Honor is establishing itself as an independent mobile phone manufacturer after leaving the Huawei stable in November 2020. Last year, the Honor 50 proved to be the company’s first phone after the Huawei split to offer a full range of Google mobile services. . This year’s flagship Magic 4 Pro packed with features and particularly impressed with its 100W charging, good cameras, IR blaster and monochrome e-book reading mode.
The new Honor 70 is in many ways an update to the Honor 50. It’s currently available in the UK with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage for £479.99 or £499.99 with 256GB of storage. Is it a worthy successor to the previous model?
The Honor 70 is available in three colors – Midnight Black, Emerald Green and Crystal Silver. The latter I was sent to review and unlike the other two, it has a light-refracting back with a diamond pattern beneath which is a dotted surface. The appearance varies depending on how it catches the light. It’s quite appealing, if a little light for some tastes.
The double rings at the top left of the back hold the various camera components, and these protrude significantly from the backplate, causing the handset to move across the table when you tap the screen on the left side. Honor provides a transparent bumper case that offsets this bump while having minimal impact on the backplate’s appearance, so the usual compromise between a bumper and getting the full backplate design experience isn’t an issue here.
The bumper also addresses a potential issue with the back plate – the slipperiness that can cause it to slide down the soft arm of a chair and fall to the floor, making it difficult to grip for one-handed use.
Aside from the slickness, the Honor 70 is quite stylish and the thin profile and curved long edges of the screen make it look more “premium” than it is. It measures 161.4mm in height, and at just 7.91mm thick and 73.3mm wide, it fit quite well in my small palm.
The power button and volume rocker are on the right side, while the bottom houses the carrier for two 5G Nano-SIMs and the speaker grille. Honor doesn’t provide a 3.5mm headphone jack, and even this handset doesn’t have an IP rating indicating dust and water resistance. There is only one speaker and its quality is one of the disappointments of this phone. There is a distinct lack of bass, so spoken word and spoken radio is reasonable, but the music suffers. Distortion is noticeable even at the highest volume.
That’s a shame, because the 6.67-inch OLED display is pretty good with a 20:9 aspect ratio that can hold 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (395 ppi). The long edges of the screen curve into the body to create the appearance of zero bezel, while the top and bottom bezels are so small as to be insignificant. We calculated the screen-to-body ratio at an impressive 90.72%.
The OLED panel can display 1.07 billion colors and supports 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut, while the refresh rate can be set to 120Hz all the time, 60Hz all the time, or dynamically switch between the two. This setting isn’t as advanced as LTPO-based switching, which drops down to 1Hz to save battery life, but for a phone at this price point, the setting is more than adequate. The in-display fingerprint sensor worked perfectly for me, and face unlock is also available.
There are a number of display settings that include color mode and temperature settings, eye comfort that can be scheduled or toggled manually, and an e-book mode that changes the screen to grayscale. I’m a big fan of this mode, and when it’s available on the review phone, I use it not only for e-books, but also quite a bit for general use.
The Snapdragon 778G Plus chipset is fairly widely used – I last saw it in Motorola’s Moto Edge 30, where paired with 8GB of RAM, the CPU gave Geekbench 5 scores of 819 (single core) and 2843 (multi core). With the same RAM addition, the Honor 70 scored 812 (single-core) and 2875 (multi-core). In all cases, I do three comparison tests and take the average. For comparison, Geekbench 5’s front-end CPU scores hover around 1100 (single-core) and 3500 (multi-core).
My review phone had 256GB of storage, of which 22GB was used out of the box, leaving 234GB. There’s no MicroSD slot, so if the alternative 128GB model isn’t roomy enough, this might be a better option.
The Honor 70 runs Android 12 with Honor’s Magic UI 6.1 overlay on top. This provides a number of settings tweaks, including the aforementioned e-book mode and Multi-Window, a tool that allows users to open a floating app window, split screen or enable a pop-up sidebar. The height of the screen makes this possible for some tasks. There are also plenty of third-party apps, including social media, streaming and shopping. They all seem to be removable.
The main rear camera is a wide-angle 54MP f/1.9 with a Sony IMX800 sensor. This is accompanied by a 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle (122˚) camera and a 2MP f/2.4 depth camera. You can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps) and there’s a 10x digital zoom, but no optical telephoto option. The front-facing camera is a punch-hole 32MP f/2.4 unit that’s limited to 1080p video recording at 30fps. Some users may appreciate the ability to capture video from both the front and rear cameras simultaneously.
I found the photos to be bright, sharp and clear, although maxing out the digital zoom produced some grainy images. If you just need to point and press, the Honor 70 should be fine.
My battery life tests were completed with the 120Hz refresh rate option set to always on, so if owners of this phone choose to dynamically switch between this and 60Hz, they could get a bit longer life from the 4800mAh battery. The PCMark for Android Work 3.0 battery life test ran 11 hours 33 minutes from a full charge. Charging the battery to 100% and playing a YouTube video for three hours resulted in a drop of only 12%.
Honor provides a 66W charger and claims that it will take just 20 minutes to charge the battery to 60%. This seems achievable: on one occasion when the battery was at 17%, it took 10 minutes to reach 50%, 20 minutes to reach 78% and 30 minutes to reach 96%.
The Honor 70, in the Crystal Silver color I reviewed, is a great looking phone with a quirky back design that doesn’t spoil the supplied bumper. The 6.67-inch 120Hz OLED screen is excellent, and the grayscale mode may have broad appeal. Fast charging is almost a must these days and it’s good to see that 66W is supported here.
Downsides include a distinctly average mono speaker and a lack of dust/water resistance certification, while the camera system, apart from a competent 54MP wide-angle main camera, could offer more.
Honor 70 specifications
|OS||Android 12 + Magic UI 6.1|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus|
|MicroSD card slot||no|
|Display||6.67-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080, 395ppi) OLED|
|– Aspect ratio||20:9|
|– Refresh rate||up to 120Hz|
|– Colours||1.07 billion|
|– Colour gamut||100% DCI-P3|
|– Screen to body ratio||90.72% (calculated)|
|Networks||2G GSM • 3G WCDMA • 4G LTE • 5G NR|
|SIM slots||2x Nano SIM|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
|Location||GPS • AGPS • GLONASS • BeiDou • Galileo|
|Sensors||gravity • fingerprint (under display) • compass • ambient light • proximity|
|Rear cameras||54MP f/1.9 wide angle • 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (122˚) & macro • 2MP f/2.4 depth|
|Front camera||32MP f/2.4 wide angle|
|Battery charging||66W (60% in 20 minutes, claimed) • 5W reverse charging|
|3.5mm headset jack||no|
|Dimensions||73.3mm x 161.4mm x 7.91mm (2.89in. x 6.35in. x 0.31in.)|
|In the box||Honor 70 • quick-start guide • Honor SuperCharge • USB-C cable • SIM eject tool • TPU protective cover • TP protective film|
|Price||£479.99 (8GB/128GB) • £499.99 (8GB/256GB)|