At the beginning of December I was at the launch of the Honor 7X and View 10 mobile phones. I picked up a 7X at the event and used it as my daily driver for a month. Here’s what I thought about it.
On December 5th, Honor officially took the wraps off the competitively-priced, near bezel-less 7X.
In many respects, and I’ve said this before, the mid-range is often where the most interesting things happen. Let’s face it, it’s easier to come up with something that wows everyone if money is no object.
However, in the mid-range arena, this is where companies, as well as consumers, have to weigh up their priorities. They have a strict budget to stick to and yet still want something that impresses.
Has Honor honoured this? Let’s have a look and check out the Honor 7X smartphone.
Honor 7X design
Being practically bezel-less, let’s start with that screen.
The only other thing on the face of the phone is an 8MP front-firing camera and a speaker.
Flip it over and you’ll find the fingerprint scanner.
I quite like the slightly glossier antennae lines across the phone’s rear. They actually add a bit of interest to what would’ve been an otherwise featureless expanse of matte-finish aluminium.
You will also notice the odd choice of using a microUSB port. The main upside to this is that you’ve probably already got a drawer full of microUSB cables. Still, USB-C would have been the better choice as we’re now in 2018.
Honor 7X performance
The Honor 7X does seem to tick most boxes. It might not have an OLED screen but, at least from the outside, it still looks like a good phone.
There is no waterproofing here. However, Honor says that it has strengthened all four corners of the 7X so it can better withstand drops. This is not something that I have tested, but I’d still suggest buying a case.
Honor is toting the 7X’s display as a major upgrade, and it’s certainly impressive that the company has managed to squeeze an almost 6-inch display into a body that would traditionally accommodate a 5.5-inch screen.
It is Full HD+ 2160 x 1080 resolution and Honor are packing in 408 pixels per inch.
The screen is bright and and vibrant with wide viewing angles.
Obviously it doesn’t have the option of an always-on clock with notifications, but it still looks impressive with tiny size bezels and much smaller top and bottom borders than other phones at this level.
One minor annoyance is the “do you want to go full screen” notification prompt whenever you open an app. I’d rather it did that automatically – why else would you want a phone with this ratio?
Internally, the Kirin 659 processor is partnered with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
The latter two figures are generous but overall performance wholly midrange. This doesn’t score as a flagship-rivalling device, and it isn’t meant to.
Apps may take a second longer to launch, but they run smoothly and you can run most games (such as Asphalt 8) without issue.
With most games, forcing them to use the entire screen just crops them so you actually see less (as is the case with all 18:9 screens at the moment).
Living with this phone I can confirm that the 3340mAh battery can make it through a whole day with normal use. Yeah, it drains quickly if you’re playing games but you’d expect that, right?
There’s no fast charging, so you’ll probably end up connecting the charger each night when you go to bed. That’s what I do and all is hunky dory.
The second camera has a 2Mp sensor and is simply used for depth sensing rather than capturing photos or video.
All that means is that you get the same portrait and wide-aperture modes that you’ll find on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and View 10. This is no real surprise as the stock camera app is essentially the same as that of the 10 Pro – minus a couple of features. Oh, and the Leica branding.
The app is simple, logical, and packed full of features. Slide to the left to show the options list, and slide to the right for different camera modes. Icons for special features are shown along the top of the screen.
One of those missing features is video stabilisation. It’s limited to recording at 1080p at 30 frames per second with no 60fps option. But, remember we are in midrange country here folks.
Out front is an 8MP selfie cam on which you can enable depth effect for blurry backgrounds.
You also get that nifty gesture support so you can wave and get a countdown for group shots.
In selfie mode there’s the expected beauty mode, but you can also apply fun masks and effects.
Photo quality is, surprise, best in good light. In these conditions photos look sharp and have good detail levels. Unfortunately, this is the deep mid-winter so I don’t get to see much daylight thanks to my myriad jobs.
HDR is there as an option and is amongst the list of modes.
The portrait mode works well, though, and you can switch to the wide-aperture mode when taking a photo of something that isn’t a person.
You also have lots of other modes, including light painting, time lapse and slo-mo to play with.
Video defaults to 720p, so make sure you choose 1080p to get the best possible quality. The lack of stabilisation means you need to keep the phone as still as possible, but video and audio quality is reasonably good.
In low light, including indoors at night with artificial lighting, you can easily notice the drop in quality: photos lack detail and sharpness. This may be due to clever of noise reduction stuff happening behind the scenes.
You also need to make sure your subject stays still. Be prepared for blurry shots. Best to fire off a few with the intention of finding a good one.
But, great shots can be captured. You just have to have a little more patience and a bit more luck.
The 7X doesn’t have Oreo just yet. Out of the box you get Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1.
I do like EMUI and, if you’ve used iOS then you’ll be used to the idea of placing all your apps on the home screens.
You do get some nifty features such as double-tapping the screen to wake it, and double-pressing the volume-down button to launch the camera app.
However, you do have to enable these though.
There’s one-key split-screen so you can carry on watching a video (on Netflix, say) while you flick through Twitter.
You’ll also find the App Twin menu option. This enables you to sign into two Facebook accounts. Sorry, no option for Whatsapp or Messenger here.
You get warnings when apps are using a lot of power in the background. This could be helpful but I’m usually pretty good at closing hungry apps down.
Huawei’s Histen allows you to play with the EQ or enable a ‘3D sound’ mode where you can adjust a slider from Near to Front to Wide.
You can also adjust the audio depending on what headset type you’re using – in-ear, over-ear, etc.
I didn’t really find much use for these options, to be honest. Still, they’re nice to have.
Honor 7X review conclusion
You know what? Honor has done pretty much everything right with the 7X. Without comparing it to more expensive handsets or ones not available in this country, I am hard pushed to think of a smartphone that can seriously challenge it on all counts.
Firstly, it looks like a much more expensive phone than it is. Secondly, it has a full-fat headphone jack. Thirdly, it even offers a choice of dual-SIM or expandable memory.
The 18:9 screen is great to use, and most apps work ok when forced to fill it. Battery life is good and cameras are… well, they’re alright.
Flicking through apps is smoothly done and unless you are going out of your way to stress it, the engine-room will handle most day-to-day tasks without coughing and spluttering.
The Honor 7X looks like a flagship for far less than flagship prices.
Honor 7X price and availability
Oooo… the black Honor 7X is actually £259 on Amazon at the moment! Bargain!