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HONOR 70 Review: Balance Is Key

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The HONOR 70 is an extremely well-balanced mid-range smartphone.

HONOR 70
€549
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Nice-looking, comfortable design
  • Really good 120Hz display
  • Performance doesn't disappoint
  • Camera performance is better than expected
  • Fingerprint scanner works perfectly fine
  • Good battery life
  • 66W fast wired charging
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • A single speaker

HONOR supplied us with a review unit of the HONOR 70, but didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see this review before you. We’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks before forming an opinion.

The HONOR 70 is the company’s new mid-range handset, and this is our review. This phone is actually very similar (design-wise) to its predecessors, the HONOR 50 and 60, which I reviewed back in October last year. HONOR brings a number of improvements here, though. The slightly more polished design, improved SoC, more RAM, better camera setup, and more. This is not a major leap compared to its predecessor, but the improvements are there, and noticeably. More in some areas than others.

HONOR is no longer owned by Huawei, and it has been that way for a while now. In other words, the company’s devices do come with Google services, so that’s not something you should worry about. The HONOR 50 and 60 were a really nice offering in the mid-range segment, so let’s see how the HONOR 70 stacks up, shall we? I’ve spent some quality time with this phone, and have a lot to say.

The HONOR 70 offers “glass sandwich” design, but feel different in the hand

The HONOR 70 is made out of metal and glass, just like its predecessor. It’s very, very similar in terms of design. Its frame can be felt on the sides, as it’s internationally protruding. That is not the case on the vast majority of similar phones. That’s what differentiates this phone when it comes to an in-hand feel. That’s not a bad thing, though, not at all. It doesn’t cut into your hand or anything of the sort, in fact, the phone seems to be easier to hold. The fast frame is designed this way kind of counters the fact of how slippery it is.

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It is also not too heavy, and offers thin bezels

It’s also not too heavy at under 180 grams, and the bezels are thin. The display is curved, but not to extreme levels, and you do get that display camera hole, which we’re all used to by now. There are two camera islands on the back, for the phone’s cameras, and its front and back sides are symmetrical. Overall, the phone is slippery, but thanks to those bezels, it doesn’t feel bad in the hand at all.

Quite honestly, this is one of the better designs for glass + metal slabs. That may be just my opinion, but I like the way HONOR handled the frame in both the HONOR 50 and HONOR 70. That may not be everyone’s cup of tea, though, of course. The phone is also narrow enough to be pleasant to use, as it’s less than 70mm wide. It’s not a small phone by any means, mainly thanks to its 6.67-inch display, but it’s not too large either. HONOR did a really good job with this design.

A gel case is included in the box

The HONOR 70 does come with a case in the box. You’ll get a regular soft silicone case, similar to the one the HONOR 50 shipped with. It’s not exactly special, but it does the trick. I see many people using such cases out in the wild, so I guess regular consumers like them. It offers enough protection, and covers the phone well. At the very least, it’ll serve you until you find something you like more.

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A 120Hz OLED panel is included, and quite responsive

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The HONOR 70 comes with a 6.67-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED display. This panel is curved, it supports a 120Hz refresh rate, and it can project up to 1 billion colors. Truth be said, this display is good. It’s not as good as some flagship panels out there, and it does reach the same brightness, but it’s very good. Not only is it vivid, and offers good viewing angles, but it’s also quite responsive. The display is well-optimized, and you do get some extra options in the settings.

AOD feature is also a part of the package

You can choose between ‘Normal’ and ‘Vivid’ settings. You can also manually tweak the colors, and can even force dark mode on some apps that don’t offer it. Other, regular settings are also included, and the same goes for the ‘Eye Comfort’ mode, which essentially blocks blue light from coming through. Always On display is also a part of the package, and it comes with its own set of settings. You can really fine-tune it. I didn’t use it much, though, as I always find that the AOD feature kills the battery too quickly. That’s the general rule for basically every phone I used it on. I didn’t notice any excessive battery drainage while I used it, though, but I’m sure that would change if I left it on all the time.

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The HONOR 70 offers excellent performance

HONOR’s latest mid-ranger is equipped with the Snapdragon 778G+ SoC, which is actually a really capable mid-range processor. That is the same chip the Nothing Phone (1) uses, for example. The HONOR 70 combines that with 8GB of RAM in the global variant, and UFS 3.1 flash storage. Overall, the phone offers really good performance. I did not notice any standout issues while using the phone.

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The device does not get too hot, regardless of what you’re doing. It will get warm after a while of active use, especially if you’re gaming, but it never went over the line in that regard. It flew threw regular usage, and it also managed to handle games really well. Genshin Impact was a bit of a chore, but in general, the performance was really good. Even if you plan on gaming a bit, this phone can handle it.

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It will skip a beat from time to time, but not frequently

I did notice some frame skips, though, as is the case with any phone. Truth be said, though, I did notice it a bit more frequently here, but nothing that would annoy me. That’s probably also something HONOR will polish up with upcoming updates, as I was testing the phone before it even launched.

