When it comes to crowning the best Android phone, it's very difficult to settle on an outright winner. There are so many factors to consider and a swathe of strong recent phone releases. When it comes to the more budget-conscious end of the market, however, there is one measure above all others: value for money.
That's where the Honor 90 comes in, offering a strong performance without the price of some of the bigger names in the industry. However, there are a few feisty contenders already established in the mid-level market, such as the Nothing Phone (1), Samsung A54 or even a Google Pixel 7a.
This competition is obviously great for consumers, plus it makes manufacturers more determined to produce something that stands out from the crowd. Has Honor achieved that with the Honor 90, though, and is it worth adding to your wishlist?
Honor 90 review: Price & Availability
The Honor 90 is priced differently depending on the spec you plump for. I tested the 512GB model with 12GB of RAM that retails for £499, but there is also a 256GB storage option with 8GB of RAM for £449.
If you're not too worried about performance and don't need oodles of storage space, that £50 saving might be quite tempting, but I definitely appreciate the extra oomph.
European buyers can purchase the 8GB RAM model for €549 and the 12GB RAM version for €599.
Honor 90 review: Design & Display
I have to say, the Honor 90 is a looker. The camera modules in particular are stunning with their silver bezels, designed to imitate the moon, that really pop. It does look like a flagship phone, despite its lower price. There's also a choice of colours with Diamond Silver, Peacock Blue, Emerald Green, and Midnight Black, and I particularly like that my Emerald Green device is surrounded by a blue-ish bezel and buttons.
In the hand, however, it's not quite the same story of finery. The back of the phone is quite obviously made of plastic – which is fine at this price, but it's not my biggest gripe with this phone. The touchscreen looks perfectly smart, but to the touch it just doesn't feel super-responsive; it's almost like having a couple of screen protectors permanently on the device, making my fingers feel 'distant' from using the device.
As for the image itself, it's a better story: the 6.7-inch AMOLED display has a pretty crisp 2664x1200 resolution, plus a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate that's always appreciated for a balance between smooth visuals and battery performance. Honor describes the curved display as "reminiscent of a glass filled to the brim and on the verge of overflowing." I don't quite see that, but with over 1 billion colours and 1600 nits brightness, there's plenty for the eyes to enjoy. Your eyes will appreciate you using the Honor 90 too as it been specially designed to reduce harmful levels of 'blue light' and look after your eyes, the Circadian Night Display setting will even help you sleep.
The Honor 90 is also pretty lightweight at 183g (some 14g lighter than the Google Pixel 7) and also nice and svelte at just 7.8mm thick – so you won't have a problem fitting it in your pocket.
When it comes to the phone's durability, I'm also left wanting a little more. This device has not been IP certified for water and dust proofing, nor is there any word on the strength of the screen (it does not use Gorilla Glass), so definitely invest in a case and screen protector.
Honor 90 review: Cameras
The headline number with the Honor 90's camera system is a 200-megapixel main shooter. Quite how Honor has managed to get so many megapixels into a sub-£500 phone is beyond me.
Of course, while an impressive figure, megapixel counts aren't everything – and the Honor 90 isn't going to compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Google Pixel 7 Pro in the camera stakes. More gimmicky features such as smile detection and multi-camera video (which allows you to film via the front and rear cameras, or both rear cameras simultaneously) are fun... but throwaway to me.
Although only offering 2x optical zoom, the digital zoom on board is still pretty solid, even at its 10x maximum, and the macro camera is also effective. I was also happy with the Honor 90's camera performance in portrait mode, and its 50MP selfie camera. Night mode is also rapidly responsive and doesn't require you to sit still while it captures the light. In terms of video, 1080p 60fps is lovely and crisp but sadly 4K video is only locked to 30fps.
Overall I would say that for the price, the Honor 90 has a top-performing camera, just don't expect any Google Pixel-level software features.
Honor 90 review: Performance & Battery
The Honor 90 features a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor, albeit an overclocked "accelerated edition". While I hoped for a 7 Gen 2 processor, this is not a deal-breaker and users should expect to have ample tabs open all at once with no problems.
In terms of gaming, playing FIFA Mobile and COD Mobile presented no problem for me – and they are two of the more graphically intense titles out there, no doubt having an impressive 12GB of RAM helps. Thanks to the plastic casing, and a vapour chamber that's 147% bigger than the Honor 80's, I experienced no overheating to speak of either.
Interestingly Honor has gone with its own Magic OS (based on Android 13) instead of standard Android, but in truth there's little to distinguish it from Google's software and it still has access to the Play Store and all the leading apps. One pet peeve of mine is the default keyboard is slightly too small compared to the standard Android set up, but a quick download of Google's Gboard app fixed that for me.
When it comes to the battery I was impressed. The 5000mAh cell charges up to 66W which will get you to 20% battery in just 5 minutes. Lifespan-wise Honor claims up to 19.5 hours when constantly streaming video. I'm not sure what conditions this was tested in, but my own tests found it took around 1 hour 20 minutes to drop by 10% when streaming video on full brightness over Wi-Fi. But around 13.5 hours of video playback is plenty of battery to get you through the day.
Honor 90 review: Verdict
Far from cheap and cheerful, the Honor 90 is a great value proposition with a beautiful aesthetic, excellent camera and strong battery life, plus 12GB of RAM is more than most at this price.
It's not perfect – the touchscreen is not exactly a joy to use and it's a shame that Honor couldn't include an IP rating – but in general I believe the Honor 90 has enough to separate itself from the pack.
Whether the Honor 90 ousts the likes of the Samsung A53 and Google Pixel 7 (which you can now find for a similar price) is likely a matter of personal preference. But those are two great options to consider, with pure Android software and computational camera features being a real differentiator with the latter in particular.