To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Honor 90 Lite review: Performs well in a sparse field

Our Rating :
£199.00 from
Price when reviewed : £250
inc VAT

The Honor 90 Lite may not have much in the way of direct competition, but it does its part as a sub-£250 smartphone contender


  • Strong main camera
  • Decent stamina
  • Stacks of storage


  • No charger in box
  • MagicOS UI is busy and ugly
  • Support cameras not up to much

Several years into life as an ostensibly independent company, we now know that Honor can make very good mid-range and flagship smartphones. The Magic 5 Pro, Magic 5 Lite and the Honor 90 are all very accomplished contenders within their class.

READ NEXT: Best budget smartphone

However, it’s in the cheap phone category that Honor first made its name, back when it was Huawei’s budget sub-brand. Booting up the Honor 90 Lite, then, feels like meeting the company on home turf. In a year where the sub-£250 competition isn’t quite as hot as in previous years, there’s a definite opportunity here for the brand.

Honor 90 Lite review: What you need to know

Despite its shared name, the Honor 90 Lite has virtually nothing in common with the Honor 90, beyond the use of the MagicOS UI. This is a not-so-flashy affordable phone with a modest spec list, fronted by a 6.7in FHD+ IPS LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate.

It’s powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 6020 processor, which is backed by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of (non expandable) internal storage. There’s a relatively compact 4,500mAh battery driving all of it along, with wired charging support of up to 35W – though like with the Honor 90 you’ll need to supply your own charger.

Honor has gone with a triple camera system here but there are only really two sensors of note: a 100MP main and a 5MP ultrawide. The third slot is occupied by a 2MP depth sensor, with a 16MP selfie camera around front.

Honor 90 Lite review: Price and competition

There’s only one model of the Honor 90 Lite in the UK and it comes with a launch price of £250 for 256GB of storage. This has already dropped a couple of times at the time of writing, first to £220 and then to £200, which is a pretty aggressive price cut so early in the phone’s life. All of which is to say that you really shouldn’t be paying the RRP here.

What makes the Honor 90 Lite even more appealing at this price is the simple fact that there isn’t all that much in the way of contemporaneous competition, especially here in the UK. Xiaomi hasn’t updated its affordable Poco and Redmi rivals in 2023 as yet, while Realme appears to have opted against bringing its Realme 10 5G to these shores.

There are a few alternatives for two-hundred-and-something pounds, but there’s little that aligns precisely with the Honor 90 Lite in terms of pricing and timing. Undercutting the phone at £220, you’ll find the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G and the Oppo A78 5G, although both come up short on key specs. In the opposite direction, there’s the £270 Motorola Moto G73 5G and the £300 OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G.

Honor 90 Lite review: Design and key features

There’s nothing especially unique about the Honor 90 Lite’s design. It’s a pretty regular, well-built device, with a slim 7.5mm-thick plastic body and the kind of flat-edged shape that’s become common in a post-iPhone 12 world. Its 179g weight feels good in the hand, too.

My test model came in Midnight Black, which is a deep black shade with a slight shimmer. You can also specify the phone in Cyan Lake or Titanium Silver, which translates to light blue or a slightly metallic off-white respectively. The stand-out feature here is the camera module, which incorporates an interesting Venn diagram-like motif to its twin sensor clusters.

Around front, the phone has relatively minimal bezels, albeit with a much thicker chin. The central hole-punch selfie camera doesn’t have that distracting shiny surround that such cheaper components sometimes include, which is a positive.

On the right-hand edge of the phone you’ll find the usual volume and power button combo, with the latter doubling as biometric authentication. This is reliable in my experience, and swift enough for a cheap phone.

READ NEXT: Best smartphone

Honor 90 Lite review: Display

The Honor 90 may count its display as its outstanding component, but the same can’t be said for the Lite model. That’s not to say that this screen is a weak point, but nor is it outstanding within its class.

You’re looking at a 6.7in IPS LCD with an FHD+ (1,080 x 2,388) resolution. It’s quite possible to get an OLED panel for less than £300, in phones such as the Poco M5s and the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, although you’ll need to either give up 5G or pay a tad more for the privilege.

Whatever the case, this LCD component is a decent, if not exceptional performer. Using a colorimeter, I recorded a 95.5% gamut coverage in the sRGB space against a 98.4% gamut volume, which is quite strong, and an average Delta E rating of 1.66, which is similarly solid. A top measured luminance (with auto brightness switched off) of 441cd/m² is also acceptable for a phone of this price.

The biggest downer here for some will be the choice of a 90Hz refresh rate when other £200 to £300 phones might give you the full 120Hz. Away from box ticking exercises, however, I don’t find this a remotely problematic choice. The difference between 90Hz and 120Hz in the hand is marginal even with a top-level processor running things – see the Pixel 7a for proof. With the Honor 90 Lite’s somewhat humble processor, you’re even less likely to notice the refresh rate shortfall.

Far more annoying is the provision of a single mono speaker on the bottom of the device, which provides a loud and clear if sometimes thin and tinny output. You won’t be able to rely on a 3.5mm headphone jack for your audio needs, either.

