We’ve had our hands on the recently launched Honor 7X smartphone. A subsidiary of Huawei, the Chinese brand makes phones that cost a fraction of the price of like-for-like models from brands like Samsung and iPhone.
Considering the features you get in the Honor 7X, it is an absolute snip at $199. Truly. Those stand out features includes a gloriously vibrant 6in high-resolution screen in 18:9 format.
Naturally though, what we wanted to know is just how good the Honor 7X is for image makers. Can a phone that costs under $200 do the business for photography and video?
On the face of it, the camera specification is solid. There’s a 16MP rear-facing camera and an 8MP front-facing camera, both complemented by a wide array of picture shooting modes.
Read on to find out how we got on with the Honor 7X for taking pictures and videos.
Honor 7X: At a glance
• 18:9 full screen with 2,160×1080 (FHD+) resolution display
• 5.5inch body
• 5.93in edge-to-edge view
• Available in three colors: black, blue, gold
• Tough metal body with rounded edges
• 16MP rear camera with additional 2MP depth-sensing camera + 8MP front camera
• Portrait Mode for both front and rear cameras
• Full HD 1080p videos at 30fps
• 3340 mAh battery gives up to 12 hours internet time
• Kirin 659 processor + 4GB ram
• 64GB internal memory
• Support for 256GB micro SD card
• Pro-Photo, Time-lapse, Panorama, slow motion, light painting and HDR shooting modes
Honor 7X : Handling
It’s hard to believe that a phone with such a great edge-to-edge 6in display and solid build quality can be available for less than $200.
The 18:9 format is definitely a selling point for gamers, but for image makers, it means that the camera app display is given room to breathe. Icons and thumbnails can be positioned outside the live view display for an uninterrupted view.
The rear of the phone is a little slippy for our liking and we have dropped the phone a few times. However, in those heart-in-mouth moments, we’ve come to appreciate how tough the Honor 7X is, withstanding drops onto hard surfaces without any damage.
There’s an impressive 4GB ram inside, plus 64GB internal storage and the option to add an additional micro SD card, up to 256GB. We did not experience any lags in operational speed at any point and appreciated the freedom to shoot uninhibited, given the large capacity for storing pictures.
Perhaps most emphatically, the Honor 7X has a wealth of shooting modes, many of which offer manual control over the severity of the effects. Pro-Photo, time-lapse, light painting, panorama, you name it. You also have an array of remote control functions for selfies, including gesture control and audio detection. There’s plenty of fun to be had with the camera.
So are there any drawbacks to the Honor 7X? Yes, of course, the phone is less than $200 after all. There is no image stabilization, which limits the camera in numerous scenarios – especially for handheld videos and when shooting in low light.
Also, as we would expect, the camera struggles in low light. The phase detection AF that works so well in daylight is much less effective at night.
Honor 7X: Performance
Images are recorded through the 16MP rear-facing camera that has a 26mm focal length an f/2.2 aperture. Alternatively, there is the 8MP front-facing camera. The rear camera is complemented by a second 2MP depth-sensing sensor, which is used for features such as Portrait Mode.
Portrait Mode works surprisingly well for blurring backgrounds, though it is not flawless. There is also a Wide Aperture mode, marketed as being f/0.95. This is misleading because the true aperture is fixed at f/2.2. The wide aperture mode simply applies a blur to out-of-focus areas, much in the same way as you would in Instagram and similar photo editing apps.
If you are a keen photographer, then Pro Photo mode will be your cup of tea. In this mode, there is manual control over most exposure settings, including ISO (50-1600), shutter speed (8 seconds to 1/4000 second) and exposure compensation (±4EV).
Video is a little disappointing. You’re limited to 1080p at 30fps, while the video shooting modes like slow motion are available at 640×480 VGA only. If you want a better video specification (also with image stabilization), you’ll have to fork out more money for another phone.
Nighttime scene, handheld, at ISO 640
Regarding image quality, the Honor 7X performs exactly how we would expect from a $200 smartphone. Images are vibrant and crisp (if a little oversharpened) when shooting in daylight.
Expectedly image quality takes a nose dive in low light. Of course noise is more pronounced, but in addition the lack of image stabilization and less effective autofocusing results in some blurry pictures.
Metering and white balance are linked to autofocus. Wherever you tap on the screen to focus, the Honor 7X takes exposure and white balance readings. You are likely to get quite different end results even in the same scene, depending on where you focus.
So, when it comes to image quality, some of the more expensive phones can still rest easy.
10 things that we love most about the Honor 7X
• Amazing screen
• 18:9 format gives a clean camera app display
• Solid build
• A lot of built-in storage for photos/ videos
• Comprehensive array of shooting modes
• Respectable IQ in good light
• Always-on Torch available in camera app
• Manual exposure control in Pro Photo mode
• Lots of picture info in image playback, including histogram
• Gesture controls for camera are fun
What’s not to like about the Honor 7X
• No image stabilization
• Poor IQ in low light
• HDR mode is not automatic
• Modest video specification
• JPEG only
• Slippy rear side of phone