Honor 7X

Honor has previously blown us away with what it can put in cheaper handsets. With Honor 7X, Huawei has made a big jump by bringing 18:9 bezel-less displays to the mid-range market for the first time.

This is especially surprising as the Honor 9 – which the company launched earlier this year – still has an older format 16:9 display, unlike most other flagship devices this year. Bringing a bezel-less display to the mid-range segment, Honor has given the 7X an edge over the competition.

The company knew that following on from the Honor 6X was going to be a hard thing to do for them especially since the trend of narrowing bezels on smartphones will catch up to the mid-range segment by next year. So, does the Honor 7X innovate enough to make it another great affordable phone?

Honor 7X price and release date

The price for the Honor 7X in India starts from Rs 12,999 for the 32GB variant while users will have to shell out Rs 15,999 for the 64GB variant. The smartphone is available on Amazon India exclusively from December 7 through a flash sale.

Additionally, users will also be able to select between Blue, Gold and Black colour options.

Design and display

 Honor 7X is uses a single block of metal that looks and feels very premium for a Rs.12,999 phone. Even though the rear of the phone has a flat profile, which compliments its 7.6mm thickness, it doesn't exactly sit in the hand comfortably as a slightly curved back would have. That being said, the smartphone does look attractive with its aluminum chassis which might not be as pleasant as the glass back on other flagship smartphones, say the Honor 9, but does just fine in this price bracket.  

The fingerprint sensor is located on the rear of the handset, and we found it easy to reach when holding the phone. The fingerprint sensor is quick to identify the touch input and unlocks in a jiffy. 

The bottom edge houses a 3.5mm headphone jack along with a micro USB port beside the speaker grill. The left side of the smartphone has the hybrid dual SIM card slot which can either be used for two SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card.

At 165 gms and measuring 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm, the Honor 7X does feel like more than just value for money.

We have to commend Huawei and Honor for the 5.93-inch display that they have managed to cram into a body that would traditionally accommodate a 5.5-inch screen.

The FullHD+ (2160×1080 pixels) display as such provides a great experience overall and we found it to be bold and vibrant. Now, the 18:9 aspect ratio with a pixel density that equals to 407ppi, the screen isn’t anything like on a flagship smartphone, but at this price, it is more than what anyone could ask for.

Apps on the smartphone will run at 16:9 aspect ratio by default and users will get a pop-up of running a particular app in full screen 18:9 aspect ratio. To avoid that, there is an option in Display settings through which a user can enable the fullscreen mode on different apps.

The Honor 7X also comes with an Eye Comfort mode in Display settings to filter out excessive blue light along with options to modify the colour temperature and brightness.

Battery life

The Honor 7X comes with a 3,340mAh battery that the company claims will last more than a day. It also has an Ultra Power Saving Mode that will give that last minute juice to the smartphone if any need arises.

Battery life is something that has come a long way this past year with major improvements. It is also one of the first things a user looks at while purchasing the smartphone.

On the Honor 7X, you’ll be glad to know that it stays true to its claim in terms of performance. It’s not game-changing, but considering the phone is powered by a 3,340mAh battery and powers an 18:9 aspect ratio display on the front, it is more than sufficient for daily use.

Occasional boost during the night or midway in the day can also help the phone last longer than a day if you are a power user.

We also missed the fast charging which has become a common feature with smartphones today. Sadly, Honor 7X doesn’t support fast-charging capabilities so the phone won’t get charged up quickly. It’s a bit of a disappointment considering a lot of other mid-range phones now charge much faster than the Honor 7X.

We put the 7X through our standard battery test, which involves playing a Full HD video for 90 minutes from a full charge, at full brightness and with accounts syncing over Wi-Fi, and the phone had 78% battery left at the end of the test.

Camera

Honor 7X features a dual-camera setup on the back. It has a 16-megapixel primary camera and a 2-megapixel depth-sensing camera on the back.

Coming to the performance of the rear camera, the Honor 7X delivers fairly good images in optimal lighting conditions. The camera is snappy most of the times in focusing and capturing pictures at a blazing fast speed. The pictures clicked in good lighting environment came out to be punchy and detailed.

The 2-megapixel lens on board the Honor 7X works in the Portrait mode to achieve bokeh-like images. It essentially identifies the edges of the subject in focus and blurs out everything else.

We found that the 7X struggled to identify the edges of our subject resulting in an uneven blur around our subject. That also has a lot to do with the kind of light the subject is in. The camera also focuses slowly when it switches to the portrait mode.

In low light, the Honor 7X cannot be trusted to capture a good image. Poor lighting is a real problem for the camera, and you can tell it’s not as powerful as the ones on higher-end Honor handsets or flagship phones.

That said it does manage to keep pace with competitors such as the Nokia 6 and the Moto G5S Plus, which are around the same price point.

The front camera is an 8MP shooter that also boasts a Portrait mode feature, which we found worked, but not as well as on the rear camera. The selfie shooter will take decent snaps for social media and the like, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

There's a dual-camera setup on the rear of the Honor 7X, with a 16MP sensor doing most of the heavy lifting and then a 2MP sensor to the side of it, which is dedicated to depth-sensing.

We've had a limited time with the camera so far, but taking the odd picture quickly has worked fast and given good results, though not anything mind-blowing just yet.

