Honor made a name for itself for years as the cheaper, youth-oriented division of Huawei, but now that it’s been sold by the Chinese giant Honor has to strike off on its own as an independent company.
That brings both challenges – forming its own R&D, manufacture, and distribution channels – and benefits, as Honor is finally free from the US trade restrictions that have crippled Huawei’s ability to make phones, and so future Honor devices will ship globally with full Google software.
The result is that the phones on this chart are a mixed bag. Some are older Honor devices, made before the trade ban kicked in – that means they feature full Google support, but will miss some of the latest features.
Others released during the ban, and so while the hardware is more recent, they won’t let you use Google apps or access the Google Play Store, limiting you to the apps available through the Huawei App Gallery or downloaded as .apk files using Huawei’s Petal Search tool (unless you’re brave enough to side-load Google).
Since going independent, Honor has launched two flagship phone series: the Honor V40 and Honor 50. Neither has yet made it to the West, but the company has confirmed that the Honor 50 and 50 Pro will launch internationally, and will support Google services when they do.
The uncertainties make now a tricky time to invest in Honor hardware. But if you know you want to, here are our recommended picks.
Best Honor phones 2021
Honor 10 – Best with Google
- Google support
- Headphone jack
- Great design
- Fairly old now
- Average battery life
The Honor 10 is a solid phone. Battery life might not be anything to write home about, but that’s not unusual and there’s so much to like here. Much of what the Honor 10 offers, like display, cameras and build quality are at the level you’d expect from a phone twice the price.
The software is better than ever and you get 128GB of storage as standard. Add in smooth performance, a headphone jack, dual-SIM and attractive design and you can see why this was a mid-range king when it launched, and remains a decent choice on a budget even now.
Read our full Honor 10 review
Honor 30 Pro+ – Best without Google
- Flagship specs
- Beautiful display
- No Google support
- Limited international availability
The Honor 30 Pro+ boasts phenomenal hardware at a very competitive price. It’s fronted by a superb set of cameras but also has the chops to provide great gaming performance and sports a big, beautiful display (provided you can live with a double hole-punch).
The elephant in the room is that this is one of the Honor phones that lacks Google Mobile Services.
Throw in the fact that you’ll likely have to import this device to get your hands on it, and for most, despite its numerous strengths, the 30 Pro+ becomes another of the best phones you probably shouldn’t buy.
Read our full Honor 30 Pro+ review
Honor 9X Pro – Best budget without Google
- Great value
- Two-day battery
The Honor 9X Pro carries over a lot of the great aspects of the Honor 9X – the versatile camera and fullscreen view – whilst also upgrading the design and processor.
However, not all the changes are positive. This was Honor’s first phone without full Google features, and that creates additional software challenges and frustrations.
That aside, you still get a high-end look and feel, plus a great battery life that lasts nearly two days from actual use.
Read our full Honor 9X Pro review
Honor 9A – Best battery
- Huge battery
- Very affordable
- No Google support
- Weak camera
The best thing about the Honor 9A is undoubtedly its battery life – getting a 5000mAh battery at such a low price is a real plus. The striking exterior design is also rather appealing.
The budget price does mean that the camera is hit-and-miss, and it’s another Honor phone that lacks Google Mobile Services.
If you’re looking for a basic phone for your day-to-day tasks and aren’t too bothered by no Google integration, then it’s still worth considering the Honor 9A.
Read our full Honor 9A review
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