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Honor 7X hands-on: The new mid-range smartphone king

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The Honor 6X was the big early surprise of 2017. It had a dual 12-megapixel camera, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, a snappy Kirin 655 processor and a Full HD 5.5in display – and all that for the ludicrously cheap price of £225. With such a tough act to follow, the Honor 7X was always going to have its work cut out but on first appearances, it looks to be even better, squeezing in a flagship-style FHD+ 18:9 display at a price that’s likely to come in considerably lower than even the OnePlus 5T.

We’ll be looking to do a full review soon when we’ve had a chance to test out the phone fully, but here are our early impressions.

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Honor 7X review: What you need to know

While the Honor 6X was incredibly impressive, the Honor 7X pushes the boat out even further. It has a big 6in FHD+ 18:9 display, which could make it the cheapest phone with a stretched aspect-ratio display on the market, and it looks like an updated Honor 8 Pro.

It likely won’t match flagships at the top of the market for pure performance, camera quality and battery life, but first impressions are that this is a solid mid-range unit that could challenge

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Honor 7X hands-on: Price and release date

UK pricing for the Honor 7X has yet to be confirmed, but Honor has disclosed the phone’s release date: 5 December 2017. Based on the Honor 6X’s price of £225, I expect the Honor 7X to come in at around or even slightly below the £300 mark, a price that would make it an undeniable bargain; there’s no other stretched aspect-ration phone on the market that will come remotely close to that.

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Honor 7X hands-on: Key specs

  • Display: 5.93in (1,080 x 2,160) IPS
  • Processor: 2.36GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB expandable by 256GB via microSD
  • Camera: Dual 16MP/2MP rear; 8MP front
  • Connectivity: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.1, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB port
  • Operating system: Android 7.0 (EMUI 5.1)

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Honor 7X hands-on: Design and build quality

The first thing I noticed when picking up the Honor 7X is its stunning 5.93in (1,080 x 2,160) 18:9 display. The elongated display makes a massive difference. At first glance, I found the screen to be rich in colour, extremely bright and, despite the low-ish resolution (other 18:9 phones have higher resolution), perfectly sharp.

Honor has, oddly, opted to stick with a dated micro USB port for the Honor 7X, which means the 7X cannot be fast charged, nor does it have NFC for wireless charging or mobile payments. On the plus side, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a downward-firing speaker and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which given Honor’s previous record, ought to unlock the phone pretty quickly.

The phone is beautifully built. Its design inspiration comes from the most underrated large-screened phone I’ve reviewed, the Honor 8 Pro, and the design looks great on the 7X. It’s available in its blue and black and although it doesn’t have the glitzy glass construction of the Honor 9, its anodised aluminium rear does look suitably smart.

Plus, Honor has strengthened the phone’s chassis by reinforcing its four corners. It probably won’t do too well in a face-down belly flop onto concrete but during our press briefing, an Honor representative dropped it onto carpeted floor from waist level without the screen cracking – impressive.

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Honor 7X hands-on: Camera

The camera, too, looks to be a notch up from the Honor 6X. The Honor 7X has a dual rear-facing 16-megapixel camera, with a second 2-megapixel sensor used solely to add image depth for portrait images. Its camera uses Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) for a quick point and shoot, and the front-facing 8-megapixel camera also has the Bokeh effect setting.

Low-light photography isn’t its forte, as I found the sensor picked up a lot of image noise and, with flash enabled, colours take on an unwanted yellow-tint.

Honor 7X hands-on: Performance

Inside the Honor 7X is a 2.36GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor and 4GB of RAM. This gives it a slightly snappier experience over the Honor 6X but the difference is negligible, both in terms of raw speed and GPU capabilities, so don’t expect to play the most intensive games on the 7X, or do lots of multi-tasking.

It packs a 3,340mAh battery, which is the same that’s in the Honor 6X so I don’t expect it to do all that well, especially with that larger screen. And the Honor 6X wasn’t exactly the last word in stamina; it lasted a mere 11hrs 19mins, which is distinctly average in that test.

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Honor 7X hands-on: Early verdict

The Honor 7X is a nice-looking smartphone and it looks as if it’s going to be a real tempter, but everything hangs on the price. If it comes in close to the level of the Honor 6X, it’ll be in a league of its own. If it’s closer in price to Honor’s flagship, the Honor 9, it’ll be far tougher to recommend.

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