Being Huawei’s sub-brand catering lower-priced devices, the Honor brand has some pretty interesting device throughout 2017. While Huawei is already offering bang-for-buck devices, Honor takes it further. Coming to the end of 2017, Honor updates one of its best selling devices – the Honor 7x, which is a successor to the best-selling Honor 6x that we saw last year. With the same price tag of RM1099, what is Honor bringing to the table with the new 7x?
Huawei has given the Honor 7x a rather huge step up compared to the 6x. It got the front fascia of the Huawei Nova 2i, while being paired to a metal unibody which resembles the design of the Honor 8 Pro. Honor’s new design language is surprisingly likable, while being able to be simple and classy at the same time. Even with its 5.93-inch display, the size of the device allows it to fit nicely in your hands.
The materials that build up the Honor 7x is solid and premium as well. The front is covered by Gorilla Glass to truly protect the 18:9 display. It has curved edges which gives it a 2.5-D look and feel. The rest of the body consists of a solid metal unibody with a matte finish, and it really gives the same premium feel of the more expensive Honor 8 Pro. With a weight of 165-grams, it is definitely on the heavier side, but at least the construction is solid.
Like the Nova 2i, the front is dominated by a 5.93-inch display, with very little bezels on both sides which signifies its “Full View” display. With its 18:9 form factor, it takes up the entire front of the device, leaving not much space on top and bottom of the display. Huawei managed to squeeze a 8-megapixel front-facing camera, an earpiece and a couple of sensors above the display. The Android controls are on-screen as usual, which leaves space at the bottom for a subtle Honor branding.
The rest of the setup on the Nova 2i is pretty standard as well. The removable SIM tray is located on the left, which houses 2 slots – a nanoSIM slot for the primary SIM and a hybrid slot which takes either a microSD card or a secondary nanoSIM card. The power and volume buttons are located on the right, on a convenient spot. There’s nothing going on for the top apart from a small secondary microphone.
The rest of the ports lives at the bottom, which includes a 3.5-mm headphone jack, a microUSB port for data transfer and charging, as well as a bottom firing mono speaker.
The design on the back is almost a carbon copy of the Honor 8 Pro. It looks pretty much identical, down to the dual-lens camera setup on the top left which consists of a 12-megapixel sensor and an 8-megapixel sensor. Each lens sits in their own housing, and both sticks out slightly from the back. There is also a single-LED flash to go along with it. A fingerprint reader is present as well in the middle below the camera lenses. Even the contrast antenna lines looked identical to the ones found in the Honor 8 Pro. The back finishes off with a subtle Honor logo at the bottom.
The Honor 7x is also IP-67 certified, which means that is water and dust resistant, which is a bonus compared to its predecessor.
The Honor 7x is offered in 2 colours for Malaysian market: Black and Blue. Both colours are identical to the Honor 8 Pro as well.
Specs and Performance
Being Honor’s mid-range devices, it is packed with all the mid-range offerings by Huawei. The processor that is powering the Honor 7x is Huawei’s in-house developed Kirin 659, which is designed for mid-range devices. It is an octa-core processor, with half of its cores clocked at 2.36GHz, and the rest is clocked at 1.7GHz. It really sounds generous on paper. The lower-powered cores are assigned to deal with most tasks, while the more powerful cores kick in for heavier tasks. Honor also includes 4GB of RAM to go along with it. Does all of these sounds familiar? Of course, what’s underneath the Honor 7x is almost identical to the Huawei Nova 2i.
Unsurprisingly, with the same specs as the Nova 2i, the Honor 7x performed pretty well. Even though the 7x is supposed to be at the lower end of their line-up, its performance does not seem to suggest so. At lighter tasks it is pretty much a breeze to use. Going through the built-in applications or lighter third-party apps is not a problem for the 7x. We do notice that there is a slight lag from time-to-time especially when we are going through the apps really fast, but that is just a small niggle. The 4GB of RAM is also adequate to keep good amount of processes running in the background.
Like the Nova 2i, the Honor 7x starts to show signs of trouble when it comes to heavier processes. It’s not terrible but still worth mentioning. There are moments where even when all cores are fired up, but still not enough for the demanding tasks like heavier games. You also do get some heat from the metal unibody when all cores are fired up, but overall it does not ruin the experience too much.
We let Geekbench do some benchmarking on our Honor 7x, and it returned with a score of 905 for single-core score and 3526 for multi-core score. Both numbers are not bad and are pretty respectable for this processor, but Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 450 is better in terms of multi-tasking performance, no question about that.
A 64GB eMMC storage is still found on the Honor 7x, which is a good amount. It is also reasonably fast too with read speeds close to 300MB/s, and write speeds just a little below 200MB/s.. The secondary hybrid slot in the removable tray also takes microSD cards up to 256GB. You can use it to expand the internal volume or as a separate volume.
The Honor 7x spots the same connectivity options as the Nova 2i as well. A 802.11b/g/n single-band WiFi is still there with no support of 5GHz, along with Bluetooth 4.2. 4G LTE is standard for both SIM cards and is really quite fast. The Honor 7x relies on a microUSB 2.0 port at the bottom of the device for charging and data transfer.
The fingerprint sensor is located at the back as well, but compared to all other Huawei or Honor devices, it is noticeably smaller, but this does not alter from the fact that it is, as usual, fast and accurate. The matte surface means that it is very quick and accurate, even though with slightly-wet fingers. Although it supports all the usual gestures, with a physically smaller sensor, it is harder to perform those gestures.
