A very compelling package, but not without its share of downsides
- Premium looking design
- Great display
- Good performance
- Good quality stills on main camera
- Quick to recharge
- Good pricing
- No expandable storage
- No OIS
- Average battery life
- Ultra-wide camera performance needs improvement
One look at the back of the HONOR 70 and you’ll probably find yourself wondering where you’ve seen this design before, and yes, I guess it still takes a bit of inspiration from its former parent brand, while having a bit of its own identity as well, and don’t get me wrong, it looks great.
The rear panel houses a triple camera module composed of two circular sections aligned vertically plus a bit of the HONOR branding at the bottom.
While some other brands have shifted to side-mounted fingerprint scanners, HONOR has chosen to stick to a physical power button and an in-display solution, which I personally prefer. The HONOR 70 does not have a headphone jack, nor a card slot, and only has a single speaker, which surprisingly packs some volume, but lacks that crispness in the treble and presence in the low-end.
At least on paper, the device does not have an IP Rating for water and dust resistance, which may be a no-go for some, but is something I’m totally okay with.
HONOR 70 uses a 6.67-inch Full HD+ OLED curved display with a 120Hz refresh rate, which means smooth and fluid animations across the UI and in compatible apps. It’s not an LTPO panel, which means the lowest refresh rate that this screen can do is 60 Hz. It can, however, adjust its resolution intelligently depending on what you’re doing to extend battery life.
The Snapdragon 778G Plus may not be the most powerful mid-range chip on paper, but it still packs quite a punch and delivers a good balance of performance and efficiency. In this regard, the HONOR 70 breezes on typical day-to-day tasks. It just feels so snappy that at times, I forget that it’s a mid-range device.
And that performance carries on to gaming. Mobile Legends on Ultra Framerate? no problem. Asphalt 9 on High Quality? sure. Diablo Immortal on 60 fps and Very High Quality? yup, and Genshin Impact. Medium to Highest Graphics Preset? certainly. Oh, and the new game Torchlight Infinite? 59 to 60 fps on average at the highest possible settings. The device does warm up a lot after a while, but not to an uncomfortable level.
You also get 8GB of RAM, which should give some room for multitasking, as well as 256GB of storage which is more than enough for my use case but can still be an issue for those with a huge library of files, especially since there’s no provision for expandable storage.
HONOR 70 is equipped with a 54MP IMX800 main camera along with a 50MP ultra-wide and macro unit, as well as a 2MP depth sensor. Photos from the main camera look great with good dynamic range and plenty of detail. As for the ultra-wide, it’s strangely similar in the middle, with a ton of smudging on the sides.
Regardless of whether you’re using the 54MP main shooter or the 50MP ultra-wide unit, the quality of shots that you get are consistent, crisp with plenty of detail and good dynamic range. Glare from multiple sources of light is also well-controlled and the bokeh effect looks very convincing with good accuracy. I did run into some instances of lag in the camera UI, but hopefully, that can be fixed with a software update.
As for video, HONOR 70 can record up to 4K 30 fps. Unfortunately, there’s no OIS, but its Gyro-EIS still does a decent job of stabilizing the shot, provided that there is only minimal movement.
Unfortunately, it struggles when shooting a night video in 4K as the EIS can’t keep up with my movements. I was simply stepping a bit faster than usual to cross the street here. If you’re going to shoot videos at night, I suggest you stick to 1080p.
One special feature of this phone is Solo Cut, which basically allows you to focus on a certain subject in say a band and have a sort of picture-in-picture view alongside the main video. The device can track a selected subject on the secondary video, and you’ll be able to switch to a different subject with a tap. The phone will then output two separate video files – one for the main recording, and the one for the focused subject(s)
The feature can be useful for a bunch of scenarios, like when you want to have a separate focused video of say each member of a band for your vlogs, or for interviews.
There’s also Story Mode, which combines a set of pre-shot clips to create a short movie based on a certain theme that you get to choose.
HONOR 70 runs Magic UI 6.1 which has a familiar look that’s again, inspired by its former parent brand. If you’re coming from a device from that brand, it won’t take long to familiarize yourself with how it works.
There’s a feature called cards, which are basically widgets that you can open by swiping up on the icon of certain apps. You can pin them on the home screen for future use.
Like the previously launched HONOR Magic4 Pro, X7, X8, and X9, this has Google Mobile Services, so you don’t have to worry about having to sideload or having to go through complex workarounds. The UI does need a bit of work in some areas, such as when the virtual keyboard blocks the password field in an app, not letting you see what you’re typing.
HONOR Share can be used with compatible devices to quickly share files between devices and control the smartphone screen from the paired device. Not really surprising, but it worked on the MateBook 13.
With my usual day-to-day activities – that means a lot of social media, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, a bit of video and photo taking, it was around 5 to 6 hours of on-screen time before the HONOR 70’s 4,800mAh battery clocked out, and this was mostly on mobile data, with just a couple of hours on Wi-Fi. Your mileage will vary depending on a number of factors, like what apps you use.
Equipped with 66W HONOR SuperCharge technology and using the charging brick that came with the box, a full charge took around 50 minutes, which is very fast for a mid-range device.
The HONOR 70 5G is a very compelling choice for a premium mid-range smartphone. The design exudes a sense of style and luxury, the processing package delivers great performance, and the optics offer excellent flexibility for most shooting conditions. HONOR Share works well for seamless multi-device collaboration, provided you have something compatible.
On the other side, you only get a single speaker that’s average at best, ultra-wide camera could use a bit of improvement in terms of detail, there is no OIS, and battery life can be decent at best, depending on your use case. Then there’s the lack of expandable storage.
Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.