Affordable. Sleek build. Crisp edge-to-edge screen. Solid overall performance. Capable dual cameras.
No dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, or USB-C. Heavy UI layer.
- Bottom Line
The Huawei Honor 7X is a promising unlocked phone that boasts flagship-level features at an affordable $200 price.
There's never been a better time to be shopping for a new phone on a budget. The new Huawei Honor 7X, for instance, brings flagship-level features to buyers who wouldn't dream of spending $700-plus on a new device. For $199, the 7X gets you an 18:9 edge-to-edge display that maximizes screen real estate and minimizes bezel. You also get a sleek aluminum unibody build, solid specs, and a capable pair of rear cameras. It's looks like a strong rival to the Motorola Moto G5 Plus and we'll be testing it to see how it stacks up. In the meantime, we have some first impressions.
Design and Features
The Honor 7X departs from the Honor 6X in a few ways. While the phones share a metal unibody design, the 5.9-inch 7X is tall and narrow, measuring 6.2 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and 5.8 ounces. That's nearly identical to the 6-inch OnePlus 5T (6.2 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches, 5.7 ounces), and you get much more screen space than the similarly sized 5.2-inch G5 Plus (5.9 by 2.9 by 0.3 inches, 5.5 ounces).
I found it easy to reach across the phone, though stretching your fingers from top to bottom is more of a challenge. You do get quite a few customizable one-handed modes that let you shrink the screen, move the keyboard to the right or left, or place a floating navigation dock anywhere you want, so no matter your hand size you shouldn't have much trouble.
The fingerprint sensor is on the back, toward the middle, and within easy reach of your index finger. The camera sensors are in the top right corner, so there's little chance you'll smudge the lenses when unlocking the phone. A micro USB charging port is on the bottom, which is a bit of a bummer if you're hoping to make the switch to USB-C.
The front of the phone is home to a 5.9-inch, 2,160-by-1,080-pixel screen. The 407ppi screen isn't as dense as the G5 Plus (424 pixels per inch), but I wasn't able to see any pixelation. Color accuracy seems solid, and Huawei's Settings menu is loaded with customization options to change screen temperature and color saturation. Viewing angles are good, but brightness could be higher. The 7X is dimmer than the 6X, so it's harder to see outdoors under direct sunlight.
Interestingly, Huawei claims that while the 7X isn't up to any military standards for ruggedness, it is still durable thanks to "airbags" in each of its corners, so it can stand up to drops better than most phones. I won't be testing that until I've evaluated all of the phone's other features.
As you might guess from the price, specs are of the midrange variety. The US models sports a Kirin 659 processor clocked at 2.4GHz, 32GB of storage, and 3GB RAM. Huawei is selling a 7X with beefier storage and memory outside the US. Despite testing the base model, performance has been solid across the board. Opening and switching apps is smooth and responsive, and demanding games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Modern Combat 5 both run smoothly, aside from the occasional dropped frame.
Left to right: Honor 6X, Honor 7X
The 7X has a 3,340mAh battery that should give you plenty of screen time. For comparison, the OnePlus 5T's 3,300mAh battery lasted 7 hours, 10 minutes during our battery tested in which we streamed full-screen video over LTE at maximum brightness, so we expect the 7X to perform similarly.
The 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear cameras on the 7X seem to deliver pretty standard midrange performance. That means they take good, fairly crisp shots outdoors and in bright settings, but tend to get noisy in lower light. Outside, color reproduction is good, focus is fast, and there's minimal noise and grain. Indoors or in dim settings, things can be a little more dicey, with noisy or out-of-focus shots being somewhat common.
Pro mode lets you adjust things like white balance and ISO to improve clarity. There's also bokeh, a nifty feature that lets you focus on a foreground object and blur out the background. Video is available at 1080p; 4K capture isn't supported. An 8-megapixel front camera takes solid selfies, but hasn't changed much from the 6X.
When it comes to connectivity, the Honor 7X supports LTE bands 2/4/5/7/12/17, which should give it good connectivity on GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. It can take two SIM cards at the same time, one on 4G and one on 2G. It also supports Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz band and Bluetooth 4.1.
I've been using an early demo model, so I'm not exactly sure what software will end up on the edition that goes on sale in the US. However, the 7X will come running Android 7.1 Nougat with Huawei EMUI 5.1. Huawei says the phone will get an update to Android 8.0 Oreo in the future.
EMUI is a heavy software layer that alters app icons, the settings menu, and adds news features. By default, apps are splashed across the home screens, but you can enable the app drawer if you prefer it. There are also a slew of features like power-saving modes for the battery, performance-boosting modes, the aforementioned display tweaks, and gesture controls.
Bloatware seems fairly minimal, consisting mostly of Huawei apps. Out of 32GB of storage, the 7X I've been using has 22.37GB. It can take a microSD card up to 256GB instead of a second SIM card if you need more storage. At press time adaptive storage isn't supported, so the memory card will appear as a separate volume in Android. We'll see if that changes when we receive a finalized phone for evaluation.
At $200, the Honor 7X is priced similarly to the Moto G5 Plus. It has a sleek build that incorporates a tall, 18:9 aspect ratio to maximize screen real estate, along with solid overall performance, and decent camera capabilities. The phone is available for preorder now, and ships December 14. Check back for a full review and to see how it stacks up against the G5 Plus and other competitors.
By Ajay Kumar Mobile Analyst
Ajay Kumar is PCMag's Analyst obsessed with all things mobile. Ajay reviews phones, tablets, accessories, and just about any other gadget that can be carried around with you. In his spare time he games on the rig he built himself, collects Nintendo amiibos, and tries his hand at publishing a novel. Follow Ajay on Twitter @Ajay_H_Kumar. More »
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