons for Honor apps, and the option to switch between random beautiful wallpapers on your lock screen.
Speaking of pre-installed apps, Honor’s Magic UI comes with quite a few of them. Thankfully, you can uninstall most of them immediately, so if you don’t want the preselection of games and some entertainment apps like Netflix or TikTok on your phone, you can get rid of them easily. The launcher itself is an iOS-style creation without an app drawer, though you can add one if you prefer in settings. Sadly, exiting apps will still throw you on whatever home screen page that app lives on rather than the page you were last looking at, which can be jarring or frustrating if you’re not used to it.
Honor 70: Camera
We’ve also had the chance to get some shots out of the cameras, and while there wasn’t enough time for a full examination, the results are so far promising. The software introduction is quick and helpful, asking you right from the start whether you would like to enable beautify filters for your selfies and if you’d like them to be saved mirrored or not. The camera shutter is fast to react and captures images almost immediately.
The dynamic range of images seems good and capable, with little to no issues with blown-out skies. That’s even the case with complicated images, like when you shoot a selfie with a bright sky and part of a tree behind you.
For low-light, it's an absolute shame that Honor hasn't added OIS, something that is has inexplicably also omitted from its flagship Honor Magic 4 Pro. While the results are good enough when you focus on holding steady, this is not something that you can or want to do in every situation, and then the images will turn out blurred.
When it comes to video, the self-proclaimed vlogging machine disappoints, too — especially so on the selfie front. The camera crops in aggressively, making it difficult to comfortably frame your face in the viewfinder without dislocating your shoulder. The image stabilization also can't compare with many other phones in the price range, like the Nothing Phone 1.
Honor 70: A promising upper midrange contender
Overall, the Honor 70 is a promising device, but a lot here is hinging on the price. While the Honor Magic 4 Pro is firmly positioned as a €1,000-plus ($1,000+) flagship phone, the Honor 70 sits well below it. At its €549 starting price, the phone is much better positioned to go head-to-head with other upper-midrange and flagship phones in Europe, but the question remains if it can stand out against hyped up and objectively better phones like the Nothing Phone 1 — which does have OIS, a design with a metal frame as opposed to plastic, and the same processor at a lower price.
The Honor 70's 8+128GB version goes for €549 while the 8+256GB version goes for €599.