Before the Huawei / Honor split, I had my hands on almost every model or flagship that Honor made. Co-design with Huawei, as well as a good, high mid-market for these flagship products, made them competitive products. However, Honor was sold to operate essentially on a stand-alone basis, meaning it was no longer under the U.S. Entity List bans and could take advantage of Google services again. The Honor 50 is one such device, offering a full Google experience and choosing to pair a Snapdragon 700 series SoC with a 108 MP camera and 6.57-inch OLED display. We had a few hands-on tests with the Honor 50 ahead of launch next month in October.
As part of our briefing, we also learned that Honor is expanding its employee base, now with more than 10,000 employees worldwide, half of whom are in R&D, product development and focused on building devices. . We spoke with the UK team, which is similarly expanding as part of Honor’s initiative to increase its global presence by building partnerships. Honor recently signed an agreement with Microsoft to offer some of the first laptops (the Honor Magicbook) to ship with Windows 11 as standard.
Honor 50: the Vlogger’s phone
The device as presented to us is intended to be a mid-range device suitable for users who rely on photos and videos saved on the device for their content creation. Normally the answer to that would be “good, isn’t that all phones?” But Honor approaches this use case in several ways.
First of all, the camera solution. The front camera is a similar specification to a number of flagship rear cameras of 2019, with additional AI algorithms in place to take advantage of the photo or video in the traditional vlogging style. The front camera also works in cooperation with the rear cameras in a multi-video recording format. Through the software, a user can select side-by-side or picture-in-picture between two front and rear cameras, with independent zoom per camera or 3-way multi-camera recording. The idea here is that the type of user who might want this phone may want to record an event but also their reaction at the same time, and relying on a number of multi-video phones in the past, Honor wishes that the Honor 50 go above and beyond everything else in the market.
The second is the actual camera hardware – the punch hole front camera is a 32 MP design with additional AI algorithms to enable ‘wide angle’ front shooting through digital adjustment. On the back, the highlight is a 108 MP camera with a 1 / 1.52 inch sensor at F1.9, but using 9-in-1 pixel fusion this allows for a sensor with a pixel size effective 2.1 microns. The rear also features an 8 MP wide-angle camera, a 55mm equivalent Bokeh camera, and a 2 MP macro camera. Building on multiple generations of AI integration with the native camera app, multiple cameras can be used at a time for a combined photo.
Third, there are more technical specs – built on the Snapdragon 778G, Honor says it uses as many video accelerators and AI as it can inside the Qualcomm processor to speed up many camera options. . Honor also uses the battery with a 66W (11V @ 6A) Supercharge mode, which it claims can charge the dual cell battery to 70% in 20 minutes.
Another interesting feature of the smartphone is the display – the 6.57-inch OLED at a resolution of 2340×1080. Honor says it supports 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, 1.07 billion colors (we’re awaiting confirmation if it’s 10-bit or 8-bit + FRC) and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. At the time of our briefing, our contacts were unsure if this was a variable refresh rate display offering a range of refresh rates, or if it was just a binary mode. 60Hz to 120Hz. We’ve been told that it supports refresh rates below 60Hz for screen inactivity, to conserve battery life.
Honor didn’t indicate the maximum brightness, but said it had a 5,000,000: 1 contrast ratio, because of those OLED blacks. The screen has a 75-degree curve on both edges, which is enough to remove a distinct edge of the eyes when you hold it, but still makes it relatively easy to grip. Our test units of the day had clear cases in the box, although we were unable to confirm whether retailers will include them (apparently some retailers don’t like them?).
The software is based on Android 11, although our PR reps weren’t too sure about support for future versions and would get back to us. Other features include dual SIM, although no micro-SD support. There’s also no 3.5mm audio jack, but Bluetooth and a 3.5mm Type-C are supported.
The phone will be marketed as the Honor 50 or Honor 50 5G, but there is no difference between the two – 5G will be supported, at least for Sub 6 GHz. We are awaiting more details on the groups.
We were also told about a second device, the Honor 50 lite, which will be a lightweight version and 4G only. This is similar to previous Honor launches. The Honor 50 lite will also use a 64 MP rear camera instead, and more details will be given on October 27.
Because we were briefed by the UK team, we were told that the Honor 50 will have three colors coming to the UK namely Midnight Black, Emerald Green and a special Frost Crystal. The official launch of the phone will take place on the 27the October, when the exact memory / storage specifications and pricing will be released. We were also told that the software we tested in this practice was not final and that the camera software is expecting at least two updates between now and launch.
In the short time we had with the devices, the display was clearly very dynamic when pushed to the max. The camera app was very typical compared to previous Honor devices used, including a Pro mode and several camera features like multi-video, document, and Slo-mo. Video mode also allows users to adjust between slow modes and fast modes while recording. The device was ultimately easy to hold and I didn’t feel like it was a ghost touch with my hand, which was a problem on some curved devices.
In appearance alone, the Frost Crystal is in my opinion the best, and because of its special color, it will be interesting to see if it is the same price as the others. In the right light, it has a prismatic effect and shows a rainbow of colors.
Honor 50 technically launched in China
Note that the Honor 50 launched in China earlier this year from 2699RMB ($ 357 before taxes), and a fourth amber red color was offered. The Honor 50 in China launched alongside an Honor 50 Pro (larger, dual front cameras, 100W supercharging, all other things being equal) and an SE (larger, Mediatek SoC). It looks like neither the Pro nor the SE is coming to the west – the lite as part of this launch appears to be a brand new model.
The future of honor
I would be remiss if I did not mention the recent whispers about the United States considering adding Honor to the Entity List. Honor is currently majority-owned by a state-owned enterprise controlled by the Shenzhen municipal government. Huawei does not own any stake in Honor and does not participate in management and decision-making processes. In the past, Honor has leveraged Huawei’s scale of manufacturing, as well as software expertise – it was stated that when the split was made it would be difficult to separate the two at this level, and GizChina cites the CEO of Honor as having a target of 100 million smartphone sales by 2021. With Honor relying on partners such as Qualcomm and Mediatek for its processors, returning to the list of entities could make that target of 100 million. smartphones a little harder to reach. At least for now, with Honor 50 having Google services, the main restriction in the west in using these phones has been lifted. How that changes for future devices will depend on how the United States views Honor in light of its other connections.