The trend of bezel-less displays is rapidly catching up on mid-budget smartphones. The LG Q6 and Micromax Canvas Infinity opened up consumers to the idea of low-cost bezel-less phones. The Honor 7X is the latest phone to enter this zone with what the brand calls a ‘FullView’ display. It is Honor’s third device in 2017 and an upgrade to the 6X launched earlier this year. The phone is positioned in a competitive price range already filled with popular names like Xiaomi Mi A1 and Moto G5S Plus. On paper, the 7X has everything the competition has, plus a FullView bezel-less display. But in reality, does it live up to the massive expectations Honor has set for the phone? Let’s find out.
If one could describe Honor 7X’s design in just one word, it would be: ‘premium’. The phone is clad in a metal build and feels as good to hold as it looks. I used the Black colour variant but it is also available in Gold and Blue. I would prefer the Black model any day, given how elegant it looks. I am habituated of using phones without a cover so I didn’t find it slippery but some users might face this issue due to the metal finish.
Most of the phone’s front is occupied by the display. The bezels on all sides are quite thin. The upper one houses the earpiece, front camera, notification LED light along with the proximity and ambient light sensor. The lower chin just has the ‘Honor’ branding and nothing else. You get software navigation keys instead of physical ones.
On the right side, there are volume rockers and the power button. Whereas the sim tray is housed on the left. There are no ports on the top, just the noise cancellation mic. On the bottom, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro-USB port and speaker grills. It would have been great if this phone had USB Type-C. The Mi A1 and Billion Capture+ have it, both being in the same price range.
Rear side of the phone is where the dual-camera setup and its accompanying LED flash sit, both are positioned on the top left corner. The fingerprint sensor is positioned on the back in a way that makes it easily reachable. It is quick and accurate almost every time.
Overall, the phone looks good, feels premium and isn’t too bulky either. For me, design of the Honor 7X is arguably the best part about the phone.
Display & Audio
Honor has been promoting the 7X with the tagline ‘Max your View’. And without a doubt, the 5.99-inch Full HD+ display justifies the tagline completely. The screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio. In layman terms, it means one side of the display equals twice of the other side. The phone has a curvy design and the 2.5D glass on top aligns well with it. It is also protected with Corning Gorilla Glass but the version isn’t specified by Honor.
The display output is good for most parts, but comparing it with Mi A1 or even Redmi Note 4 for that matter, reveals its weaknesses. The colour reproduction isn’t fully accurate which makes some colours look saturated and dull. Even the sharpness could have been better. This is mostly evident while you watch an HD video or browse through pictures. In other cases, the above mentioned flaws are hardly noticeable. If you individually see the display, things mostly seem fine. But in comparison, it pales.
The display is FullView though, this is where it edges out the competition. The 18:9 screen feels immersive while you play games or watch movies. When the whole screen is filled with content, the viewing experience is considerably enhanced. It feels way better than what a 16:9 display is capable of producing.
The speaker is positioned at the bottom and is loud enough. In indoor conditions, a group can comfortably watch a video or listen to music together.
The Honor 7X fits a dual-camera setup on the rear that includes a 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel sensor combination. It has PDAF (Phase Detection Auto-focus) which works fast and aids in quick focussing. Pictures from the rear camera can be termed decent at best. The colours seem oversaturated, especially in outdoor pictures. Even the portrait mode didn’t live up to my expectations. It blurs out the background but the edges are sacrificed as well. If I had to rate the overall rear camera performance, it would be 3.5 out of 5.
The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor which isn’t too great either. There are numerous options/modes provided for the selfie camera but the final output didn’t seem satisfactory to me. The pictures look warm and colours seem inaccurate. At times, selfies look a bit grainy as well.
The rear camera can record Full HD videos at 1080p while the front camera can record at a maximum of 720p.
On the upside, Honor’s camera app does a good job of highlighting the numerous modes for both the cameras. One of the features I liked is the ‘Ultra-Shot’ mode. It lets you click a picture instantly even when your phone is idle and the screen is off. Just press the volume down button twice and it will automatically click a picture. You can also configure this feature to trigger the camera app where you can manually click a picture.
Pictures clicked from the Honor 7X:
Performance, Software & Storage
Performance of the Honor 7X has a few hits and misses. Although the raw specifications seem good, the actual real-world usage has some hindrances. There are two variants of the phone, both of which come with 4GB of RAM. It is powered by Kirin 659, Honor’s in-house octa-core processor.
Gamers will be disappointed with the graphic performance of Honor 7X for sure. We tried the Asphalt 8 (just like all reviewers :P) and it was plagued with frame drops right from the beginning. Even the loading time was slightly longer. Low-graphic games run smoothly but it isn’t something worth boasting from a phone of this stature. The device also heats up after a 15-20 minute gaming or video-watching session.
For non-gamers, the performance should be smooth in most cases. It handles multi-tasking well and there were very minor UI lags. App loading times aren’t mind-blowing but they won’t disappoint you either.
I personally prefer custom skins over stock Android. So in my opinion, Honor’s EMUI is among the best custom Android skins out there, along with Xiaomi’s MIUI. If you like stock Android, Honor’s custom OS won’t let you down as much as other Chinese skins. There are ample number of customizations and even the UI looks quite clean. But one disappointing thing about the software is that it’s full of bloatware. In total, there were 58 apps pre-installed in the phone out-of-the-box!
The phone has EMUI 5.1 running on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. There’s no word from Honor regarding Android Oreo update for Honor 7X as of now.
On the storage front, the phone has two variants. One comes with 32GB and the other one has 64GB of internal storage. The phone also gets a hybrid slot so you can choose between an extra SIM or extra storage. Expandable memory is limited to 256GB on the Honor 7X.
The battery performance comes with its own set of pros and cons. Although the standby time is great, it drains rapidly while playing a game or watching videos. Honor claims that the 7X should be able to last more than a day but it wasn’t the case with us. The phone barely manages to get through a day. If you play games or watch videos in your regular usage, the battery will surely give up before the day ends. The charging time is quite unimpressive too. To charge from 0 to 100, the phone took approximately 2 hr 45 minutes which is way longer than normal! In comparison, the Mi A1 fully charges up in just ~1 hr 50 minutes and the Moto G5S Plus takes ~1 hr 40 minutes for the same.
Price & Verdict
The phone is priced at Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB RAM + 32GB storage model and Rs. 15,999 for the 64GB storage with the same amount of RAM. I found this pricing a bit weird as many would hesitate to shell out extra Rs. 3000 just for additional 32GB storage. Since it has a microSD slot, those who don’t want two SIM’s can easily upgrade the storage by buying a much cheaper microSD card (a 32GB microSD card costs Rs. 699 by the way).
Honor has intended this phone to offer a bezel-less display and dual cameras at a low price. But the 7x misses more than it hits. Apart from the absolutely gorgeous design, I wouldn’t buy this phone for anything else. Almost all the other aspects are marred with flaws. Especially when compared against the likes of Mi A1 or Moto G5S Plus, they are way better phones overall. Except of course, one thing: the FullView display. If you really want an edge-to-edge display and don’t care much about anything else, go for the Honor 7X. Else, take a look at the competing smartphones.