Honor 7X Review

Huawei’s budget-friendly Honor sub-brand has released the follow-up to the 6X – its fiercely competitive mid-range offering – the Honor 7X. Now sporting a body constructed entirely of aluminum, the 7X steps up the class factor from its partially-plastic predecessor. Adding to this aura is the inclusion of an 18:9, 5.93-inch screen with minimal bezels to match. Throw in dual cameras and Honor’s typically quick performance, and you have a lean, mean $200 mid-range machine. But is it enough to knock off more recognizable and similarly equipped competitors?

In the box:
  • Honor 7X
  • Micro-USB charging cable and adapter
  • SIM tool

Design


Honor 7X Review

Metal and glass have become the prevailing choice of materials for most smartphones, and the Honor 7X thankfully joins that trend. Opting for an all-aluminum body, the 7X is encased in either blue, black, or gold metal (gold isn’t available in the U.S.) which makes the back look clean, refined, and sturdy. In back, the aluminum body is interrupted only by antenna lines at the top and bottom, as well as by the center-mounted fingerprint sensor and the dual- camera setup in the top left corner. Not much of a camera bump exists, thankfully, though the lenses aren’t completely flush, raising about a millimeter from the frame. We’re glad the back looks so casual, yet classy, as flipping the device over reveals a similarly handsome face. The tall, 18:9 display housed within minimal bezels serves to further obfuscate this device’s entry-level price point.

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Front view | Side view
Honor 7X
Honor 7X
6.16 x 2.96 x 0.3 inches
156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm
5.82 oz (165 g)

Honor 7X

Honor 6x
Honor 6x
5.94 x 3 x 0.32 inches
150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm
5.71 oz (162 g)

Honor 6x

Nokia 6
Nokia 6
6.06 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches
154 x 75.8 x 8.4 mm
5.96 oz (169 g)

Nokia 6

Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
5.91 x 2.91 x 0.38 inches
150.2 x 74 x 9.7 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G5 Plus




Display


Honor 7X Review

With the Honor 7x, it’s easy to forget that you’re holding a mid-range device until you turn on the screen. By no means is it the worst screen we’ve ever seen – color accuracy is pretty good, in fact – but the tamer color saturation compared to the proliferating, vivid OLEDs will remind you what price range you’re in. The size of the screen is certainly pleasing, though. Indeed, it’s one of the very few phones at this price point to feature the coveted near-bezel-less design. At a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels (FHD+) the 7X meets a pixel density of 407 ppi – a respectable threshold, which produces sharp content, be it text or videos.

By default, a handful of apps don’t conform to this 18:9 aspect ratio, which is unlike other phones with similar aspect ratios – they simply fit apps automatically. Popular apps like Facebook, Twitter work just fine, but others, including Chrome and Amazon, don't full the whole screen, or at least not at first. Honor does makes it quite easy to fit an app to the screen, though. Instead of having to go into settings, which you can also do, you’ll see a bar at the bottom of the screen labeled “fit” which occupies the little bit of unused space. When tapped, this will expand your content to fill the entire screen, and remember to do so in every subsequent use of the particular app.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Honor 7X 530
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:2139
(Excellent)
7736
(Average)
2.05
4.19
(Average)
5.61
(Average)
Honor 6x 506
(Excellent)
8
(Good)
1:1173
(Good)
7035
(Good)
2.11
5.26
(Average)
2.79
(Good)
Nokia 6 539
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1511
(Excellent)
7685
(Average)
2.1
4.77
(Average)
5.87
(Average)
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 581
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1274
(Excellent)
7989
(Average)
2.21
6.07
(Average)
6.79
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

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Interface and Performance


Honor 7X Review

The Honor 7X runs Emotion UI 5.1, built on Android Nougat. It still has a rather iOS-y vibe (circa iOS 7) especially with its cartoonish iconography and default setting opting not to use an app drawer, but rather spread the icons across the homescreen. Of course, this setting can be changed, and so can many others. In fact, EMUI offers a lot of aesthetic and functional customizations. Themes and icon layout are almost compulsory for such tweaking, which EMUI no doubt offers, but more customizing can be done in the main settings. Here you can change how notifications are displayed, your nav key and status bar layout, and a few useful gestures involving the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor itself is extremely quick and accurate when unlocking the phone, as well as when being used for gestures. Not only can it manipulate the notification panel and answer _phone_ calls, but also flick through photos in your gallery and serve as a trigger to snap a pic, as well. These are a few options among many others in this deep, but well-organized settings menu; all of which serve to make interacting with Honor 7X a more personalized and functional experience.

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The Honor 7X runs Emotion UI 5.1, built on Android Nougat
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1. The Honor 7X runs Emotion UI 5.1, built on Android Nougat

The Honor 7X runs Emotion UI 5.1, built on Android Nougat

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Although the menus are generally well organized, any UI that offers such deep customization runs the risk of offering too much and becoming overwhelming. As such, a more intuitive settings search would be a great tool to improve the organization and presentation of these options. One implementation that comes to mind is Samsung’s Related Settings feature, and the ability to search not just the titles of settings, but descriptions as well.

