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(Pocket-lint) - Honor's release record in the UK and Europe is a little patchy, and with the Honor 70 getting a global release following its first announcement in China in May 2022, that feeling continues.

That means we already knew most of what the Honor 70 would offer, but it's now getting a global release, with an expected availability from 2 September 2022.

We've got our hands on the Honor 70 and before we can get to a full review, we're bringing you our first impressions.

Our quick take

The Honor 70 offers a compelling range of attractive specs, with plenty of power, a decent display and a camera that promises to deliver great results, along with some unique features. 

Sitting in the mid-range, it's flanked by some cheaper rivals, suggesting that you'll have to specifically want this selection of features rather than be drawn towards other options like the Nothing phone (1) or perhaps even the Pixel 6. 

But first impressions are of a good quality handset with plenty to offer. We'll be bringing you a full review as soon as we get the chance to spend more time with this device.

Honor 70 initial review: A first look at Honor's mid-range phone

Honor 70

For
  • Promising main camera
  • Quality display
  • 66W charger included
  • Interesting video features
Against
  • It's a little expensive
  • Design hasn't moved on much

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Design and build

  • 161.4 x 73.3 x 7.91mm, 178g
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • Stereo speakers

Glance at the Honor 70 and you might find that the design is familiar. The rear design is dominated by the two camera units, packing three lenses and the flash into the dual housing.

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The housing is said to draw inspiration from the luxury jewellery market, while also giving the impression of a camera layout like an old twin-lens reflex camera. It also happens to look a lot like the Huawei P50 and the previous Honor 50 and 60 models that followed it.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 13

The change that Honor is bringing, it seems, is in the finish to the rear. The Crystal Silver version we have offers a light refracting diamond effect as well as a metallic shimmer. It's certainly unique, although many might find this particular finish a little too kitsch for their taste.

There is a more conventional black and attractive green options, as well as Icelandic Frost, which offers a sort of cold blue bleeding into a pearlescent effect. Exactly which models will be available in which regions remains a mystery; the black is likely to be the biggest seller.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 7

Curve edges to the side of the rear and to the display make this big phone easier to handle, while the 7.91mm thickness is certainly impressive. As with other Honor phones we've seen recently there's plenty of quality, but it doesn't go as far as offering an IP rating.

Display

  • 6.67in, OLED
  • 2400 x 1080 pixels, 394ppi
  • 120Hz refresh
  • HDR10+ compatible

The display is a 6.67-inch OLED panel, with a full HD+ resolution. This is a little smaller than the flagship Honor Magic 4 Pro, but still hits those essential and desirable spec points of offering a 120Hz refresh rate to keep your content smooth.

Within the settings you can opt for auto, lock it to 120Hz or drop it to 60Hz to reduce battery drain and improve the stamina of the device overall. It's also supported by 300Hz touch sampling, so the response to inputs should be great too.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 12

The curved edges to the display are now rather more rare, with many brands choosing flat displays, often because they are preferred for gaming and supporting greater responsiveness towards the edges. As we said, here they support handholdability on this large device, but do continue that look that Huawei once pushed hard.

There's a fingerprint sense set in the display and a punch hole camera towards the top, but we've not yet had the chance to assess the performance of these elements, or to test the display to any great degree. We'll follow-up with more definitive findings in a full review.

Hardware and performance

  • Snapdragon 778G+, 8GB RAM
  • 128/256GB storage
  • 4800mAhm 66W Honor SuperCharge

The Honor 70 is a mid-range device, using the Snapdragon 778G+. This was the first device announced with this hardware in May 2022 (alongside the MediaTek Dimensity-equipped Honor 70 Pro and Pro Plus which remain exclusive to China).

The Snapdragon 778G+ might be familiar to smartphone fans, because it powers the Nothing phone (1) and the Moto Edge 30. We haven't tested the Honor 70 to any degree during the short time we've had our hands on it, but we know from those other devices that the hardware offers a near-flagship level experience.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 9

With that in mind the £479 asking price sounds a little high alongside the £399 launch price of the Nothing phone (1) or the £379 price of the Moto Edge 30 - but there's more to a phone than just the core hardware.

The 4800mAh battery sounds typical for this size of device, while the 66W charging is welcomed on a mid-range device - the bundled charger is certainly worth having too, as you'll get up to 60 per cent charge in just 20 minutes.

There's no wireless charging, however, which would be expected on this hardware - remember that Nothing made a big deal of the fact that it had modified the 778G+ to accommodate this particular feature.

Cameras

  • Triple camera system
    • Main: 54MP, Sony IMX800, f/1.9
    • Ultrawide: 50MP, f/2.2 with macro
    • Depth: 2MP, f/2.4
  • Front: 32MP

The Honor 70 story is really all about the camera. This is the area that Honor is really pushing and at launch this was the first phone to feature the Sony IMX800 sensor. Prior to launch that had been rumoured to offer a 1-inch sensor, but that turned out not to be the case (that honor falls to the Xiaomi 12S Ultra with the Sony IMX989).

But this is still a big sensor a 1/1.49in, with an f/1.9 aperture and a 54-megapixel resolution. The pixels remain at 1μm, whereas many high-resolution sensors drop to smaller pixels. Typically it will use pixel binning to combine four in one, giving you a 2μm equivalent. The aim here is to capture more light, to lead to better photos.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 4

We haven't had the chance to fully test the Honor 70's photography skills yet, but we have high expectations for it.

Honor has almost avoided dumping junk lenses on the rear of this phone, as the second camera is a 50-megapixel ultrawide. This also incorporates macro functions, so there's no separate macro lens - but Honor did go and plop a "depth sensor" on the rear. This is just junk: how many modern flagship phones do you see with depth sensors? The answer is none.

While we're conducting testing to bring you results in the future, it's some of the clever video features that standout here. Of particular interest is the Solo Cut feature which basically enables you to capture dual streams of video - the whole scene and capture of a particular fixed subject.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 8

We can see that being the sort of thing that parents will use when filming their kids at a party - they'll then get the whole party, but a second video with just their child in it, which let's face it, is all they really want.

So there's a lot of promise for this camera, it looks like an interesting setup and there are some unique features, so we're looking forward to testing it more fully.

Software and features

  • Android 12, Magic UI 6.1
  • 2 Android OS updates, 3-years security updates

The Honor 70 launches with Android 12, running Magic UI 6.1 over the top. As we found with the Honor Magic 4 Pro, this is a heavy customisation of Android and at times can go over the top. While it's great that it supports Google services - so you get the full experience - there's pretty heavy duplication and rearrangement of how the UI works, which isn't always for the better.

Pocket-lint Honor 70 photo 6

We may be pre-judging the Honor 70 though, because we haven't had the chance to live with this latest version of Magic UI 6.1 and really get into the details.

Of course that will come with a full review, as soon as we get the chance to spend more time with this phone.

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To recap

The Honor 70 is an interesting addition to the selection of mid-range phones out there and while this is a quality handset, the design doesn't seem to have moved on much from the Honor 50 - or the Huawei P50. Still, there's promise in the main camera, a quality display and we're sure the Snapdragon 778G+ will provide plenty of power. We're still to fully test the Honor 70 to get a feeling for the full performance,

Writing by Chris Hall.
Sections Phones Honor