HONOR recently unveiled a fresh roster of devices on the local market, following the launch of the HONOR 90 Lite 5G, HONOR X6a, HONOR X5 Plus, and HONOR Pad X9 tablet in the Philippines last week. Among the four X series models, the HONOR 90 Lite 5G stands out as a more affordable alternative to the fantastic HONOR 90 5G we reviewed last month.
The new smartphone has a suggested retail price of P12,990 (around $229 converted) for the variant with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. Is the budget version of the HONOR 90 5G also a good buy? Here’s our full review of the device.
HONOR 90 Lite 5G is now available nationwide!— HONOR Philippines (@HONORPHL) October 1, 2023
Grab yours TODAY!
HONOR Stores: https://t.co/gnseV3xEl8
TikTok Shop: https://t.co/qn3xaQy1hx#HONOR90Lite5G#SuperStorage#100MPUltraCamera pic.twitter.com/BSPFSGUtwZ
Where you can buy the HONOR 90 Lite 5G
The HONOR 90 Lite 5G is available in two colors — Cyan Lake and Midnight Black — with the latter being the colorway of the unit we tested. Regardless of which option you choose, you’re looking at a smartphone with a smooth sand-blasted back, which looks good and rejects fingerprints like a bride on a diet, but is quite slippery as well and may require you to slap the included silicone case on it. The sides are a totally different story, though; they attract fingerprints like a toddler craving for attention and entertainment while you’re in an important Zoom meeting. (I see how a week of no one to help take care of the kiddo has done to you. — AUG)
You also get the HONOR branding laser-etched in silver, which we think goes nicely with both color options. The other highlight of the rear panel is this protruding camera island that houses three independent cameras, including one for ultrawide and another for macro shots.
The design is interesting, to say the least; it features two overlapping ovals on top of an oblong-shaped camera unit and separates the main shooter from the secondary and tertiary ones. It obviously takes inspiration from the HONOR 90 5G and the company’s previous devices, but it’s also something we haven’t seen before. Between this and the HONOR 90 5G’s camera design, we prefer the one on the higher-end model.
Thankfully, one-handed use is not a challenge here — unless you opt for a thick third-party case to provide better protection for your smartphone. It helps that the device measures just 7.48mm in thickness, though this does not include the bulging lenses of the rear camera system.
Most basic actions such as tapping the screen and scrolling through feeds and lists can be done with one hand, though reaching for the top of the screen to pull down the notification shade or select an app’s menu icon might prove difficult. To make your life easier, we suggest enabling One-Handed Mode in the Settings, as this does help a lot as long as you don’t mind reducing the size of the app window by almost half.
The HONOR 90 Lite 5G comes with a flat display and a flat plastic frame with rounded corners. We wish it also had chamfered edges and 2.5D glass on top of the screen to provide some cushion for your hand and fingers. The volume rocker and power/lock button are located on the right-hand side, and, as usual, the latter has an embedded fingerprint reader for security and quickly unlocking the device.
The bottom of the unit packs a down-firing speaker and a USB-C port for convenient fast charging. As expected of a modern midrange model, it skips the headphone jack, which could be a downer for students and the younger user base HONOR is marketing this specific phone to. The single loudspeaker is satisfyingly loud and offers decent sound quality, though.
Up front, you get a nice 6.7-inch LTPS display with FHD+ resolution, a 19.9:9 aspect ratio, and a punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera. The screen is colorful and vibrant, and the refresh rate goes up to 90Hz, so the visuals look pretty smooth and fluid at the highest supported setting. What is likely to immediately get your attention, though, is how impressively slim the top and side bezels are. The bottom bezel is thin, too, but the other three are noticeably thinner. HONOR calls this screen an Edgeless Display, and it certainly comes close to the marketing chatter.
The LCD panel supports the company’s Dynamic Dimming and Circadian Night Display technologies to protect your eyes and help you get a good night’s rest by automatically adjusting the color temperature during nighttime use. For additional viewing comfort, there’s eBook mode, which is basically a monochrome mode to give the screen a paper-like quality that’s more conducive to reading ebooks, documents, and long online articles.
There’s Widevine L1 DRM on the HONOR 90 Lite 5G, too, so you can stream your favorite movies and shows on Netflix and other video-on-demand apps in high definition. The brand doesn’t list how high the brightness can go, but based on our experience, the panel can get bright enough for outdoor use, but direct sunlight will be a problem.
