The Honor 200 is affordable and elegant

Honor is a fast-growing smartphone brand vying for your attention with its latest 200 series: a range of stylish and reasonably priced devices with an emphasis on photography.

The lineup includes the Honor 200 Lite, the Honor 200 and the Honor 200 Pro. I managed to get my hands on the mid-range offering, which offers many of the same specs and features as the Pro model, but for just £499. At the time of writing, you can also claim one free JBL Charge 5 when you buy the Honor 200.

At this price, the Honor 200 has to compete against top smartphones such as the Google Pixel 8a and the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. The competition is tough, but Honor has a trick up its sleeve.

Created in collaboration with Studio Harcourt, the famed Parisian photo studio that has photographed everyone from Karl Lagerfeld and Audrey Hepburn to Queen Rania of Jordan, the Honor 200 aims to bring professional-looking portraits to a pocket-friendly device.

But that’s not all the Honor 200 has to offer, as I discovered when I tested the phone for a few weeks. Here’s everything I found out about the design, display, camera performance, battery and software.

Honor 200 review: Design and display

Honor knows how to make beautiful gadgets and the Honor 200 is a good example of that. It has a luxurious and refined design with sleek curves and elegant details, with a discreet wave pattern across the metal back, a camera module with a silver frame and a glossy frame.

You can buy it in emerald green, black and moonlight white. I tried the green version, which has a blue tint that reflects the colors of the ocean.

honor 200 smartphone

Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

When I took the phone out of the box, the first thing I noticed was how thin it felt in my hand. It’s 7.7mm thick and weighs just 187 grams, so it can easily fit in your pocket without adding too much bulk, despite having a large 6.7-inch screen.

The screen hugs the sides of the phone with super slim bezels and a punch-hole front camera at the top center. Whether or not you like the curved edges of the screen comes down to your personal preference; most brands have been moving towards much flatter screens in recent years.

Around the frame are a volume rocker, power button and USB-C port. There is no headphone jack here.

One sticking point with the Honor 200’s design is that unlike many other current handsets, it doesn’t have an official IP rating, so isn’t protected against water or dust and you have to be careful about when and where you use it.

The Honor 200 has a large 6.7-inch OLED screen with FHD+ resolution (2664×1200 pixels). It is colorful, bright and crystal clear. Thanks to the peak brightness of 4000 nits, it is visible even under bright sunlight.

I used the Honor 200 to take and edit photos, watch movies from some of the top streaming services, and scroll through online stores and social media. I was impressed with how the screen looked across the board. Even when streaming darker shows on the browser like Presumed Innocent on Apple TV+ I could see the screen clearly, thanks to effective HDR (High Dynamic Range) even more dimly lit parts of the recording didn’t fade into the background.

a person with the honor 200a person with the honor 200

Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

The Honor 200 display has a 120Hz refresh rate, which means it feels very smooth to scroll and swipe. This will especially benefit gamers, because the screen is super responsive. And it can adjust itself so that the battery doesn’t run out. Despite it becoming more common, not all phones have such a high refresh rate, such as the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, which are limited to just 60Hz.

To unlock the phone, there is a fingerprint sensor in the display. In my experience it worked well, although sometimes it took a while to process. For those who prefer, there is also the option to use facial recognition.

Honor 200 review: camera

The crown jewel of the Honor 200 is the camera. The combination of hardware and AI processing features delivers impressive recording, especially for a phone under £500.

The camera system consists of a 50 MP portrait main camera, a 50 MP telephoto camera, a 12 MP ultrawide camera and a 50 MP portrait selfie camera. The structure isn’t that different from the Pro model of the phone, it just uses a slightly different sensor. It takes a second to open the camera app, but once it does, the shutter speed is fast, I never missed the shot.

The photos I took with this smartphone are powerful and clear, and some were worthy of a spot on my Instagram grid. Granted, there was some oversaturation that boosted the colors beyond what’s realistic, but that means there’s plenty of energy in every scene. Wherever I pointed the camera, the Honor 200 delivered detailed results and made sure the focus point stood out against the background of the scene.

honor 200 smartphonehonor 200 smartphone

Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

Portraits are the specialty of the Honor 200. Using Harcourt’s AI-powered portrait modes, photos of people look as if a professional took them in a studio. Unfortunately, this feature is only available on the rear camera, Harcourt-style selfies are exclusive to the Pro handset.

