Honor 7X Review

A solid phone with an impressively huge screen, for a relatively low price

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3.8

Honor 7X

Honor 7X

Lifewire / Jordan Provost

What We Like

  • Extra-wide 18:9 screen with 2160 x 1080 resolution

  • Large battery

  • 16 MP + 2 MP dual-lens rear camera

  • Affordable price point

What We Don't Like

  • EMUI OS (equivalent to Android 8)

  • Lots of pre-installed apps

  • Tinny sound from the speakers

For widescreen enthusiasts on a budget, the Honor 7X provides a satisfying viewing experience with an impressive camera and satisfying battery life. These advanced features make the Honor 7X one of the best phones in this price range.

3.8

Honor 7X

Honor 7X

Lifewire / Jordan Provost

The Honor 7X stands out among a competitive crowd of budget and mid-range phones with its eye-catching widescreen. At 5.93 inches and 2160 x 1080 (18:9) resolution, the Honor 7X delivers a miniature cinema experience that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the $200 price range. It also has an impressive 16 MP dual-lens rear camera with advanced DSLR features capable of capturing beautiful portrait photos.

But the Honor 7X also comes with some drawbacks, most notably Huawei’s awkward EMUI operating system. Improvements have been made since the Honor 7X originally launched in 2017, including support for EMUI 8 (which is based on Android 8). This helps put the Honor 7X back among the top contenders in its price range.

Honor 7X
Lifewire / Jordan Provost

Design: Wonderful widescreen

The most striking part of the Honor 7X’s design is also its biggest feature: the 5.93-inch widescreen. This display takes up most of the front real estate of the phone, leaving just enough room for the front camera and phone receiver at the top, and the Honor logo nestled at the bottom. Despite its size, the Honor 7X doesn’t look or feel any bigger than similarly priced phones with smaller screens.

The aluminum chassis and curved edges feel comfortable and natural to hold, though a bit slippery. The 3.5mm audio jack is located on the bottom with the speaker and micro-USB charging port, while the power and volume buttons are located on the right side and a responsive fingerprint sensor on the rear. The Honor 7X supports dual SIM cards or a microSD for expandable storage.

We were surprised to see that the Honor 7X comes with its own clear plastic phone case, which is almost comically unattractive in design (it’s a bit like slipping your phone into clear orthodontic braces). It’s easy to slip on and adds a satisfying grip, however.

Setup Process: Requires a manual update to EMUI 8

Slotting in our SIM card and setting up our previously-installed apps was a breeze, as was setting up the fingerprint sensor and facial recognition. The Honor 7X comes loaded with EMUI 5, which is Huawei’s custom operating system based on Android 7. We had to manually update to EMUI 8 (equivalent to Android 8) via the system settings.

Several security patches followed, along with a couple phone restarts, resulting in a solid half hour before we were up and running with the Android 8 equivalent.

Honor 7X
Lifewire / Jordan Provost

Performance: Impressive but still built for low settings in games

Although Huawei markets the Honor 7X as a great choice for gaming, that’s based more on the physical size of the screen than the performance power of the internal processor. The Kirin 695 is equivalent to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, which emphasizes web browsing, multi-tasking, and photo-editing over 3D graphics processing.

PC Mark’s Work 2.0 Performance Test resulted in a very satisfying score of 4957, around the same as a Samsung Galaxy S8 and Nokia 6.1. The Honor 7X includes an impressive 4 GB of RAM and general app usage felt very quick and responsive.

The graphical tests were not as kind. The Car Chase test from GFX Benchmark resulted in a 2.9 fps slideshow, while the T-Rex test produced a similarly-disappointing 18 fps. However we were able to play PUBG Mobile, a popular third-person multiplayer shooter, at low settings with almost no stuttering or graphical issues, and likewise for first-person shooter Modern Combat Versus.

Despite the low graphical settings, the games did play better on a bigger screen compared to other phones in the price range, but don’t expect a bigger screen to magically result in better performance.

Connectivity: Spotty and inconsistent download speeds

We never had any issues with calls, web browsing, or app issues while using the Honor 7X on Wi-Fi or 4G LTE, although the numbers from the Ookla Speedtest app were troubling and inconsistent. We achieved download speeds as high as 13 Mbps while outdoors in the suburbs, but often topped out at half that speed when testing different carriers and locations. Upload speeds were more consistent, around 6-7 Mbps. Oddly, these would occasionally be higher than the download speeds.

LTE speeds while indoors were much lower, hovering around 1.2 Mbps and hitting a max of around 2.8 Mbps, with upload speeds around the same. Trying to play active online games while on LTE could prove disastrous with those numbers.

Display Quality: Bigger is better

The Honor 7X knocks it out of the park when it comes to the display quality with its extra-wide 5.93-inch, 2160 x 1080 screen. That’s a ratio of 18:9, which is fantastic for watching theater-quality movies in all their widescreen glory. Colors are generally clear and vibrant, though they do get a bit washed out in the sunlight.

The auto brightness worked well to keep our screen brightness low enough to conserve battery, but high enough to make everything clear. The entire resolution can be adjusted down to further conserve battery, from the original FHD down to HD (1440 x 720).

An optional Smart Resolution setting automatically lowers screen resolution when the battery runs low. There’s also an eye comfort setting that transforms the default white light to a vision-friendly yellowish tint, with a nice option to set the specific color temperature warmer or cooler.

We were also impressed that the Honor 7X lets us choose between a standard home screen, displaying all the apps in several rows over several pages, or the newer “drawer” system of hiding the apps in a single scrollable window that pulls up from the bottom of the screen. The Honor 7X lets you decide which method best suits your needs, and quickly switches between settings with the press of a button.

