Honor 7X

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Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Af­ter the jaw-drop­ping Xiaomi Mi Mix back in 2016, phone man­u­fac­tur­ers quickly started launch­ing ‘bezel-less’ phones. And many de­cided to cram in a larger screen rather than make a phys­i­cally smaller phone. They did this by mak­ing it taller with an 18:9 as­pect ra­tio in­stead of 16:9. 18:9 is su­per fash­ion­able, but un­til now with the 7X, was out of reach for those on a bud­get. Even the OnePlus 5T costs

£449, which is the very top of mid-range. The Honor looks a lot like Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro, but saves on cost to bring the price right down.

De­sign

Let’s start with the screen, as it’s the most ob­vi­ous fea­ture. On pa­per the specs – 5.93in, 18:9 as­pect, 2160x1080 res­o­lu­tion – could fool you into think­ing it’s the same dis­play as the Mate 10 Pro. But it isn’t.

OLED screens are more ex­pen­sive, so Honor has gone for an IPS panel in the 7X. It makes sense, and it’s still a great screen. View­ing an­gles are wide, it’s nice and bright and colours are sur­pris­ingly vi­brant.

Ob­vi­ously it doesn’t have the op­tion of an al­ways-on clock with no­ti­fi­ca­tions, but it still looks im­pres­sive with tiny size bezels and much smaller top and bot­tom bor­ders than other phones at this level.

There’s no room for a fin­ger­print reader so this is on the back in the mid­dle. You’ll also find a pair of cam­eras at the top with an LED flash. Rather than spoil­ing the de­sign, the an­ten­nae lines add a bit of in­ter­est to the oth­er­wise fea­ture­less ex­panse of matt-fin­ish alu­minium.

Talk­ing of fin­ish, the 7X comes in black or blue – the gold ver­sion won’t be sold in the UK.

The bot­tom edge re­veals a stan­dard head­phone jack, mi­cro­phone and mono speaker and – slightly strange at the end of 2017 – a Mi­cro-USB port. Maybe the 2018 Honor phones will move to USB-C. In any case, it makes it easy to charge as you’ll find Mi­cro-USB ca­bles just about ev­ery­where you go.

Noth­ing but a pin­hole for a mi­cro­phone breaks up the top edge: the SIM tray sits at the top of

the left-hand side and takes a pair of nano SIMs. Al­ter­na­tively, if you want ex­tra stor­age you can in­sert a mi­croSD card in­stead of a sec­ond SIM.

It isn’t un­rea­son­able to ex­pect some wa­ter­proof­ing from a cheaper phone, as the Moto G5 Plus demon­strates, but while the 7X doesn’t have any Honor goes out of its way to talk about build qual­ity. It says it has strength­ened all four cor­ners of the phone so it can bet­ter with­stand drops. We’d still rec­om­mend us­ing a case, but un­like with Huawei phones you don’t get one in the 7X’s box.

Per­for­mance

In­ter­nally, the specs are mid-range: a Kirin 659 pro­ces­sor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of stor­age. The lat­ter two are gen­er­ous, but over­all per­for­mance is in line

with what you’d ex­pect: this isn’t a flag­ship-ri­valling de­vice, and it isn’t meant to be.

Bench­mark re­sults show that isn’t far from su­per­fast, but in real-world use it’s per­fectly quick. Apps may take a lit­tle longer to launch, but they run smoothly and you can run most games (such as Asphalt 8 and Poké­mon GO) with­out is­sue: they won’t look quite as good as on much faster phones, but they also won’t run like the slideshows we saw in GFXBench, which is de­signed to high­light the dif­fer­ences be­tween phones.

Honor is work­ing with cer­tain de­vel­op­ers in­clud­ing Gameloft to op­ti­mize games for the 18:9 screen so you see more of a scene. With most games, forc­ing them to use the en­tire screen just crops them so you

ac­tu­ally see less (as is the case with all 18:9 screens at the mo­ment).

Bat­tery life, from our week­end of test­ing, shows that the 3,340mAh bat­tery can make it through a whole day with nor­mal use, but it drains quickly if you’re play­ing games. There’s no fast charg­ing, so you’ll prob­a­bly end up con­nect­ing the charger each night when you go to bed.

Cam­eras

The main cam­era has a 16Mp sen­sor and uses PDAF for fo­cus­ing in a claimed 0.18 sec­onds. The sec­ond cam­era has a 2Mp sen­sor and is sim­ply used for depth sens­ing rather than cap­tur­ing photos or video. It means you get the same por­trait and wide-aper­ture modes that you’ll find on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and the stock cam­era app is es­sen­tially the same mi­nus a cou­ple of fea­tures, and the Le­ica brand­ing.

