At a glance
Excellent value for moneyStrong 100Mp main lensImpressive battery lifeGreat performance
Unimpressive sound qualityNo IP rating90Hz refresh rate
The Honor 90 Lite offers far more than the basics for an excellent price, including a solid processor and a strong main lens. However, it does have a few shortcomings that might make you consider other options.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Honor 90 Lite
Although not everyone will have heard of Honor, it is a very good brand that knows how to design and manufacture high quality mobile devices. The Honor Magic family offers higher-end smartphones. However, if you want a more affordable model, you need to look at the Honor 90 range, the latest family of phones introduced by the company.
We were already able to test the big brother of this family, the Honor 90, which despite its excellent screen, didn’t get our five stars, but it did get a very decent score. Now, we test the Honor 90 Lite, the cheaper version of the family, which cuts back on specs to offer you a competent price of £199.
But is the Honor 90 Lite worth it? I’ve been testing it for weeks to answer that very question.
Design and build quality
Attractive, lightweight design
No IP certification
If you’re the kind of person who focuses on phone aesthetics, I’d venture to say that the 90 Lite is a good-looking phone. And yes, I know that may be too simple a description, but what I mean is that it meets the standard of aesthetics we might expect in a phone in 2023. Rounded edges, metal sides and a matt back, where the protruding cameras stand out in two circular shapes that criss-cross each other.
If I had to find a downside, its that the back cover is not made of the more premium materials we see on high-end phones. The phone is made of glass materials, but the back cover feels a little more plastic than we’d like, which is not to say it’s ugly. Besides, you’re likely to use a case that covers the cover, so does it really matter? And, on a positive note, your fingerprints don’t smudge as easily on this kind of finish, which is something I’m not used to.
For this review I was able to test the most classic model, in black (or Midnight black, as Honor has named it). It is also available in two other colours: Cyan Lake (turquoise blue) and Titanium Silver (white with silver touches).
But when we talk about design, we’re not just talking about its looks. We are also talking about its weight, its dimensions, whether it is comfortable to use and its resistance. The phone weighs 179g. To compare, the iPhone 14 weighs 173g and the Samsung S23 weighs 168g. It is within the average weight of phones announced in 2023.
When using this 90 Lite for days, I had a continuous feeling of lightness (probably also because I’m used to the 203g of my iPhone 14 Plus – after all, it depends on which phone you compare it to). I used it without a case, which also reduces the weight.
It is a comfortable phone to use – my hands are quite small and this model adapts very well to them. It’s a pleasure to swipe across the screen (although it’s LCD, don’t get your hopes up). Simply put, the experience is quite pleasant. There are no downsides.
Regarding resistance and durability: water resistance is not included. We know it’s not a high-end phone, but water resistance is starting to become a staple of any new phone.
Display and audio
6.7in LTPS LCD screen
Poor sound quality
The screen, despite not being AMOLED, looks good. We are looking at a 6.7in LTPS LCD panel with FHD+ resolution. We have to remember that we are dealing with a £199 phone, so it would have been very shocking to find an AMOLED screen (although I would have loved it). The screen also has a refresh rate of 90Hz and a screen-to-body ratio of 93%. The 90Hz will start to feel a little bit outdated by the end of the year.
The screen is not as impressive as the one on its big brother, the Honor 90, which is AMOLED and also offers a 120Hz refresh rate. However, it’s still a screen that, while not a standout, does the job well.
If the technicalities overwhelm you, LTPS is an improved technology that is being applied to the screens of many new phones. It used to be more common in low-cost phones to talk about IPS LCD screens. Now, LTPS technology offers some improvements that make that LCD panel better.
It won’t be as good as an AMOLED screen (in this type of screen the LEDs are activated separately, which produces more saturated colours, and they are also much more expensive, of course), but it still offers the quality needed for a lower-mid-range phone.
The LTPS technology built into the display promises to offer some improvements over an IPS panel, such as improved contrast and black tones, faster responsiveness and improved power consumption (especially when displaying blacks). It also allows for a thinner panel design, which leaves more room for other important elements such as the battery (which I’ll talk about later).
…it’s still a screen that, while not a standout, does the job well.
Getting off the technicalities, the screen looks good. In fact, it looks pretty good for a budget phone. Vibrant, sharp colours, a decent response speed (not outstanding at 90Hz) and adequate saturation of all tones.
I was able to test the phone in the UK (although I first saw it in Paris at its official launch). By this I mean that the screen does look good outdoors, but bearing in mind that the sun doesn’t shine as brightly here as it does in the Spanish summer. I would have liked to have been able to test the phone on a day at the beach, in those bright environments that can really test the brightness of the screen, where even phones with the best screens suffer.
In ‘Settings’ you can configure the screen tone, with dark and light modes according to your preferences. It also has a ‘Reading and sleep mode’ function where you can choose ‘circadian night display’. This allows the phone to adapt its screen tint to your circadian rhythms so that it protects your eyesight as bedtime approaches. This feature is nothing new, but it’s good to know it’s there. Personally, I like to have this option activated and on the 90 Lite it works very well.
