Hands on: Honor 7X review

Once again, Honor brings high-end features to affordable phones

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Honor 7X looks to have all the makings of a great mid-range smartphone, and the ability to be able to get an 18:9 screen on a phone at this level is not something we expected to see so soon.

For

  • Vibrant 18:9 display
  • Premium feel metal design

Against

  • Sluggish at times
  • Doesn't use USB-C

Honor has previously surprised us with what it can put in affordable handsets, but the Honor 7X has made a big jump by being the first mid-ranged phone with an 18:9 bezel-less display.

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.

But following on from the Honor 6X was going to be a hard thing to do for the brand, so does the Honor 7X innovate enough to make it another great affordable phone?

Honor 7X price and release date

Little is known about the price of the Honor 7X but we're expecting that to be revealed during the official launch of it on December 5th. We believe the price will be similar to Honor 6X when it was at launched which was around AED 700.

Although the Honor 7X will be announced in the UK on December 5, it's not clear what date it'll be launching in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East. It is definitely coming to the region soon though.

Design and display

The Honor 7X still features a full-metal uni-body design that's attractive, but this time the back of the phone is flat so it doesn't sit in the hand as comfortably. It does make it thinner than most other phones right now though and if you're looking for a slimline device this is an appealing one.

Unfortunately, moving to metal means that you don't get that beautiful finish that we saw on the polished glass back of the Honor 9.

On the bottom edge sits a 3.5mm headphone jack, which will be useful if you still use wired headsets along with a micro USB port and speaker grille.

In our limited testing we have found it easy to block the speaker when listening to video, but that may be something muscle memory helps us avoid.

The rear of the phone has a premium finish, but the metal doesn't feel as nice as when you're holding the glass-backed Honor 9. The fingerprint sensor also sits on the rear, which we found easy to reach with the phone in the hand.

Honor is toting the 7X's display as a major upgrade, and it's certainly impressive that the company has managed to squeeze in an almost 6-inch display into the body of a normally 5.5-inch phone.

The 5.93-inch screen goes closer to the sides of the device than some other phones, but it's not as vibrant as the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S8.

Honor 7X has a Full HD+ 2160 x 1080 resolution, equaling 408 pixels-per-inch. That might sound less than what some of the flagships offer, keep in mind that this is a mid-range priced phone and for that, it's a pretty good display.

Camera

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. As with the rear camera, expect more in-depth details about this in our full review.

Battery and interface

As we've not had the Honor 7X for long, we've yet to fully test out the battery. It's a 3,340mAh cell - just like in the Honor 6X - and that sounds to be enough for a full day's use, but it likely won't last longer than that.

Honor estimates that 12 hours of video playback is possible from 100% charge, but we'll be sure to put it through its paces for our full review.

One feature you may miss is fast-charge. Honor didn't see fit to add the feature to this phone, so you may have to wait a while for it to charge up.

The Honor 7X uses the company's own Emotion UI software, which provides a skin over the top of Android 7 Nougat.

Performance and specs

Inside the Honor 7X there's a Kirin 659 chipset as well as 4GB of RAM to use. Our initial usage showed slightly sluggish performance- definitely a bit slower than flagship phones. However the Honor 7X should be able to do everything you want it to, it'll likely just take a touch more time.

There's 64GB of storage as standard in the phone, but if you want to expand that you can use a 256GB microSD card. Like most other phones, the Honor 7X has a hybrid SIM tray so you can either equip the phone with dual SIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD card.

Early verdict

We need more time and accurate pricing information for the Honor 7X to make a full judgement of the phone, but right now everything we've seen from the device is positive.

The combination of having an 18:9 display on a cheaper device is already an attractive idea, and that's before you consider the upgraded camera features and extra firepower under the hood. The Honor 7X is shaping up to be one of the best handsets in its price range.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.