Before the Huawei / Honor division, I had in my hands almost every model or flagship that Honor made. Co-design with Huawei, along with a good high-mid-market for these flagships, made them competitive products. However, Honor was sold to operate essentially on its own, which meant it was no longer banned from a list of entities in the U.S., and could re-use Google services. The Honor 50 is one of those devices that offers a complete Google experience and decided to pair the 700 Series Snapdragon SoC with a 108 MP camera and 6.57-inch OLED screen. We had a few hands with the Honor 50 before launching next month in October.
As part of our briefing, we also learned that Honor is expanding its employee base, with now more than 10,000+ staff globally, half of whom are engaged in research and development, product development and is focused on device creation. We spoke with the British team, which is similarly expanding as part of Honor’s initiative to increase its global footprint by establishing partnerships. Recently, Honor signed a contract with Microsoft to offer some of the first laptops (Honor Magicbook) that will ship with Windows 11 as standard.
Part 50: Vlogger Phone
The device presented to us is aimed at a medium to high class device suitable for users who rely on photos and videos taken on the device when creating content. Usually the answer to that would be ‘okay, isn’t every phone?’, However Honor solves that use case in a number of ways.
The first is the camera solution. The front camera is a similar specification for a number of leading rear cameras in 2019, with additional AI algorithms to exploit photos or videos in the traditional style of logging. The front camera also works in conjunction with the rear cameras in a multi-video format. With the software, the user can choose side by side or picture in picture between any two cameras front and rear, with independent camera zoom or three-way multi-camera shooting. The idea here is that the type of user who might want this phone would want to record the event but also their reaction at the same time, and upgrading to numerous phones with multiple videos in the past, Honor wants the Honor 50 to go above everything else on the market.
The second is the actual camera hardware — the front camera with a hole has a 32 MP design with additional AI algorithms that allows for a ‘wide-angle’ front shot via digital adjustment. On the back is a 108 MP camera with a 1 / 1.52-inch sensor at F1.9, however using 9-in-1 pixel fusion this is made possible by a sensor with an effective pixel size of 2.1 microns. At the back there is an 8 MP wide angle camera, a 55 mm equivalent Bokeh camera and a 2 MP macro camera. Building on several generations of integration of artificial intelligence with the original camera application, several cameras can be used at once for combined photography.
Third, more technical specifications – built on the Snapdragon 778G, Honor says it uses as many video and AI accelerators as it can within the Qualcomm processor to speed up many camera options. Honor also uses a 66W (11V @ 6A) supercharging mode battery, which it claims can charge a dual-cell battery with 70% in 20 minutes.
Another interesting feature of the smartphone is the screen-6.57-inch OLED in 2340×1080 resolution. Honor says this supports 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, 1.07 billion colors (pending confirmation if this is 10-bit or 8-bit + FRC) and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. At the time of our briefing, our contacts were not sure if it was a variable refresh rate screen that offered a range of refresh rates or it was simply a binary mode from 60 Hz to 120 Hz. We are told that it supports refresh rates below 60 Hz for idle screen, to save battery.
Honor did not specify the highest brightness, but said it has a contrast ratio of 5,000,000: 1, due to the OLED black color. The screen has a 75-degree curve on both edges, which is enough to remove the distinct edge from the eyes while holding it, but still makes it relatively easy to hold. Our test units that day had transparent boxes in the box, although we were unable to confirm whether retailers would include them (apparently some retailers don’t like them?).
The software is based on Android 11, although our PR representatives were not too sure of the support for future versions, so they will contact us. Other features include two SIM cards, although there is no support for micro-SD. There’s no 3.5mm audio jack either, but Bluetooth and Type-C up to 3.5mm are supported.
The phone will be sold as Honor 50 or Honor 50 5G, however there is no difference between the two – 5G will be supported, at least for Sub 6 GHz. We are waiting for additional details on which bands.
We were also told about another device, the Honor 50 lite, which will be a shortened version and only 4G. This is similar to previous Honor launches. The Honor 50 lite will instead use a 64 MP rear camera, and more details will be announced on October 27th.
Emerald green, midnight black and ice crystal (with yellow backlight, sorry …)
As we were informed by the British team, we were told that the Honor 50 will have three colors coming to the UK, namely Midnight Black, Emerald Green and a special Frost Crystal. The official presentation of the phone will be on the 27thth October, when the exact memory / storage specifications and prices will be revealed. We are also told that the software we tested in this practical paper is not final, and the camera software expects at least two updates from now until launch.
In the short time we spent with the devices, the screen was obviously very lively when it was raised to the maximum. The camera application was very typical compared to previous Honor devices used, including Pro mode and several camera functions such as multi-video, documents and Slo-mo. Video mode also allows users to adjust between slow motion and time lag during recording. The device was eventually easy to hold and I didn’t feel the ghost touching me with my hand which was a problem on some curved devices.
Fast explosion with multi-video next to each other
Just by the look, the Frost Crystal looks the best to me, and because of the special color it will be interesting to see if it comes at the same price as the others. In real light it has a prismatic effect and shows a long color.
Honor 50 technically launched in China
It should be noted that the Honor 50 was launched in China earlier this year with a price of 2699 RMB (357 USD before taxes), and a fourth yellow-red color was also offered. The Honor 50 in China was introduced along with the Honor 50 Pro (larger, dual front cameras, 100W supercharge, all others equal) and the SE (larger, Mediatek SoC). Neither Pro nor SE seem to be coming west – the lite seems to be a completely new model as part of this launch.
The future of honor
I would be careless not to mention the recent murmurs about the U.S. given the addition of Honor to the entity list. Honor is currently majority owned by a state-owned company controlled by the Shenzhen municipal government. Huawei reportedly owns a zero stake in Honor and does not participate in management and decision-making processes. In the past, Honor has used Huawei’s product scale as well as software expertise – it is stated that after the split it will be difficult to separate the two at that level, and GizChina cites Honor’s CEO as targeting 100 million smartphone sales in 2021. With Honor spinning partners such as Qualcomm and Mediatek for its processors, returning to the entity list could make it harder to reach the goal of 100 million smartphones. At least for now, with the Honor 50 which has Google services, the main restriction to the west in the use of these phones has been lifted. How these changes will change in future devices will depend on how the U.S. views Honor in light of its other connections.
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