In terms of applications, Honor opts to use proprietary apps for just about everything except for the browser, which is Google Chrome. Additional apps include a data backup up app, which can back up to your computer or an SD card, a device maintenance app to clear up binary gunk, and an app to receive technical support. We have no complaints here, as we found them all to be intuitively designed and aesthetically pleasing. We also enjoyed the ability to log into multiple social media accounts, via the App Twin feature.

The U.S. variant of the Honor 7X comes in only a 32GB/3GB RAM configuration, while other markets can grab a 7X with up to 64 GB storage and 4 GB RAM. Both run on the mid-range Kirin 659 SoC, and performance on our U.S. model was quite peppy; apps opened and switched promptly and smoothly. Transitions and animations didn’t appear to lose frames or stutter, but gaming, while doable, won’t come close to the buttery frame rates seen on higher-end devices, of course. Otherwise, users will be more than pleased with the 7X’s day-to-day performance.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Honor 7X 57970
Honor 6x 56493
Nokia 6 47129
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 63191
JetStream
Higher is better
Honor 7X 30.948
Honor 6x 26.814
Nokia 6 17.35
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 29.879
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen
Higher is better
Honor 7X 2.8
Honor 6x 4.8
Nokia 6 4.5
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 6.9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Honor 7X 731
Honor 6x 1299
Nokia 6 307
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 375
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Honor 7X 909
Honor 6x 788
Nokia 6 684
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 783
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Honor 7X 3381
Honor 6x 3313
Nokia 6 2824
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 3586
View all

Camera


Honor 7X Review
Camera app UI of the Honor 7X - Honor 7X Review
Camera app UI of the Honor 7X - Honor 7X Review
Camera app UI of the Honor 7X - Honor 7X Review

Camera app UI of the Honor 7X


The dual-camera setup returns from the 6X, this time upping the megapixels from 12 to 16 on the main sensor, while the secondary camera remains at 2 MP and is solely used to capture depth information. Leveraging the latter ability, a software-driven wide aperture feature exists to create the coveted background blur, and while results weren’t the worst we’ve ever seen, they weren’t the best either. As with most mid-range implementations, issues with distinguishing the subject from the background can be observed, where the subject is outlined with either blur on its own edges or sharpness in the background where they meet. Rarely did these bleed too far into each other, thankfully, but instances did occur where our subject was completely disfigured by inaccurate blur application. You’ll want to stay within the recommended two-meter distance to avoid such drastic errors.

Well-lit indoor and outdoor close-ups look fantastic for such an affordable phone. Details are sharp and colors are very accurate. Unfortunately, issues with focus cropped up when taking photos with further focal points, such as images of buildings or landscapes. After testing the camera for some time, we arrived at the assumption that our demo unit might have a faulty camera, as objects more than a few feet away from us were never quite in focus. We've reached out to Honor for comment on the matter, and we'll update this section once we know more. We sure hope that ours is an isolated case.

In lower light scenarios, this sensor's inability to capture adequate lighting leads to the image requiring extra time to process. During those couple seconds, you’ll need to have a seriously steady and patient hand, or else face the consequence of ending up with a blurred mess – something we often faced until learning the sufficient amount of time to wait.

The 8 MP front-facing camera captures slightly grainier, and paler colors, but serves its purpose well all the same.

Honor 7X sample images

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Honor 7X sample images

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Selfie

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Honor 7X 2.8
3
401
362
Honor 6x 1.8
2
666
No data
Nokia 6 2.31
5.13
651
639
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 1.8
2.6
1118
669
View all

Video captured on the Honor 7X maxes out at 1080p resolution for both the front and back cameras. Videos looked good, but image stabilization’s absence was certainly felt. Otherwise, the 7X exposed scenes well. Audio recorded during videos did sound rather compressed, though.



Call Quality


Calls sounded great on the Honor 7X’s earpiece, coming through intelligibly, albeit a little quieter than we’d like. The speakerphone was also quite clear, but like the earpiece could use just a bit more oomph for louder situations.

Battery Life


Honor 7X Review

The Honor 7X seemed to have no trouble lasting through a day of regular or intensive use. Clocking in at about eight hours on our custom battery drain test, these results line up pretty well with our impressions. Lacking USB 3.0 or any quick charge standards here, the 7X takes a creeping 2.5 hours to recharge the 3340 mAh battery from 0 to 100%.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Honor 7X 8h 14 min (Excellent)
Honor 6x 10h 1 min (Excellent)
Nokia 6 8h 52 min (Excellent)
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 10h 26 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Honor 7X 146
Honor 6x 191
Nokia 6 171
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 106
View all

Conclusion


Honor 7X Review

The Honor 7X is shaping up like an easy _phone_ to recommend. $200 gets you a solid, good-looking phone, with a tall, 18:9 screen and peppy performance. EMUI 5.1 feels rather tired and a bit cartoonish, but the functionality and performance within give the user much customization and plenty of speed in day-to-day tasks. As for the camera, it does seem promising, but we'll have to test it further before we give it our final verdict.

The 7X’s biggest competitor may be the Moto G5 Plus or similar Moto variants, but users can also get an iPhone SE, or Nokia 6 for about the same price. This is a surprisingly competitive price range, but we’re pretty confident in saying that you can’t go wrong with any of these.