The mobile phone market in Ireland has seen some new entrants in recent years. As Huawei gave up its European market share, others have rushed in to fill the void – Xiaomi, ZTE, Oppo and now Honor.
Chinese-owned brand Honor officially launched in Ireland in May, but their smartphones have previously made their way into Ireland through various other means.
Originally a sub-brand of Huawei, Honor phones have one important advantage these days: they have Google Mobile Services, including the Play Store, on board.
That is because, although Huawei was hit with a ban on doing business with US companies a couple of years ago, stifling its smartphone ambitions here and further afield in Europe, it sold off Honor in 2020. While it is still owned by a Chinese group, it is not affected by the Huawei ban, and the company can now ship phones with Google services on board. That kept it in play in Europe, while Huawei phones have all but disappeared.
The Honor 70 Lite is an entry-level phone, launching with Three Ireland, and promising enough features to make it worth your while buying. At €200 for a prepay phone, you don’t expect amazing things: a decent screen, enough memory to keep more than the basics running without slowing to a crawl, and enough capacity to store a few photos and videos without constantly having to delete things to save something new.
The Honor 70 Lite not only meets those expectations but exceeds them. While it won’t cause the flagship premium brands any lost sleep, the smartphone knows its market and is pitching directly to it.
It starts with the aesthetics. The Honor 70 Lite sticks with the tried and trusted design of a big screen – 6.4 inches – with rounded edges and sufficient bezels. A small notch at the top of the screen houses the 8 megapixel front-facing camera, which is high-quality enough for video calls and selfies without overdoing things and pushing the price higher.
On the back, you get the triple camera set-up with a flash, but the company has kept it all as minimalist as possible. There is a 50 megapixel main camera, which should look after most scenarios; a 2 megapixel macro camera for those extreme close up shots; and a 2 megapixel depth camera, which doesn’t do much for your shooting options. It would have been nice to see an ultrawide lens or a telephoto option in there instead.
The cameras have all the requisite options: a night mode, which is okay, but still has a bit of grain; and an AI beautification feature for selfies if you like to airbrush your shots in real time. The rear cameras also have some artificial intelligence to help clean up photos and improve colour as you go.
In general, the photos the Honor 70 produced were decent, although lower-light scenarios struggled even with the night mode. Faster-moving subjects – children and pets for instance – produced a bit of blur, even in good light. But compared to other cameras in similarly priced smartphones, the results were better than expected.
On the inside, the Honor 70 Lite is powered by a Snapdragon 480 Plus chip, an 8 nanometre chip that was announced towards the end of 2021. It is a decent chip set, and the phone also supports 5G, so even if you aren’t rushing to upgrade your plan anytime soon to the latest technology, your phone will support it should you change your mind in the future.
It also has 4GB of RAM, which looks on the low side at first. But there were no real issues with the phone using it day to day; the company uses some technology that gives it the equivalent speed of 7GB which, while still not outstanding, is enough to keep things ticking along smoothly.
The Honor 70 Lite has one thing that is often missing from higher-end smartphones because they have become surplus to requirements: the headphone jack. While wireless charging has become almost a staple feature at the top end of the market, the lower-cost phones often ditch it to save a bit of money. But that can mean choosing between charging and listening to music, if you don’t have – or want – bluetooth ear buds. The Honor’s inclusion of the headphone jack neatly sidesteps that dilemma.
At €199, it is budget-friendly, but the phone itself doesn’t look cheap. You get a decent amount of storage too at 128GB.
Battery life is decent too, with a 5000mAh battery to keep you going for the day. The 22.5W fast charging will give you a boost when you need it, powering your phone quickly.
The phone jack will also keep some people happy; not everyone likes bluetooth headphones or having to carry an additional connection to get their headphones to work.
The device ships with Android 12, which isn’t the latest version of the operating system.
The camera struggles a little in low light, and while the AI function can work well and correct your images, occasionally things look a bit flat. While the 50MP camera is useful, the macro lens is a novelty.
There is no wireless charging, which, while not essential, is a convenient feature to have. However, the headphone jack removes at least one of the frustrations for eliminating the wireless power, because you don’t have to choose between listening to music on your phone and charging.
The Honor 70 Lite has a few colour options, including an eye-catching titanium silver option. However, the only version officially available in Ireland is black.
You get a fingerprint sensor on the side, which gives you additional security options.
As low-cost smartphones go, the Honor 70 Lite strikes a good balance between budget and features. Overall, it does enough to make it useful – a decent if not outstanding screen, nice video footage, a good camera that will take nice shots in good light. A solid phone, but one with competition.