HONOR 50 Review — A solid comeback

Back in May 2019, the US Government blacklisted HUAWEI from doing business with US Technology companies, including Google. The Silicon Valley giant also suspended its business operations with HUAWEI which included a ban on using Google Services and Play Store, and those that required the transfer of hardware products, software products, and technical services. This also affected HUAWEI’s smartphone brand HONOR and two years later, the company announced the sale of HONOR so that it won’t be affected by this ban.

Finally, in July earlier this year, HONOR announced its new smartphone – HONOR 50 with full support for Google Mobile Services. It was announced last month for global markets, and I have been testing the phone for quite some time now. This is my full review of the HONOR 50 smartphone.

Box Contents

  • HONOR 50 8GB + 256GB version in Frost Crystal color variant
  • Clear protective case
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • 66W (11V-6A) HONOR SuperCharge fast charger
  • SIM Ejector tool
  • USB Type-C headset
  • User manual

Physical Overview

The HONOR 50 has a unique and striking design on the back that is uncommon in other smartphones. We got the Frost Crystal color variant for testing, and the design is inspired by snow crystals that create a dreamy diamond-like finish. When the phone is tilted against the light at different angles, it glitters and shimmers. The glitter back panel along with the chrome-finish side make this phone visually stunning. At the same time, the back is slightly curved on the sides and is also not slippery. It offers a fairly decent grip, but that said, using a case is recommended and HONOR is providing a transparent case in the box. Sweet!

When it comes to the ports and button placements, the power button and the volume rocker buttons are located to the right, SIM tray, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker grille are located at the bottom, two microphones at the top, and there are no buttons on the left side. To the back, you will find the rear cameras arranged in a dual ring camera design made up of two concentric circles and is a combination of a 108MP main sensor, 8MP ultra-wide-angle, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth-of-field sensor. Overall, the design is stunning and is definitely a head-turner.


As for the display, the HONOR 50 sports a 6.57-inch Full HD+ AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate, and 300Hz touch sampling rate. It has 1.07 billion colors and a DCI-P3 wide color gamut. The screen has 75° 2.5D polishing glass edges on both upper and lower sides of the display, along with an ultra-slim bezel on the front.

The display is sharp, bright, and the quality of the panel used by HONOR is very good. Outdoor legibility is quite good as well, and the display can get pretty bright outdoors. Users can choose the color mode and temperature from the settings page, and the various color modes include Normal, Vivid, and various color temperatures include Default, Warm, Cool. Moving on to the refresh rate, the HONOR 50 can dynamically switch refresh rate to balance battery life and smoothness, and as usual, users can force the display to refresh at 120Hz or at 60Hz as well.

During my testing, I set the refresh rate to 120Hz and for the most part, I did not notice any jank during scrolling. Only during certain scenarios, like actively scrolling through Twitter timeline, I did notice stuttering. I am hoping this can be fixed through a software update. Further, there is support for Always On Display, Smart Resolution, Eye Comfort mode, eBook mode, and Full-Screen display option. Overall, the display quality is very good and is a good choice for multimedia consumption.


The HONOR 50 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 6nm Mobile Platform which is an Octa-core processor with 4 Kryo cores clocked at 2.4 GHz and the other 4 Kryo cores clocked at 1.8GHz. It is paired with Adreno 642L GPU, 6GB/8GB RAM, and 128GB/256GB internal storage.

Coming to the real-world performance, the Snapdragon 778G on the HONOR 50 exhibited very good performance with no hiccups for the most part and I did not notice any lag or whatsoever on this phone. Casual tasks like browsing, scrolling through social media feed, posting content on social media, media consumption, etc ran fine without any issues. Similarly, in graphic-intensive tasks, I did not notice any major lag or whatsoever and the thermals were under control too. That said, in graphic intensive games like Call of Duty, Asphalt 9, I did notice minor frame drops and lag when there was heavy action involved. This phone did not show any signs of overheating in casual as well as intensive tasks, which is a good thing.

Further, we ran benchmarks with popular apps like Geekbench, 3D Mark, PCMark to see how the scores are. Geekbench reported a score of 756 (Single Core score), 2704 (Multi-core score), and 3D Mark reported a score of 4928. Check out the images below for the detailed scores. On the whole, the HONOR 50 performs great in most scenarios, and performance shouldn’t be a concern on this device.


Coming to the optics, the HONOR 50 sports quad rear cameras that are arranged in a dual ring camera design made up of two concentric circles. It is a combination of a 108MP main sensor (f/1.9 aperture), 8MP ultra-wide-angle (f/2.2 aperture), 2MP macro (/2.4 aperture) and 2MP depth-of-field sensor (f/2.4 aperture). The camera app offers a lot of different modes and features including Multi-Video, Pro mode, AI scene detection, Panorama, HDR, Time-Lapse, Stickers, Documents, Super Macro, High-Res, Story, Portrait, Night mode, Aperture mode that allows you to switch the apertures between f/0.95 and f/16.

As for the image quality, the photos taken from the 108MP primary sensor come out quite good with a lot of detail and sharpness. Talking about sharpness, I noticed that there is a lot of over-sharpening happening after a photo is captured, and the output doesn’t look good at times. Most of the time, after capturing a photo, the camera app indicated to hold the phone steady to sharpen the photo. In my opinion, the sharpening is a bit too aggressive and can be done better. That said, thanks to the large sensor, you can get a natural depth of field and will not have the necessity to use the dedicated portrait mode. While large sensors help in capturing more detail, fringing is an issue that have we seen in a lot of smartphones with large sensors. The fringing is noticeable around the edges on this phone as well, but it is not worse compared to other smartphones with a large sensor.

