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Honor 7X review: The new mid-range smartphone king with an 18:9 display

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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 it looks to be even better, squeezing in a flagship-style FHD+ 18:9 display at only £270. That’s £180 cheaper than the new OnePlus 5T.

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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 makes it the cheapest phone with a stretched aspect-ratio display and in terms of looks, it’s just like an updated Honor 8 Pro.

It doesn’t match flagships at the top end of the market for pure performance, camera quality and battery life, but this is a solid mid-range smartphone with unique appeal at its price.

READ NEXT: Honor 6X review: A dual-camera Moto G4 Plus adversary

Honor 7X review: Price and competition

The Honor 7X costs £270, that’s more than £70 more than the Honor 6X – a phone that can now be bought for under £200. The 6X doesn’t have an 18:9 display, its camera is lower-resolution camera than the 7X, and it has an older generation processor.

At only £270, the Honor 7X sits in a unique position. At this price, there’s no 18:9 smartphone, the closest are the OnePlus 5T and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, which cost £450 and £410 respectively. These flagship phones have much faster processors than the Honor 7X. Then there’s the Honor 9, which at around £330, is an absolute steal. However, it has a standard 16:9 display.

Another pair of 16:9 phones you might want to consider are the £176 Moto G5S and £258 Moto G5S Plus.

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Honor 7X review: 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)

Honor 7X review: Design and build quality

The first thing I noticed when picking up the Honor 7X was its 5.93in (1,080 x 2,160) 18:9 display. The elongated display gives it that flagship look and on a phone costing under £300, it’s a huge bonus.

The phone is beautifully built, too. Its design inspiration comes from the most underrated phone I’ve reviewed – the Honor 8 Pro. Honor has made a couple of odd design decisions, though. It’s gone with a dated micro USB port for charging and data transfer, which means the 7X cannot be fast charged, nor does it have NFC for wireless charging or contactless payments.

On the plus side, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and a centrally positioned, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which unlocks the phone in double-quick time.

READ NEXT: Honor 8 Pro review: Honor’s big smartphone is still a fantastic bargain

Honor 7X review: Display

The Honor 7X’s display doesn’t have the highest resolution at 1,080 x 2,160 but, unless you plan on using it in a VR headset, this doesn’t have a particularly negative impact and it’s about on par with rivals. In comparison, the Honor 6X and Honor 9 have an 16:9 (1,080 x 1,920) display.

Tested with our Xrite i1 DisplayPro calibrator, the 7X achieved a mediocre 85.3% sRGB gamut coverage, which is near-identical to the Moto G5S, and a touch lower than the 89.2% achieved by the Honor 6X. Colours on the 7X aren’t overly accurate, with an average Delta E of 2.46 (lower is better and anything below 2 is superb). Still, colours are rich and there’s nothing particularly wonky about the way the screen looks to the eye.

For an IPS display, the Honor 7X has an extraordinarily high contrast ratio of 2,109:1, which is part of why the display looks so vibrant. At its peak brightness of 499cd/m², the 7X is readable in most conditions, although you may need to shade the screen with your hand in really high ambient light.

Honor 7X review: Performance

Inside 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. In short, don’t expect to play the most intensive games on the 7X, or do lots of multitasking, but it’s fine for most other duties.

^ Honor 7X Geekbench 4 benchmark

In GFXBench, the differences between the sub-£300 phones are minute, but in comparison to the more expensive Honor 9 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, there’s a big difference.

^ Honor 7X GFXBench

The Honor 7X packs a 3,340mAh battery, which is the same size as the one in the Honor 6X. Due to its smaller screen, the 6X lasts longer in our video rundown benchmark test. At only 9hrs 47mins, the 7X is mediocre and outclassed by the 6X’s 11hrs 19mins battery life. Still, the Honor 7X will last you a full day of normal usage. You will, however, need to use a powerbank if you want to use the 7X for hours of Pokemon GO.

^ Honor 7X battery life

As for software, Honor uses its own Android overlay here – EMUI 5.1 – which runs on a basis of Android 7.0 Nougat. I am a little surprised not to see Android 8.0 Oreo included, nevertheless, the 7X runs smoothly and has the same “RAM defragmentation, advanced memory compression and a faster kernel for memory recycling” found on the Honor 8 Pro and Honor 9, which is designed to prevent the phone from slowing down over its lifetime.

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Honor 7X review: Camera

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 a Bokeh-effect portrait setting that most modern flagships have. It’s a notch better than last year’s Honor 6X with its dual 12-megapixel sensor.

In grey weather, the 7X is capable of capturing excellent images. It doesn’t quite compete with the Honor 9 or the OnePlus 5T, but for a sub-£300 smartphone, it’s among the best I’ve used.

In the image below, the Honor 7X reproduces an accurate image and captures plenty of detail, especially the red brickwork in the foreground. With HDR enabled, the image becomes a touch sharper, the sky is reproduced more subtly and the buildings’ brickwork stands out even more.

^ HDR disabled

^ HDR enabled

Low-light photography isn’t the Honor 7X’s forte, however, as the sensor picks up a lot of image noise and, with flash enabled, colours take on an unwanted yellow-tint.

The phone’s front-facing 8-megapixel camera captures plenty of detail, light and with a selection of colour filters and effects, such as Bokeh, portrait images look fantastic.

^ Selfie with Bokeh effect

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Honor 7X review: Verdict

The Honor 7X is a phone at only £270 in a league of its own. With that FHD+ 18:9 display there’s a lot of screen for the money, its processor is fast enough for every-day usage and its sumptuous design makes it stand out from other sub-£300 smartphones.

For only a little more, you can buy the Honor 9 which at only £308 is a ridiculously good considering we reviewed it at £380. If an 18:9 display isn’t your must-have, then get the Honor 9 instead. But both are fantastic phones that offer unbelievable value for money and at this price deservedly worthy of an Expert Reviews Best Buy award.

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