Besides the HONOR 90 Lite 5G’s Edgeless Display, the other highlight here is the camera system around the back. The company has opted for a 100-megapixel image sensor this time around, coupled with an f/1.9 lens as well as dedicated cameras for ultrawide and macro shots. The ultrawide is equipped with a 5-megapixel sensor, so the drop in picture quality, particularly with regard to overall sharpness and dynamic range, is pretty jarring when switching from the primary shooter to the secondary one.
Obviously, there’s a much bigger gap between the 100-megapixel camera and the 2-megapixel macro option that sits beneath it. Frankly, the tertiary camera is more of a filler, and we don’t recommend using it under any circumstances — even in good lighting — as there’s always the option to get a higher-quality cropped image out of the main shooter. If you want to get close, the digital zoom goes up to 10x, but your pictures will be more pixelated with higher zoom settings.
The HONOR 90 Lite 5G comes with a decent Night mode that offers up to 2x magnification to help you take better photos in dim environments, like a bar or a quaint restaurant with mood lighting. Take note that it’s limited to the 100-megapixel camera; there’s no Night mode on the ultrawide. Night shots typically take three seconds to save, a clear indication that the chipset in the HONOR 90 Lite 5G lags behind its more expensive mid-tier competition.
Sample shots captured on the rear camera
The selfie camera has a 16-megapixel sensor and delivers sharp results in proper lighting. Self-portraits leave a bit to be desired, though; without a depth sensor to aid the camera, edge detection can be hit and miss.
Sample selfies: Auto vs Portrait
Powering the HONOR 90 Lite 5G is the latest MediaTek Dimensity 6020 processor built on TSMC’s 7nm technology. The chip packs eight CPU cores, combining two Cortex-A76 performance cores with six Cortex-A55 cores for basic tasks such as web browsing and video streaming. It has Mali-G57 MC2 graphics and 5G connectivity for fast downloads and low latency as well. Meanwhile, the 256GB of onboard storage on our unit is great, and can fit a lot of apps and files.
Looking at the data sheet, it’s easy to see why many users compare the Dimensity 6020 to the Dimensity 700, which came out more than two years ago. They’re identical on paper.
The good news is that the MediaTek Dimensity 6020 is a capable chip that can play graphics-intensive titles like Genshin Impact at a solid 25 frames per second using the game’s Low preset. It’s also worth mentioning that it did not throttle much of its CPU performance under heavy load for 30 minutes in the CPU Throttling Test app, meaning it should perform well during long gaming sessions.
Battery life is pretty good, too, with the HONOR 90 Lite 5G clocking in at 12 hours and 14 minutes in the PCMark battery-endurance test. Meanwhile, a full hour of playing Genshin Impact drained the battery by 17% at high brightness levels. On moderate to high usage, the phone managed to offer a full day of battery life on a single charge. That’s respectable considering its 4,500mAh battery pack is a bit smaller than what we’re accustomed to seeing in this price range.
The HONOR 90 Lite 5G ships with a 22.5-watt fast charger, good enough to get a full charge after an hour and 40 minutes plugged in, or 50% in about 35 minutes. HONOR’s decision to include a smaller-than-usual battery seems to have paid off, at least in the charging department.
The HONOR 90 Lite 5G is a phone with few compromises and several highlights going for it, not the least of which is its Edgeless Display, which stays true to its promise of delivering an immersive — and almost-borderless — viewing experience. The 100-megapixel rear camera is a solid addition, too, while the Dimensity 6020 5G chip inside provides smooth animations and scrolling and handles Genshin Impact plus other heavy games without any performance and throttling issues.
If we could describe the HONOR 90 5G we recently reviewed as the excellent main course to the brand’s midrange lineup, then the HONOR 90 Lite 5G would be the starter that makes a nice first impression. For the price, you can certainly do a lot worse than this smartphone.
‘The HONOR 90 Lite 5G is a phone with few compromises and several highlights going for it, not the least of which is its Edgeless Display, which stays true to its promise of delivering an immersive — and almost-borderless — viewing experience’
HONOR 90 Lite 5G specs
- 6.7-inch LCD display, FHD+ resolution, 90Hz refresh rate
- 7nm MediaTek Dimensity 6020 5G processor
- Mali-G57 MC2 GPU
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB storage
- Triple 100-megapixel main, 5-megapixel ultrawide, 2-megapixel macro rear cameras
- 16-megapixel front camera
- Side fingerprint reader
- 4,500mAh battery with 22.5-watt fast charging
- Magic UI 7.1 based on Android 13
- Color options: Cyan Lake, Midnight Black
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