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Honor 70 camera Review

Honor 70 review
Review

Our Verdict

The Honor 70 is a well-round mid-range smartphone camera that punches above its weight. With great features and image quality, fast charging and tools that should appeal to vloggers as well, Honor has set a new bar for what customers should expect from a smartphone in the sub-£500 / $500 price bracket.

If you take your photography seriously but can’t afford the all-singing, all-dancing £1000 / $1000+ smartphones from Samsung, Apple, Oppo and the rest, you should strongly consider the Honor 70. Huawei’s budget brand cuts back in some areas, but packs in premium features where you want them.

With dual main cameras, intriguing video modes and a large battery, is Honor’s latest offering the best mid-range smartphone? Find out in our Honor 70 review.

What is the Honor 70?

The Honor 70 is the latest smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer. It was announced alongside the Honour 70 Pro and Honour 70 Pro+ back in May 2022 and to date has only been on sale in China. The device is now getting an international launch and is available in the UK (but not the Honor 70 Pro or Pro+).

The Honor 70 is the most basic model in the new 70 range, but it still has some impressive specifications, such as 54MP Super Sensing Main Camera alongside a 50MP Wide-Angle and Macro 2-in-1 camera. Its 6.67-inch OLED can produce more than a billion colours, and new SuperCharge technology lets you restore the battery to 60% in just 20 minutes.

With a host of video features, including an innovative new Solo Cut mode, the Honor 70 is aimed squarely at vloggers and content creators as a mid-range option.

Honor 70 Price & Availability

The Honor 70 price tag in the UK will be £479.99 for the version with 128GB of internal storage, while the Honor 70 price rises to £529.99 for the 256GB option.

The device is available now. You can purchase the 128GB version from Amazon and a range of retailers, while the 256GB option is only available from mobile companies Vodafone and Three.

The Honor 70 is available in Crystal Silver, Icelandic Frost, Emerald Green, Midnight Black colour options.

Features

The Honor 70 series of smartphones debuts Sony’s IMX800 image sensor in the devices’ rear camera arrays. In the Honor 70, this rear setup consists of a 54MP Super Sensing main camera equipped with an f/1.9 lens with All Pixel Autofocus. This sits alongside a 50MP Wide-Angle and Macro 2-in-1 122° Ultra Wide camera. There is no telephoto camera on the Honor 70. Instead, the third camera is a 2MP depth sensor.

On the front of the device is a 32MP selfie camera that allows for HDR Selfie Portraits.

The Honor 70 shoots 4K video at 30p and Full HD at up to 60p. There’s also a Slow-Motion video mode and a Multi-Video option for recording split-screen movies. WHat’s more, a new Solo Cut mode allows you to auto-track a person without moving your phone.

As you’d imagine, all the usual shooting modes are there: Aperture, Portrait, Night, Pro. Other interesting options are Time-Lapse, HDR, Super Macro and High-Res.

The Honor 70 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G+ chipset, with 8GB of RAM and its GPU Turbo X helps deliver higher frame rates for video and gaming while promising lower power consumption.

The Honor 70 is also the first non-flagship phone to use the company’s Honor Image Engine, which employs computational photography software to sharpen images and give them a lift. It’s this software that drives the new Solo Cut mode, helping to keep your moving subject in focus. Solo Cut will maintain focus even if your subject leaves the frame and comes back. The AI is able to do this by noting identifying characteristics, such as clothes.

Inside the device is a 4800mAh battery that promises long life and charges at up to 66W. Honor says that the phone can charge from nearly empty to 60% in just 20 minutes, making it one of the fastest on the market.

The Honor 70 also runs on Android and supports 5G, Wi-Fi 6, NFC and Bluetooth 5.2.

Honor 70 review

Build & Handling

The Honor 70 weighs just 178g despite boasting a large 6.67-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The display has curved edges and is incredibly slim at 7.91mm for a device this large.

In your hand, it’s got a nice premium feel. The backside is made of aluminium and the cameras are mounted on dual metal rings. There’s also a flash within this dual housing.

Overall, it looks and feels higher quality than most mid-range smartphones in this bracket. One thing that would be nice, however, is water and dust resistance. The Honor 70 is not IP68 rated.

The Honor 70’s OLED display, however, really does explode with colour. Images look fantastic on the 6.67-inch screen. It’s a Full HD display, not 4K, but for most people this will be enough resolution for casual everyday photography and content consumption.

In my tests so far, the Honor 70 has lasted a full day on a charge, even with some heavy use. This is down to its large 4800mAh battery offsetting the power consumption of that large OLED display.

Personally, I don’t like displays with curved edges. I find they’re difficult or awkward to tap or swipe along the edges, but the Honor 70 has been very responsive. Swiping through the shooting modes and scrolling through my images was very easy and natural.

Like many recent Android phones, the Honor 70 eschews the traditional home, back and application navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen and, instead, opts for gestures. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to exit an application and return home. Swipe right from the far left edge to go back, and swipe up from the very bottom edge of the screen to navigate between open applications.

