Honor 70 review: A midrange marvel

The Honor 70 offers the best display, battery and camera technology you’ll get for under £500

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Long battery life

  • +

    Great cameras

  • +

    Bright screen


  • -

    Camera software could be improved

Since its separation from Huawei, Chinese manufacturer Honor has found a knack for developing eye-catching laptops and smartphones. Its latest handset, the Honor 70, which has been released ahead of the IFA conference in Berlin, is arguably one of its most accomplished offerings to date.

This is a midrange affair, with a sub-£500 price, but it’s stocked with a seriously impressive set of specifications. From super-sensored main cameras to a liquid-like 120Hz display, the Honor 70 is potentially the bargain of the year.

Honor 70 review: Design

Kudos to the design teams at Honor, because the 70 is strikingly beautiful. Previous links to Huawei may go some way to explain why it sort of looks like the P50 Pro, but there are subtle differences that work in Honor’s favour. Both phones sport dual-ring camera setups, curved screens and highly reflective finishes, but the 70 is slightly taller, a bit narrower and much lighter at 178g.

Measuring a hair under 8mm, the device is also noticeably thin and feels comfortable in the hand. Its rounded frame gives it an almost edgeless feel, which is further enhanced by the curved screen that seamlessly blends into the chassis. The only area of bulk here is the two protruding camera rings, which make it rock when you’re poking the screen on a flat surface. That is admittedly annoying, but we’re willing to ignore that based on how stylish those camera rings look.

You can get the 70 in four different colours: Midnight Black, Crystal Silver, Icelandic Frost (White) or, like our review unit, Emerald Green. The silver and green shades also have a lovely mirrored finish and Honor ships the device with a transparent case in the box so you can still enjoy that design without any unsightly finger smears.

A photograph of the Honor 70's rear camera

Honor 70 review: Display

The display is a rather tall 6.7in FHD+ OLED unit with a silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate. This can be dropped down to 60Hz in the settings, though by default the device will pick and choose when to use the top tier of refresh rate. You can have it on 120Hz all day long, but this will deplete the charge very quickly.

The capabilities of this display are impressive and even match up to the likes of the P50 Pro and iPhone 13, despite being almost half the price of both of those devices. Tested with our colour calibrator, the Honor 70 showcased 97.9% of the sRGB colour space; that’s pretty much the same score as the iPhone 13 (97.7%) and just short of the near-perfect scores of the S22 Ultra and P50 Pro.

The phone also reached a peak brightness of 481 cd/m2, which is very good. It gets incredibly bright and even having the brightness toggle halfway is enough to handle any lighting conditions. This is a great display for playing games or watching CGI-heavy content, but more importantly, it’s just a great display, period.

Honor 70 review: Specs and performance

Inside the Honor 70 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ chip which can be paired with either 8 or 12GB of RAM. The octacore 778G+ was recently featured in the first Nothing phone, which has so far proved quite popular with critics.

In GeekBench 5, the Honor 70 produced a single-core score of 819 and a multi-threaded score of 2,909. That actually topped the Google Pixel 6 Pro for multi-threaded workloads, but not for single-core tasks (2,767 and 1,034 respectively) which does really underline its place in the market as a middle-tier offering.

A closeup of the Honor 70's charging port

This isn’t a super powerful iPhone with a bionic chipset, and it isn’t filled with clever machine learning workloads like the Tensor-powered Pixel. However, it is still a very snappy device; apps load quickly enough, they run in the background without too much bother, and overall it's a pleasant experience. The impressive bit is that you get all that for a very reasonable price.

Honor 70 review: Battery

The 70 is also a bit of a workhorse; In our looped video test, its 4,800mAh battery lasted 18hrs 12mins, which is as good, if not better, than most 120Hz devices on the market, bar the S22 Ultra.

Smartphone batteries are under more strain these days with all these power-hungry 120Hz displays. Around the 16 or 17-hour mark is usually a good score and the 70 offered up more than the iPhone 13, the OnePlus 9 Pro and the Google Pixel 6. That could well be down to the way it adjust the refresh rate, a feature not all manufacturers get right with 120Hz displays.

In day-to-day use, the 70 lasted from sunrise to sunset with a normal level of use, though lots of time scrolling social media will drain it faster. However, it comes with a beefy 66w charger that can top it up pretty quickly, with 60% replenished in just over 20 minutes.

Honor 70 review: Features

Turning to features, many of the usual suspects are present and correct, including connectivity via 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, as well as an under-display fingerprint reader. There are some cutbacks, though. For instance there’s no official IP dust and water resistance rating or headphone jack. Beyond that, though, there are a hell of a lot of handy features.

A closeup of the Honor 70's charging port

It’s built on Android 12 wth the company’s own MagicUI over the top. Much like the Pixel, you get lots of options to customise your interface with plenty of artistic themes to play with. There’s also lots of navigation shortcuts like using a knuckle for taking screenshots. Again, these are Huawei-like features Honor has held on to.

One new area which is very much worth your time is the 70’s splitscreen capabilities. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4, you can pull up a taskbar full of apps and position two on the screen at once, opening one as a mini floating window that can be expanded or even shrunk to suit. You can watch videos or work on a document and have a little floating box to check notifications or even send whatsApp messages. It’s not a new feature by any means, but it’s a useful one we’re glad to see Honor adopting.

Honor 70 review: Cameras

The Honor 70’s dual camera rings house a triple-lens setup, including a 54 MP f/1.9 wide lens, a 50 MP f/2.2 ultrawide one with a 122-degree field of view and an additional 2 MP f/2.4 for depth. There’s also a 32MP selfie camera on the front.

With these the Honor 70 is capable of taking rather crisp photos via either front or rear cameras. The overall quality is very good, though the portrait mode is arguably the best as it makes good use of that depth sensor. As with all smartphone cameras, there are a wealth of AI-based settings and features to help you simply point and shoot, though these do tend to overdo the smoothing and post-processing effects, leaving your subjects with an unreal, almost anime-like finish.

Video is also well used here, and the Honor 70 is capable of shooting in 4K up to 30fps or 60fps with full HD. You can also shoot video simultaneously with the front and rear cameras, which is quite a cool feature - though it does limit you to full HD for it to work.

A photograph of the rear of the Honor 70

Honor 70 review: Verdict

If you want a phone with a big, bright screen, a fairly snappy processor and a decent set of cameras, the Honor 70 can offer all that for less than £500. What’s more, it can actually offer you a full day of use - something many of the top manufacturers have struggled to do since they all switched to 120Hz displays.

This is by no means the ‘perfect’ phone. It doesn’t have the processor or camera technology to compete with Samsung or Apple. But what it does have, for its price range, is shockingly good. There’s still a few months to go, but this is likely going to be the bargain of the year.

Honor 70 specifications

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ProcessorSnapdragon 778G+ 5G (6 nm)
RAM8GB or 12GB
Screen size6.67in
Screen resolution1080 x 2400
Pixel density395ppi
Screen typeOLED, 120Hz
Front camera32 MP, f/2.4, (wide)
Rear cameras54 MP, f/1.9, (wide)50 MP, f/2.2, 122˚ (ultrawide)2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
Dust and water resistancen/a
3.5mm headphone jackNo
Wireless chargingNo
Connection typeUSB-C 2.0
Storage options128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Memory card slotNo
Cellular dataYes
Dual SIMYes
Dimensions (WDH)161.4 x 73.3 x 7.9 mm
Operating systemAndroid 12, Magic UI 6.1
Battery size4,800 mAh
Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.