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Honor 7X Long-term Review: Living with the Handset

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People buy smartphones for a variety of reasons – some buy them for performance while some go for features alone, on the other hand, some might give precedence to how big the screen is whereas others might be looking for a phone with the best camera that money can buy. Or perhaps you are someone who probably want it all. Usually, in this case, a flagship from a prominent manufacturer is the one to go for, but then you must be prepared to shell out more money (unless it is the OnePlus 5T you are looking at). However, most buying decisions depend a lot on a person’s budget which creates an undeniable limit on how much money can be spent.

This is where mid-range smartphones come in handy as they tend to offer a great compromise in terms of performance, features, build quality and design put together. Personally, I believe there are two kinds of people who go for mid-range handsets – 1) People who simply have stricter budget limitations 2) People who can spend more but believe that spending any higher on a smartphone is pointless. Whichever category you lie in, there are many smartphones available today between Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 that provide a very satisfying ownership experience.

7x on the box

And so, we are presenting the long-term review of the Honor 7X which starts from INR Rs 12,999 for the 4 GB RAM + 32 GB internal storage model. This is the one I have been reviewing. The other variant comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage and is priced at Rs 15,999.

I have been using the Honor 7X as my personal handset for over a month now. On the other side, my actual personal phone is an iPhone SE. So, it is quite a change for me to make this switch from the iOS to Android. And while my experience with the 7X has been average at best, it has nevertheless made me realize the potential of good mid-range devices in general.

Honor 7X Specifications

Display: 5.93-inch, IPS LCD, 1080p x 2160p resolution (Full HD+), 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass front

Body: Metal body on aluminium chassis

Platform: Android Nougat 7.0 with EMUI 5.1

Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 659 octa-core processor (4×2.36 GHz and 4×1.7 GHz), 4 GB RAM, 32 GB/64 GB internal storage (expandable up to 256 GB), Mali-T830 MP2 GPU

Camera: Dual camera with 16 MP primary lens and 2 MP secondary lens, PDAF, HDR, Portrait mode, video at 1080p with 30fps, 8 MP front camera

Security: Fingerprint Sensor and password for screen unlock

Battery: 3,340mAh, non-removable Li-Ion

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 and mini USB

Design and Build Quality

As a lower mid-range device, the Honor 7X looks impressively good and this is undoubtedly its strongest point. The body is made of metal which is housed around an aluminium frame. The body curves towards the screen from the edges and corners and the overall design has a clear resemblance to the iPhone 6’s design. Moreover, there are also antenna lines at the top and bottom of the backside of the body that again look familiar. The back side also has the fingerprint reader and the dual camera setup.

7x back side

 

At the front, there is the dominating 5.93-inch IPS LCD panel throwing a Full HD+ (1080p x 2160p) resolution. Honor says its edge-to-edge display but we would like to disagree here as there are decent (though not big) bezels present on the left and the right sides of the screen. Still, the display achieves the aspect ratio of 18:9 which is becoming quite a norm with various full-screen displays. There are no physical buttons at the front and the three Android function buttons appear on the screen at its bottom. At the top there is the speaker, a front camera and a tiny notification light.

7x front left

 

The bodywork in general is quite clean. The left side of it has nothing but the SIM tray while the right side has the volume and the Power buttons. There is nothing at the top and the bottom has one mic/speaker, a mini USB port and the 3.5mm audio jack.

7x front right

 

I would like to say here that the handset feels good in hand although it is quite slippery which isn’t surprising with a metal body. The Honor 7X manages to look like it would carry a higher price tag.

Display

The Full HD+ 5.93-inch display is generally good and I don’t have anything in particular to complain about it. The colour reproduction is good with decent vibrancy and generally impressive contrast. However, if you put it side by side against a flagship grade phone also with an IPS LCD panel (like an iPhone), you would notice that the iPhone has better colour accuracy. That said, the Honor 7X has one of the most impressive displays in its class at least.

7x display

Secondly, there are three colour modes available that can be accessed under Settings -> Colour Reproduction. These are – Default, Warm and Cold. As their names suggest, Default mode has the most natural White Balance (the tone of light/colours) whereas the Warm mode produces a yellowish tint on the overall display and the Cold mode renders a bluish nature to the colours.

The good thing is that even when the screen is looked at through different angles, the colour accuracy remains largely intact with virtually zero change in the White Balance (this is true for all three colour modes). This makes watching any kind of multimedia content a good experience whether it is videos or playing games.