If you regularly shoot portraits with your smartphone, the Honor 200 will be a game-changer (and it’ll come in handy when you need a new headshot for your LinkedIn profile, as I discovered). I’m not sure if you’d use the Harcourt portrait modes to capture everyday memories, but it’s certainly a unique feature that will attract a lot of people.

What sets the Honor 200 apart from other devices with a similar price is the fact that it has a 2.5x optical zoom. It may not sound that impressive, but considering most cheap devices don’t have optical zoom at all and are usually limited to digital cropping, it’s another defining feature.

Honor 200 sample photos

Check out the galleries below to see some examples of raw photos taken with the Honor 200.

Honor 200 review: Performance and battery

The Honor 200 is powered by the mid-range Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 processor, alongside a choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of internal storage. The result? A fast smartphone that handled just about everything I threw at it without heating up or slowing down. It fared well with multiple app windows open at once, long sessions of Candy Crush, and heavy camera use.

Thanks to its 5,100mAh battery, the Honor 200 easily lasted all day and I usually didn’t need to charge it until the next morning, depending on what I was using it for.

To compare the battery with other phones, I downloaded and played a two-hour video at full brightness. In that time the battery percentage dropped by just 8%, suggesting it would have lasted a total of 25 hours, making it one of the longest-lasting devices I’ve tried.

The Honor 200 supports Honor 100W SuperCharge, so if you have the corresponding kit you can charge this phone from 0 to 100% in about half an hour.

honor 200 smartphonehonor 200 smartphone

Digital Spy/Yasmine Crossland

Honor 200 Review: Software

MagicOS 8 powers the Honor 200, it’s based on Android 14 so should be relatively easy to get used to, although there are a few quirks to be aware of.

As you’d expect, you can choose to navigate the system using gestures or three-key navigation, and your apps are stored in easily accessible folders on the home screen. Some folders allow you to click directly on the app by tapping the app icon, without going to the folder first. Unlike other Android devices, there is no drawer for you to view all your apps in one place. I noticed that this made me search for apps longer.

My biggest problem with the software is all the apps that come pre-installed. Google’s suite of apps load onto the phone, including the Google Play Store, Google Photos and Gmail, but some of these are duplicated by Honor’s software. There’s another app gallery, a second calendar, an additional photo gallery, and another email app. There are also a few unnecessary extras like Ali Express, and TikTok. I had to spend some time going through and removing the software I didn’t want when I first started the handset.

Honor promises three years of software updates and four years of security updates for its 200 series phones. That’s a typical amount for Android, although some manufacturers have promised much more lately. For example, some of the top Pixel phones and some of the leading Samsung phones offer up to seven years of updates.

Honor 200 Review: Verdict

The Honor 200 proves that you don’t have to spend a staggering amount of money to get a top-performing smartphone in 2024. This device looks beautiful, is fast and takes stunning photos. If you like taking portraits, you won’t find anything better for the price.

To be honest, there aren’t many downsides to this smartphone. My biggest issue is the software, the Honor 200 comes with tons of bloatware and Magic OS doesn’t work as intuitively as the cleaner versions of Android. It’s also a shame there’s no water resistance, you never know when a heavy downpour might hit in the UK and sometimes accidents are inevitable, so I’d be worried it might end up getting damaged.

Honor 200 review: also consider

Another top Android is the affordable Google Pixel 8a. You won’t get professional-looking portraits like the Honor 200, but you will take very impressive photos. You also get a much cleaner version of the Android operating system with fewer unnecessary apps pre-installed.

If a big screen is a must-have, but you prefer it flat and the design sharper, consider the Samsung Galaxy A55. It has a similar price tag to the Honor 200 with solid battery life and decent performance, although the camera is a little more hit and miss.

For those who want a simple operating system with minimal bloatware, the Nothing Phone 2(a) is a good option. It’s simple and intuitive, with fast performance and a cool design.

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