Audio is one of the weaker areas on the 90 Lite. It may not be the most indispensable feature in a smartphone, but if the quality of the speakers is important to you, this is not your phone. It comes with only one speaker. The sound is distorted if you have it maxed out, tinny and not as bright and clear as you’d like it to be. Obviously, if you’re only going to listen to the phone with headphones, this probably won’t affect your purchase decision too much.
100MP main lens
Other lenses are not as good
The camera field is often an important point when choosing a new phone. When someone asks me which phone I recommend, they usually have the same requirement: “that it takes good photos”.
Obviously, in this case, we have to measure the quality of its cameras taking into account its price tag. Spoiler: No, it doesn’t take photos as good as a Google Pixel or an iPhone Pro. But it doesn’t cost a kidney and a half either.
If you’re used to using more expensive phones, you’ll realise that the cameras don’t stand out in particular. Even so, I have to say that in optimal lighting conditions, the phone doesn’t take bad photos (with the main lens). The night mode blurs the images too much and, as I said, if the light is not excellent, the phone struggles a bit to take decent pictures.
Let’s take a look at the specs: the main lens is 100Mp with an f/1.9 aperture. It’s the lens you’ll want to use most of the time. It’s accompanied by a 5Mp ultra wide-angle, a 2Mp macro and a depth-first lens. The prime lens takes good photos, you can see in the examples the photos of the city of Paris or London taken on a bright day: they are good photos, with bright colours, sharpness and realistic colours.
However, if you look at the photos of outdoor plants taken on a cloudy day, you’ll see that the sky is oversaturated and there is a lot of noise in the image. It’s the same with night photos.
On the other hand, I must highlight the macro which, despite its 2Mp lens, manages to take some pretty good quality photos. You can see this in the photos of the cucumber, tomato and garlic salad I ate, or in the one of the flowers I bought to decorate my living room.
…the camera has a great 100Mp main lens, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Honor considered the other lenses as well
The zoom on the 90 Lite also isn’t impressive. In the examples you can also see how images taken at half and full zoom fail to shine, blur and lose too much of their sharpness. However, you’ll rarely want to use that much zoom, unless you’re into photography (in which case I’d recommend another phone).
Portrait mode photos, where the subject is separated from the background and the background is blurred, do the job. In fact, in the photo gallery, in the image of the plant with the staircase railing in the background, you can see one of the best photos I’ve taken with my phone (in my opinion).
The selfie camera is 16Mp. It’s not bad, but it could be better. Once again, you can see that it doesn’t offer as much sharpness as the selfie you’ll get with the latest iPhone, but once again you have to remember the price of this phone. It does the job picking out the details, but if you enlarge the photo once you’ve taken it, you’ll notice it’s not as sharp. Still, it doesn’t take bad selfies.
If you’re going to take a selfie, you can choose portrait mode. The camera app offers you the possibility to choose whether or not to blur the background of that selfie (something I quite liked) and also, the classic beauty filter that we usually see on many Androids, an option I prefer not to use as it offers rather unnatural results. In the selfie camera, the bokeh effect of the portrait mode doesn’t work as accurately as I’d like, blurring parts of the subject’s hair or clothes that should be separated from the background.
To sum up: the camera has a great 100Mp main lens, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Honor considered the other lenses as well, so that there would be a better proportion in the quality of all of them.
Battery life and charging
35W fast charging
4500 mAh battery
57% charge in 30 minutes
Like most of the new phones releasing right now, the Honor 90 Lite doesn’t offer a charger in the box. It does come with a USB-C cable, but no charging brick. You’ll have to buy one on your own that’s rated at 35W if you want to take advantage of the fast charging that the 90 Lite offers.
I timed how long the phone took to charge in 15 minutes and 30 minutes to see how fast charging is as promised by Honor. In 15 minutes, the phone was able to charge 29% of its battery and in 30 minutes, it charged up to 57%, which isn’t bad at all.
To compare it with another model in a similar range (albeit cheaper still), the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 5G offers similar charging times (54% in 30 minutes and 30% in 15 minutes). There are Xiaomi models like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro that charge up to 79% in 30 minutes. It is also true that Xiaomi offers ultra-fast charging (its high-end phones charge to 100% in 30 minutes).
However, the times offered by the Honor 90 Lite seem acceptable to me, they are within the average of what we could expect from a phone at its price. In addition, 57% in half an hour is more than enough battery power for the phone to last for quite a long time.
But how long is long enough? According to the tests, it was 14 hours and 20 minutes. The phone is capable of running all day, including using the camera and browsing. This is thanks to its 4,500 mAh battery.
8GB RAM and 256GB storage
MediaTek Dimensity 6020 5G chip
So, how well does the phone perform? It is an affordable device that more than fulfils the functions expected at this price point. The performance is fast and fluid, and it doesn’t freeze or stutter at any time.
Looking at the technical specifications, the 90 Lite is brought to life by a MediaTek Dimensity 6020 5G chip. This is a big plus for Honor as the Dimensity version of MediaTek processors is one of the best (even though this 6020 5G model is mid-range). It is a good processor. However, bear in mind (once again) that this is not a high-end phone. These specifications are good for a mid-range phone, but they may suffer a bit if you want to carry out tasks that require more graphic demands, such as playing heavy games.
