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Honor 90 Review: Reasonably Good RM1,799 Mid-Range Phone
July 24, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Quite a number of upper mid-range phones have been launched in recent times, and the Honor 90 is the latest addition to the segment. Sporting a 200MP primary camera, long battery life, along with a reasonably capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset – the Accelerated Edition, to boot – it’s quite an interesting phone.

Retailing from RM1,799, the value proposition of the Honor 90 is decent too, though it does fall short in a number of areas. This is especially true in the software department, which is my main qualm with the phone. Beyond that, it’s quite an easy phone to recommend, provided you can look past its unrefined software experience.

What It Is

Display6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED Quad Curved (2664 x 1200), 120Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 Accelerated Edition 2.5GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 644
RAM12GB
Storage256/512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)200MP f/1.9, PDAF
12MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
2MP f/2.4 (depth)
Camera (front)50MP f/2.4
Battery
5,000mAh with 66W fast charging
Dimensions161.9 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm
Weight
183g
OSMagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13
Connectivity5G
LTE
NFC
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
USB Type-C
PriceRM1,799 (256GB), RM2,099 (512GB)

Two variants of the Honor 90 are available in Malaysia. The 256GB model retails at RM1,799, while the more generous 512GB configuration goes for RM2,099. Given the feature set of the phone, it’s priced relatively well for the Malaysian market.

One of the headline features of the Honor 90 is certainly its 200MP primary camera. While it sounds impressive on paper, the actual performance of the camera tells a different story – more on this further down the review.

The Good Stuff

I really like the overall design and build quality of the Honor 90. Despite sporting a mostly plastic build material – the frame and back panel are made of plastic, as far as I can tell – the phone still looks and feels great. This Emerald Green colourway, for one, has a sleek matte finish on the back, which can hide fingerprints quite well.

Aside from that, the performance of the Honor 90 is good too. Though the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 Accelerated Edition can’t quite run Honkai: Star Rail at a stable 60fps with maxed out graphics settings, it can still provide a pleasant gaming experience. Of course, in everyday use, the phone performs just as well as any other upper mid-range phones I tested recently.

The display of the Honor 90 is also worth commending. The 6.7-inch 2664 x 1200 AMOLED display can get bright enough for comfortable viewing even under harsh sunlight, and it has the typical traits of an AMOLED panel, including vibrant colours and deep, true blacks. The 120Hz refresh rate lends to very smooth-looking animations too.

However, I’m personally not a fan of the display’s “Quad Curved” nature. While I understand it can give the impression of a more premium phone to some folks, I much prefer a flat display with equally flat sides for better ergonomics.

Nonetheless, let’s move on to the battery life of the Honor 90 now, which is excellent. On average, I can easily get over six hours of screen on time out of the phone’s 5,000mAh battery. This is even with a few sessions of heavy gaming thrown in throughout the day; very impressive.

Now, let’s move on to the not so great aspects of the Honor 90.

The Bad Stuff

Despite so much marketing around the Honor 90’s 200MP camera, the overall performance of the phone’s camera can be described as…mediocre. At a glance, images taken with the phone’s triple camera system (200MP main + 12MP ultra-wide + 2MP depth) look good, but upon closer inspection, it leaves much to be desired.

Detail preservation is not great (especially in low light conditions), noise is apparent in nighttime shooting, and because there’s no dedicated telephoto lens, images at 2x zoom don’t look particularly flattering. The overall colour reproduction is a touch too saturated for my liking too.

Granted, the Honor 90 can still take good-looking shots under the right conditions, and it is by no means the worst camera I’ve tried in this segment. Still, I had higher hopes for the 200MP camera.

And then there’s the unrefined software experience of MagicOS 7.1 on the Honor 90. It’s mostly the same issues I had when I was reviewing the Honor Magic 5 Pro: I can’t swipe down on the home screen to pull down the notification shade, and there’s no key shortcut to quickly launch the camera either.

MagicOS 7.1 as a whole doesn’t feel particularly polished either. Some apps, such as Discord, was not able to send me any notifications until I opened the app. Thankfully, I didn’t face this issue with more important apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Gmail, though this is still an issue worth highlighting.

Is It Worth It?

Even though the camera and software of the Honor 90 could use some work, I do think it is still a phone worth considering. Its battery life is very, very good, it has a pleasant screen to look at, and it can provide a good level of performance for the money.

Hopefully, Honor will continue to improve its software experience moving forward, as the Honor 90 fares quite well in other aspects, especially when it comes to power consumption.

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