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Honor seems to have adapted sleek designs as its M.O. Last week, Honor introduced a foldable phone that was the thinnest and lightest the industry has ever seen. Now comes a mid-range slab phone that's also refreshingly light and thin compared to just about every other great modern phone. In fact, I may go out on a limb and say the Honor 90 is the most comfortable slab phone to hold that has been released this year.

The rest of the package is typical Honor mid-range fare. The phone has a tremendous in-hand feel; superb battery life when compared to peers with the same or larger batteries; and some fun video shooting modes. But the software experience leaves me frustrated, as usual.

About this review: Honor sent me an Honor 90 for the purposes of this review, and it did not have any input into its contents.

Super sleek slab phone
7.5 / 10

The Honor 90 is an ultra-sleek, lightweight slab phone with a unique two-tone backplate and a quad-curved OLED screen. Add in a 200MP main camera, and we have quite the hardware package for a mid-ranger. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
6.7-inch OLED, 120Hz, 2664×1200
8GB, 12GB
128GB, 256GB
Operating System
HonorOS 7.1 based on Android 13
Front camera
Rear cameras
200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 2MP depth
6.37 x 2.92 x 0.31 inches (161.9 x 74.1 x 7.8mm)
Emerald Green, Midnight Black, Diamond Silver, Peacock Blue
6.46 ounces (183g)
66W wired
  • Lighter and thinner than almost any other phone in this size range
  • Very good battery life
  • 200MP camera can produce great shots
  • Honor's version of Android feels outdated
  • 2MP depth sensor is pointless
  • Pricing varies a lot from region to region

Honor 90 Pricing and availability

The Honor 90 is on sale now in chunks of Europe and Asia, including major markets like the U.K., France, Spain, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. In Western markets, the phone can be purchased via Amazon or at local carriers.

Pricing varies depending on region, and as is usual for Chinese brands, the price gap can be jarring. In the U.K., the Honor 90 starts at £449, which is around $582. In Europe, it's priced at €549, which converts to around $616. In Asia, the price is much lower, converting to roughly $380. I asked Honor CEO George Zhao about the pricing differences, and he said selling in European markets requires extra taxes, shipping costs, along with distributor and carrier fees.

Hardware and design

Who said 6.7-inch phones have to be bulky?

Honor 90 in the hand

The Honor 90 has a 6.7-inch screen — the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max and many top Android phones — which I think most people would immediately categorize as a "big phone." But Honor does several things to keep the phone from feeling chunky and unwieldy. For one, it uses a slightly longer aspect ratio (just about 20:9), which means the screen's horizontal girth isn't as wide as other 6.7-inch panels that use a shorter aspect ratio. The Honor 90 also sports a quad-curved OLED panel, with curves on all four edges to reduce the feeling of a rough edge.

But most importantly, Honor made the phone lighter and thinner than almost every other phone, using self-designed thinner components like a higher-density silicon-carbon battery to achieve a thickness of 7.8mm and a 183g weight. I have not tested a 6.7-inch phone that weighs less than 190g in several years, and it feels refreshing.

Honor 90 in the hand

But the Honor 90 is also lighter thanks to some components often seen on midrange phones, such as the plastic backplate. This usually feels cheap, but Honor gave it a nice coating similar to what Google did with the Pixel 7a. There's a matte, grippy texture on it that improves in-hand feel. I'm also a fan of the Diamond Silver version I received, which has a two-tone backplate with diamond-shaped textures on the bottom half. When light hits the patterns, it scatters and reflects in different ways depending on the angle.

Honor 90 plastic back side facing up

The display is a typical LTPO OLED panel with up to a 120Hz refresh rate, a 1200x2664 resolution, and 1,600 nits maximum brightness. It supports HDR 10+ content and is wrapped by minimal bezels, with the only interruption coming from the hole-punch (which houses a whopping 50MP selfie camera!). I have no complaints about the screen. We have reached a point in smartphone manufacturing where it'd be news if a major brand put out a mid or higher-end phone with a noticeably bad screen.

Honor 90 6.7-inch OLEd screen

Inside the phone is a 5,000mAh battery, which is impressive considering the handset's thin profile. There's also a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chip running things, with 8GB or 12GB or RAM (I tested the 12GB model). The battery can be charged at 66W speed with the included charging brick, but there is no wireless charging. There's also no water resistance rating or stereo speakers — the latter is baffling, as just about every non-budget phone over the last couple of years has stereo speakers. Haptics are not amazing but acceptable for a mid-range phone, and the optical in-display fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate, as always.


All about the pixels

Honor 90 camera module

Other than its super sleek body, the second highlight here is the pixel-dense main and selfie cameras — 200MP and 50MP, respectively. I need to point out that having more megapixels doesn't always mean better cameras. In fact, having more megapixels could affect light intake ability, hence why many of the best smartphone cameras have decided on using 48MP or 50MP sensors as the sweet spot. But a 200MP camera does allow more room for software image processing, and if done well, it can overcome smaller image sensor sizes or slower apertures to produce very pleasing images.

Thankfully, Honor mostly succeeds. The 200MP main camera is mainly used to snap 16-in-1 pixel binned photos, and the shots look dynamic, with bold colors and excellent dynamic range. But shots also look slightly over-processed and artificial. I don't think most people would even notice, to be honest, but I've been using 1-inch sensors, which produce more organic-looking shots, so it's obvious to me. But it's a tradeoff I'll gladly take over mediocre 48MP midrange sensors from Motorola or Samsung A-series phones. Below are all samples captured by the Honor 90's main camera in standard shooting mode.

