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Honor 70 review: A solid Android phone value

The Honor 70 offers good photos and a big and beautiful screen for an affordable price, but its performance could be better.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand, viewed from rear
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The midrange Honor 70 delivers beyond what you'd expect with its display and cameras, but disappoints with its lackluster chipset and a higher starting price than its competitors. It'll work well for you if you like photos and video, but if you need something with more power or a longer software support span, the Samsung Galaxy A53 may be the better option.

Pros

  • +

    Big and beautiful display

  • +

    Fast charging

  • +

    Good battery life

  • +

    Attractive photography

Cons

  • -

    Limited software support

  • -

    Weak performance

  • -

    No U.S. availability

Honor 70: Specs

Starting price: 549 euros
Display: 6.67-inch FHD OLED
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Chipset: Snapdragon 778G Plus
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 54MP main (f/1.9), 50MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 2MP depth camera (f/2.4)
Front camera: 32MP selfie
Battery: 4,800 mAh
Charging: 66W wired
Software: Android 12 with Magic UI 6.1
Size: 161.4 mm (L) x 73.3 mm (W) x 7.91 mm
Weight: 178g
Colors: Midnight Black, Emerald Green, Icelandic Frost, Crystal Silver

The Honor 70 may be arriving late to this year’s midrange phone party, but it's still making quite an entrance. While not as attractively priced as some of its rivals, Honor justifies the cost by equipping the Honor 70 with an excellent display, quick charging, long battery life and effective cameras. Those last two are particularly welcome to see, as they were weak spots with last year’s Honor 50

But flaws remain with the Honor 70, most notably a limited update schedule and humdrum performance, which holds back the Honor 70's gaming abilities despite a great big screen. 

You may be better off with the Google Pixel 6a, Samsung Galaxy A53 or OnePlus Nord 2T, depending on what you want out of your phone. But if you know what you want to use your new phone for streaming and photos, and that usage won't tax the chipset too much, then the Honor 70 is there to provide that with an enjoyable premium edge.

Honor 70 review: Price and availability

The Honor 70 launches in the U.K. and the rest of Europe September 2. Like previous Honor phones, this isn't one for American users, so anyone in the States should take a look at the Pixel 6a and Galaxy A53, which are easier enough to track down in that country.

Honor has only given the 70's official price in euros, start at €549 and going up to €599. That's a little more than the base Honor 50 from last year cost on the European mainland, but we should expect the cost for U.K. buyers to come in at around £450, which is what the Honor 50 cost here. That’s what you’d pay for a Galaxy A53, but it’s a little more expensive than the iPhone SE (2022) and a whole £100 more than the basic Nord 2T.

Honor 70 review: Design

The flashy design of the Honor 70 makes it look like a much more expensive phone than it actually is.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The curved sides and central punch-hole camera could convince you this is a Galaxy S22 Ultra from a distance, although it's much slimmer and lighter than its nominal 6.7-inch display size would have you believe.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Like the OnePlus Nord 2T, the Honor 70 is guilty of using overly large camera bumps to make its rear sensors look more impressive. However, the overall look with the two raised circular bumps does help distinguish the Honor from other phones in its price bracket, which tend to default to the typical rectangular camera block.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Honor also helps its phone look unique with some interesting color choices. There's the diamond-patterned Crystal Silver (pictured) and the pearlescent Icelandic Frost that really catch your eye. But you can also choose from Emerald Green and Midnight Black if you would rather opt for a more sensible choice.

Honor 70 review: Display

The reason to get the Honor 70 comes down to its screen. It's large at 6.7 inches across, while offering the increasingly common 120Hz refresh rate and the expected FHD resolution. Just be aware that the 120Hz rate isn’t adaptive, as you’ll find with the displays on more expensive phones.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Honor also boasts of its high 1920Hz pulse width modulation (PWM) which makes the screen less of a strain on your eyes, particularly in dim environments.

About the only thing you could really object in terms of the Honor's display specs at this price is the fact that the screen is curved. Even after several years of many Android brands making use of rounded left and right edges, this is still a controversial feature, but in my time with the Honor 70, I didn't notice myself making any unintended touches on the curved part of the screen.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I had a watch of the Pinocchio trailer on the Honor 70, followed by a screening on the Nord 2T. The bigger, brighter, more colourful panel on the Honor made for the best way to watch the famous puppet come to life. The one point in the Nord’s favor was image sharpness, which looked better on the smaller screen since it has the same FHD resolution as the Honor.

Honor 70 review: Cameras

There are three cameras on the back of the Honor 70, but only two are really important — the 54MP main camera and 50MP ultrawide camera. The remaining sensor is a 2MP depth sensor. To round things out, there's also a 32MP selfie camera on the front of the phone.

I compared the Honor 70 to the OnePlus Nord 2T across a few different shots, coming away impressed by what the Honor was capable of producing. For instance, the Honor 70 provides the better photo overall of Farringdon Underground station with its richer colors. Plus, the Honor 70’s, better HDR gives more definition to the whitest part of the clouds and helps the white text of the station sign pop out more. That said, I do like the extra detail the OnePlus image brings out in the bricks and paving stones compared to what the Honor 70 captures.

