Honor continues to roll out another mid-range smartphone in the form of the Honor 90. While not quite the flagship occupied by the Magic range, this is still a premium device that comes in a well-constructed, lightweight chassis and feels great to hold.
There is a sense of elegance in the design, although the camera humps located behind – which the Chinese company claims are inspired by the different phases of the moon – is hit or miss, depending on your preference. Those seeking an understated device might find this design pretentious.
The Honor 90 comes in Emerald Green, Midnight Black, and Diamond Silver. While you will want to put it into the included phone case to protect the reflective back, the good news for those with sweaty palms and fingers is that it does not pick up fingerprints easily.
To the right lies the power button right below the volume rocker, while the opposite end is left empty on purpose. At the top is a single hole that houses the secondary noise-cancelling microphone, while the bottom is where all the action is at: you get a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, flanked by a dual nano SIM card tray, a microphone, and a solitary bottom-firing speaker.
Honor has equipped this handset with an underdisplay optical fingerprint reader that works efficiently. The 3.5mm headphone jack is missing, and there is no IP rating, so keep it well away from water!
Honor has skipped the whole greenwashing bandwagon by throwing in a charger, a USB-C cable, and a protective case in the box.
The centrepiece of the Honor 90 is its display. Even if you have a large hand, single-handed operation can be challenging, given its 6.7-inch (17cm) curved Amoled panel. That said, it remains relatively comfortable to grasp despite its size.
Sporting a resolution of 1200 x 2664 pixels, you get approximately 435 ppi of pixel density. In other words, there will be no detail lost when viewing photos and watching videos.
Honor claims this handset is capable of hitting 1,600 nits of peak brightness, but frankly, you will hardly arrive at that figure unless you are working on Mercury. Using the Honor 90 under direct sunlight is not an issue since text remains legible at all times.
The Honor 90 has also managed to pick up a DXOMARK GOLD certification with its 10-bit panel. Boasting the capability to reproduce approximately 1.07 billion colours accompanied by HDR 10+ support, you can be sure this is not a display to be trifled with.
The presence of 3840 Hz PWM dimming purportedly eliminates flicker and eye fatigue, in addition to hardware-level blue-light filters. All these seem more a marketing gimmick than anything else, as you would likely stare at your laptop screen or desktop monitor for a longer period than at your phone.
With a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, everything will be as smooth as butter. However, you can always drop it down to 90Hz or even 60Hz if you wish to preserve the battery.
Alternatively, enable the dynamic refresh rate to let the smartphone take control depending on the content on screen. You would do well to just leave it at 120Hz at all times to make the most of your phone, considering its battery size (more on this below).
The Honor 90 is powered by Magic OS 7.1, a skin based on Android 13. This is the latest UI from Honor, and comes with Google Play Services right out of the box. Those who are familiar with Magic UI 6 will find themselves in familiar territory.
You will find the presence of large folders a boon, making life easier to organise your apps in an orderly fashion. There is also a card bar that holds app icons based on user habits. The more frequently you use those apps, the more likely it will appear there.
There is no word on how many major Android upgrades and security patches the Honor 90 will receive. As it falls under the same product category as the Honor 70 5G, this could translate to monthly security patches and two years of major Android upgrades.
Honor has yet to confirm the update policy, although it has already received the June Android security patch.
Unfortunately, Magic OS 7 comes with some bloatware pre-installed: TikTok, Booking.com, Trip.com, Facebook, WPS Office, and Netflix.
Of these, most users might use TikTok, Facebook, and Netflix. As for the others, you can uninstall them at your own leisure, but it would have been better if the user booted up to a cleaner, stock Android experience.
The Honor 90 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 SoC. Based on the 4nm manufacturing process and having been released last year, you get a primary Cortex-A710 CPU core clocked at up to 2.5 GHz, accompanied by a trio of Cortex-A710 cores clocked at up to 3.36 GHz, and a quartet of 1.8 GHz Cortex-A510 cores.
In layman’s terms? This system-on-chip is more than enough to handle your everyday smartphone tasks such as having multiple tabs open on your browser, different social media apps running simultaneously, and perhaps Spotify and YouTube launched in the background without missing a beat.
The Honor 90 works well enough for mobile gaming and does not overheat excessively. It’s able to run just about all of today’s games without any hiccups, though you might want to tone down the graphics settings in more intensive titles since this is not a flagship device.
Connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.2, dual-band Wi-Fi 6, and NFC. You should also not find yourself getting lost easily since it relies on GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BDS, and QZSS standards for positioning.
The Honor 90 comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage space, and 12GB RAM accompanied by 512GB of storage space.
A 200MP main camera spearheads the optical department in the Honor 90. It features 0.56µm individual pixels and an aperture of f/1.9.
As there is no Optical Image Stabilisation, it is best if you have steady hands when shooting videos or snapping photos in low light. At the bare minimum, Honor has included Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) for video recording.
It is highly recommended you do not capture photos at 200MP, but instead rely on pixel-binning so you end up with 12MP-resolution files. Otherwise, you will find yourself running out of space way too quickly.
200MP only works great when the lighting conditions are perfect. At such a high resolution, you can experiment with digital zoom shots without worrying about losing too much detail.
Apart from the wide camera, there is also a 12MP ultra-wide shooter with an f/2.2 aperture and a 112° field of view. Shots taken by both cameras look great during the day; at night or in low-light conditions, the main camera is the better choice for greater detail, as the ultra-wide camera’s results can get too grainy.
Regardless, low-light performance is above average for a mid-range smartphone.
The front of the Honor 90 stores a large 50MP, f/2.4 selfie camera that lacks autofocus. If you wish to record video, you can capture 4K video at 30fps with EIS.
The Honor 90’s 5,000 mAh battery is rather beefy, with enough in the tank to last you the entire day.
Since every smartphone is used differently, here is some context: the Honor 90 had more than 30% battery remaining after watching a two-hour movie on Netflix, listening to Spotify while connected to a pair of Bluetooth headphones during office hours, and spending around an hour scrolling through social media mindlessly.
In case you somehow find yourself with the battery running dangerously low, the Honor 90 supports the 66W Honor SuperCharge standard. It takes five minutes to go from 0-20%, which should be more than enough to tide you over during an emergency.
Wired reverse charging at 5W is supported – even if it’s more of a novelty than a practical feature – while wireless charging support is missing.
All in all, the Honor 90 does well as a mid-range smartphone without encroaching upon flagship territory despite having the build quality to do so. The large display is pleasant, but if you prefer smaller handsets, it might be best if you looked elsewhere.
The Honor 90 is priced at RM1,799 for the base variant with 256GB of storage and RM2,099 for the 512GB model.
Edwin Kee dreamt of being a pro-gamer only to have circumstances mould him into a programmer in a past life. He has since moved on to write about consumer electronics and other topics.