Review: Honor 7X
The Honor 7X is an affordable handset from Huawei that offers modern features in an attractive piece of hardware. This Android smartphone includes a metal-and-glass design, dual cameras with portrait mode, and a large 2:1 display. For those who prefer unlocked smartphones, the Honor 7X is a contender with considering. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.
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Is It Your Type?
The Honor 7X, made by Huawei, is an affordable, unlocked Android handset that serves as an alternative to carrier-branded devices. It adopts many modern must-haves, including a metal chassis, 2:1 display, and dual camera array. It's one of the first to deliver all of these things at this low of a price. Does Huawei's budget brand deliver the goods? We have the answer.
The Honor 7X is an update to last year's Honor 6X. It makes measurable strides in design, materials, and performance.
The 7X is formed by a unibody aluminum chassis that serves as the entire rear panel of the phone and side edges. A curved, 2.5D glass panel sits within the chassis. The 7X has rounded corners and edges that bend pleasingly around the side of the phone. One might call the shape similar to that of the iPhone 7/8. The aluminum chassis is strong and sturdy, while the glass is polished and smooth. The different paint options (blue, gold, black) have a pleasant matte finish to them.
It's not a unique handset by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a huge improvement over the uneven look of the 6X. More importantly, the design goes toe-to-toe with the options on carrier shelves — and sometimes kicks them in the shins.
The 7X may be slim, but it isn't compact. The large 2:1 screen means the phone stands pretty tall at 6.15 inches. Thankfully it measures under 3 inches wide, which helps keep hand fit somewhat in check. I think some people will consider the phone too big, but I like the size. Huawei did well to keep the thickness to 7.6mm. Due to the smooth shape and narrow profile, the phone slips into most pockets without trouble.
The metal chassis and glass panel are well-made and put together tightly. You can't ask for a nicer blend of materials and construction. It puts similarly priced plastic handsets to shame. The weight is fine and gives me confidence in the phone's quality.
The phone's face is similar to others that rely on the 2:1 aspect ratio display. There are practically no bezels along the side edges, and Honor kept the top and bottom bezels in check. The speaker grille and user-facing camera are barely visible above the screen, while the Honor logo is plainly visible below thanks to reflective chrome paint. There are no physical buttons on the front, as the 7X makes use of on-screen controls.
You'll find the volume toggle and screen lock button on the phone's right edge. They don't quite stick out enough. The volume toggle is closer to the top. It's flat and smooth. Travel and feedback is just okay. The screen lock button is a bit closer to the 7X's waist. I didn't have any trouble finding it, though it feels slightly mushy when pressed.
Honor tucked the SIM card tray in the left edge of the phone, close to the top. It also supports memory cards, or a second SIM card if you wish.
The 7X includes a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, but perplexingly relies on microUSB rather than USB-C for charging. This is a major misstep these days, even for a budget phone.
I really like the smooth, flat look of the rear panel. You'll see some antenna lines crossing the back near the top and bottom edges. A fingerprint sensor is positioned perfectly on the back. It's indented a bit, making it easy to find and use. The 7X includes two rear cameras, which are perched close to the top of the phone. Each of the circular lenses protrudes just a little bit. They sort of look like frog eyes.
The unibody construction means the battery is inaccessible. The phone is not designed to be "rugged", nor is it water-resistant.
In sum, Honor has crafted a fine piece of hardware for the money.
The 5.93-inch display adopts the 2:1 aspect ratio with HD+ resolution (2,160 by 1,080 pixels). This is almost identical to the size/resolution of Huawei's Mate 10 Pro flagship device, though the Honor 7X uses LCD technology.
The screen is sharp and bright. The screen offers solid pixel density (401ppi) for clean icons, text, and graphics. The LCD panel puts out plenty of light for use indoors; I thought it worked well outdoors, too. Colors are accurate. I noticed significant brightness drop when the screen is viewed at an angle, but there's no color change.
You really can't ask for a better screen at this price point.
The phone includes several software tools for tweaking color saturation, brightness, eye fatigue, and such.
Huawei sells the Honor 7X unlocked. It supports LTE Bands 2 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 12 / 17, which gives it basic support for AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. It lacks support for either carrier's newer LTE bands, such as AT&T's 29/30 or T-Mobile's band 66. I tested the phone on T-Mobile's network in and around NYC and was pleased overall.
The phone latched onto T-Mobile's network and offered 4G service nearly everywhere I took it. Data speeds were on par with similar-class phones. The phone did well when it came to perusing social networks, checking email, and the like. Streaming media was mostly good, though I some some buffering and low-resolution audio/video performance from time to time.
Calls connected consistently on the first dial, but the phone dropped several calls at highway speeds.
If you ever bother to make calls with the Honor 7X, you'll be happy with the way they sound. I know I was. Voices come through the earpiece with clarity and punch. I did have to keep the volume set all the way up most of the time, but when I did, I was able to hold conversations in most places I took the phone. Whether I was in a coffee shop, busy mall, or windy alleyway, the 7X gave me the earpiece power I needed to talk to people. Those I spoke to through the 7X said I sounded "pretty good."
The speakerphone delivers solid performance. It can produce enough volume for use at home, in the office, and even a moving car. You will need to turn it up all the way in the car, and doing so introduces quite a bit of scratchy distortion.
Ringers and alerts did their job, and the vibrate alert managed to get my attention when needed.
Huawei selected a good-sized 3,340mAh battery for the Honor 7X and it does a fine job. The 7X pushes from breakfast to bedtime without breaking into an electronic sweat. On most days I tested the handset it was still holding onto about 30% battery capacity by the time I was ready to call it a day, even under the most intense use. That bodes well for most people.
Disappointingly, the 7X doesn't support rapid charging, nor wireless charging.
Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi
I didn't run into any issues using the 7X's bastion of secondary radios. Bluetooth, for example, paired and connected with a variety of devices including phones, PCs, speakers, and headsets. Phone calls sent through my car's hands-free system were above average and calls patched via headphones sounded very good. Music pushed to a pair of Bluetooth headphones wasn't as clear or punchy as I would have liked.
The phone does not include an NFC radio, which is a shame.
As a navigation tool, the 7X performed as well as any other unlocked phone. The GPS radio pinpointed me rapidly and to within about 25 feet most of the time. It coordinated with Google Maps and worked fine when put to use for voice-guided, point-to-point directions.
The 7X's WiFi radio did its job.
For those who still listen to FM radio, you'll be happy to learn that the 7X has you covered. As long as you have some wired headphones handy (a common requirement), you can enjoy your favorite FM stations on the go.
Hands On with the Honor 7X and V10
Huawei's Honor 7X and Honor V10 are compelling, affordable handsets. Both offer aluminum unibody construction, dual cameras, and 2:1 displays.
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