Chinese phone maker Honor released the Honor 70 for the overseas market on Saturday at Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) 2022, an industry exhibition in Germany. The model was first launched in China earlier this year and was the best seller in mid-priced phones during the 618 shopping holiday, according to Honor.

Honor 70 is a primary product line with a mid-range price tag and specs, compared to its high-end Magic series and lower-priced X series. 

For the review, TechNode is testing the Honor 70 Crystal Silver with 8 GB RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus processor. 

The phone is targeted at users who have a tight budget but a preference for stylish design. It offers solid performance in terms of core specs and surprised us a little in some aspects. 

Design that shines

The phone adopts dual-curved edges on the display with a frame in the middle, which makes it feel frameless.

The crystal silver colorway we have has a crystal-like back case. The base color is mixed with sparkly “stardust” with a gradient from the top to the bottom. Using a faceted design usually seen in diamonds and other jewelry, the case reflects surrounding light while still giving a comfortable holding experience.

The crystal-like design of Honor 70. Credit: TechNode/Argo Zhang

In keeping with the sleek design, the back cameras are contained within two circles: one with two cameras and the other with one camera and a flash. The black surface of the two circles also contrasts pleasingly with the silvery back of the phone.

Modern user interface with smooth experience

We are pleasantly surprised by the phone’s stylish user interface. The wallpaper corresponds with the phone’s body color, the icons are well-designed, and the widgets (clock, calendar, weather, and search bar) are composed in a comfortable and appealing way.

Honor 70’s user interface. Credit: TechNode/Argo Zhang

The interface uses vivid but not overtly bright color while incorporating smooth and natural motion and transition animations. In some cases, such as shutting down background apps, the animations are even a little playful, like giving out a flipping motion. The phone’s high refresh rate of 120 HZ display works well with the system animation, leveling up the user experience compared to previous models.

Mid-end specs that exceed expectations

From the look of the spec, Honor 70’s 8 GB RAM and a mid-end processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus, the phone may not seem built to handle heavy work such as playing games that consume a lot of memories and put pressure on processors. But after trying it with a few different types of games, the phone responds relatively well.

We started by trying out casual games like Subway Surfers, an endless runner game. The phone runs quite well without dropping any frames and we barely feel any heat from the device. 

We then push it further by running the demanding roleplaying game Genshin Impact. When it runs this title, the system kills almost all other background apps, with its 8 RAM creating a bottleneck. And with the highest graphic preset of 60 fps option on, it runs smoothly most of the time, but it does drop frames when loading complex scenes or if you move your character quickly around the game. 

Meanwhile, playing Genshin Impact on the phone sees the CPU temperature rise from 30 to 47 degrees Celsius, according to a reading from Antutu, a popular Chinese phone benchmark app.

That temperature may seem acceptable, but we felt it was a bit too hot to hold when playing games in summer. For such memory-consuming game titles that may push the processor to its limits, you could consider lowering the graphic settings for a better experience.

The phone can handle ambitious tasks, but our advice is to not push it too hard. As for everyday apps, the specs are more than enough. The phone’s 8 GB RAM (plus 2 GB extra offered by an effective feature allowing storage to be added to RAM) can run more than 10 lightweight apps in the background at the same time. 

Cameras with rich features

The Honor 70 has a triple back camera module and single front camera, with rich and playful features for vlogging and shooting. Two of the back cameras support 50 million-plus pixel resolution.

A closer look at the back cameras of Honor 70. Credit: TechNode/Argo Zhang

We took it out for some shots and the camera did a good job, capturing some nice colors and proper exposure even in complex scenes with large shadows. 

A photo shot in low lights.

Lowlight scenarios are challenging for phone cameras due to the tiny size of the sensor which directly determines the image quality. We test the Honor 70 in a darkened art gallery and the phone does quite well, capturing detailed images, with a good balance of highlights and shadows; the white balance is accurate most of the time. The camera also has a night mode and a Macro feature. 

Close-up shot sample in low lights. Credit: TechNode/Ward Zhou

Its Aperture Mode, which can create partially-blurred bokeh images, works well. Shots with this mode may not look as flawless as true optical bokeh driven by a larger sensor and aperture, but this mode nevertheless exceeds our expectations of what a phone camera can do.

A look at Honor 70’s Multi-Video feature. Credit: TechNode/Argo Zhang

A highlight feature is Multi-Videos, which offers a great filming experience for vloggers and e-commerce livestreamers when looking to demonstrate an item or experience. It allows you to use both the front and back cameras at the same time and display the image in a split screen. It can quickly catch and focus on the main subject with options to adjust the zoom and beautify the image.

Display and charging

The Honor 70 adopts a 6.67-inch punch-hold OLED display, with 2400 x 1080 resolution. The display works nicely when we test it with HDR video samples. This mode shows off the benefits of the phone’s OLED display which offers great contrast and definite black without lighting up the pixels.

The device tends to display colors in a cooler tone if you compare its display with that of other phones or juxtapose it with a white wall. You may get used to it after a long time using it, but it could make you feel slightly uncomfortable if you use multiple devices at the same time.

The model we tried had a 4,800 mAh battery, supporting 66 W charging with the charger that comes with the device. The battery life won’t be a concern if you don’t overburden it. The 66 W charging speed is another compromise, as many other similarly priced phones in China now offer 150 W or even 200 W high-speed charging speed.

However, for the average user, the 66 W charging speed should be plenty: it can still fully charge this phone up from 20% in less than 40 minutes. 

Conclusion 

The Honor 70 is a stylish choice for vloggers and fashionistas on a tight budget. Its core specs can support everyday apps quite well and even deliver in some demanding scenarios.

However, it does have certain compromises as a mid-end model, in particular with regards to its display, charging speed, and cameras.

Even so, we are still impressed by its rich camera features and elegant design, including both the body and the user interface. In short, here are our major takeaways:

Pros

  • Eye-catching design with good holding experience
  • Featured camera system for vloggers and livestreamers
  • Well-designed and friendly user interface

Cons

  • Relatively lower charging wattage
  • Compromised display
  • Lack of dual speakers
  • Only one memory option available overseas

Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a]technode.com or Twitter @zhounanyu.