Huawei has launched the Honor 7 in Europe, following its release in China. While the Honor 7 is reminiscent of a smaller Ascend Mate 7, it does have a few new distinguishing features of its own. Read our full Honor 7 review to see what sets this device apart from the competition.
Update: Honor 7 Premium model arriving in Europe on April 15. Head to our release date section for more details.
- ✓Very good workmanship
- ✓Front camera with LED flash
- ✓Fast Fingerprint Scanner
- ✓Very good battery life
- ✕Design drawn from Ascend Mate 7
Honor 7 release date and price
The Honor 7 has now been officially announced in the UK. The Honor 7 release date was August 27, and it's available online at Huawei's VMall. The Honor 7 price in the UK is £249 for the 16 GB mode.
The Honor 7 can be ordered elsewhere in Europe at the VMall for 349 Euro. At present there is only a 16 GB version available (China has a 64 GB version as well), but the device does have microSD card expansion.
The Honor 7 can be also be ordered through OppoMart for US$369 but it only supports LTE bands 1 and 3, meaning it won't work on US LTE bands. Those in North America interested in the phone can still use its 3G connectivity though. We'll update this review if a US release is scheduled.
Some European retailers are now taking pre-orders for a new version of the Honor 7 called the Huawei ShotX, priced at €349. It appears to be a re-branded Huawei Honor 7i, which was announced in August. The biggest difference on the Honor ShotX / 7i is that the camera flips up, so you can take selfies without a front-facing camera.
- Buy now: Honor 7 for £249 from VMall
- Buy now: Honor 7 for €349 from VMall
- Buy now: Honor 7 for US$369 from OppoMart
The Honor 7 Premium is reportedly arriving in Europe (Germany) on April 15. This higher-end model of the Honor 7 device might have a price of US$400. This is according to leakster Roland Quandt who claims the device will be available at European electronics retailer Media Markt.
Honor 7 Premium finally arriving in Europe (Germany) on April 15. From that date the 32 GB model is avail. at Media Markt / Saturn. 349 Euro— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) March 29, 2016
Honor 7 design and build quality
If you've seen the Huawei Ascend Mate 7, you'll immediately recognize its design influence on the Honor 7. The Honor 7 is a smaller version though; it comes in at 5.2 inches, compared to the 6-inch Mate 7. The all-metal housing is just as well crafted in the Honor 7 as it is in the Mate 7, but the Honor 7 has the added bonus of a polished frame surrounding the display glass.
The Honor 7 is definitely not in the thinnest smartphone race though. It's 8.5 mm thick, 2 mm thicker than the Huawei P8, for example. The Honor 7 does have nicely rounded sides, which actually make it feel more comfortable in the hand than the blocky P8, despite its extra thickness.
The back of the Honor 7 is virtually all aluminum, with a fingerprint scanner located right underneath a large square camera lens, which is flanked by a dual-LED flash. We said virtually all aluminum; there's metallic-look plastic at both the top and bottom of the phone. This is to allow the antennas to operate unhindered by interference from a full metal chassis.
At the bottom you'll find a centered micro-USB port with small holes on either side. Don't let the appearance of stereo speakers fool you though, because, as we have seen multiple times in the past, only one side emits sound. The other side holds the microphone for calls. There is something to be said for design symmetry, but there's even more to be said for stereo speakers.
The power button and volume rocker are located on the right-hand side of the Honor 7. There's a slight flaring around the power button, so it is easier to identify by touch. The presence of another button on the left-hand side is a little confusing to start with, but it is simply a user-configurable hardware key. You can set it as a shortcut to your favorite app, camera or any other useful action in the settings.
Above this button lies the SIM card slot, which can accommodate two nano-SIM cards in the 64 GB version of the Honor 7, or a SIM card and a microSD card in the 16 GB version. These combi-slots are typical of Huawei devices –we've already come across them in both the Huawei P8 and P8 Lite.
Honor 7 display
The Honor 7 display measures 5.2 inches and has Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). If this sounds familiar, it's because it's the same display size, resolution and pixel density as the Huawei P8.
However, where the P8 uses a IPS-NEO LCD panel, the Honor 7 opts for a more conventional IPS LCD screen. This is no disadvantage, because the Honor 7 screen is pretty good, offering accurate color reproduction, good brightness and very stable viewing angles.
If you're not entirely satisfied with the color reproduction, the Honor 7 has options to adjust the color temperature to your liking within the settings. However, I think the default setting is very well adjusted.
A little tip: the Honor 7 can be awoken from sleep by double tapping on the display, similar to LG's KnockOn function. For some reason Honor has hidden this feature deep in the settings. To enable it, you need to go into Settings > Gesture Control and tap the double-tap box.
Honor 7 special features
What's probably the best feature of the Honor 7 is not even new. Huawei included a fantastic finger scanner in the Mate 7 (at the time it came out we dubbed it the best finger scanner on Android), and the Honor 7 ups the stakes on this already-impressive feature by adding a lightning-fast unlock speed.