Software and Interface

The Honor 7X runs a stock Android Nougat 7.0 along with Huawei’s own EMUI 5.1 interface on top of it. It is a light customization and feels mostly light during interaction.

The functionality of the OS and user-actions are all familiar. The Notification screen opens up as a drop-down by swiping down from the top of the screen. This screen also displays some basic settings like the screen brightness control, Wi-Fi, bluetooth, mobile data, hotspot and such. Holding down the finger on any of these settings would open up the page for that particular setting (for example, holding down on the Wi-Fi would open up the Wi-Fi screen where various connection options can be seen). The complete Settings screen can be accessed from here as well.

7x notification drop down

The three Android buttons appear at the bottom of the display. Other than performing their usual functions, holding down on the middle Home button also launches the voice assistant. The left and the right buttons are the Back and the App Switcher respectively. The 7X supports split-screen functionality for a number of apps and that can be done through the App Switcher.

The App Drawer scrolls vertically and does not loop to the top. The user must scroll back up. Not that it is a big deal in any way. Furthermore, the Settings screen contains two ‘Home Screen Styles’ by-default that are ‘Drawer’ and ‘Standard’. The Standard style gives a conventional look to the Home Screen with date and time along with various other apps present there. On the other hand, the Drawer style keeps the interface clean where maximum apps are to be accessed from the App Drawer.

7x Home screen styles

However, one can always install a launcher from various popular launchers available on the Play Store to enjoy certain interactive actions that might not be available by default. This is one of the biggest advantages of Android – customization options are plenty.

Performance and Gaming

First of all, passing a judgment on performance must be backed by the knowledge that the Honor 7X is, after all, a lower mid-range device. While no phone in existence should perform poorly or even below average, it must be understood that the threshold of what is an acceptable performance should ideally depend on the segment a phone belongs to.

So how is the Honor 7X to use daily? I would say it is average at best. The phone performs the most basic functions like making a call and exchanging SMSs (over various apps) flawlessly but sadly enough, it occasionally tends to stutter in other usual activities like browsing social media and exploring the net in general. There have been infrequent lags while, for example, scrolling Facebook and other such apps which is simply unacceptable for any smartphone. I would also like to make it clear that I do not keep multiple apps open in the background unless I’m using them at a particular time. So if I am checking out Facebook and there are Twitter and Instagram open in the background, that would be because I’m using them during that time. As far as I’m concerned, no app remains open in the background even for an extra couple of seconds if I don’t intend to use it at that time. This means that I do my best to keep the RAM free for an app which is currently being used. Given this condition, I find it simply unacceptable that the Honor 7X still delivers jerky performance even when this behavior is not really common.

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7x gaming

Unfortunately, my experience while playing a graphic heavy, car racing game like the Asphalt 8 is even worse. Twice, the handset completely froze and stopped responding while playing this game. I had to force-restart it to bring it back to normality. Also, the framerate tends to regularly drop a little during cut-scenes (short animated video clips in the game used to connect events or progress the story line) as well. It seems that the Mali-T830 MP2 GPU inside the 7X has trouble coping with rapidly changing graphics which is what happens in a modern car racing game as the scenery changes to another in fractions of seconds.

I didn’t face such severe issues while playing a First Person Shooter but it was never a completely smooth sailing experience with any graphic heavy game. Gladly, I did not face any issues with lighter games like the Subway Surfer and such. Still, one of the primary reasons for this phone to have a big screen display is to enjoy games (and not just watch videos), and it should deliver on that front better than it has so far irrespective of what segment this phone caters to.

Thankfully, I’m not an extensive mobile phone gamer and so my frequency to indulge in such games is pretty low. For this reason, I have been able to experience acceptable performance from the Honor 7X for all the other purposes that I use a phone for.

Also Read: Honor 7X vs Moto G5S Plus Performance Comparison

Fingerprint Sensor

One of the most common features in the smartphones of today, the fingerprint sensor makes its way into the the Honor 7X as well. It is at the back of the device and resides at a naturally central position. I have never missed it whenever I have had to use it. And the good news is, it works great.

The Honor 7X has one of the fastest fingerprint readers in the market currently. On its website, Huawei says that it reads the fingerprint in 0.25 seconds and even though I haven’t really checked the accuracy of it, the response time is indeed very quick. The screen is unlocked in a matter of fractions.

Also, it has worked flawlessly so far and this is one aspect of the 7X I’m absolutely satisfied with. It should be noted though that the fingerprint sensor doesn’t work with wet fingers.

