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Home / Reviews / Smartphones / Honor 90 Lite review: storage supremo

Honor 90 Lite review: storage supremo

Can Honor's specced-out low-cost contender take the title of budget phone to beat?

Honor 90 Lite review

Stuff Verdict

Honor covers the basics and crams in best-in-class storage to create a fun, affordable alternative to Samsung’s entry A-series phones.

Pros

  • Loads of storage for the price
  • Respectable gaming performance
  • Decent main camera
  • Day-long battery

Cons

  • Easy-to-cover mono speaker
  • Bloatware (most uninstallable)
  • Misses out on OLED display
  • No 4K video capture

Introduction

The Honor 90 Lite landed during something of a budget phone renaissance. Not long ago, affordable smartphones buckled under the pressure of 3D games, had barely any storage and endured mediocre, low-resolution cameras. Recent affordable champs have flipped the script, though, and the £249/€300 Honor 90 Lite firms up this shift. It all begins with nippy performance thanks to MediaTek Dimensity 6020 power, aided by a capable 100MP camera. The massive 256GB of storage seals the deal.

After Honor’s split from Huawei, the once sub-brand has proved that it has the chops to thrive as the star of the show. This was cemented by the excellent Honor Magic 5 Pro. Can Honor’s specced-out low-cost contender take the title of budget phone to beat, or is it destined for the bargain bin instead?

How we test smartphones

Every phone reviewed on Stuff is used as our main device throughout the testing process. We use industry standard benchmarks and tests, as well as our own years of experience, to judge general performance, battery life, display, sound and camera image quality. Manufacturers have no visibility on reviews before they appear online, and we never accept payment to feature products. Find out more about how we test and rate products.

Design: Shimmer

With its flat sides, large, low-on-bezel screen and curved corners, from the front, the Honor 90 Lite looks relatively generic, but turn it around and its shimmery back panel matched with those cropped-circle camera bumps help it stand out.

You can pick up the 90 Lite in Black, Silver and Cyan, and the Cyan version we tested has a distinct diffuse shine, so its plastic back looks somewhere between glass and metal. Yes, it’s a little garish on first shimmer, but we grew to appreciate it.

The phone’s matte frame is decorated with a USB-C port at the base, a power button/fingerprint scanner combo and a volume rocker on the right side. On the left of the 90 Lite is the SIM card tray – the version we tested takes two SIM cards but no SD card. And while there appears to be an IR blaster at the top, there isn’t, it’s just a black dot.

The phone feels easy enough to grip thanks to its flat frame, and while it’s a relatively slender 7.48mm thin, given the lack of a curved back or front, it doesn’t quite feel as waif-like as Motorola’s Edge 40 in the hand. It is light, though, weighing just 179g.

Interestingly, Honor opted to trim down the box, so you don’t get a charger or case with the 90 lite, though it does come with a pre-fitted screen protector and a charging cable.

Screen and sound: Border control

As soon as you fire up the Honor 90 Lite, its standout highlight is just how slim the screen bezels are on three of its four sides. Below the screen, there’s a notable chin – so unlike pricier competition like the Nothing Phone (1), the 90 Lite’s bezel doesn’t frame the screen evenly on all sides. Nevertheless, the ample 6.7in screen takes centre stage and looks immersive in the process.

The LTPS LCD display tech at the heart of the Honor 90 Lite’s screen marries with Wide Full HD resolution and a 19.9:9 aspect ratio. This is plenty sharp for the phone’s price and shows off a good-looking picture in most situations. Packing LCD tech, the phone also misses out on those endless, inky blacks and deep colours most OLED panels enjoy, though thanks to respectable viewing angles, a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, and plenty of screen controls, the 90 Lite still checks most of the boxes it needs to.

The Honor 90 Lite doesn’t get as bright as top-end phones, or even some comparable mid-rangers like the Redmi Note 12 Pro, so might not be the best choice if you live somewhere extremely sunny. We didn’t struggle to make out what was on-screen in the UK, though, even on a summer’s day.

While movies and games look great on the large, almost-edgeless display, the loud mono speaker alongside the USB-C port is all too easy to cover up and muffle when gaming. There’s also no headphone jack – a port many budget phones benefit from, so audio is one of the 90 Lite’s weaker areas in general.

Cameras: Big picture thinking

The high-resolution 100MP, f/1.9 main camera on the Honor 90 Lite is flanked by a 5MP ultra-wide, a 2MP macro and a 2MP depth camera. Both 2MP cameras are of questionable value, and the ultra-wide isn’t going to knock your socks off. Thankfully, the 100MP main snapper is very capable.

Shots from the main camera are taken at a surprisingly large 25MP by default, with Honor combining four on-sensor pixels into one in the final image. With image sizes clocking in at between 5MB and 8MB per picture, the Honor 90 Lite’s ample storage is well placed.

