Honor 200 review: a great Google and Samsung alternative

With keen pricing and an optical zoom lens, the Honor 200 isn't to be overlooked

Honor 200 review
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)
T3 Verdict

The Honor 200 is perfectly priced to take on the Google Pixel 8a or Samsung Galaxy A55 – and in a number of areas it betters either of those devices thanks to a decent zoom camera inclusion and masses of battery. However, the software has its quirks, while the curved display isn't always ideal to interact with. But those point don't amount to enough to instantly shun this big-name alternative and – especially for photo fans – the Honor 200 is an accomplished yet affordable phone that's not to be overlooked.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Adding 2.5x zoom camera brings lots of appeal

  • +

    Capable cameras whether shooting day or night

  • +

    Decent battery life and charging speed

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Some software irks: from swipe controls to notification foibles

  • -

    Curved screen can create interactivity issues

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When I first heard about the Honor 200 being launched outside of its homeland, it was the official UK pricing that really caught my attention – as I wrote from the official launch event, Honor's latest is keenly positioned to take on the Google Pixel 8a as one of the best affordable phones right now.

And as I had been using the Pixel 8a as my own for six weeks prior to moving into the Honor 200 – as my replacement handset for this very review – I was in a great position to see whether Honor's competitor truly delivers the goods to take on Google's champion. It didn't hurt that (unrelated) I was also heading to Malta for a few days to challenge its photography capabilities. 

There are certainly areas of keen difference between it and the Google device though: the Honor 200 is much larger, features a curved screen, and the software variations are significant. But when it comes to price, both are great propositions. And considering this Honor features a 2.5x zoom lens in its camera arrangement, it could be one of the best Android phones if you're looking to save a fistful of cash.

Honor 200: Price & Availability

The Honor 200 is on sale from 28 June 2024, with the now-open pre-order period promoting a free JBL Charge speaker with your purchase. I think that's a pretty great deal, given that speaker's couple-of-hundred asking price – I have one at home that gets frequent garden use when the weather is good enough. 

Otherwise the Honor 200 is listed at £499.99, which places it directly up against the Google Pixel 8a and other devices such as the Nothing Phone (2) – the latter which has dropped in price since launch. Positioned above the baseline Honor 200, however, is the Pro version (£699.99), which delivers even more power.

Honor 200 review: What's new?

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

While the Honor 100 never got a full review here at T3 – as Tech Editor, I maintain a threshold in covering more luxury-focused items, including affordable options where applicable – the Honor 200 advances its predecessor in one key way: with upgraded cameras. 

Because otherwise the two handsets are relatively similar: both present 6.7-inch displays, both feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 processor, and both run Google's Android software with Honor's MagicOS variation built over it.

However, the Honor 200 uprates the battery capacity (from 5,000mAh to 5,2000mAh), and crucially adds a 50-megapixel 2.5x optical zoom camera to complement the other 50MP main and the less resolute 12MP wide-angle snapper. 

Honor 200 review: Design & Display

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

That's not to say the Honor 200 looks like a mirror of its predecessor, however, with the company taking on an altogether new look when it comes to the camera unit on the rear. It's an oval-shaped protrusion this time around, which is like nothing I've seen on any other phone to date. 

Despite my initial reservations with ths look, I actually find the aesthetic refreshing now. With most Chinese brands opting for gigantic circular emblems on devices of late – looking at you Huawei and Xiaomi, as two key examples – the oval shape provides the Honor with a point of distinction. The four circular optics arranged within are deep black, so more-or-less hidden by the protrusion's also-black finish.

Specifications tell me the Honor 200 comes in so-called Coral Pink, Moonlight White, Emerald Green, or Black options. My review device, as pictured on this page looks a lot more like the Pro model's 'Ocean Cyan' description to me, especially considering the metallic 'waves' that flow through the rear's surface (but the box confirms it is, in fact, Emerald Green). It looks much nicer exposed than in the provided see-through plastic case too. 

