Honor makes its comeback in the mid-range segment with the Honor 50. A smartphone that intends to make a place for itself in this contested market, and affirm the new ambitions of the Chinese firm, now independent of Huawei.
Despite being technically free of Huawei's grip since its sale in November 2020, the Honor brand has remained discreet on the international market since then. Compatible with Google's services, the Honor 50 is therefore the smartphone that is supposed to allow the brand to reconnect with the French public. But many brands have jumped into the breach and are competing with it.
Launched at $549 in its 6/128 GB version, the Honor 50 is now facing good devices like the Realme GT or the Motorola G100. This price segment is not forgotten by Samsung either, which has placed itself well with the very convincing Galaxy A52s 5G, which is also offered at an even more affordable price. Smartphones that can be compared to the Honor 50, and will allow us to verify whether the Chinese manufacturer has the means to achieve its ambitions.
Ergonomics and design
In this context, Honor must be visible. The Honor 50 we received has an original color that reminds us of our best disco years. More sober versions (in black or green) also exist. Once the dazzle is over, we notice that the finish is rather good.
Its weight of 175 grams is relatively light despite its large screen (160 x 73.8 x 7.8 mm). The latter occupies 90% of the front surface and displays a central punch where its front photo module is housed. On the back, the quadruple photo sensor is divided into two circles with a particularly successful metallic finish.
It has no protection or waterproof certification, which is for example the case of the A52s 5G. It certainly seems capable of withstanding a little rain, but this absence is starting to become annoying. We also regret the lack of 3.5 mm mini-jack and microSD ports, even though it has 128 or 256 GB of storage. It is however possible to insert two SIM cards.
The smartphone is forward-looking in terms of connectivity. It is compatible with 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 and embeds an NFC chip for contactless payments. The fingerprint sensor under the screen is responsive and the buttons on the edges are easily accessible.
The screen... this is an aspect on which the Honor 50 shows great capabilities. It is equipped with a 6.57-inch Oled panel, defined in Full HD+ (1080 x 2340 px), which offers a dynamic refresh rate of 120 Hz. The rate then varies automatically between 60 and 120 Hz. It is possible to choose a rate of 60 Hz for less strain on the battery, but also to opt for constant 120 Hz, for maximum fluidity.
The maximum brightness reaches 683 cd/m², which makes it readable even in the sun. Conversely, it can fall to 3.3 cd/m² for a night consultation without dazzling the eyes. Oled oblige, the contrast is almost infinite. The remanence time is zero and the touch delay is controlled (68 ms).
Out of the box, the smartphone has a delta E of 1.7, which is already perfect. On the other hand, its temperature is then measured at 7332 Kelvins, which seems a bit too cold. By switching from the profile "Vivid colors" to "normal colors", the temperature is 6305 Kelvin, which is very close to the video standard (6500 K). The delta E goes a little further to perfection (1.5). Thus calibrated, the screen becomes really pleasant to use in everyday life.
The Honor 50 is equipped with the Snapdragon 778G coupled with 6/8 GB of RAM and 128/256 GB of storage. We have tested the second version, the best equipped. The SoC in question has proven to be a very good pick on all the smartphones that are equipped with it to date. On our ViSer test protocol, it obtained a score of 96 in multitasking. It remains fluid in all circumstances, even with many windows open.
Qualcomm's chip shows nice capabilities in video games, and garnered a score of 135. It ran our protocol at over 75 frames per second. It will therefore be possible to play Call of Duty and Genshin Impact without making too many concessions ... and keeping a reasonable temperature. Obviously, this has an impact on the battery. It's not a device designed for very long gaming sessions, but it does very well when called upon.
The mobile embeds a quadruple photo sensor, including a wide-angle of 108 MP whose lens opens at f/1.9. It is accompanied by an ultra wide-angle module of 8 MP (f/2.2), but also macro and depth modules of 2 MP each (f/2.4 optics).
Main module: 108MP, f/1.9, 26mm eq.
The Honor 50's 108MP main module captures shots just under 12MP (3904 x 2928 px) by default. It takes advantage of pixel-binning technology, but merges nine photosites into one (instead of four most of the time) to capture more light when it runs out.
Realme GT (eq. 26 mm, f/1.8, ISO 249, 1/125 s)Honor 50 (eq. 26 mm, f/1.9, ISO 503, 1/100 s). By day, the picture is quite good, but one thing is clear: the Realme GT's picture, although better defined, offers more sharpness and sharpness. This can be seen on the cover, or more simply thanks to the color test patterns on the bottom left.
These same small balls allow us to see that the colors of the Honor 50 are more vivid. This higher saturation tends to strengthen the overall contrast. The face of the lion allows us to realize this.
In darker conditions, the Honor 50 opts for a largely accentuated contrast. This allows it to reproduce the scene despite an obvious underexposure and desaturated colors. We still lose a lot of legibility.