Moving on to the ultra-wide camera, the field of view is quite good, and the photos come out quite average. While they provide a wider perspective, it lacks detail and there is a slight shift in colors too. Apart from this, the 2MP macro and the 2MP macro sensors produce decent images that can be shared on social media. The edge detection by the depth sensor is not the best but produces pretty good output. As for the night shots, the HONOR 50 does a good job of brightening up the scene whilst retaining a fair amount of detail. The night mode takes a few seconds to capture photos, and the output came out pretty good. Lastly, the 32MP front-facing camera takes very good selfies and the wide view is a nifty addition that makes capturing group selfies easier. Check out the sample photos below.

When it comes to video recording capabilities, the HONOR 50 can record 4K at 3o fps, 1080p at 60 fps, 720p at 30 fps and allows video recording through the ultra-wide camera as well. There is no optical image stabilization, but there is support for electronic image stabilization. Lastly, the front camera can record up to 1080p 60 fps video.


The highlighting part of the HONOR 50 is its software. This is the first smartphone from the company to ship with Google Mobile Services after parting ways from Huawei and the ban. Since HONOR is not a sub-brand of HUAWEI anymore, they have access to all of Google’s services and the HONOR 50 supports the full suite of Google Mobile Services. Out of the box, this phone comes with Google apps like Play Store, Maps, YouTube, Drive, YT Music, Google TV, Duo, Photos, and GPay. Since there is support for Play Store, users can install apps directly without having to sideload the APK file.

Although HONOR is a separate company now, the UI is largely similar to that of HUAWEI’s skin. The HONOR 50 runs on Android 11 on top of Magic UI 4.2 skin and is running on the October 2021 security patch, and August 2021 Google Play system update. For starters, there is no app drawer and all the apps reside on the home screen. Further, Magic UI offers a range of customization options like Themes, showing a different lock screen image each time the phone is unlocked, customizing Always on Display, Icons, Wallpapers, Folders, Swiping left on the home screen to open Google News feed, etc. The quick toggles can be rearranged and edited according to your preference. Further, Magic UI allows you to add multiple users and a guest user so that each user can have their own home screen and apps.

Moving on, the apps that come pre-installed on this phone include HONOR Club, HONOR Store, Weather, Calculator, Recorder, Mirror, Compass, Device Clone, Files, Gallery, and Optimizer. Some of these apps can be uninstalled, which is a good thing. Lastly, the Google apps work as expected, and I did not notice any issues during my testing. Overall, the return of Google Mobile Services is a huge selling point of this device, which is a good thing.

Battery life

Coming to the battery specifications, the HONOR 50 packs a 4300 mAh (typical battery) with support for 66W HONOR SuperCharge fast charging. As for the battery life, during my usage which involved continuous browsing, scrolling through social media feed, multimedia consumption, using Google Maps navigation for 30 minutes, the HONOR’s 50 battery lasted for a little more than a day easily. With heavy usage involving graphic and resource-intensive tasks, it should last a working day. Further, thanks to the crazy fast charging speeds, the HONOR 50 can reach 0 to 50% in 14 minutes 30 seconds and 0 to 100% in 43 minutes 05 seconds, which is excellent. Unlike some of the other phones that don’t come with a charger in the box, HONOR is providing the 66W charger and USB Type-C cable in the box.


As for the connectivity, the HONOR 50 supports Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2 x 2 MIMO, 2.4GHz, and 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.2 with support for audio codecs like SBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX, and aptX HD. Further, it also supports 5G on both the SIM slots and the compatible bands include n1/n3/n7/n28/n38/n40/n41/n77/n78. For navigation, the HONOR 50 supports GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo, QZSS.

I tested the HONOR 50 with a T-Mobile 5G SIM network, and it performed quite well. Since this device is not launched in the US, there is no support for certain bands and carrier aggregation with those bands, and this reflects in spotty network reception at times. Apart from that, the call quality was excellent, and the speeds that I got over 5G were excellent as well.

Speakers, Biometrics

The HONOR 50 sports a single speaker at the bottom, and it gets quite loud. Since it is located at the bottom, it can be easily blocked when using the phone in landscape mode. While the audio quality is not the best out there, it is decent and doesn’t get muffled at higher volume. Moving on, there is no 3.5mm audio jack on this device, but there is support for USB Type-C audio and HONOR’s Histen sound effects, which works when using earphones.

As for biometrics, this phone has an in-display fingerprint scanner, and you can add up to 5 fingerprints. The scanner is very fast, and it accurately recognized my fingerprint most of the time and unlocks quickly. You can also customize the fingerprint animation. Further, there is support for Face Recognition, and it works as expected.


The HONOR 50 ticks most of the boxes for a solid mid-range smartphone, but has a few compromises too. First off, multimedia consumption will be a joy on the excellent 120Hz OLED display and the unique design on the back is definitely a head-turner. Further, the performance of Snapdragon 778G on this phone is brilliant and handles tasks with ease. The return of Google Mobile Services is a huge plus point for this point and is a major selling point, in my opinion. That said, I had high expectations on the cameras, the camera quality is not up to the mark and could be better, overall. Similarly, while the speaker is quite good, we’d like to see a stereo speaker setup at this price point.

The HONOR 50 is priced at 529 Euros (US$ 614 / Rs. 46,060 approx.) for the 8GB + 128GB version and the 8GB + 256GB version costs 599 Euros (US$ 695 / Rs. 52,160 approx.). It is available for purchase in Europe after the launch in China. There is no information on the availability in other markets yet.


  • Excellent 120Hz OLED display
  • Unique design
  • Support for Google Mobile Services
  • Good battery life and 66W fast charging


  • Rear cameras could be better
  • Lack of IP rating
  • Lack of stereo speakers

Author: Team FoneArena

A team of mobile geeks