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Having been so used to the Google Pixel 8a's 6.1-inch panel for many weeks, I'd reverted to being content with using a compact phone – which isn't my typical go-to, really. Shifting up to the Honor 200's 6.7-inch screen felt like a big adjustment at first, especially when it came to the keyboard's default compressed nature (I shifted from Microsoft to Gboard promptly, making some personal scale-based tweaks too).

But the major thing about the Honor 200's display is that it's a curved-edge panel. To me that feels a bit like 'the old times', as most brands have been moving away from curves for a number of years now. It makes for a comfortable hold, sure, but it adds an extra layer of trickiness with some interactions – especially Android's swipe controls, which I found don't always work as expected, triggering a different action.

Despite that curve, however, the Honor 200's display is of respectable quality. I tend to feel spoiled with modern phones these days. The OLED panel here, complete with 120Hz refresh and a crisp resolution (1200 x 2664 pixels), reflects the kind of specification that was once reserved for flagships. Honestly, that's as much as you'll need these days, delivering ample brightness (and smart auto-adjustment) and a strong colour palette.

Honor 200 review: Performance & Battery

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

I've already touched upon one of the Honor 200's issues: interacting with that curved display. However, that's not all: various swipe controls don't function as you might expect owed to Honor's MagicOS software, which I've found even after a full week of use can frustrate at times. 

For example: I'm used to swiping bottom-to-top to bring up my apps. That doesn't happen in MagicOS. So I have to manually search for apps instead. At the other end of the scale swiping down top-to-bottom will reveal notifications or settings – depending on how left- or right-aligned you swipe on the screen. 

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

To be fair the phone does educate you about all this upon startup, with step-by-step overlays that are easy to follow – so it's not a surprise, just that for me it feels at odds with the typical Android suite of controls. I've got more used to it, but it's not preferential – and can't be deactivated. The way notifications stack up gets very busy looking, too.

What the Honor 200 doesn't educate you about is that apps have a number of additional background controls to consider. As I've learnt from years of reviewing Huawei and Honor handsets, you'll want to dig into the Apps settings and ensure various settings are deactivated.

For example, there's a hidden 'Launch settings' where the device can 'Restrict unnecessary launches to save power'. Nice idea, but when I get a Ring doorbell notification 20 minutes late or am only alerted to a banking app purchase upon actually opening the applicable app, it lags well behind expectation. That's a MagicOS issue, ultimately.

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

But that's about the biggest penalty you'll need to pay if you're to opt for the Honor 200. In use the phone acquits itself very well indeed, thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 processor at its core, positioning it very much in the mid-tier –as per its asking price. I've found that just as workable as the Tensor G3 found in the Google Pixel 8a.

It's worth noting that my review device features 12GB RAM (8GB and 16GB options also exist) and that Honor's 'Turbo RAM' feature adds a further 12GB by digging into a partition of available storage. That's way beyond mid-tier, frankly, and I've found it's resulted in being able to open multiple apps and switch between them with ease. 

Gaming-wise this chipset combination is effective, delivering the goods whether I've been continuing my South Park: Phone Destroyer battles or stretching its graphical muscles with the lots-moving-on-screen Match Factory – which even the Samsung Galaxy A55 struggled to handle at a decent frame-rate. In that context, therefore, the Honor 200 is able to keep up with its biggest competitors – and even better some of them. 

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

The 5200mAh battery on board this phone is also significant and more than many competitors offer. Given that I've spent much of my time reviewing this Honor phone in Malta, where it's been over 32-degrees Celsius each day, it's performed really well, not overheated or had a meltdown (apparently unlike my body in the same location).

I've made it through 5am starts to 2am finishes with plenty of battery remaining, so no dramas there – although those overzealous battery control settings may prove more a hindrance from a user perspective. Especially as, with 100W charging, speedy top-ups at the plug (one is not included in the box, only the cable) can re-juice this phone in no time – almost 60% in just 15-minutes.