The 200MP sensor can also shoot in full 200MP resolution, but this has its pros and cons. You do get a much larger image that you can zoom or crop into much more than a normal smartphone photo. But it takes a full second and a half to snap one of these photos, and you lose any potential pixel binning benefits, so dynamic range may suffer. The below collage shows a 200MP image, then 100% crops of the shots. You'll see the 100% crop bits aren't really that sharp. But it's still useful to be able to snap a photo and then crop it into a photo that much.

A collage of Honor 90 shots of a statue
Honor 90 full resolution shot (left); 100% crops (middle and right). 

The 50MP front-facing camera is also quite good, and it has an ultra-wide field-of-view, so you can include a lot of background in your selfies. The selfie camera also does a good job of exposing my face without blowing out the sky behind me, which iPhones still can't get right.

There's only one other camera worth talking about: the 12MP ultrawide. It's... fine. Shots look good during the day but completely falls apart in low light conditions with soft details. Almost every ultrawide camera in midrange phones is like this. It's unrealistic to expect them to succeed low light conditions unless the manufacturer gives it an extra large sensor like Oppo did with its flagship phone.

There's also a 2MP depth sensor on the rear-facing camera system, but I'm just going to ignore it. These 2MP cameras in Chinese midrange phones are always useless and are mostly included to pad the camera count since a triple-lens system is more marketable than a dual-lens one. Every single phone company except Apple and Nothing has been guilty of adding a useless 2MP sensor to its budget or mid-range phones.

Honor multi-cam mode.

Moving on, the video performance is solid with the main camera. Footage exhibits punchy colors and decent stabilization, which is all electronic since there isn't any OIS. Honor also has a fun multi-cam mode that allows the user to shoot video using two cameras at the same time, and it can be any combination, such as the ultrawide and main camera. Well, any combination except the 2MP depth sensor.

Software and performance

Honor needs to find its own identity soon

Honor 90s MagicOS

The Honor 90 runs MagicOS 7.1, which is based on Android 13. But despite Honor having separated from Huawei almost three years ago, its MagicOS software still looks and feels almost identical to Huawei's EMUI, and I have never been a fan of Huawei's UI. App icons are outdated looking and inconsistent, with some using a skeuomorphism design and others looking flat. I've been told there is an app drawer if you dig into the settings, but it's not apparent how to use what should be a basic core part of the Android experience. And you can't jump into app information via a long-press of the app icon from the home screen — you must dive into settings to check app information. And that's just the start of my problems with the OS. I'm not nitpicking here. These are basic Android features that have been around for a decade, and literally every other Android skin offers them.

Even if those aspects don't bother you, there's still the fact that MagicOS looks identical to Huawei's software, which is not a great look. In Honor's defense, there's an explanation for this. Zhao said that when Honor went independent after being sold off by Huawei, it had a long to-do list, which included building its own factory, sourcing its own components, reestablishing partnerships, and restructuring its whole operation. He said the company hasn't had enough time to build new software from scratch, and it doesn't make sense to "change aesthetics for the sake of changing it." But he promised the company is working on it, and eventually, Honor will have its own software identity. I sure hope so because Honor can do better.

honor-90-xda-review-xda 2023-07-20 at 12.14.53 PM

It's not all bad here, though. Honor has a great multitasking system (it is the same as EMUI's, after all), and new to MagicOS 7.0 is Magic Ring, which is a way to seamlessly connect Honor phones with Honor tablets and computers. Connecting takes just a couple of clicks, and once connected, you can mirror the Honor 90 screen on an Honor laptop or use the Honor 90 camera as a laptop webcam. It's very useful for those who own multiple Honor products.

Overall performance is great. The Snapdragon chip is a very capable upper midrange chip, and with 12GB of RAM, the phone absolutely had no issue running any app. I'm pretty sure the 8GB version would be fine, too, because I've tested previous Honor phones with 8GB RAM and saw no issues. I had no issues playing games or editing videos on the phone (and Honor has an excellent native video editor built into its Photo app). Battery life is also superb, with the phone able to last heavy 13-, 14-hour days with well over 30% battery left. It's the best battery life among recent Android phones I've tested.

Should you buy the Honor 90?

Honor 90 6.7-inch OLEd screen

You should buy the Honor 90 if:

  • You want a large-screen phone with an ultra-sleek and light form factor
  • You want a 200MP camera at a sub-$500 price
  • You have other Honor products

You should not buy the Honor 90 if:

  • You want your Android phone software to stay closer to Google's vision
  • You don't mind paying a bit more for a flagship

The Honor 90 has a couple of excellent selling points. It's the most comfortable "big" phone I've held in recent years, and the 200MP camera is quite good. It's also a very good-looking phone. But the drastic difference in pricing makes giving a sweeping recommendation tricky. If you live in Asia and can get this phone for around $380, then it's a great deal. But once the price creeps up to $616 in Europe, I think people will be better off just paying another $100 or so to get a Pixel 7 Pro, iPhone 14, or Xiaomi 13. You can even get the Honor Magic 4 Pro, a one-year-old Honor flagship phone that still holds up very well today.

Sleek slab phone

The Honor 90 is an ultra-sleek, lightweight slab phone with a unique two-tone backplate and a quad-curved OLED screen. Add in a 200MP main camera, and we have quite the hardware package for a mid-ranger.