Honor 90 Lite review: Performance and battery life

As I just mentioned, the Honor 90 Lite has a pretty humble processor. It’s a Mediatek Dimensity 6020 chip, which is a relatively new entry-level 7nm CPU that falls a little short of the Snapdragon 695 found in the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G, the Poco X5 and other slightly more expensive but still sub-£300 phones.Honor 90 Lite review - PerformanceCPU and GPU benchmark scores follow suit, coming up shy of the Snapdragon 695 crowd, as well as the more capable Dimensity 920 chip used in the Motorola G73 5G.

Not that the chip Honor has chosen falls short of requirements. For general browsing, casual app usage and even light gaming, I found it to be perfectly fine, doubtless aided by a generous 8GB of RAM. There are pauses and stutters here and there, but you’ll only notice them if you’re used to running more capable mid-range and flagship phones, which most prospective Honor 90 Lite users won’t be.

As for more advanced applications, it will play Genshin Impact, albeit with frequent hitches in the action on the game’s lowest graphical settings. An affordable gaming phone this is not.Honor 90 Lite review - GamingWhile performance is relatively humble here, it’s worth mentioning again that the Honor 90 Lite gives you 256GB of internal storage. That’s not exactly unheard of, but it’s still going above and beyond for a £250 phone.

If the Honor 90 Lite’s performance is merely adequate, then its stamina is generally excellent. I found that I was able to go through a day of moderate usage, with around four hours of screen-on time, and would still have a good 60% left in the tank. You’re looking at potentially two days of normal usage in between charges. Given that it runs on a relatively small 4,500mAh battery, that’s quite the turn up for the books, and it points to some effective battery optimisation on the part of Honor.Honor 90 Lite review - Battery lifeWhere that smaller cell gets found out somewhat is in more intensive media tasks. In our usual looping video test, the Honor 90 Lite lasted 16hrs 18mins, which falls well short of the Moto G73 5G and any number of Poco and Redmi phones running on more efficient Snapdragon chips and larger 5,000mAh cells.

Stamina is far from an issue here, however. More problematic is the lack of a charger in the box. Most budget rivals will give you one, especially if you’re talking about Honor’s rival Chinese brands like Poco, Redmi and Realme. When you do find yourself a suitable brick, the Honor 90 Lite will support up to 35W charging, which is decent for the money, if below the top of the pile.

I used a 66W Honor charger, and was able to get the Honor 90 Lite from empty to 30% in 15 minutes. A full charge took just shy of 1hr 20mins.

Honor 90 Lite review: Software

The Honor 90 Lite runs on Android 13, but with a custom Magic UI 7.1 slathered on top. As with previous Honor phones, this doesn’t seem to offer the optimal Android experience. It’s a cluttered, clumsy UI with needless embellishments like super-sized folders and a split notification pane.

Honor squeezes in loads of its own bewildering apps and service provisions (YOYO Suggestions will recommend you apps from Honor’s superfluous App Market, if you let it), while the third party preinstallations include Netflix, Facebook, TikTok and, as well as a couple of lousy games.

Yes, Magic UI 7.1 is quite customisable, but it simply lacks the lean focus and smooth snap of stock Android and more Google-faithful UIs (shout out to Motorola), not to mention the visual appeal.

READ NEXT: Best Android phone

Honor 90 Lite review: Cameras

The Honor 90 Lite proves to be quite a capable shooter, at least in optimal conditions. However, its 100MP main sensor is the only camera of true worth, churning out surprisingly chunky 25MP shots using a 4-in-1 pixel binning technique. Honor 90 Lite review camera sample Boats-ultrawideI was pleased with the natural look of most of the shots I captured in good daylight conditions. Honor’s colour science generally resists the temptation to pump up the colours, unless you activate that AI mode, which can still be useful in certain scenarios.

Zooming in using the 2x mode – which crops in on that pixel-packed main sensor – shows that this is far from a top-tier performer, with a drop off in detail and the odd instance of iffy exposure. However, for a cheaper phone such as this, it’s preferable to a poor quality dedicated telephoto camera. Honor 90 Lite review camera sample NightNighttime is where the main sensor really suffers, however, with the provided Night mode failing to rein in all that fuzzy noise and murk. It’s not quite a total write-off in darker conditions, but it’s not far off. Suffice to say, the absence of OIS is felt keenly.

The Honor 90 Lite’s piddly 5MP ultrawide isn’t a strong performer either, offering a washed-out approximation of the main sensor’s palette, with noticeably poor detail as you move out towards the edges of the frame. It also struggles with overexposure, blowing out highlights on a moderately sunny day. Honor 90 Lite review camera sample BalloonThe final sensor in this nominal trio is a 2MP macro camera. Making a camera that’s supposed to highlight close-up detail with such a low resolution is rather counter-intuitive. Sure enough, this sensor struggles with detail, contrast and exposure, and as such is a total waste of time.

Your selfies should look pretty good, though, thanks to a 16MP front camera that does relatively well with skin tones and all-round balance.

READ NEXT: Best phone camera

Honor 90 Lite review: Verdict

The Honor 90 Lite finds itself competing in a surprisingly sparse mid-2023 cheap phone field, which instantly elevates it as a viable option. Thankfully, it doesn’t phone its performance in, with a well-balanced set of specs and a solid if unspectacular design.

In all of the important areas, it acquits itself at least adequately (performance and display) and, occasionally, very well indeed (battery life, storage and main camera). There are issues with its cluttered UI and the lack of an included charger, as well as taking photos in anything other than optimal conditions, but if you’re after a competent and up-to-date phone for £250 or less, it will see you right.