The Realme GT captures much more light, which allows to better preserve colors. Despite the appearance of digital noise and an obvious loss of detail (see faces), the rendering is much better.
108 Mpx mode
It is of course possible to capture shots in full definition (12032 x 9024 px). This mode does not always bring a significant change on smartphones. We have isolated an area of identical size (0.90 Mpx) on each of the shots. You can see the difference in definition.
In bright conditions, this mode impresses. It allows to obtain a precision and a sharpness largely superior to those of the initial shot. The colorimetry is also modified, and the colors are a little too saturated. The gain is obvious, and we advise you to use this mode for the most important shots. On the other hand, the photos weigh up to 30 MB. Even on a 128 GB model, this can quickly become a problem.
At night, the Honor 50 does not transform the test. Unlike the previous scene, the gain here is almost zero. Unless you absolutely want to crop the shot, we do not advise you to use it. Especially since the shots weigh about 20 MB.
Ultra wide angle module: 8MP, f/2.2, 17mm 120° eq.
Like all of its counterparts, the Honor 50 is equipped with an ultra-wide angle. Unfortunately, this type of sensor is rarely efficient in this price segment. The smartphone is no exception to the rule and delivers unconvincing performance on our formidable test scene.
No big surprise, even by day. The result is more or less similar for both smartphones. Once again, the rendering of the Honor 50 is a bit more contrasted (see the lion), but less sharp than the Realme GT. Again, we see that a slightly pinkish tint has fallen on the left shot.
Realme GT (eq. 16 mm, f/2.3, ISO 7104, 1/15 s)Honor 50 (eq. 17 mm, f/2.2, ISO 4340, 1/15 s). At night, the Honor 50 doesn't shine at all, but comes out of the exercise better than Realme's model. The scene is certainly not very readable, but is still more usable than that of its competitor. However, you shouldn't expect miracles.
Front module, video
A 32MP sensor with a f/2.2 lens is available on the front. The rendering is good, but we expected more sharpness. The module has, it seems, a little difficulty in managing the light peaks and the general tone seems a little pale to us. We would have liked a more saturated result - even if it is possible to retouch on the fly. As with its competitors, it is always more complicated when the light is missing. In portrait mode, the bokeh is well simulated on short hair, but can be easily fooled in case of unruly strands. The wide angle of view, on the other hand, makes it easy to take group selfies.
The smartphone is capable of filming up to 4K at 30 fps, which has become normal in this sector. Once again, the white balance is not optimal. We could also expect better autofocus and stabilization. We therefore recommend the Full HD mode at 60 fps, much more pleasant to view.
This Honor 50 embeds a 4300 mAh battery. On our test protocol Viser, it managed to last 16 h 40 min in mixed use. An honorable score, which allows it to last for a big day. The competitors of the day are nevertheless better, Samsung in the lead. It should be noted that this score was obtained using the variable refresh at 120 Hz.
If the device does not show a champion endurance, it makes up for it well on the recharging time. It took us 38 minutes to fully charge it. This time it is much more efficient than the others. About twenty minutes allow to recover about 60% of battery. It is thus convincing on the whole. On the other hand, we regret the absence of wireless charging, which is still often the case in this price segment.
Repairability and Durability
This smartphone has obtained a reparability index of 5.8. A closer look at the details allows us to better understand this result. Honor promises excellent software support and remote assistance in case of problems, but is much less convincing on the availability of parts and their price. Disassembly is rather simple, but requires very specific tools. The task is therefore far from easy.
Our sustainability score is a way to determine the sustainability of the smartphone for both the consumer and the environment. It is based on the repairability index, durability criteria (protection index, standard connectors, warranty period and updates...) and an evaluation of CSR policies (Corporate Social Responsibility). You can find all the details of the analysis in our article presenting the sustainability score.
Interface & OS
The smartphone runs on Android 11 and the Magic UI 4.2 overlay. The latter resembles other Chinese interfaces, but without offering the level of customization of ColorOS, which has seriously improved in recent months. It is however possible to choose different themes and icons for your desktop or home screen. Honor offers a suite of pre-installed software, which is supposed to facilitate file transfers, data cloning or streaming to a remote PC. Nothing too surprising, although some people will appreciate being helped with these tasks. This may bother those who appreciate a completely uncluttered interface. The whole thing is fluid, even if we deplore a few small spelling mistakes probably linked to a too quick translation. So we expect a little polishing in the coming weeks.
With the Honor 50, the Chinese brand offers a rather balanced smartphone. With a very nice screen and a powerful chip, it offers the performance you'd expect from a device of its calibre. In terms of photography, it holds its own against a competition that struggles to shine on this point, at comparable prices. Its average autonomy is however compensated by a really fast recharge. We can regret the lack of connectivity, the absence of protection certification and an overlay that could use a little polishing, but the overall experience is up to par. If you like its neat (and glittery) design, this Honor 50 could well seduce you.