This darker image from indoors at the new Farringdon Elizabeth line platform also shows how much warmer images from the Honor's cameras can be. Again, I like the sharper outlines and markings you can see in the Nord 2T's image, but not how miserable the shot looks with its drab color palette.

The Honor 70 offers much better ultrawide photos, too. This shot of a sculpture outside the Tom’s Guide London office comes to life in the Honor's shot, no doubt thanks to its larger 50MP sensor. That same image appears very flat when seen through the 8MP Nord 2T ultrawide camera, which does the design of the unique structure no favors.

As for this portrait selfie comparison, I think it's the OnePlus' round. The Honor 70's shot is too soft, which wipes out the detail of my skin and in the wall behind me. I can see why others may like that effect for their shots, though, so I won't write off Honor's selfie entirely here.

Honor 70 review: Performance

The metaphorical engine for the Honor 70 is its Snapdragon 778G Plus chipset, which is joined by 8GB RAM. That sounds OK on its face, but this chip is actually almost a year old, and that age shows when pitted against devices with newer processors.

Honor 70OnePlus Nord 2TGoogle Pixel 6aiPhone SE (2022)
Geekbench 5 (single-core/multi-core)816 / 2,914420 / 2,6721,057 / 2,9181,718 / 4,482
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (score/frames per second)2,664 / 164,522 / 276,972 / 418,352 / 50
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (score/frames per second)740 / 41,295 / 71,185 / 111,943 / 12
Adobe Premiere Rush (time to encode in min:sec)1:540:510:490:27

As the table of results shows, the Honor 70 edges out a win in the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark over the Nord 2T, but loses when it comes to the two 3DMark GPU tests and our custom Adobe Premiere Rush encoding task. 

Of course, the iPhone SE (2022) with its monstrous A15 chip sits miles ahead on all fronts, but the Tensor-powered Pixel 6a also provides some impressive results for its price, outperforming the Honor on all the tests.

The Honor 70 still has enough strength to deal with day-to-day tasks, so the only time I noticed the power difference was when I was gaming. The cars of Grid Autosport look decidedly choppy if you look at them for too long, although at least the gameplay was still smooth.

The Honor 70 features either 128GB or 256GB of storage, which matches the capacity options on the Nord 2T while beating the 128GB-only Pixel 6a. However, the 128GB Samsung Galaxy A53 goes one better and offers microSD card support alongside its 128GB capacity — that gives you up to 1TB of removable storage if you buy the right card.

Honor 70 review: Battery and charging

Honor generously throws in a 66W charger with the 70 in the box, so you can get maximum speed charging as soon as you get the phone. The charger, which gets the phone from 0% to 41% in 15 minutes and to 78% in 30 minutes, is pretty speedy, but the OnePlus Nord 2T does beat it, using an 80W charger to reach 100% in 31 minutes.

The battery which that 66W brick powers has a 4,800 mAh capacity. That’s a little smaller than I'd ideally like a phone of this size to have, though it’s a step up from the Honor 50's 4,300 mAh cell. Running my usual YouTube power drain test, it took me four hours to drain the battery from 30% to 0%, which is faster than the OnePlus Nord 2T drained (12% in two hours, therefore 24% in four hours). That result is likely due to the Nord's larger 5,000 mAh battery and lower 90Hz display refresh rate.

Honor 70 review: Software

Honor's past as a division of Huawei is now most visible in its Magic UI skin for Android. This particular denomination of Android 12 comes with some unique touches such as swiping up on certain app icons to open its related widget, and a heavily redesigned interface and default app icon set that gives the whole phone a calm and practical feel. There's still no app drawer though, so all your apps will be splashed across your home screen with only folders to help sort them.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Honor 70 can use Google apps, including the Play Store. While its phones were unable to for a couple of years due to its association with Huawei, after going out on its own, the phone maker can once again access the usual Android ecosystem.

Honor's not told us yet how many years of Android support the Honor 70 will get, but chances are it'll be two years of full updates, following the pattern set by previous phones. That's not that impressive, as you can now get three years of updates with the Google Pixel 6a, and four with Samsung's Galaxy A53, which will help keep these phones up to speed with newer devices for longer.

Honor 70 review: Verdict

With the Honor 70, we have another good phone from Honor, one that provides another stable brick for the post-independence reputation that Honor's been building. The reasons you should buy this phone over other similarly priced ones are its excellent display and its strong photography, although the fast charging and efficient battery may help tip the scales for you too.

Photo of Honor 70 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Anyone wanting processing power and the best possible photography will be better off with a Pixel 6a though, thanks to its Tensor-fuelled performance and excellent photo processing software. Those on the hunt for the best value should head toward the OnePlus Nord 2T, whose base model undercuts the Honor 70 while still providing many similar capabilities (plus a few better ones like speedier charging and performance). There's also the Samsung Galaxy A53, which benefits from expandable storage and longer software support for additional long-term value.

If you value a phone’s display above all though, and like to see a phone that stands out in areas like battery, the Honor 70 is worth considering for anyone who naturally shies away from expensive flagships.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.