We'll be sure to play around with the improved wide aperture mode and further depth sensing features for our full review, plus there's the Portrait mode that we can't fully judge just yet.

There's also an 8MP front camera for your selfies. This comes with a few modes for you to play around with and there's a depth of field feature here too. In our time with the phone, the front-facing camera captured some really good selfies in ambient lighting conditions.

Camera samples

 Android and interface 

The Honor 7X runs on Android 7.0 Nougat under the company’s custom EMUI (Emotion UI) 5.1. Currently, there’s no information available if the smartphone will get an upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo, which is a big deal for a phone that's launched almost 6 months after the Oreo release.

Some of the latest features in Android such as multi-window support and the ability to directly reply to texts and emails within the notification bar are already present in this build of the EMUI 5.1, which are very beneficial in a general use case.

After going through the setup, users will be greeted by the homescreen which houses all the apps in the phone. Now, I am not a great fan of this kind of homescreen setup and thankfully, there is an option to enable the app drawer which opens up to a single page of apps users can scroll through.

Pre-loaded apps such as Emergency will allow users to set up call and SMS alerts. Huawei Health will monitor all kinds of dynamic activities such as walking running, speed and other data that will be helpful for people looking to keep a track of their fitness. HiCare is another app that comes default with the Honor 7X and is essentially a support system that lets a user interact directly with the support in case of issues with the phone. Users can also register their phone for warranty and early beta updates. 

Honor also provides a Phone Manager app with its smartphones that performs cleanup of cache, monitors mobile data, allows user to block phone numbers, scans for viruses, allows modification of permissions among other things. 

In our usage of the Honor 7X, the EMUI 5.1 works pretty well. It was fluid and didn’t lag during our use. Interaction with the 7X went as smoothly as you'd expect from a good mid-range smartphone these days.  

Movies, music and gaming 

The big 18:9 aspect ratio display on the Honor 7X makes it an apt smartphone to consume media on. Be it movies, videos or songs, the visual experience on the 7X is amazing, to say the least. 

Considering its price, the screen renders some really vivid and crisp pictures which makes this a great phone to watch videos on. There is infact a video player on the 7X which can play all kinds of videos on the phone.

On the other hand, the speaker on the smartphone isn’t something that we looked forward to. The audio output is average and one can use it occasionally. An issue which we faced a lot many times was the speaker being covered with our hand when watching a video.

Of course, with the retention of 3.5mm jack, one can always plug in a headphone or earphone and can even go a step ahead and pair the phone with a Bluetooth headset.

In our usage during gaming on the Honor 7X, we didn’t face any problem. Although once we started playing high-end games which demand solid graphic prowess, the phone did stutter and struggled to render graphics.

That said, you’ll be able to play a lot of popular, fewer graphics-intensive games on the Honor 7X without experiencing any problems.

Performance and specs 

The Honor 7X is powered by the company’s own HiSilicon Kirin 659 octa-core chipset, paired with 4GB of RAM which takes most of the load easily but we found it was able to cope with everything we wanted to do on a daily basis.

On Geekbench 4, the Honor 7X scored 3579 which is an improvement on the score of 3,105 that the Honor 6X achieved.

While the smartphone performs well normal usage, aggressive users may observe slow loading time while opening, closing or switching apps.

Users can also choose between 32GB and 64GB onboard storage wherein 12.5GB is taken up by the OS. Other than that, Honor 7X comes with a number of preinstalled apps that we think most users wouldn't need. Games like Asphalt Nitro, Bubble Bash 3, Danger Dash, Modern Combat 4 Zero Hour and Spider-Man: Ultimate Power all come as a demo on the Honor 7X with an option to purchase the game. Apart from gaming enthusiasts, these apps are worthless for the normal user. Other website shortcuts like the Hi Honor, Honor and Honor Community are also present disguised as apps. UC Browser and UC News  also come preinstalled on the 7X. Thankfully though, all of these apps can be uninstalled but it spoils the first impression of the phone.

Overall, the performance of the Honor 7X didn’t let us down in any way and was able to churn most of the things we threw at it. It manages to keep a balance between performance and efficiency which is what we liked about it. 

Verdict 

The Honor 7X is a perfect balance between power, style and efficiency which are most of the things you will need in a mid-range smartphone today.

For a mid-ranger, the Honor 7X is an interesting smartphone as it packs in an 18:9 display which has been a trend this year. Thus, Honor bringing this phone out at the end of the year makes sense.

Honor 7X is an example of the extent to which the company is willing to go to stay in the game. Providing a fine display along with a premium-looking build gives it an edge over the competition.

Who’s it for? 

Honor 7X stands out with its minimal bezel display and a premium-like build. It doesn’t feel as premium as the flagship smartphones and neither does it feel a mid-range smartphone like the Moto G5s Plus.

People looking to spend on a mid-range smartphone but want an edge such as a 18:9 aspect ratio with thin bezels, the Honor 7X is for you.

Should you buy it? 

In a price segment dominated by the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Mi A1 and Moto G5, the Honor 7X stands firmly with its large display packed inside a slim metal build. Still, if you want the best camera then Mi A1 is still ahead in the race, and similarly,  Redmi Note 4 is a better option if you need a big battery with solid mid-range hardware.  

Siddharth Chauhan
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