Writing this Honor 50 Lite review in the current situation is a tricky business. Honor used to be under Huawei but was forced to go independent under the pressure of US restrictions. While it has managed to comply with the legislation, the result, however, is rather concerning.
Whichever way you side, there is one thing you can’t deny Honor: It didn’t give up. The Chinese industry made a pragmatic decision to diversify risk. Part of Huawei will argue that Google’s services are outdated and replaceable, while part of Honor will argue that everything is fine and the Western customer has nothing to worry about because Huawei Services are better.
- What’s in the box
- Honor 50 Lite: Design just like any other
- Honor 50 Lite: Display won’t insult nor surprise
- Honor 50 Lite: The Magic UI extension is almost like a pure Android
- Honor 50 Lite: Performance
- Honor 50 Lite: Camera – Two plus “two”
- Honor 50 Lite sample photos
- Conclusion: How did the Honor 50 Lite do in our editorial test?
Honor 50 Lite Specs
|Display||6.67″, IPS LCD, 60 Hz, 2376 × 1080 px, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 391 PPI|
|Chipset||8-core, 2.0 GHz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 662|
|RAM||6/8 GB RAM|
|Memory||128 GB storage (UFS 3.1), no MicroSD slot|
|Camera||four sensors (64 megapixel main + 8 megapixel ultra-wide 120° + 2 megapixel macro + 2 megapixel depth), f/1.9 + 3× f/2.4 aperture, LED flash; 16 megapixel front, f/2.0 aperture|
|5G||No – only LTE (800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz)|
|Fingerprint reader||Yes – on side|
|Connectivity||Dual SIM, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, USB-C, 3,5mm audio jack|
|Battery and charging||4 300 mAh, 66 W fast charging|
|Operating system||Android 11 + Magic UI 4.2|
Still, there’s no denying that the Honor 50 Lite hasn’t gained much confidence. More than an add-on to a more impressive flagship, it’s rather a little Coal Miner’s Canary checking if its strategy will work in Europe, or if it’ll get rapped over the knuckles.
What’s in the box
- Honor 50 Lite phone
- SIM card removal pin
- 66W charging adapter
- USB-A / USB-C cable
- technical brochure and basic guide
- silicone case
Honor 50 Lite: Design just like any other
How do you know if a phone’s design has been successful? In the case of novelties, most often by the fact that even those who have no idea what phone they are carrying in their pocket remember the smartphone’s name. For older phones, for example, by going to a second-hand shop and safely recognising the original among hundreds of devices.
The Honor 50 Lite, unfortunately, will not fall into either of these categories. It belongs among the pieces that are not ugly, in fact, you can not fault them much, they just fall right after birth among the duds, although a few nice details can be found.
The front is the benchmark of conformity we saw a year back. The pill-shaped cutout for the selfie camera was on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ two years ago, Honor still uses it today. It doesn’t matter, it’s just that the technology is further away, because the notch used takes up more space than we’re used to with new releases.
What also doesn’t fit with current trends is the extended chin with a relatively gradual curve of the corners. The whole phone evokes images of flowing lava, balloons blowing up or dough rising – as if its solid lines could not withstand the effects of temperature.
The back retains a similar feel, too, with no sharp edges, a memorable impression created only by the round module aggregating four lenses and a pleasant dark blue with fine lines, interrupted only by the double diode in the corner. The shapes used don’t quite correspond with each other, but they do refer to more famous predecessors, such as the former Huawei Mate 30 Pro.
Aesthetics is one thing, ergonomics is another. Here, Honor has straddled two-time planes. In the older one, it relies on control via the navigation bar. In this case, the thumb comfortably reaches the power button combined with the fingerprint reader as well as the volume rocker a few millimetres higher. In a time plane that prefers gesture control, the volume will still work fine, but it would have been preferable to place the power switch above it. Otherwise, there is a risk of the phone tipping out of your hand due to the lightweight bottom.
That’s all you can really say about the “fifty lite”. It has a USB-C port, a single speaker, a slot for two nano-SIM cards, it is afraid of water and surprisingly you can not expand the integrated memory with a card. Unexpectedly, however, Honor is returning to the 3.5mm jack, so once again I have to sigh how unnecessary its death in flagships was, even if the scar has already grown a bit.
Honor 50 Lite: Display won’t insult nor surprise
It’s like good food. You can have a great meal at the booth, but you’ll always think of the restaurant as a fancier establishment. The Honor 50 Lite’s display is similar. It has a sufficient resolution of 2376×1080 pixels, has a reasonable 6.67″ diagonal that’s good for media and work, and doesn’t offend with a 391 PPI fineness. The only blemish is the In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology used here.
Wikipedia describes IPS technology as:A layer of liquid crystals sandwiched between two glass surfaces. The liquid crystal molecules are aligned parallel to those surfaces in predetermined directions (in-plane).The molecules are reoriented by an applied electric field, whilst remaining essentially parallel to the surfaces to produce an image. It was designed to solve the strong viewing angle dependence and low-quality color reproduction of the twisted nematic field effect (TN) matrix LCDs prevalent in the late 1980s
Not that it’s low quality per se, the display is fine. So much so, that I even had to go into the dark to make sure the black pixels actually glowed. Unfortunately, they do glow. However, the brightness range is wide, so visibility is fine in the dark and on sunny days. Therefore, the biggest deficit is in colour rendering, where OLEDs simply can render richer shades in the most commonly used half-brightness range.