It’s just staggering how fast manufacturers are bringing these 18:9 displays to the budget range! The display setup on the Honor 7x is also identical to the Nova 2i – a 5.99-inch display, but with an 18:9 ratios. The screen is longer in height rather than in width, and it almost fills up the front panel. Compared to a regular 16:9 display, it allows more vertical content to be displayed. With a resolution of 1080 X 2160 where Honor calls it FHD+, pixel density is kept at around 407 pixels-per-inch, which is pretty much what devices at this price range gives you. There’s no super sharp details, but unless you’re really nitpicking, it is totally usable.
Honor also used Huawei’s regular IPS panel, same as the Nova 2i. Like any other IPS panel, it has adequately vivid and natural colours, and you can thank the deep black nature of IPS for that. The brightness is alright and the auto-brightness works really well, but under sunlight it could use more brightness. There is no complain about the viewing angles.
Like any other Huawei/Honor devices, the EMUI allows you to tune the colour temperature to your liking, and apart from the usual cool/warm settings, it includes a colour wheel for you to tune the colour temperature of the display exactly to your liking, which is really nice.
The Honor 7x features a regular mono bottom-firing speaker. And while it scores in loudness, it could use some more bass and clarity. At maximum volume some distortion is to be expected with complicated noises, but overall it is an alright experience.
The camera on the Honor 7x is also an improvement over the 6x, and is pretty much identical to the Nova 2i as well. You do get a combination of 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensor, both sitting in their own housing, which is a bump over the 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel. The usual combination applies, with phase detection autofocus and LED flash. It’s not the full-blown Leica setup over here, and the secondary 2-megapixel sensor is just there to aid in variable aperture for bokeh effects.
Still, the rear shooter of the Honor 7x performed pretty well. In well-lit conditions, the sensor is very happy. There are lots of well-preserved details in our samples, which makes it stand out. The colours are great as well, as they are more towards the warm side, but still manages accurate and true-to-life colours. There’s no special vivid mode to spice the colours up, but in its natural form, it is really nice, especially with the wide dynamic range.
As for the bokeh effect, the 2-megapixel sensor did help quite a bit. Depth information are collected by this sensor to determine the distance and shape of the object, and the processor decides the amount of blur to be applied to the background. It works alright for most of the time, giving almost true bokeh effect to our samples. But, like its predecessor, it still struggles with complicated shapes. Not that it will totally ruin the image, but there is noticeable overlapping which makes the bokeh effect seems fake. There are also times where it couldn’t determine the object and its background, which is odd.
When it comes to darker conditions, this is where the sensor starts to struggle as well. In lower lighting conditions, there are some noticeable noise, and it could be brighter as well. This affected its colour accuracy, no doubt about that. Colours are pretty off and grainy, and the details are soft too. It’s definitely not a great shooter in low-light unless you mess around with the manual settings.
The Honor 7x also records videos up to 1080p resolution at 30 frames-per-second. Video quality is alright, with pretty adequate colours and staying at a steady 30fps, but it could use some more details. It also lacks any form of stabilization, and even if you have really steady hands, videos are quite shaky as well.
The front camera setup is carried forward from its predecessor, which is a single 8-megapixel sensor. Unlike the Nova 2i, it lacks secondary sensor and the soft LED light. It is fixed focus, but it is still easy to get your face in focus at a comfortable distance. The colours are great, but still could use more details. There’s also a beautification feature where it will apply some artificial beauty effects to your face. Like always, it is recommended to keep the settings low to medium to avoid the fakeness.
The camera app is pretty familiar to current or new Honor/Huawei devices, as they are logically laid out, easy to use and straight-forward. The controls are on the left, while the usual galore are on the right. Swiping left on the viewfinder reveals the large amount of settings that you can change, and the different modes are available while swiping left. As usual, a pro mode is included, and you can change the exposure value, ISO, focus, white balance and shutter speed.
Like the rest of Huawei/Honor devices, the Honor 7x is preloaded EMUI 5.1, Huawei’s on customization on top of Android 7.0 Nougat firmware. It’s pretty much the same user interface on other Huawei devices without losing too much features, but has some work done to it to accommodate the longer display. The entire UI design looks modern, packs all the necessary functions and has a sensible and practical design. While it is not preloaded with unnecessary bloatware, there are still lots of functions to deal with. The Kirin 659 handles the UI pretty well even though it is quite heavy compared to a vanilla Android, but that’s how Huawei makes their devices stand-out.
With a built-in 3340mAh battery, the Honor 7x holds up very well for what it is. The larger display might mean more pixels to push, but this still doesn’t stop us from having a long usage time. After 8-hours of moderate-to-heavy use, it returned around 25% charge remaining, and another 3-4 hours before it gave up. That is pretty impressive for the price of this device.
The Honor 7x relies on the microUSB 2.0 port at the bottom for charging and data transfer, and without any form of quick charging, it takes around 2.5 hours to 3 hours to get a flat battery to full using the supplied 2A charger. A 30-minute charge will only give you 25%.
The Bottom Line
Manufacturers these days are really bringing so much value to the table, and once again, Honor has prove it that they are the king of the value. For RM1099, its working very well, and although there are premium features that you have to give up on such as fast charging or better display, no doubt that the Honor 7x is all go with a little bit of show. If you are into the selfie game, you can pay extra RM200 for the Nova 2i, which is pretty much the same thing but with an additional 2-megapixel shooter on the front.
What we like:
Lots of value packed
The FullView 18:9 display
Camera performance (with sufficient lighting)
Good battery life
What we are not sure of:
Camera performance in low-light situation
Lackluster connectivity options