Music and Audio Quality in General

For a large number of people, smartphones have completely replaced a dedicated portable music player like an iPod and that’s for good reason. In a broader view, smartphones deliver a satisfying music quality and if one has a good headphone and good quality of songs, there is literally nothing seriously left to complain. And this is very important, the quality of the music output depends a great deal on the quality of the music/songs saved in the phone, and also on the headphones/earphones/speakers. You can’t expect any music player to produce breathtaking music if the quality of the content and hardware is not good enough. Secondly, high-end or expensive headphones need more power to drive them at their full potential, and hence they ideally need a separate amplifier to receive the required current. Generally, headphones up to Rs 20,000 are the best bet for use with smarpthones.

Coming back to the Honor 7X, I have a Grado SR80i headphone with a Nominal Impedance of 32 ohms and it is fine to use with most smartphones. Also, my song collection is in lossless format so there is zero compromise on their quality. I have been having a satisfying time listening to my music collection on the Honor 7X and I haven’t found much to complain. Although, I do feel that they tend to make the high notes (like treble) a bit too bright or sharp for my liking in certain songs. Overall, the Honor 7X has left me with a good experience in this regard.

Secondly, the 5.93 inches screen is great for watching videos. This is one aspect where my iPhone SE clearly lacks with a 4-inch display. My view does not feel cramped on the 7X which tends to happen on the SE on regular basis when watching videos. So I can’t take any marks away from the Honor 7X in this aspect.

Camera Quality

I have extensively used the Honor 7X’s camera especially due to the fact that I have compared it with several other handsets in its class. And my impression is that it is far from being the best when compared to its competitors.

Usually the images are good but there are visible shortcomings in terms of colour accuracy and contrast. Especially when compared to a handset like the Moto G5S Plus, the images from the Honor 7X lack liveliness.

Here are some camera samples under different lighting conditions. Click on the images to see their larger versions.

7x camera sample

7x camera sample 2

7x camera sample 3

7x camera sample 4

7x camera sample 5

7x camera sample 6

Also Read: Honor 7X vs Xiaomi Mi A1 Camera Comparison

Also Read: Honor 7X vs Moto G5S Plus Camera Comparison

Also Read: Honor 7X vs Honor 6X Camera Comparison

Battery Backup

With a decently sized battery of 3,340mAh rating, I am left a bit disappointed with the length of life it provides in a single charge. It would generally last one full day but that wouldn’t include any level of heavy usage including literally zero video recording. Normal usage also means a standby time of around 6-7 hours. The backup decreases further when indulging in video watching, gameplay and any other processor heavy activity. In that case, I have had to charge the handset twice in a day. To put it simply, I would expect better battery performance than this when it says 3,340mAh on the spec sheet.

Perhaps future software updates might bring some improvements with the battery getting used in a more efficient manner especially in terms of the on-screen time. And this brings us to another problem with the Honor 7X – software updates.

Also Read: Honor 7X vs Moto G5S Plus Battery Comparison

Lack of OS Updates

When a good number of Android devices are moving, and are lined up, to upgrade to the Android Oreo, the Honor 7X is still rocking the Nougat 7.0 (and not even the 7.1.1). Huawei has its own EMUI skin and the 7X has the EMUI 5.1 version of it over the stock Nougat.

If you are someone who likes his or her smartphone to receive regular OS updates then the Honor 7X is most definitely not the ideal choice. For me, this is one of the biggest negative points of this device.

Summing It Up

7x wraping it up

On the face of it, the Honor 7X comes across as a capable device but its impressive physical appearance is quickly drowned by its average performance. The screen is big and good, but the phone struggles with graphic heavy games, so the big screen basically remains a bit underutilized even for a non-gamer. The camera produces usually acceptable results but most of the competition produces better images. And then there’s the under-performing 3,340mAh battery.

Having said that, the Honor 7X has mostly delivered trouble-free performance as far as most usual activities are concerned. And it definitely looks like it demands a higher price tag purely on the basis of its looks.

Would I buy it for myself? No, I’m mostly an iOS person so my preference lies with the other major OS. Secondly, I like the Apple ecosystem and I have enjoyed it immensely even with its so called restricted functionality. But I do have inclination towards a number of flagship Android devices, unfortunately though, the Honor 7X is not one. Ever if I consider a mid-ranger, I would choose the Moto G5S Plus any day over the 7X.

We would recommend this phone to anyone who wishes to have a big-screen phone on a tight budget but doesn’t indulge in heavy gaming (lighter games are no problem on this). It is great for watching videos and generally looking at any kind of multimedia content.

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