Honor recently released their latest mid-range Honor 90 and Honor 90 Pro smartphones, and to complement them they’ve also provided a more budget-friendly option at just €249,99 / £249 – the Honor 90 Lite (£199 on Amazon UK at time of writing). Check the Honor website for the full list of specs.
Being in the region of half the price of their more expensive offerings you’d expect a major downgrade in hardware, but Honor have been sensible in their compromises and managed to pack in a lot for the price.
Designwise Honor have taken a leaf from Apple’s book, with a very similar look and feel to the iPhone. Depending what you’re looking for this could be seen as a pro or a con, but there’s no denying that this feels like premium hardware and should stand up to years of heavy use if our past experience of Honor’s build quality is anything to go by. Colour options are Midnight Black, Titanium Silver and Cyan Lake (pictured). With flat, glass-like plastic on the back and at just under 7.5mm thick, the phone is slim while the flat aluminium sides give your hand something to hold onto and general handling of the device feels good.
There’s nothing on the phone’s left side apart from the SIM card tray that can accommodate two nano SIM cards – both of which support 5G simultaneously which is great to see in a phone in this price range.The right side has a volume rocker and a power button with integrated fingerprint sensor. The bottom has a mono speaker, microphone and the USB-C charging / data port, while the top houses another microphone and an IR blaster.
Coming with a factory fitted screen protector, the flat 6.7” IPS display has a 2388 x 1080 pixel resolution with a 90Hz refresh rate. It runs edge-to-edge apart from a top-centre camera cut-out and small bezel at the bottom. This IPS panel looks exceptional for a device in this price range – sharp and bright with good contrast and accurate colour calibration. You also get that 90Hz added smoothness over 60Hz panels.
In terms of horsepower, the 90 Lite rocks the 7nm MediaTek Dimensity 6020 CPU rather than the more powerful Snapdragon chipsets used in their latest mid-range phones. However these days MediaTek’s latest chipsets are no longer seen as a red flag on a spec sheet and can now be considered viable alternatives. The phone’s nippy performance in general use supports this claim, and the pairing with a generous 8GB of RAM means only high-end gamers are likely to notice any kind of compromise. Although the storage is non-expandable, 256GB is also pretty generous (especially at this price point) and should be plenty for most folk’s needs.
Software-wise the Honor 90 Lite is running Magic OS 7.1, a custom Android 13 skin developed by Honor. This is a stable and intuitive OS that includes a few more features and customisation options than stock Android. The launcher uses the more Apple approach of having all the apps launchable from its pages (or inside folder icons) rather than an app drawer for your seldom used apps (as more commonly used on Android). However this is easily switched if another launcher is more to your taste. A considerable amount of what we’d consider bloat also comes pre-installed such as Netflix, Facebook, Booking.com and TikTok (but these can be uninstalled). You also have the option of using Honor’s own app and themes stores in addition to the Google Play Store.
The Li-Po 4,500 mAh battery easily lasts the day and supports fairly speedy 22.5 W charging via its USB Type-C port (although wireless charging isn’t supported). However no charging brick is included so you may need to invest in an Honor SuperCharge compatible adapter to get that full charging speed.
Unlocking the phone is fast and super convenient thanks to the fingerprint sensor built into the power button. It’s well placed to reach with your thumb while holding the phone in your hand and did a good job recognising mine most of the time.
On the back there are three lenses housed within the distinctive figure-8 style camera bump, located at the top-left of the device. This bump does protrude quite a bit and without any case fitted you will get an uneven wobble with the phone resting on the desk.
The primary back camera is 100MP with a f/1.9 lens, backed up by a wide-angle 5MP f/2.2 and a macro 2MP f/2.4. Considering the camera doesn’t have image stabilisation, we were impressed by the stills from the main camera – even in low light or at 2X zoom. However the lack of resolution in captures from the secondary wide and macro lenses made them better avoided. Video is restricted to 1080p resolution at 30fps, and here the lack of stabilisation tends to make things a little jittery during camera movement. Around front the 16MP f/2.5 selfie camera performed well when taking stills, but again won’t be ideal for handheld vlogging.
The Honor 90 Lite is a well-rounded smartphone that offers a good balance of features for a bargain price. There are very little compromises in terms of processor / network performance, build quality, display, battery-life, memory or storage. It’s even got you covered if you just need a decent point-and-click camera. You’d likely only end up wishing you’d spent a bit more when it comes to the more advanced camera options or video. For the price it’s easy to recommend and we could see this being an excellent low-cost alternative to hand to an iPhone-wanting kid.