Again, though, without a direct comparison, you don’t have to worry about such niceties. The three display modes are also nice. One mutes blue light, the second flip the palette into shades of grey, and the third transforms the system into dark colours.
Missing among the features, however, is a crucial feature: displaying notifications when the phone is off. The Honor 50 Lite’s status LED is absent, the AOD is missing, and that actually leaves only the display lighting up when you pick it up; unless you count the wearable electronics assistance. Besides such a shortcoming, the use of a regular, 60Hz refresh rate is just a trifle.
Honor 50 Lite: The Magic UI extension is almost like a pure Android
I never thought a sentence like that would cross my keyboard. But if I overlook the redesigned notification bar, launcher, and optional navigation bar, I can’t gloss over the fact that the Magic UI extension doesn’t actually bring anything unique to the Honor 50 Lite.
Sure, the icons in Settings are different, but otherwise, it’s as if Android development at Honor has stopped. A few apps like Booking.com, Honor Club and Phone Manager have been added to keep an eye on cleaning up old files, mobile data consumption, blacklist calls or saving battery, but otherwise, everything is consistent with what you’ll find in pure Android.
And the few changes (again, paradoxically) are more to the good. For example, you have 20 quick switches when you expand the dropdown, AOSP has about 9, so you save some space. Likewise, the implementation of gesture controls is more pleasant when swiping from the side of the display than manipulating a pill somewhere down the display. Basically any other need you can already solve with an app from Google Play.
It’s probably Google’s mobile services that are the competitive advantage in the eyes of the manufacturer, whereas we in Europe take them as standard; as well as smooth animations and bi-annual updates. You get fluidity on the Honor 50 Lite, I would hesitate with update packs, the latest ones have an October date.
Honor 50 Lite: Performance
Whether you look at the specs chart or the price tag in the store, you’ll probably realize that you’re not going to make a dent in the world with the Snapdragon 662. The six at the beginning does suggest mid-range, but I wouldn’t be afraid to add the word lower.
In the language of numbers, the AnTuTu benchmark says the same thing – 211k points mean roughly that even the top 100 of the ranking ends at 430k, and even then it has a brutal lead over the Honor 50 Lite. Sure, the synthetic tests are indicative, even games like PUBG the phone ran, but we can’t talk much about the experience. Textures bounce at the last minute, smoothness is minimal, graphics with higher details are not worth downloading, although there would be room for it in the 128GB of integrated memory. On the scale of Chess – Cyberpunk 2077, Honor sticks somewhere near the first Prince of Persia.
The 4,300 mAh in the battery is no mean feat, but the manufacturer doesn’t expect you to wring the device to the limit, which can’t be faulted. You won’t enjoy great multitasking because of the extension, neither will you enjoy games, and for some gossiping in Messenger, the capacity is enough and so is the processing power.
Then there is fast charging, that’s worth noting. A lovely 66W via USB-C, which the included charger can handle and thanks to which the charging doesn’t even take an hour. What more could you ask for?
Honor 50 Lite: Camera – Two plus “two”
We’ve become accustomed to seeing a quad-lens camera even on cheaper phones. But from the first observation of which lens serves which purpose, only a vague memory remains. Only rarely in this price range will you see a configuration other than a mix of classic “glass”, ultra-wide lens, macro and depth sensors. And only rarely are the last two lenses mentioned useful.
All in all, the Honor 50 Lite can shoot classic, wide-angle and zoom a bit, but if the two additional lenses were missing, you might not even notice.
The photos are taken by the main 64Mpx sensor with f/1.9 aperture, which also takes care of any zooming, and surprisingly, the two to three times magnification is usable in the daytime. Even with this classic setup, Honor can take impressive shots.
Trouble is, you can’t tell which photo will work and which won’t. I noticed that the phone has trouble focusing. It sometimes focuses on the background and misses the foreground, sometimes it doesn’t know how to get the dynamic range right. While the competition has universally got HDR down, the Honor 50 Lite struggle at times and even after the manual intervention, the result is not assured. Also, the AI doesn’t deliver what the user would expect: consistency of results, a safeguard against human error or photoshoot support.
How about some Honor 50 Lite sample photos?
Conclusion: How did the Honor 50 Lite do in our editorial test?
At the same time, it’s worth noting that the Honor 50 Lite behaves this way a bit out of compulsion. Continuity is a nice thing, fans of the brand might be happy that it’s “Old familiar Honor”, it’s just that time have moved on. The IPS doesn’t impress anyone, the 4 lenses don’t either, the old processor will hardly leave you in awe and the software doesn’t increase the phone’s value either.. Unfortunately, there’s not much left to praise. Only big memory, fast charging and headphone jack just won’t do these days, when there are so many other options. And nostalgists? They were already praising the same features last year. Today, having 90Hz displays, better performance and 5G is almost standard.
You can buy the Honor 50 Lite for £229.99, which isn’t particularly much, but you can get juicier devices for a similar price. The Poco X3 Pro, for example, uses a Snapdragon 860 for the same price and runs on double the display frequency, it supports memory cards and adds an infra port as a bonus. The Realme 8 would also deserve a chance, and while it might not be that better deal, it does have wider customization options. But at this point, there are unfortunately really not many reasons to choose this phone.