The 8GB RAM and 256 GB memory, accompanied by a Mali-G57 GPU, make the phone perform well. Honor uses a function that is not new, but I like nonetheless – the possibility of expanding RAM by “taking” GB from the ROM memory. It’s a function dubbed Honor RAM Turbo which, as we say, is not new, but it’s also more common to see in more expensive smartphones.
In the graph below you can see the benchmark tests where we measure the performance of the Honor 90 Lite and compare it with other models. As you can see, the results are very similar to the Samsung Galaxy A14 which costs less money. However, the charging is not as fast and yes, it is true that the performance is a little worse.
I also wanted to compare it with its big brother, the Honor 90, which costs more and has better specs. In the graphics tests, the more expensive model is much better. It has a poorer battery life, although it wins on its 70% charge in 30 minutes, compared to the Lite’s 57%. If you like to play games on a regular basis, I recommend investing in the regular 90 model.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro, on the other hand, is a cheaper phone than the Honor 90 Lite, and still delivers much better performance results, as you can see in the chart. The Xiaomi M4 Pro is also a cheaper option that has similar results to the 90 Lite.
Finally, I wanted to compare it with our favourite mid-range phone, the Google Pixel 7a. It stood out in the benchmark comparison, but it is also a more expensive phone. If you have the money and want better performance, the Pixel 7a might be a good option.
Software and updates
The Honor 90 Lite comes with Android 13, with the Magic UI 7.1 layer which, I must say, is still very similar to Huawei’s OS (let’s not forget that they were once sister brands). Obviously, Honor has full compatibility with Google’s services, something very important to keep in mind.
It comes with a good set of factory-installed apps with some rather peculiar applications, such as unknown games that make little sense as a factory-installed app. It also comes with some of Honor’s own apps, in the MyHonor section, and others that I personally find useful, such as TikTok or Netflix. I’d say it’s an interface that can be quite pleasing for its colourfulness and simplicity in equal measure. However, you can uninstall any of these apps without any problem.
Google’s own applications replace those of Google, although you can install them yourself if you wish (that’s what I ended up doing, as I’m very used to Google’s suite).
Honor has included “Honor Share”, a tool that allows you to share files with other devices that support Honor Share. Obviously, you won’t be able to use this feature between the Honor and an iPhone (still, deluded, I tried).
The launcher is pretty simple, which is something I like. There’s no extra page with all the apps you have to swipe to access. Simply put, all the apps you install will appear on the single home screen.
As for software updates, Honor guarantees up to three years of security updates for the Honor 90, but only confirms two years for Android updates. Since the phones were announced as a bundle, this is likely to apply to the Honor 90 Lite as well. Given that we’re not too far away from being able to install Android 14, two more updates just doesn’t seem like enough to me.
Pricing and availability
The Honor 90 Lite can be purchased at a single price with a single configuration option: 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £199. It is available from the official Honor website, Amazon and Argos. SIM-free. If you want to get it on contract, check out the best deals below:
If you’re reading from the US, then you can’t get the Honor phones in this country.
For similar prices you also have other options to consider. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro offers a 120Hz OLED curved screen and a slightly better battery.
If you want to check out more options, you can also take a look at our guides to the best budget phones and the best mid-range phones.
Should you buy the Honor 90 Lite?
If you’re looking for an affordable phone that can do the job, the Honor 90 Lite is a good option. Most users will find their needs satisfied with this handset. It has good performance thanks to its processor, the UI 7.5 operating system is versatile and intuitive, and the 100Mp main camera takes good photos.
Obviously, like almost any phone at this price, it has its highs and lows. It has an unsatisfying refresh rate, a rather simple display and poor audio.
If you can overlook those shortcomings, then this is a well-priced handset for the performance that you get.
This review has been translated and localised from Tech Advisor Spain. Read the original article here.
LTPS LCD display: 6.7 inches, FHD, 90Hz
Aspect Ratio: 19.9:9
Colour: 16.7 million colours
MediaTek Dimensity 6020 processor (8 cores)
GPU Mali-G57 MC2
Operating system: MagicOS 7.1 (based on Android 13)
Memory: 8GB RAM and 256GB ROM
10 0MP main lens (f/1.9)
5MP ultra wide-angle and depth camera (f/2.2)
2 MP macro camera (f/2.4)
Video resolution: Supports up to 1920 x 1080 pixels
Video recording: Supports 1080P (up to 1920×1080)
Up to 10x digital zoom
Selfie camera: 16 MP (f/2.45)
Video recording: Supports 1080P (up to 1920×1080)
Video resolution: Supports up to 1920 x 1080 pixels
Battery: 4500 mAh (typical)
Lithium-ion polymer battery
Dual SIM card
Fingerprint on the side
NFC: Compatibility with CRT-NX1 only
Type-C, USB 2.0
Budget smartphones, Mid-range smartphones, Smartphones