The Honor 7 delivers plenty of power and features at a temptingly low price, making it a wise choice for firms and individuals on a budget. Just be warned that the Huawei-designed Emotion UI meddles with stock Android a few ways too many.
Value for money, attractive display, long battery life, small but useful hardware features
Disappointing cameras, not the latest Android version, Emotion UI makes unwelcome changes
From £250 (as tested)
Processor: Kirin 935 octa-core (four 2.2GHz cores, four 1.5GHz cores), 3GB RAM
Display: 1920x1080 IPS
Camera: 20MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
Connectivity: 4G LTE
Operating system: Android 5.0 Lollipop with Emotion UI skin
The Honor 7 launched in China earlier this year and has now found its way to UK shores, delivering a significant hardware upgrade on previous Honor smartphones in the process.
We're quite fond of the Honor Holly, but it was never the most exciting smartphone around. With this slick-looking, fully-equipped Android number, Honor - a Huawei subsidiary - looks to bring more high-end features to its mid-range offerings.
The Honor 7's back and sides are constructed of aerospace-grade aluminium, which Honor said will help disperse heat. This seemed true when running our intensive performance benchmarking tests, during which it stayed cool, but it became toasty hot when running the same tests while plugged into the mains. In any case, the matte metal bodywork at least adds a premium look and feel.
It's also decently proportioned for a 5.2in model. Measuring 143x72x8.5mm and weighing 157g, it's neither spectacularly slim nor excessively chunky, but rests in a hand or pocket with ease.
There are no physical buttons on the front panel; instead, the Back, Home and Overview buttons appear on the touchscreen. We're not huge fans of this design, mainly because the digital buttons obscure part of the display. The Honor 7 further suffers because it's left with an ugly chunk of empty space where the physical buttons would normally be.
This is not to say that Honor has cut back on control methods. There's a handy ‘Smart Key' button on the left edge, which can be set to open specific apps with a press, double-press or hold. The integrated fingerprint sensor, already a surprisingly high-end feature to find on a £250 device, can also be used to navigate menus and apps by swiping or tapping on it.
The sensor's primary function is, of course, to biometrically secure the Honor 7. It does this job well, making it easy to enrol prints and 'learning' the prints of repeat users. The more we used the sensor, the faster it recognised our prints, cutting the authentication time from about one second to half that in less than a day.
The Honor 7 uses an unusual two-in-one card tray that can hold two micro SIMS, or one micro SIM and one microSD card. Ideally, it wouldn't be necessary to give up dual-SIM support to add a memory card - and vice versa - but at least the options are there.
The 5.2in IPS screen is set to 1920x1080 resolution, resulting in 424ppi. That doesn't break the top-tier 500ppi threshold, but the Honor 7 looks pleasantly sharp regardless, and maintains this clarity across a wide range of viewing angles.
Turning up the low default brightness brings out some very rich, warm colours. Happily, the Honor 7 doesn't exaggerate colours for a ‘pop' effect, leaving them accurate and balanced.
We did notice a slight touch of backlight bleed around the lower half of the display, and the glass is troublesomely reflective under bright lights, but otherwise the Honor 7's plus-size screen is a pleasure to use.
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