It’s uncommon that it’s worthwhile to get into geopolitics on the outset of a smartphone evaluation, however it’s unattainable to keep away from with the Honor 50. It’s the primary Honor-branded system to launch exterior of China because the model spun out from guardian firm Huawei final 12 months. It signifies that regardless of Huawei’s continued presence on the USA’s entity record, Honor is now capable of embody Google’s apps and companies on a brand new telephone.
Accessing these companies, which embody important elements of the Android ecosystem like Google Play along with apps like Google Maps and YouTube, signifies that the Honor 50 is the primary Honor telephone in years to truly have a shot at being a viable buy for patrons exterior of China. Its midrange beginning value of €529 (about $616) doesn’t harm, both.
However whereas leaving its former guardian firm has opened a Google-shaped window for Honor, it’s additionally closed a Huawei-shaped door. Honor is now by itself, with out the backing of one of the crucial well-resourced expertise firms on the earth. Consequently, whereas not a foul telephone, the Honor 50 finally ends up not feeling aggressive with different handsets in its value vary.
The Honor 50 begins at €529 (round $616) for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of inner storage, which is the model I’ve been utilizing, however stepping as much as €599 (about $698) will get you 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. No matter which possibility you go for, you get the identical Snapdragon 778G processor and a 4,300mAh battery that may be quick charged at as much as 66W.
Honor’s telephones have at all times been out there with loud designs, and the Honor 50 is not any completely different. My mannequin got here in a shiny white colorway, with the letters “HONOR” tiled throughout its again, and there’s additionally a garish sparkly silver shade possibility out there alongside extra typical black and inexperienced choices. Whereas I don’t love the colour choices, I feel Honor deserves credit score for its method to the dual-ring digital camera bump on the Honor 50, which is much more fascinating than the generic rectangles discovered on the backs of most gadgets (Huawei’s Nova 9 makes use of a really comparable design, which Honor says is as a result of the design was developed earlier than the break up).
Round entrance, the Honor 50 has a 6.57-inch 1080p OLED show, with a 19.5:9 facet ratio and a small centrally oriented hole-punch notch for the telephone’s 32-megapixel selfie digital camera, which reasonably curves across the left and proper edges of the telephone. I can’t fault the display’s wealthy blacks or vibrant colours, and the under-display fingerprint sensor is quick and responsive. In case you don’t like curved shows, you then received’t just like the Honor 50’s, however at the least the telephone doesn’t undergo from any palm-rejection points.
The Honor 50’s display has a 120Hz refresh price, which makes it really feel quick to make use of and clean to have a look at, and the Snapdragon 778G processor fortunately retains up, even whereas the display rapidly scrolling by visually intensive apps like Twitter. I had no issues with efficiency throughout my time with the telephone.
The remainder of the specs are extra fundamental. There’s no IP ranking for mud and water resistance and no wi-fi charging, and in the case of audio, the telephone outputs sound from a fundamental downward-firing speaker. It’s loud sufficient for listening round the home, however you’ll be reaching for a pair of headphones in noisier environments. Honor features a pair of USB-C headphones within the field, which is pretty uncommon nowadays, and virtually makes up for the shortage of a headphone jack.
Honor’s Magic UI software program, which runs atop of Android 11 on the Honor 50, is broadly inoffensive. Nonetheless, it has its annoyances and, by default, is about up in a means that I feel most individuals are going to wish to tweak. For starters, it makes use of Microsoft’s SwiftKey somewhat than Google’s Gboard keyboard that I feel most Android customers might be extra accustomed to. There are additionally a ton of inventory Honor apps that I disabled in my first couple of days with the telephone, and I don’t love the way in which Honor’s software program defaults to eschewing Android’s typical app drawer for an iOS-like homescreen. It’s straightforward sufficient to rectify with some tweaks, however it feels a bit of cumbersome.
I had no complaints with the battery lifetime of the Honor 50, averaging a bit of over seven hours of display on time between costs. I by no means needed to put the telephone on to cost on the finish of the day with lower than 40 p.c cost remaining. The Honor 50 helps 66W quick charging through an included charger that’s branded as Honor’s personal “SuperCharge” charging commonplace, which isn’t appropriate with third-party chargers. Honor claims the included charger can get the telephone from 0 to one hundred pc cost in 45 minutes (sadly, my evaluation pattern got here with an EU plug, so I used to be unable to confirm this declare myself). However a full cost in beneath an hour is nothing to be sniffed at.
The headline digital camera specs of the Honor 50 look like spectacular at first look, however the satan’s within the element. Sure, it’s a 108-megapixel quad-camera array, however there’s no telephoto digital camera, and past the primary sensor, the three extra cameras are a relatively low-resolution 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle, a 2-megapixel macro, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
Issues don’t get off to a fantastic begin with the Honor 50’s essential digital camera. Even in daylight, there could be a distinct lack of element in its pictures, like within the shot of the black cat above, the place there’s little or no definition or texture in its fur. Colours are vibrant on the threat of being a bit of oversaturated, and faces come out wanting a bit of too vivid and textureless. White stability is at the least fairly pure, and I feel selfies come out typically wanting OK, helped by the truth that there’s an simply accessible shortcut to activate background blurring and a magnificence mode slider (if that’s a characteristic you’re enthusiastic about).
Low mild efficiency leaves loads to be desired, the place the Honor 50 produces pictures which are darkish and muddy. However the larger downside is that the telephone takes means too lengthy to take pictures in low mild. When making an attempt to take a shot of a gaggle of individuals at a celebration, the Honor 50 refused to take a photograph for a number of agonizing moments, which is much longer than individuals at a celebration are prepared to attend to have their picture taken for.
At its beginning value, the Honor 50 is a comfortably midrange system. However there are loads of completed smartphones out there at comparable costs. Telephones just like the OnePlus Nord 2 (€499 for its step-up 12GB RAM / 256GB storage mannequin) or the iPhone SE (€539 for its 128GB storage variant) are each glorious telephones that provide a way more rounded expertise than the Honor 50. And for those who’re contemplating the Honor 50 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, you then’re simply €50 away from the just lately introduced Pixel 6.
It’s a crowded a part of the market, and easily accessing Google’s apps and companies isn’t sufficient to make an influence. Honor’s software program can really feel bloated, and its digital camera is sluggish and missing intimately. Speedy 66W quick charging and a slick 120Hz show aren’t sufficient to distract from the truth that the Honor 50 has some weak spots compared towards one of the best midrange handsets out there.
Honor could be a viable buy now that it will probably as soon as once more embody Google’s apps and companies on its gadgets. Nevertheless it has extra work to do if it desires to be really aggressive.