Earlier this year, the $250 Honor 6X was launched in the US, which at the time was a third of the price of the iPhone 7 Plus. Today, we have the Honor 7X launching at just $199, one fifth the price of the Apple iPhone X.
Flagship phone prices have skyrocketed to starting levels of $1,000. In the past a sub-$400 Android phone was usually a terrible experience that got worse over time. That is no longer the case.
While Apple and Samsung have pushed the high end price and technology, Chinese manufacturers have significantly improved the mid to low end of the smartphone market and even regularly update these phones. You can now find compelling phones from $200 to $500 that provide nearly the same functionality as flagships with compromises usually taking place in camera performance and other advanced technology.
I've been using the $199 Honor 7X for several days and it's rather stunning to me what you get for that low price. I definitely recommend it for a first phone or for someone who drops their phones a lot and wants a low consequence device.
- Processor: Kirin 659, octa-core with Mali T830-MP2 GPU
- Display: 5.93 inch 2160x1080 pixels resolution 18:9 LCD (407 ppi) with 2.5D glass
- Operating system: Huawei EMUI 5.1 based on Android 7 Nougat
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB internal with microSD card slot
- Cameras: Rear dual 16 megapixel and 2 megapixel cameras with phase detection auto focus and depth of field effects. Front 8 megapixel camera.
- Battery: 3340 mAh
- Wireless connectivity: FM radio, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
- Dimensions: 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm and 165 grams
The US model is L24. There are two other variants with more RAM and internal storage and with different operating frequencies.
There is no NFC chip so Android Pay cannot be used on this phone. It also supports the older microUSB connector for charging. There have to be some compromises for $199. The Honor 7X does have a 3.5mm headset jack though.
Hardware first thoughts
The evaluation phone was handed to me and I opened it up prior to revelation of the price. As I perused the aluminum unibody design, minimal bezels and 18:9 display, and dual rear cameras, my first thought was that this was going to be priced in the $299 to $349 range. The Honor 6X was priced at $250, with the 7X improving on the display, processor, and rear camera resolution so I thought it was natural to increase the price. $199 makes this phone tough to beat.
The display looks great and as I have mentioned before, even on phones with higher resolution displays I reduce to 1080p since that looks the same to me as higher resolutions and it saves a bit of battery life. The Honor FullView Display with its 18:9 aspect ratio works well here and the sides, top, and bottom bezels are minimal. I enjoyed watching movies on the display and found the mono bottom speaker to also be quite loud and clear.
The Honor 6X had its dual cameras stacked vertically and the ones on the Honor 7X follow a similar design to the Honor 8 and Huawei P9. The secondary, low resolution camera is used to provide data to the camera software for wide aperture mode and portrait effects. I've only taken a few shots with the Honor 7X so far and will be spending more time with the camera over the next couple of weeks.
The rear fingerprint scanner works very well and has the additional functionality Huawei is known for with notification swipe, photo browsing, and more.
Software first thoughts
The Honor 7X runs EMUI 5.1, based on Android 7 Nougat. This version of EMUI provides a fairly stock Android experience with a few Huawei apps. These include Backup, Email, Calendar, FM Radio, Gallery, Health, Messaging, Mirror, Music, Notepad, Voice Recorder, Weather, Videos, and Themes. Most of these are utilties and other apps that enhance the stock Android experience. Unlike US carrier branded devices, there are no dumb games or excessive bloatware installed.
There are several different options for customizing your experience, including navigation button arrangement, detailed notification and status bar customization, smart assistance settings (double tap to turn on display is one option), and more. I also enabled the standard app drawer home screen setup on the evaluation device.
Daily usage, price, and availability
AppleCare for the new iPhone X is $199, so when you realize that you can buy an entire phone, the Honor 7X, for the price of just insurance on a $1,000 iPhone X it makes you think long and hard about the high cost of Apple's newest flagship.
I've only been using the Honor 7X for five days, but haven't noticed any lag in performance and haven't had to compromise on any daily usage experience except for mobile photography. I already recommended the Honor 7X to a coworker whose wife is looking for a reasonably priced phone to use with Metro PCS and this is definitely a phone to consider.
Pre-orders for the $199 Honor 7X begin today with availability in mid-December. It will be available in the US in black and blue.