Honor 200 review: Cameras

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)
  • Main: 50-megapixel, 1/1.56" sensor, f/2.0 aperture, optical image stabilisation (OIS)
  • Zoom: 50MP, f/2.4, OIS
  • Wide: 12MP, f/2.2

Despite some software quirks, one area where the Honor is able to elevate itself beyond some of its competitors is in the cameras department. I could base that on specification alone, thanks to a high-resolution 2.5x optical zoom camera – but it's not just the written spec, it's the overall delivery in the real-world that impresses. 

With Malta being so bright and sunny, I had plenty of opportunities to shoot high-contrast scenes, which is where the high dynamic range (HDR) came to the rescue in balancing out scenes that would otherwise overexpose. It's a fairly quick camera to load, too, which is handy. 

I won't pretend the Honor 200's camera is the very fastest available, though, as shooting on repeat does show some lag between shots – but I never found that to be a big bother. It's a similar story with the optical stabilisation too – it's great to have on both of the high-resolution optics, but it's not the most sophisticated system on the planet. Still, for a phone at this price this isn't a negatives – having OIS is a great benefit.

I think where I've been most impressed, however, is with the Honor 200's ability to handle a variety of scenes. There's a separate Night Mode, for example, which made shooting in a Cathedral (where I could barely see by eye) possible with just handheld long-exposures. Switching to the normal mode and the camera is still very capable – evidenced by the shot of an opera singer (leading the gallery of images embedded above). 

There's more in that gallery of snaps, too, showing off the level of detail still feasible to extract from the 2.5x zoom. Thanks to plenty of resolution it's no downgrade to zoom in. And, no, I know it's not a huge zoom – but many competitors lack one or simply offer a less capable in-app crop option. So the Honor 200 can hold its own when it comes to the cameras department. 

Any downsides? The wide-angle isn't as accomplished as the other two lenses, which is pretty typical. It's still most useful to have, though, so I wouldn't wish it away – and I'm glad that Honor has called time in offering unnecessary separate macro or black-and-white optics that simply aren't needed (the former automatically kicks in when close enough to a subject). No such things here: the Honor 200's cameras are a neat and capable solution.

Honor 200 review: Verdict

Honor 200 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

As per my opening gambit: having switched from the Google Pixel 8a over to the Honor 200, this review process has been a rollercoaster ride of many good outcomes, peppered with some less-than-ideal software oddities. 

But if you can cope with those minor software irks and the curved screen – namely delayed notifications and sometimes tricky swipe interactions – then the Honor 200 is a genuine rival to Google's best budget phone. It's priced perfectly and it brings some features even king Google can't match too – namely that 2.5x optical zoom.

With ample power to handle everything you care to throw its way, strong battery life, and versatile cameras capable of handling scenes day or night, the Honor 200 is an accomplished phone. The price is just right, too – to the point that I'd forego the Pro model in the line-up (which, roughly speaking, adds Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 and wireless charging into the mix).

All in all, despite some software quirks, the Honor 200 is perfectly positioned to take on the Google Pixel 8a or Samsung Galaxy A55, making for an accomplished yet affordable phone that shouldn't to be overlooked.

Also consider

Thanks to price decreases, the Nothing Phone (2) is now close to the Honor 200's day-one asking price. The Nothing adds fun Glyph lighting and better software reliability, making it a strong option with the same 6.7-inch display size. 

Otherwise the Samsung Galaxy A55, with its 6.6-inch display is another similar-size rival with a better metal build quality – and software that's more Android familiar.

If the Honor's 6.7-inch display is too big for your wants, then the 6.1-inch Google Pixel 8a is a great option. It's got an iconic and colourful design and, again, the software is top of its game. 

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor at T3.com. He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone too (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech and audio aficionado his beat at T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a tech stone unturned he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.