This can take some getting used to if you’ve not experienced it yet, but like learning to drive a manual transmission, you quickly get the hang of it. Personally, I prefer the buttons, but by the end of my Honor 70 review it was intuitive.

One really handy gesture, however, is that you can open the camera app from the lock screen simply by swiping up from the bottom right corner of the display. This was particularly handy when trying to shoot quickly on a family outing at a crowded zoo, trying to move from one play to another while staying together.

Performance

When I started my Honor 70 review, I was immediately surprised at at how fast the phone charged and how soon I could start using it. Not even charging it via the mains, I plugged it into a portable solar panel I have and it was ready to use in no time.

It’s also nice to see Google services. Even though the Huawei P40 series smartphones had some of the best cameras around, not being able to utilise the vast network of Google apps and services made the devices difficult to use in your daily life for anything but photography.

I had a busy end-of-summer and beginning of autumn 2023 and was fortunate enough to shoot images for my Honor 70 review while on the road in a range of different locales and conditions. I used the default Photo mode for most of my images, which is what most users are likely to use. Here you’ll find a slider via which you can toggle between the wide-angle camera to the standard camera or shoot with 2x optical zoom. This is kind of deceiving, though, as you can keep running your finger down that slider past the 2x mark (or pinch and zoom the screen) and zoom in all the way to 10x using a combination of optical and digital zoom.

I found the standard and wide-angle cameras capture some nice detail in good light, but as you zoom in past the 2x optical zoom benchmark there’s some real softening of those finer details. I noticed this particularly when photographing animals, in their fur and feathers.

I was impressed by the Honor 70’s AI in Photo mode. It’s done a great job at recognising my scenes. If you don’t want the camera’s AI engine to recognise scenes and adjust settings accordingly, you can very easily turn this off by tapping the AI icon at the top left of the camera screen.

Honor 70 review: AI

Moving beyond the default Photo mode, you’ll find the usual Aperture, Portrait, Night, Multi-Story (split-screen video between the selfie and rear cameras) and Video modes along the bottom of the app screen. In the More options menu you’ll find more stalwarts like Panorama, Time-Lapse, HDR, Macro and High-Res modes, among others. HDR mode did a great job at adding detail in the dark and light areas of the scene, while High-Res is great for capturing static subjects with greater clarity and detail.

Pro mode gives you quite a lot of control over the image. Here you can adjust your metering ode, ISO, shutter speed, AF mode, white balance or dial in some exposure compensation. This was really handy for those moments when I had a bit more time to consider my image and could fine tune a composition to get the colours and tones I wanted.

Honor 70 Pro mode

Honor 70 Pro mode options

Like most smartphones, the Honor 70 performs best in good light. In full sun, its tones are rich and colours natural, if a little on the cool side, and most images shot in strong light look fantastic when zoomed in. But it also performs well in the dark, thanks to a really strong Night mode.

Night modes have been around for some time now, but what a revelation it was to be able to shoot scenes at night handheld and know that you’ll get a good picture. It achieves this by shooting a quick series of images and merging them together into one sharp image. Some detail is lost than if you were shooting on a tripod, but for most of us who are just sharing images on social media or elsewhere online, even making standard size prints, you won’t really notice.

I was very pleased with some of the nighttime shots I got while shooting at night during a trip to New York City. Even when there was very little light at all, I was able to capture some images I was really happy with.

 

Honor 70 Sample Images & Video

There is much more to come, but here are a few sample shots I’ve taken so far with the Honor 70.

Honor 70 review: image quality
Shot using the Honor 70’s Super Macro mode.
Honor 70 Sample Images: High-Res mode
Shot using the Honor 70’s High-Res mode.
Honor 70 Sample Images: Night mode
Shot using the Honor 70’s excellent Night mode.
Honor 70 Sample Images: Night mode
Another Night mode shot, taken around midnight, shot handheld.
Honor 70 Sample Images: optical zoom
Using the Honor 70’s 2x optical zoom to get closer to a subject from afar.
Honor 70 review: fine details
Honor 70 Review: detail
The Honor 70’s dual main cameras can capture some nice fine details.
Honor 70 review: chromatic aberrations
The Honor 70 seems to handle high-contrast scenes well, limiting distortion.

Verdict

I’ve long been impressed with Huawei technology. Its smartphone cameras have always been ahead of the curve, ahead of their time, so it was a real shame when geopolitics meant Huawei had to stop using Google services on its phones, thus limiting their use outside photography.

Honor is Huawei’s budget brand, but its budget and mid-range phones have always benefited from a trickle down of technology from the premium Huawei Mate and P series phones. For this reason, they’ve always seemed like great value. The Honor 70 is no exception. This is a solid mid-range phone that punches above its weight and delivers some exciting, creative features with great image quality.

It feels more premium than its price point, owing both to its solid build and rapid charging to features like support for raw files and a Night mode that reminds me of the glory days of using Huawei P-series cameras.

Add in some new tools for vloggers, such as Multi-Video and Solo-Cut video modes, and you not only have a well-rounded phone, but one that is offering tools very few others in this price bracket have available.

Whether you’re a casual photographer or take your photography very seriously but are limited by budget, the Honor 70 is an excellent choice.

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