Honor 7 review: Flagship phone features in a £250 handset
Honor has announced that, in addition to the Honor 7 detalied below, it will soon be bringing a “Premium” version to market. This version of the phone will have more storage – 32GB – and will come with a fast charger in the box.
Honor might not be a household name in the UK just yet, but if you’re in the market for a smartphone that won’t make a huge dent in your bank balance, the company’s newly-launched Honor 7 could be a tempting option.
Available today from the company’s new Vmall store, the phone treads a familiar path. Like the Honor Holly and Honor 4x, both inexpensive phones with plenty of features, the Honor 7 is a masterclass in how to produce a low-cost, feature-packed phone.
So what do you get for your £250? The answer is a surprising amount. The Honor 7 is a 5.2in smartphone, sporting a 1080p IPS-NEO LCD screen with pixel density of 424ppi.
It has a 20-megapixel rear camera, topped with sapphire glass and accompanied by a dual-tone flash, and an 8-megapixel snapper at the front. There’s also a fingerprint reader beneath the rear camera.
Press your finger to the reader, and the phone unlocks with a light haptic buzz. It’s quick, claiming to recognise your prints in just 0.5 seconds, and the software behind the reader keeps learning, becoming more reliable with extended use. You’re not likely to be using the Honor 7 for contactless payments any time soon though, as the phone lacks NFC.
That’s a strange omission, but the Honor 7 has pretty much every other base covered. You get 4G and 802.11ac connectivity, dual-SIM and microSD storage expansion and there’s an infrared transmitter to use the phone as a universal remote control. Aside from NFC, the only other thing the Honor 7 lacks is waterproofing.
Design and performance
Despite the proliferation of features, which are pretty darned impressive for this price, the Honor 7 does not sacrifice looks. It isn’t quite as sleek as premium handsets such as the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6, but its metallic finish – either grey or silver – doesn’t look bad at all.
It also isn’t the slimmest phone in the world at 8.5mm from front to back, but the extra girth allows for a large internal battery – Honor have squeezed in a 3,100mAh power pack. And, with ultra-slim bezels at either side of the screen, it looks thoroughly modern from the front. It isn’t very heavy at 157g either.
Where the phone might come unstuck is performance and software. The Honor 7 is powered by an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 935 processor running at up to 2.2GHz – the same processor used in the Huawei P8. I witnessed a fair amount of juddering during simple screen transitions at the demo. Still, it’s accompanied by a decent 3GB of RAM and storage runs to 16GB.
While the phone does run Android 5 (Lollipop), it’s obscured by Honor’s Emotion UI launcher software. It’s quirky and definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but does have a number of interesting features. You can locate it if you’ve lost it in the house somewhere by calling out “where are you?”.
There’s also a one-handed mode, activated by swiping a finger along the bottom of the screen; you can take a screenshot by rapping the screen with your knuckle; and there’s even the option – with a compatible cable – to use the phone to top up a friend’s smartphone battery. Honor calls this “reverse charging”.
The Honor 7 is a lot of phone for £250, and, although it isn’t likely to push the Moto G (2015) off top spot for the title of best budget smartphone, it does provide users with a better specified alternative.
The inclusion of a fingerprint reader, 20-megapixel camera and an infrared transmitter for this sort of cash is unheard of. It has a higher resolution screen than the Moto G too. Plus, if you get in early, there’s a generous 50 euro discount, bringing the price down even lower. Honor could be onto a real winner here.