Photos are, unsurprisingly, packed with detail when taken in bright scenes. We’d go so far as to say the 90 Lite’s camera can capture best-in-class clarity, especially when you activate the Hi-Res mode for 100MP 18MB snaps. Honor’s processing also helps get great results from the sensor, pulling out detail from shadows and backlit subjects nicely.

The main camera pulls out a pleasingly shallow depth of field when photographing nearby objects, so you really can take shots that look like they were shot on a much pricier camera, and while most photos look relatively natural, you can dial up the punchy colours by turning on the AI photo mode. 

Where the main camera struggles is in dimly lit, indoor scenes. The lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS) holds the phone back from producing sharp lowlight shots, and while the automatic and manual night modes do help things along unless you can get the phone on a steady surface, you’ll struggle to get a great photo when the lights go down.

The 90 Lite’s ultra-wide camera is a handy addition, though should be used for casual snaps only. Its 5MP sensor produces a low-on-detail final product. Its photos look washed out, and while it’s fine in a pinch – you’ll want to lean on the main camera 99 percent of the time. 

Honor 90 Lite reviewHonor 90 Lite review

The 2MP macro camera should be avoided – crop into a shot taken on the main camera and you can likely get better results, so while the Honor 90 Lite is technically a quad-camera phone, there’s only one good camera here.

The 16MP front camera is a strong performer, taking flattering photos with a modest yet welcome level of beautification. Whichever camera you’re using, though, video caps out at 1080p (30fps) – not 4K, and its picture and digital stabilization is only ever fine.

Performance and battery: Value champ

The Honor 90 Lite runs Android 13 with Honor’s MagicOS 7.1 interface experience. Unlike Huawei phones, Honor’s devices have full access to Google’s services, so app support is excellent out of the gate. Honor’s trickled down a few flagship elements from the Magic 5 Pro to the 90 Lite, such as big folders and YoYo – a widget that puts frequently used apps on your homescreen when it thinks you’ll need them. 

Not all of Honor’s customizations are welcome. There are too many apps that compete with Google’s own, pre-installed tools – email and Honor’s app store to name a few – and there are plenty of third-party apps to uninstall as well. To be fair to Honor, most of its own apps and all the third-party ones can be uninstalled or disabled. Nevertheless, it’s not ideal to have to declutter a phone before you’ve even used it.

The Honor 90 Lite’s performance is surprisingly smooth, thanks in part to the MediaTek Dimensity 6020 powering it along. That’s matched with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, and whether gaming or running casual apps, we seldom struggled with the phone.

Intensive 3D games like Genshin impact did drop a few frames, but didn’t stutter to the point of severely impacting our playback, and less intensive titles like Injustice 2 and 2D titles like Streets of Rage looked great in our time with the 90 Lite, and played back brilliantly. These results are unsurprising given the Geekbench 6 score of 727 single-core and 1900 multi-core – not best-in-class, but competitive given the phone’s price and storage spec.

With a 4500mAh battery, we got a very comfortable day out of the Honor 90 Lite. With no wireless charging, wired speeds cap out at 35W. That means when matched with a compatible charger, 10 minutes gives you 15 per cent charge, half an hour fills the phone up by around 55 per cent, and an hour takes it up to 90 per cent, with around 75 minutes charging it up fully.

Honor 90 Lite verdict

If you love streaming and watching, casual gaming and taking photos, the Honor 90 Lite is a mighty option at its price. The real headline act is its 256GB storage, but the supporting cast – the camera, performance, user experience and battery life – all hold the show together with gusto.

While Honor’s affordable entry isn’t perfect – we would have loved an OLED screen, 4K video capture and better secondary cameras – none of those nice-to-haves hold the phone back from being at least very good in the ways it needs to be at its price.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

Honor covers the basics and crams in best-in-class storage to create a fun, affordable alternative to Samsung’s entry A-series phones.

Pros

Loads of storage for the price

Respectable gaming performance

Decent main camera

Day-long battery

Cons

Easy-to-cover mono speaker

Bloatware (most uninstallable)

Misses out on OLED display

No 4K video capture

Honor 90 Lite technical specifications

Screen6.7in, 2388×1080 LCD w/ 90Hz
CPUMediaTek Dimensity 6020
Memory8GB
Cameras100MP, f/1.9 + 5MP ultrawide + 2MP depth + 2MP macro
16MP, f/2.4 front
Storage256GB (no SD card)
Operating systemAndroid 13
Battery4500mAh w/ 35W wired
Dimensions162.9 x 74.5 x 7.48mm
Weight179g
Profile image of Basil Kronfli Basil Kronfli Stuff contributor

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