The battery life doesn’t disappoint either

One area in which the HONOR 70 got a huge boost over its predecessor is… battery capacity. The HONOR 50 included a 4,300mAh battery with a slightly smaller display. The battery life on that phone was average, it was not bad. Well, you’ll be glad to know that things are considerably different with the HONOR 70. The phone offers truly excellent battery life, which is not surprising considering it has a 4,800mAh battery pack. HONOR also did a good job with optimizations, obviously.

I was able to cross the 7-hour SoT mark

I was able to cross the 7-hour screen-on-time mark with ease, while I believe the phone would be able to squeeze out 8 hours as well, if I used it as much in a single day. Very few users will have any sort of complaints with the battery life on the HONOR 70, that’s for sure. I also didn’t notice any huge discrepancies from day to day.

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Fast 66W charging is supported, and charger included

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The phone supports 66W charging, and it does come with a 66W charging brick in the box. That charger can bring this phone from 0 to 60% in only 20 minutes. Charging it all the way takes about twice as much. So, as long as you don’t mind plugging in your phone, you’ll be quite happy with the charging speed. Do note that the phone does not offer wireless charging.

Improved hardware + improved software = really good camera performance

In all honesty, I never have high camera expectations when it comes to mid-range phones. Well, for all phones except Pixels. So, when a mid-range phone actually manages to do a good job, it’s worth giving it credit for it. The HONOR 70 did a really good job in the camera department. It does a better job than most of its competition, that’s for sure. You’ll find three cameras on its back, and one on the front.

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Sony’s IMX800 image sensor is used here

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A 54-megapixel main camera is included here. This has Sony’s IMX800 image sensor on the inside. That is a really good camera sensor, and HONOR obviously did a good job optimizing it. That sensor is backed by a 50-megapixel ultrawide camera (122-degree FoV), which also doubles as a macro camera. A 2-megapixel depth camera is also utilized here, but there’s not much we can say about it.

The images are vivid, sharp, and overall good

The images from the HONOR 70 end up looking vivid, quite sharp, and even do a good job with dynamic range. At times I had to take the same image twice, but for the most part, the phone did a fine job the first time around. The colors are a bit more saturated to make them look pleasing. The processing is not too aggressive, nor anything of the sort. The white balance is also quite good most of the time.

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Even the macro images are not bad

The Ultrawide camera does offer slightly different color science, but the difference is not huge. Even in low light, the HONOR 70 holds its own. It’s not the best low light camera around, not at all, but for the price tag, it really does do a good job. It manages to pick up quite a few details, and it keeps noise in check. It doesn’t fall apart indoors either. Even the macro camera does a good job. I’m just glad HONOR didn’t opt for a separate camera, but utilized that ultrawide unit instead.

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HONOR unfortunately included only one speaker here

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We have both good and bad news regarding the audio. Unfortunately, the HONOR 70 comes with a single speaker, a down-firing one. Truth be said, I expected to get stereo speakers here. The good news is, however, that this single speaker is quite good. It’s both loud and sharp, and it actually provides a good experience. I don’t think many people will have complaints, at least when it comes to regular users.

A 3.5mm headphone jack is not included in the package, but Bluetooth 5.2 is. In case you really want to utilize your wired headphones, you’ll need a dongle for it. I’ve tried out my truly wireless earphones, and had no issue with the connection. The sound was also good.

The software is quite polished

The HONOR 70 ships with Android 12 out of the box. On top of Google’s OS, you’ll find HONOR’s UI called Magic UI. The version that ships on the device is 6.1, at least that’s what shipped on our unit prior to launch. Google services are a part of the package. I need to make that clear, as there was a period that was not the case. HONOR is no longer owned by Huawei, though, so everything is back in line, the US ban no longer affects the company.

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The software is extremely responsive, first and foremost. It works very smoothly, and the 120Hz display only helps things. The animations are also quite smooth. Hiccups are a part of the experience, though you’ll hardly notice those. There was no lag worth mentioning here, though. Magic UI is different from stock Android, but it still feels like Android you’re all used to. You will have to switch the UI to feature an app drawer, if you don’t want all your apps to be on the home screen, and things like that. The icons and UI elements in general are slightly larger than on most phones, but if you don’t like that, you can change it.

Third-party bloat can be removed

There is some bloat included on the phone, but luckily you can remove that. Apps like TrainPal, Trip, WPS office, and Booking come pre-installed. You can remove them, if you want, though. HONOR does have its own apps pre-installed, but not many of them. HONOR’s apps are system apps, so you can’t really remove those. They do not affect the performance. The HONOR Share is also included, in case you were wondering, so sharing files can be a breeze. All in all, the software works really well.

The HONOR 70 is not difficult to recommend, not at all

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The HONOR 70 offers a lot, there’s no doubt about that. At its price tag, it sure sounds like a compelling smartphone. It does a lot of things better than most other phones in this price range, so it’s worth considering, that’s for sure. You’ll be getting a really premium-feeling device, with good camera performance, and a great display. The battery life is also not bad, and fast charging is included. HONOR had to cut some corners here, of course, but as a whole, the HONOR 70 is another good offering from HONOR. It cannot match the flagships of the world, but it also costs half as much, so… take that into consideration.