When will the Honor 50 be released?
Honor has confirmed that the Honor 50 will be officially unveiled on 16 June at an event in Shanghai, China.
You may have been expecting the Honor 40, as the company's most recent release (in China, at least) was the Honor V40. Traditionally the V-models precede the regular flagships of the same number, so we'd expect the Honor 40, then the V50, and then the 50 series after that.
This year, it seems, Honor is breaking this trend and going straight to the Honor 50 instead.
How much will the Honor 50 cost?
There are no details yet on the price tag for the Honor 50. It’s somewhat uncharted water too, as the company used to be part of Huawei but was sold off late last year to free it from the embargo in the USA that bans Huawei from trading with most US companies, including Google.
This means that the new ownership may want to move the brand up into the premium tier rather than the affordable budget and mid-range space that it previously occupied.
As a rough estimate, the Honor V40 went on sale for CNY¥3,599 (128GB model) or ¥3,999 (256GB), which works out to around £400/$550 and £450/$615 respectively. So, if Honor sticks to a similar spec and approach, then the Honor 50 may well cost around the same.
What features and specs will be in the Honor 50?
As we approach the release we know more and more about the Honor 50 series, which is expected to include three phones: the 50, 50 Pro, and 50 Pro+.
Most importantly, we now have an official teaser image from Honor that not only reveals the rear design of one of the phones - likely the Pro+ - but also confirms a few key specs for the range.
You can see four different finishes to the phone, as well as an unusual camera setup: one circle containing a main lens, and a second for auxiliary cameras. It's an odd design - but also one that's suspiciously similar to the upcoming Huawei P50, even though the two companies have officially split.
The phone here includes three lenses in that second circle, which is why we believe it's the top-spec 50 Pro+. You can also see it in more detail in this official teaser video showing off the same model, which is high resolution enough to reveal an extra detail: that the main lens is 108Mp.
An early leak from benchmarking tool Master Lu, subsequently shared to Weibo, included specs for the camera of the 50 Pro+ - but it claimed that the main sensor is 50Mp, which we now know to be wrong. That casts doubt on the remaining details, but for reference you're supposedly getting a 13Mp ultrawide and 8Mp 2x telephoto, and a ToF sensor. On the front there'll be a dual selfie camera, with 32Mp and 8Mp sensors.
Early sketches published by GSMArena reveal a potential design with only two lenses in the lower circle, so we have good reason to expect fewer lenses in the 50 and/or 50 Pro.
We also see a triple camera setup in this render from Weibo user Zealer. It's not clear if this is a leaked render from Honor, or a third-party CAD render based on leaked details, but it's a very close match to the official design, revealed later.
You can see a pretty similar design - albeit with a slightly different camera module - in a pair of high detail renders sent by a tipster to GSMArena. These are believed to be the Honor 50 Pro (left) and regular Honor 50 (right).
The Pro model appears to have a 108Mp, f/1.8 main camera, with a 50Mp, f/1.8 shooter on the standard model. Both feature another pair of lenses below, with unknown specs - though neither appears to be a periscope.
In any case, the camera module is one of the only elements of the phone hinted at in the first official teaser for the 50 series, which came alongside the launch date announcement.
Honor has confirmed that the Honor 50 series will use a new chipset, the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G. This is a mid-range successor to last year's popular 765G, and sits slightly below the recent 780G.
Previous leaks suggested that we might see the Snapdragon 870 chipset used here - not quite top-tier, but still a powerful component based on 2019's flagship Snapdragon 865 hardware. It's possible that the 778G will be found in the base Honor 50, with the 870 in the 50 Pro, and the most powerful Snapdragon 888 in the 50 Pro+.
In any case, we've seen one of the Honor 50 models appear on benchmarking app AnTuTu. It's unclear which model this is, but it has a Snapdragon 778G, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, and importantly is running Android 11. It also appears to have a 120Hz display.
According to the Master Lu leak mentioned above, the 50 Pro+ will apparently be powered by the Snapdragon 888, with at least 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. That will power a 6.79in, 120Hz AMOLED display, while the 4400mAh battery will supposedly support 66W wired and 50W wireless charging.
Complicating things slightly, the RNA-AN00 model number that appears on the AnTuTu report has separately been linked to the 50 Pro+. The AnTuTu phone has a Snapdragon 778G though, not an 888 or other more powerful chip.
The Master Lu charging spec is another that seems to be wrong, as the official teaser image above also confirms 100W charging, along with the 100Mp+ camera and a 10-bit display.
A model believed to be the 50 Pro+ had already popped up on 3C certification, with model number RNA-AN00, listed as shipping with a 100W charger. Prodigious leaker Digital Chat Station has even dug up a picture of the new 100W charger:
This will be the first new charger produced by Honor (the standard 50 will still use the old Huawei design) though will also support Huawei's 66W standard - so it's possible that the charger itself is simply more powerful than the phone's max charging speed, which could still be 66W.
This charger is not expected to ship with every model however - the 3C certification also revealed the charger that will be bundled with the regular 50 in China. Model number NTH-AN00 is believed to be the standard Honor 50, and will ship with a 66W charger.
Will the Honor 50 have Google Play Services?
As mentioned above, Honor is no longer part of the Huawei group and as such will not fall under the trade ban that is currently operating against Huawei in the US. While the selling of hardware is obviously important, the more essential reason for spinning off the company was so that its products would be able to use Google services, unlike the other Huawei devices.
With that in mind, it looks hopeful that Honor will be able to have Google Play Services onboard, which means the Play Store and all the Google apps too. Honor CEO George Zhao confirmed in January that the company was in talks with Google, but no announcement has been made yet regarding the results of those talks, so for now we'll have to wait and see.
A little more hope comes from the Honor Germany Twitter account, which tweeted (and later deleted, though not before GizmoChina grabbed it) a response to a question about whether or not the Honor 50 would support Google:
"Yes, we can confirm that. But pssst, should be another surprise."
Unless someone in Honor's German office was mis-informed, that seems like fairly clear-cut confirmation that Google is coming back to Honor.