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Honor 90 Review | Stable pick in the premium segment

September 20, 2023 11:57 am | Updated 12:30 pm IST

With a starting price of ₹37,999, the Honor 90 emerges as a well-balanced option in the premium segment.

Honor 90 Review | Stable pick in the premium segment | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

After an absence of almost three years, Honor makes a comeback in the Indian smartphone market with the Honor 90.

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The new model enters the highly competitive premium segment. It will be interesting to see if Honor is able to regain its earlier traction in the Indian market with its latest foray.

Design

The Honor 90 boasts a sleek and slim profile, despite housing a substantial 5,000mAh battery. A standout feature is the curved design of the phone, which eliminates sharp edges and contributes to a comfortable and ergonomic in-hand feel. The device also boasts excellent weight distribution and balance, further enhancing its ease of use.

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The phone design includes distinctive camera accent rings, named Moon Phase Rings. It may seem like a pretentious moniket, but the accents undeniably up the phone’s aesthetic appeal.

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To the right of the phone, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker, providing easy access to essential controls. The left remains uncluttered, featuring a thin strip of plastic that runs the length of the phone. Moving to the top, you’ll notice a minimalist design with only a small opening for the secondary noise-cancelling microphone.

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Honor 90 | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

The phone’s bottom edge is more populated, housing the single bottom-firing speaker. Here also are the dual nano-SIM card tray, the main microphone, and the USB Type-C port.

The phone houses an under-display optical fingerprint reader, a convenient mode to unlock the device.

Display

The Honor 90 features a 6.7-inch curved AMOLED display with a high resolution of 1200x2664 pixels, providing an immersive visual experience. The screen offers a pixel density of approximately 435 pixels per inch (ppi) and supports three refresh rate modes (60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz). Notably, the phone offers both manual resolution selection and automatic adjustment based on content, enhancing user convenience. With a remarkable peak brightness of 1,600 nits, it is easy to view any content under daylight. The display has HDR10+ and robust Widevine L1 DRM certification, which caters to HDR enthusiasts and streaming services, although Dolby Vision support is absent. The display comes with 3840Hz PWM dimming that greatly minimises the flickering of the screen.

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OS

The phone operates on MagicOS 7.1, layered atop the Android 13 core. This version of Android 13 offers full compatibility with the Google Apps suite, giving users access to some familiar faces.

Notably, Honor made a branding shift from UI to OS with this iteration (v7) as part of its effort to distance itself from the Huawei EMUI lineage.

Processor

The new entrant is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, built on a 4nm manufacturing process. Notably, this variant of the chipset is the Accelerated Edition, with a slightly overclocked prime Cortex-A710 CPU core, running at up to 2.5GHz compared to the standard 2.4GHz. The CPU configuration also includes three additional Cortex-A710 cores (Kryo Gold) clocked at up to 3.36GHz, along with four Cortex-A510 cores operating at up to 1.8 GHz. Complementing the chipset is the Adreno 644 GPU.

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In terms of storage and memory, our review unit featured 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. The Honor 90 does not support expandable storage, so it’s best to pick a variant with sufficient storage from the outset.

Performance-wise, the Honor 90 handles day-to-day tasks smoothly without noticeable lag or stuttering. It offers ample power for everyday use, and even for casual gaming. For those interested in gaming, achieving over 60fps in a high refresh rate mode is quite feasible with lighter game titles.

Camera

The Honor 90 boasts a substantial 200MP primary camera utilising the Samsung ISOCELL HP3 sensor, featuring a Tetra pixel arrangement, 0.56 µm pixels, and a generous 1/1.4” sensor size. This formidable camera is complemented by QPD PDAF technology but lacks optical image stabilisation (OIS) or other advanced features such as laser autofocus.

The device also offers a 12MP ultrawide camera with a 112-degree field of view and an f/2.2 lens, notable for its autofocus capability, which doubles as a macro camera. A 2MP, f/2.4 depth sensor further enhances the camera setup.

Honor 90 portrait shot | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

For selfie enthusiasts, the phone incorporates a substantial 50MP front-facing camera with a 100-degree field of view and f/2.4 aperture. Regrettably, this camera lacks autofocus but supports 4K video recording.

In standard shooting mode, the primary camera employs pixel binning to capture photos at just over 12MP by default. The photos exhibit decent detail and pleasing colours with a good dynamic range. Users have the option to capture photos in nearly 200MP resolution, albeit with larger file sizes and less aggressive processing, resulting in reduced chromatic aberrations and artificial sharpening.

Despite the absence of a dedicated telephoto lens, the main camera offers digital zoom capabilities, producing comparable quality to 1x photos. The 2x toggle in the camera UI is particularly effective.

The 12MP ultrawide camera delivers satisfactory results with good detail and pleasing colours. However, subject detection and separation in portrait mode can be inconsistent, especially in busy backgrounds.

In low-light conditions, the main camera performs reasonably well, offering ample detail, vibrant colours, and manageable noise. Dynamic range remains moderate, with highlights and light sources often overexposed, while darker areas lack detail. You can also pick Night mode, though its impact on main camera shots is minimal, primarily resulting in slightly improved sharpness and handling of light sources.

Honor 90 night mode | Photo Credit: Haider Ali Khan

The 50MP selfie camera is competent, capturing 12.5MP selfies with good skin tones and colour accuracy. Selfie portraits exhibit adept subject detection and separation, along with quality background blur, albeit with a closer crop compared to regular selfies.

Battery

Featuring a 5,000mAh battery, the phone comfortably lasts a day. It comes without a charger inside the box, but supports 66W charging and takes around 45-50 minutes to get fully charged. Its parent claims to provide the charger free of cost.

Verdict

With a starting price of ₹37,999, the Honor 90 emerges as a well-balanced option in the premium segment. The sleek design, all-sided curved display with a high PWM dimming rate and an accelerated Gen 1 SoC make it a desirable phone in its segment.

However, be warned; it is bound to face tough competition from the likes of OnePlus, Motorola and Vivo.

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