Honor 7X review: A solid budget phone… albeit, with some compromises

Android / Hardware Reviews / Mobile / Reviews
Honor 7X

Budget phones aren’t all created equal. All budget phones are going to come with some compromises, and the Honor 7X has its fair share.

TA-ratings-88In a world filled with $800+ flagship phones, it can be hard to find a decent budget phone. But, sometimes, there is a gem or two in the mix. The Honor 7X is one of those gems. Sure, it has some shortcomings, but for $199.99USD, most will be willing to overlook those. Read on for our full review of the Honor 7X.

Specifications

The Honor 7X has the following features and specifications:

  • Operating System: Android 7.0
  • User Interface: EMUI 5.1
  • CPU: Kirin 659 Octa-Core (4*2.36 GHz+4*1.7GHz)
  • GPU: Mali-T830 MP2
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB, MicroSD expandable to 256GB
  • Battery: 3340 mAh
  • Display: 5.93″ 1080p x 2160p Full View FHD 18:9
  • Rear Camera: Dual 16MP + 2MP camera
  • Front Camera: 8MP
  • Network:  Mobile: T-Mobile/AT&T – Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, 2.4 G Hz, supports HT20/H40, Wi-Fi Direct, Huawei Share, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wi-Fi Bridge
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1 +BLE
  • Sensors: Fingerprint sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Compass, Gravity sensor, Phone status indicator

What’s In The Box

  • Honor 7X
  • Wall charger and USB cable
  • Screen protector and TPU case
  • Manuals and Documentation

Design

The Honor 7X is one of the nicest looking budget smartphones on the market right now. To be honest, if you lay it next to the Huawei Mate 10 Pro with the screens turned off, at first glance, they look very similar. Our review unit came in red with a black front panel and that color combo is very sexy. I’m not a fan of a red body and white front panel, so I’m glad Honor chose wisely.

The entire phone is made of high-quality aluminum and glass with everything feeling nice to touch and handle. The front panel is 5.93″ with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which is sweet to have on a budget phone. The bezels are super thin along the left and right. The forehead and chin are larger than the side bezels but small in their own right. There is Honor branding on the chin, which I would have rather not seen, but it’s not horrible. Of course, the front also houses the earpiece, front-facing camera and there is an LED notification light as well.

Turning the Honor 7X over to inspect the back side you’ll find the fingerprint sensor along with a dual camera setup and LED flash. There are humps with these cameras, but they don’t make the phone look bad. The antenna lines are visible on the back, but they blend in nicely into the body. The Honor branding is subtle and understated, which is welcome.

Honor 7X

Decent display.

Along the left edge of the phone are the SIM and MicroSD card tray. Along the right are the volume rocker and power button. I wish the power button was textured like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. There is nothing along the top. Along the bottom, you’ll find the headphone jack, speaker, and Micro-USB charging port. Yes, Micro-USB, no USB Type-C here. That was a bit of a disappointment. You will not get any fast charging here, and this phone does take its time to charge.

Overall, the Honor 7X is a very nice design. At first glance, it can be mistaken for a much more expensive phone. It looks very similar to the Mate 10 Pro. Of course, when you hold them both in your hand, you can tell which is the better-made device. But on its own, the Honor 7X is really a great piece of hardware design for the $199.99USD.

Display

The Honor 7X display is better than decent for a budget device. The display itself is just a notch sharper than 1080×1920 clocking in at 1080×2160. Honor has also adopted the current form factor of some flagship devices with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The colors on this display are acceptable but not as vibrant as a flagship device. At times things felt a little washed out and not as crisp as I am generally used to.

Touch responsiveness, however, is spot on. Scrolling, pinch to zoom and all other gestures worked flawlessly. You can pinch to fit video should you want to fill your screen, but you will cut some of the video off the top and bottom. Overall, the display is exactly what I expected from a budget phone. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also good value for money here.

Nice design and good materials for a budget phone.

Software/Ecosystem

The Honor 7X is running Android 7.0 with Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 UI over top. Android 7.0 runs nice and smooth here, and Honor is currently beta testing Android 8.0. Android itself runs just fine and EMUI 5.1 runs great as well. That being said. EMUI isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you can install a custom launcher to help alleviate some of that concern. Personally, I think those coming from an iPhone may appreciate EMUI as a way to ease into Android in a semblance of comfort.

There are a few Honor-centric apps that you can disable if you like. Overall, the software experience is not bad at all. Android works great, and I don’t mind EMUI one bit.

Performance

The performance was just okay. For the most part, I didn’t have many issues and most everything ran smooth and clean. There were a few instances when using apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Chrome when the phone would lag or stutter when scrolling. Intensive gaming is probably not a good idea here, light games run fine but long runs with heavy games are going to tax the GPU.

Overall, the performance isn’t flagship standards by any means but you’re not getting a flagship phone either. The Kirin processor and Mali GPU aren’t the top performers like a Qualcomm setup. Still, the Honor 7X really holds its own and for the price, it does well enough.

Honor 7X

Volume and power.

Camera

The dual camera setup on the back of the Honor 7X is decent. There is a 16MP and 2MP shooter on the back, neither of them with OIS or EIS. Photos are just okay, colors aren’t all great and some photos looked washed or blown out. Getting a good in-focus picture takes a steady hand, and you will find several shots that will be out of focus due to not having stabilization. The camera lacks the dynamic range of higher-end smartphone cameras but again, budget phones can only do so much.

Honor 7X

Sometimes you get a decent pic.

The front facing camera is decent but, as before, colors are often washed out and backgrounds are blown out. Honor defaults the front-facing camera to “beauty mode” which is just absolutely horrible. I recommend turning beauty mode off.

Overall, these cameras will get most people through. You can manage to capture good photos with these cameras, but you’ll have to either get very lucky or really think about your environment and lighting situation. The cameras perform as I would have expected from a budget device.

Speakers/Sound

Let’s just call it like it is. The speaker is tinny and thin. It’s really only good for speakerphone calls and spoken word video. If you value sound quality, get a good pair of headphones and use the headphone jack.

Reception/Call Quality

Bluetooth and LTE reception were both great and call quality was also great. No issues hearing callers and callers could hear me just fine.

Battery Life

With a 3,340mAh battery, the Honor 7X was able to get me through my day with about 25 – 10% left in the tank. Battery life is going to vary from user to user but I do think the vast majority of users should be good with this battery. You should remember that there is no fast charging or wireless charging on this device. You will be forced to charge through the slower Micro-USB connection.

Price/Value

The Honor 7X is going to set you back a wallet-friendly $199.99USD. That’s really a great deal for this device despite some of its shortcomings.

Wrap Up

Budget phones aren’t all created equal. All budget phones are going to come with some compromises, and the Honor 7X has its fair share. But I do think this is one of the best budget phones on the market right now, and it has more plusses than it does minuses in the overall big picture. I think budget-minded buyers would be served well with this device. The snobbier smartphone buyers need not apply.

*We received a review unit of the Honor 7X for the purposes of this review.

Honor 7X

$199.99USD
Honor 7X
8.8

Design

9.0 /10

Display

9.0 /10

Software

8.5 /10

Performance

8.5 /10

Camera

8.5 /10

Speakers/Sound

8.0 /10

Reception/Call Quality

9.0 /10

Battery Life

9.0 /10

Price/Value

9.5 /10

Nailed it

  • Slim and attractive design
  • Very nice display for a budget phone
  • Good battery life
  • Solid build quality for its price

Needs work

  • Camera is budget quality
  • There are some lag issues throughout various apps
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