Honor 7X
Lifewire / Jordan Provost

Sound Quality: Below average

Most budget phones have fairly forgettable sound settings. We’d rank the Honor 7X’s as a bit below average. While we didn’t experience any major sound issues, the overall sound quality was tinny when we played music through the speakers.

Smartphones don’t typically have subwoofers, but the 7X in particularly sounded thin and metallic when playing music at maximum volume. Movies tended to be quieter overall and the issue was far less noticeable, however.

Camera/Video Quality: Cumbersome but high quality

The Honor 7X features a rear dual-lens camera (16 MP + 2 MP, the second being for depth only) for pictures at 4608 x 3456 pixels and a 4:3 ratio. A dual-lens camera is not something we often see in phones under $200, and it creates some very impressive pictures for the price. Full 18:9 widescreen pictures are also available, though at a reduced 11 MP. Videos can be recorded up to 1080p resolution, with no support for 4K.

The dual lens means you can create portrait photos with blurred backgrounds, also known as bokeh. You can select portrait mode with a quick tap of an icon on the main camera screen, along with an optional beauty mode to smooth out faces. The 8 MP front camera also features a portrait bokeh mode.

By swiping left on the camera, we were presented with a bevy of options, including an AR lens to digitally add backgrounds, music, hats, and masks, an HDR mode to get the best possible lighting, and a Pro mode where we can manually adjust multiple aspects of the picture like white balance, exposure level, and focus. These are all fantastic features, though we found the actual camera UI needlessly obtrusive and unattractive, as you slide your finger along a bar to hit different settings.

A dual-lens camera is not something we often see in phones under $200, and it creates some very impressive pictures for the price.

Battery: Long-lasting, with optional power saving features

At 3,340 mAh, the Honor 7X includes one of the biggest batteries we’ve seen in this price range. This is a good thing, considering the extra-large screen it has to power. Huawei claims you should be able to get more than a full day of use per charge, which was easily the case for us.

We were also impressed by the phone’s power saving options, including the aforementioned “Smart Resolution” to lower the screen resolution. The battery setting includes options for a “power saving mode”, which limits background apps and reduces visual effects, and even an “ultra power saving mode,” which enables only a select few apps and was able to more than double our standby battery life.

Battery usage was clearly displayed and organized between apps and hardware such as the camera and the screen itself, allowing us to easily shut down background apps that were draining the battery. An “optimize” setting also let us individually set various options to get the most out of our battery life, such as turning off our mobile data when connected to Wi-Fi or turning off the GPS.

Software: EMUI is awkward and includes too many pre-installed apps

Huawei, the makers of the Honor 7X, uses their own custom operating system based on both Android and iOS. The Honor 7X comes installed with EMUI 5 (formerly Emotion UI), which is based on Android 7. We were able to update to EMUI 8, which is based on Android 8. The update was followed by several security patch downloads and phone restarts, but otherwise updating was easy.

Depending on how comfortable you are with Android (if it all), EMUI could either feel like a breath of fresh air or an annoying alteration. We leaned toward the latter. The optional floating navigation controls felt awkward and unintuitive, and the camera UI took too many button presses to get what we wanted.

The Honor 7X also comes loaded with pre-installed apps that stuck around even after we restored our apps from a previous phone. Most are extraneous or redundant Honor-branded apps that do things like launch a community website or put the support number into your keypad. There’s even an app to turn the flashlight off and on, even though that same control is built right into the main pull-down menu.

EMUI 9 looks like a significant improvement that takes advantage of many of Android 9’s AI-learning features. As of the time of this writing, the Honor 7X does not support EMUI 9 in the US, but it has recently been rolling out to Chinese users and would provide a major upgrade to the Honor 7X if it arrives stateside.

Price: Great price for all the features

The budget price tag is the cherry on top of the Honor 7X. It’s anything but a cheap Chinese knockoff, though we weren’t big fans of the EMUI operating system. Aside from the obvious large screen size, this phone is also loaded with great features, an impressive camera, and solid performance ratings. We can easily recommend it for the $200 price point.

Competition: We prefer the Nokia 6.1

The Nokia 6.1 is a close competitor, with an MSRP of $239. The Honor 7X outclasses it in screen size and battery power, and features a slightly better dual-lens camera, but the Nokia 6.1 benefits from Android One support, including the Android 9 OS. It all comes down to which features you value more. We would ultimately vote on the Nokia 6.1’s superior exterior design, but it’s hard to argue against the huge 5.93-inch screen that the Honor 7X provides.

Final Verdict

One of the best budget alternatives to Android and iOS.

If you’re willing to step out of your Android or iOS comfort zone, the Honor 7X is one of the best budget phones on the market. But be aware that it still has a budget processor, and modern 3D games may not run as well as you expect. The dual-lens 16MP camera, big screen, and battery are the real selling points.

Specs

  • Product Name Honor 7X
  • Product Brand Huawei
  • Price $199
  • Release Date December 2017
  • Product Dimensions 6.16 x 2.96 x 0.3 in.
  • Warranty 1 year
  • Compatibility AT&T, T-Mobile
  • Platform EMUI 8.0 (Android 8, upgraded from the factory-installed Android 7)
  • Processor Kirin 695, Octa-Core (4 x 2.36 Ghz, 4 x 1.7 Ghz)
  • RAM 3 GB
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Camera 16 MP + 2 MP dual-lens rear, 8 MP front
  • Battery Capacity 3,340 mAh
  • Ports Micro-USB and 3.5mm audio jack
  • Waterproof No
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