A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Honor’s separation from Huawei has seen the brand gain a new lease of life with the inclusion of Google Mobile Services (GMS) in its devices. There is a sense of familiarity with the Honor 50 simply because it is as close to a Huawei Nova 9 clone as it can be, albeit with an upgraded main camera to 108MP and the aforementioned support for GMS. Let us dive into what the Honor 50 delivers on a day-to-day basis.
Design and build quality
Camera bumps seem to be a necessary evil in this day and age, although the way it is implemented on the Honor 50 is an acquired taste. The dual ring design holds an individual appeal that is hit or miss, depending on your personal preference.
Apart from that, the Honor 50 is a sleek handset. The side edges of the display are curved, bucking the trend of flat-screen displays making a comeback. Overall, the build quality feels solid with pleasing aesthetics from selected angles.
The Honor 50 tips the scales at 175g which is not too heavy. Occupying the upper mid-range smartphone tier, this handset looks its best without a protective case. However, would owners want to risk the chance of scratching or damaging it without the included plastic cover or something more hideous from an online store? Do bear in mind that the Honor 50 attracts fingerprints easily, so you might want to have a cleaning cloth handy at all times.
I liked the feel of the volume rockers on the right side of the handset. They had just the right amount of tactile feedback, and I did not have to stretch my thumb too far up. Then again, this is a subjective experience since we all have different hand sizes.
Do take note that there is no microSD card slot for memory expansion purposes in the future, so you might want to settle for the larger capacity 8GB RAM/256GB storage model instead of the 6GB RAM/128GB storage variant.
Sadly, there is no IP certification on the Honor 50 that offers water and dust protection. That would have been a nice touch!
While looking premium on the outside, the Honor 50 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC (which is 5G capable, but that remains a moot point in Malaysia currently) underneath the hood that packs enough processing muscle to handle everyday tasks without missing a beat.
There were very few times when I multi-tasked with the Honor 50 and it lagged just a wee bit, before returning to a buttery smooth experience. Launching a GPS navigation app, a couple of social media accounts running in the background, with video and music streaming services to boot, and the Honor 50 handled everything admirably well.
Gamers who are on a budget might wonder, “Is this worth picking up?” Unless you are a professional gamer whose livelihood depends on not dropping a single frame, the Honor 50 is adequate for most mobile gaming experiences. Do take note that longer lengths of gaming time (or navigation) will eventually heat up the handset, but apart from that, everything is peachy.
At the end of the day, it is virtually impossible to live without Google Mobile Services on an Android handset. The half-baked solutions on Huawei devices (Petal Search and its ilk) are simply inadequate for the optimal user experience. Hence, it is nice to see the Honor 50 support the entire range of Google apps (Gmail, Drive, Maps, etc.)
A 6.57-inch curved OLED panel with a resolution count of 2,340 x 1,080 pixels accompanied by a 120Hz refresh rate and a 300Hz touch sampling rate makes this a really lovely screen to look at. Of course, consuming video content on your large screen TV is still better, but when you are on the move, the Honor 50 delivers.
Your eyes will be greeted by vibrant colours and deep blacks, and you would notice the buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate if you are moving on from a 60Hz display. Those who have been used to 90Hz displays might not find such a stark difference though.
The Magic UI 4.2 skin that is based on Android 11 powers the Honor 50. Right now, there is still no Android 12 update arriving for the device with a Q2 2022 release date being touted. Do take note that this is what Honor has promised, so you might even obtain Android 13 when it is available or not. However, that is not likely since this is not a flagship device, and one major Android update with two years of security updates seem to be par for the course here.
One thing that will definitely strike your attention would be the two camera islands that will certainly turn heads. On paper, you get a 108MP main camera accompanied by an 8MP ultrawide angle shooter, a 2MP bokeh camera and a 2MP macro camera. In front lies a 32MP selfie shooter housed within a punch-hole cutout.
The main camera does well under decent lighting conditions (as with just about any other camera would these days regardless of brand or tier), and is adequate for social media posts.
You will be able to capture night shots that are on par with other smartphones in this category. While images in low light conditions do look brighter than usual, it comes at the expense of the finer details and washed out colours.
As for selfies, they look all right under bright sunlight. You need not worry about your social media posts when snapping photos with the Honor 50, be it sweeping vistas or portraits.
The curse of many a mid-range smartphone strikes again, with a mono speaker configuration being embedded in the Honor 50. Perhaps there is simply no more space within to integrated a second speaker. Still, the bottom-firing speaker is adequate for a single person in a small space, but when you hold it horizontally when gaming or viewing videos, it is best to stick to a pair of headphones or earbuds – as long as they’re wireless or USB-C compatible. Thankfully, Honor included a pair of USB-C wired earbuds in the box that are functional at best.
Launched at the end of 2021, the 4,300mAh battery is not a trailblazer by any means. Most normal users would be able to eke out an entire day’s worth of use without having to search for a power outlet. I managed to obtain 5 and a half hours of screen time, where my usage context comprises streaming YouTube videos for a couple of hours, listening to Spotify, replying social media messages and emails, and reading some e-books, all with automatic screen brightness enabled. There were notifications that popped up, informing me on which apps utilised the battery the most.
Should you find yourself running out of juice halfway through the day, it takes around 45 minutes to fully charge the Honor 50 with its HONOR Super Charger (66W). Now that’s fast, driving a nail through the coffin of conventional thinking where we leave our smartphones to be charged overnight.
The Honor 50 will retail for RM1,699 and RM1,999 for the 6GB RAM/128GB storage and 8GB RAM/256GB storage, respectively. Seeing the lack of a microSD slot, it might be wiser, in the long run, to fork out a little bit more money to bring home double the amount of built-in storage.
Overall, this is a decent device that features above-average build quality, but you can find better price-to-performance ratio handsets in the current market.