One of those is video sta­bil­i­sa­tion: the 7X doesn’t have any. It’s lim­ited to record­ing at 1080p30 with no 60fps op­tion, so this will put some off.

There’s an 8Mp selfie cam and you can en­able depth ef­fect for blurry back­grounds. Thanks to ges­ture sup­port you can wave and get a count­down for group shots. In selfie mode there’s the ex­pected beauty mode, but you can also ap­ply fun masks and ef­fects.

Photo qual­ity isn’t amaz­ing from the main cam­era. It’s best in good light, where photos look sharp and have good de­tail lev­els. HDR isn’t au­to­matic, so you have to se­lect this from the list of modes if you think it’s needed. This was taken with HDR (im­age 1) on a gloomy day, but even so we’d ex­pect colours to be a

bit warmer. The por­trait mode works well, though, and you can switch to the wide-aper­ture mode when tak­ing a photo of some­thing that isn’t a per­son. You also have lots of other modes, in­clud­ing light paint­ing, time-lapse and slo-mo to play with.

Video de­faults to 720p, so make sure you choose 1080p to get the best pos­si­ble qual­ity. The lack of sta­bil­i­sa­tion means you need to keep the phone as still as pos­si­ble, but video and au­dio qual­ity is rea­son­ably good.

In low light, in­clud­ing in­doors at night with ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing, you can eas­ily no­tice the drop in qual­ity (2): photos lack de­tail and sharp­ness, which is pre­sum­ably caused by a lot of noise re­duc­tion. You also need to

make sure your sub­ject stays still: we ended up with a lot of blurry photos of ex­citable an­i­mals and chil­dren.

Soft­ware

The 7X doesn’t have Oreo, but it’s pos­si­ble Honor will re­lease an up­date in the not too dis­tant fu­ture. Out of the box you get An­droid 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1 – older than the EMUI 8 you’ll find on the Mate 10 Pro.

Still, the in­ter­face is pretty much iden­ti­cal and it’s hard to spot many dif­fer­ences be­tween the ver­sions. For those un­fa­mil­iar with EMUI, it’s looks a lot like Sam­sung’s TouchWiz and the de­fault set­ting of plac­ing all apps on home screens makes it very fa­mil­iar to iOS users. It has some nifty fea­tures such

as dou­ble-tap­ping the screen to wake it, and dou­blepress­ing the vol­ume-down but­ton to launch the cam­era app. You have to en­able these through the set­tings as they’re dis­abled by de­fault.

There’s one-key split-screen so you can carry on watch­ing a video (on Net­flix, say) while you re­ply to an email or mes­sage. You’ll also find the same App Twin menu op­tion, but un­like the Mate 10 Pro, you can only sign into two Face­book ac­counts – there’s no op­tion for What­sApp or Mes­sen­ger here.

Like EMUI 8, you’ll get warn­ings when apps are us­ing a lot of power in the back­ground and it’s gen­er­ally help­ful for stop­ping lots of apps run­ning, free­ing up mem­ory with one tap.

For au­dio, you get Huawei’s His­ten ef­fects, which lets you ei­ther play with the EQ or en­able a ‘3D sound’ mode where you can ad­just a slider from Near to Front to Wide. Un­like on the Mate 10 Pro, those 3D modes seemed in­ef­fec­tive, and it was far more use­ful hav­ing a cus­tomis­able equaliser to add bass.

Ver­dict

Honor does pretty much ev­ery­thing right with the 7X. It looks like a much more ex­pen­sive phone than it is, has a head­phone jack and of­fers a choice of dual-SIM or ex­pand­able mem­ory. The 18:9 screen is great to use, and most apps work okay when forced to fill it. Bat­tery life is good and cam­eras are ac­cept­able, but not ex­cel­lent. The bot­tom line is that Honor has put to­gether a de­cent phone that gives you an 18:9 screen which looks like a flag­ship for far less than flag­ship prices. Jim Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 5.93in full-HD (2160x1080, 407ppi) IPS dis­play

• An­droid 7.0 Nougat

• HiSil­i­con Kirin 659 pro­ces­sor

• Octa-core (4x 2.36GHz Cor­tex-A53 and 4x 1.7GHz Cor­tex-A53) CPU

• Mali-T830 MP2 GPU

• 4GB RAM

• 64GB stor­age, mi­croSD up to 256GB

• Fin­ger­print scan­ner (rear mounted)

• Dual: 16Mp and 2Mp, phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, LED flash

• 8Mp, 1080p

• 3.5mm head­phone jack

• 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 4.1

• A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS

• Mi­cro-USB 2.0

• Non-re­mov­able lithium-poly­mer 3,340mAh bat­tery

• 156.5x75.3x7.6mm

• 165g

The fin­ger­print reader is lo­cated on the rear of the phone

GFXBench T-Rex

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