Hands on: Honor 7C review

The most affordable dual camera phone around

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Honor 7C offers face unlock, dual rear cameras and a big screen on a serious budget, and that makes it worth considering.

For

  • Great price
  • Face and fingerprint unlock
  • Dual rear cameras

Against

  • Metal rear feels cheap
  • Big screen is 'only' 720p
  • Android overlay not for everyone

The Honor 7C is a low-cost Android smartphone that's the 'most affordable dual camera phone on the market' and the Chinese firm has focused on the camera experience and a design that feels good in the hand.

You'll find a sizable 5.99-inch, 18:9 HD display on the front of the phone, with a Snapdragon 450 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage under the hood.

The Honor 7C also boasts Android 8 Oreo, a microSD slot, 8MP front camera and a 3,000mAh battery. All of that wrapped up in an attractive price tag makes the 7C worth checking out.

Honor 7C price and availability

  • Launch price: £169.99
  • Release date: May 2018

The Honor 7C launch price was £169.99 SIM free, which placed it in a highly affordable part of the market.

In the UK, the Honor 7C is only available through the firm's own website, hihonor.co.uk.

Design

Honor 7C specs

Weight: 164g
Dimensions: 158.3 x 76.7 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 8.0
Screen size: 5.99-inch
Resolution: 720 x 1440
CPU: Snapdragon 450
RAM: 3/4GB
Storage: 32/64GB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP
Front camera: 8MP

Honor says it focused on making sure the 7C feels really good in the hand, with a 360 degree circular, symmetrical design for the phone.

The phone looks sleek, and at 7.8mm thick it sits well in the hand with the rounded edges helping to provide a comfortable fit.

While the 7C has a metal rear, it's just a thin sheet of metal attached to a plastic frame. This keeps the weight of the handset down, useful considering the large screen size, but it does mean it doesn't feel premium in the hand.

It is solid however, and the build quality is good. There are easy to reach power/lock and volume keys on the right of the phone, while a 3-in-1 tray on the left can accommodate two SIM cards and a microSD card.

There's good news for audio fans as Honor has opted to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack on the base of the handset, and it lines up alongside a single speaker and a microUSB port.

Honor 7C hands on gallery

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It's a shame not to see a USB-C connection here as it's now the more dominant connection type, but it's not the end of the world.

There's a rear fingerprint scanner included too, which is a handy addition when it comes to biometric security, but that's only half the story.

That's because Honor has also built in Face unlock into the handset, or it will do when the feature arrives via an OTA (over the air) update, which is expected to land in May.

The Honor 7C we got hands on with did have the Face Unlock feature installed, and we were impressed by just how quickly it was able to recognize us. It takes less than a second to recognize and unlock, and Honor claims it's faster than Face ID on the iPhone X.

It was also quick and easy to set up, with the phone recording 1024 different facial points and saving them in an encrypted local trust zone on the device which isn't accessible to the outside world.

The Honor 7C will be available in two colors, black and blue.

Display

The Honor 7C has a huge 5.99-inch FullView display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. That means it's taller than the more traditional 16:9 panels, and this aspect ratio is becoming more and more popular with all manufacturers.

With no front facing fingerprint scanner, and navigation keys on screen, it's allowed Honor to further reduce the bezels above and below the display, allowing the screen to take up the majority of the front of the phone.

It's bright and clear, but with its HD+ resolution (1440 x 720) it's not as pin sharp as we'd like from a screen this size.

That said, this isn't an expensive phone so we can accept the fact it 'only' has a 720p resolution, and you're still getting a lot of screen here for the price.

Power and software

Under the hood the Honor 7C has a Snapdragon 450 octa-core chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage in the UK, although some countries will get a 4GB/64GB varaint.

While the chipset is an entry-level offering, paired with the RAM there's enough power to keep things running. There is a slight lag when opening apps, but nothing we wouldn't expect from a phone in the 7C's price bracket.

That power is tasked with running Android 8 Oreo - the latest version of Google's mobile operating system - although it's not the stock software.

The Honor 7C comes with parent company Hauwei's EMUI interface overlay, which removes the app drawer and changes the theme of Android.

While the interface may not be to everyone's taste, it allows Honor to add some additional features. 

There's a gaming mode that can hide notifications and provides a small pop up for calls during game play, so not to ruin your flow, while synergy music allows you to sync up to nine handsets to play a song through all their speakers and karaoke mode lets you project your singing voice through the phone's speaker.

Camera

The dual rear facing cameras are one of the main attractions of the Honor 7C, with 13MP and 2MP sensors sitting side by side.

The 2MP camera is in charge of capturing depth data for the Bokeh mode, allowing you to take photos with a blurred background, while your subject in the foreground is nicely in focus.

We had a quick play with the camera on the Honor 7C and found it to be generally capable, although it's not going to blow you away with quality. The Bokeh mode worked reasonable well, but the overall image seemed to lack a little bit of definition.

Round the front the 8MP camera is accompanied by Honor's smart soft light LED, allowing you to illuminate your selfies in low light.

The LED has three levels of adjustment, allowing you choose just how illuminated you are. We didn't have a particularly dark environment during our hands on time with the phone to try this out, but we'll be sure to put the front and rear cameras to the test in our in-depth review.

Early verdict

The Honor 7C offers face unlock, dual rear cameras and a big screen on a serious budget, and that makes it an interesting handset.

It's great to see features filter down price tiers, and Honor is leading the charge at the budget end of the market with the 7C. If you're funds are limited, this is a phone that should be worth considering.

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.