Operating the finger scanner couldn't be simpler. The Setup Wizard will guide you through registering your digits (up to five). Besides unlocking the phone, the scanner can also be used to accept incoming calls, record video and shoot photos, dismiss alarms or call up the notifications area.
This latter function is really cool, because it doesn't require you to make an awkward reach to the top of the screen to pull down the notifications shade. You simply swipe down on the easily-reachable finger scanner. You can dismiss the notifications shade just as easily, with an upwards swipe of the scanner pad. Nicely played, Honor.
Besides the finger scanner there is the assignable Quick Start button on the left-hand side of the phone. By default it is set up to launch HiVoice, Huawei's answer to Siri or S Voice, but you can change the button's function to whatever you prefer in the settings menu.
Honor 7 software
The Honor 7 features Android 5.0 Lollipop with the EMUI 3.1 skin on top. This interface corresponds exactly to that found on the Huawei P8, so if you know that phone, you'll know this one too. This is not surprising, because Huawei is Honor's parent company (Honor is the younger, funkier division). In line with this, the Honor 7 comes with some some cool new themes.
If you've read our Huawei P8 review then you'll already know the software features to expect in the Honor 7. One thing I will point out though, is that if you don't like EMUI and want to install an alternate launcher, such as the Google Now Launcher, you'll have to go to the overview section in the standard apps settings to enable a third-party launcher. Weirdly played, Honor.
Honor 7 performance
Again, as a subsidiary of Huawei, the Honor 7 specs center around the Kirin processor. The honor 7 packs a Kirin 935, an octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 2.2 GHz and four at 1.5 GHz. These clock speeds are basically what you find in comparable chips built by Qualcomm, for example the Snapdragon 810 (when it hasn't been under-clocked to avoid thermal throttling and overheating).
The Honor 7 specs also include 3 GB of RAM, but our comments on performance are limited to the 64 GB version, which isn't currently available in Europe or the US. We can assume the differences between the two versions are limited to available storage and don't apply to performance though.
In everyday life, the hardware does a good job. Apps launch quickly and the general speed of the interface is very responsive. From time to time I witnessed some slight stuttering, but these occurrences were rare and hardly noticeable. On the graphics front, intensive games such as Dead Tigger 2, Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 ran smoothly, without any performance problems.
If you're into raw numbers, we benchmarked the Honor 7 with a respectable score of around 45,000 in AnTuTu. Strangely, that is lower than the Huawei P8, which has a Kirin 935 clocked at a lower speed than the Honor 7. Nevertheless, the Honor 7 offers more than adequate performance for most tasks you throw at it.
Honor 7 audio
As we mentioned earlier, at first glance you might think the Honor 7 features stereo speakers, but its audio performance is only powered by a mono speaker. That speaker is housed in the left speaker grill on the bottom. The other one hides the microphone for calls.
Even though a mono speaker is a little disappointing, it is loud and clear enough to use with games or play clips in YouTube. Just don't expect anything spectacular.
As far as voice quality goes, the Honor 7 lies comfortably in the green zone, with decent clarity even in noisy environments such as on the road or in the subway. Both incoming and outgoing call quality was consistently clear.
Honor 7 camera
The Honor 7 camera has an impressive resolution of 20 MP. The auto-focus system is of the phase-detection variety, rather than the slower contrast system, so you're solid on two fronts. To add the cherry on top, the Honor 7 is also equipped with optical image stabilization. Up front there's a whopping 8 MP camera with the impressive addition of an LED flash.
On paper this is one of the most impressive smartphone camera setups around, but how does it perform in practice? Well, the phase auto-focus is very fast and accurate, ensuring your subject is always kept in focus. There are also plenty of different shooting modes to suit the setting and provide optimum results.
Photo quality is generally very good on the Honor 7, with only extreme low-light settings producing the usual grain (also known as 'noise'). These solid results are also true of the front-facing camera, where you've got both the megapixel count, software and LED flash to produce top notch selfies.
There are a few notable shooting modes beyond the ordinary, including a food mode, so you can perfectly capture that plate of nosh for posterity, and a light painting mode.
Light painting is a long-exposure setting that allows you to paint in the air with light. You know the type of photo: the ones where you spell things out with a lighter or draw in a dark room with a lamp. You'll need to practice to get good results and a tripod or stable base for the phone is recommended, because camera shake tends to ruin light paintings. You've also got Full HD video capabilities in the Honor 7.
Honor 7 battery
Huawei plays to its strengths again on the battery front, with an impressive 3,100 mAh battery. The honor 7 battery regularly got me through around 18 hours of use, including numerous phone calls, plenty of emails, surfing the web and shooting photos.
It's always hard to quantify a battery's performance without simply putting a number on it, but the Honor 7 performed above average in our 'daily use' test. It certainly seems that the Honor 7 has inherited the excellent battery optimizations of the Ascend Mate 7, even if that device has a 1,000 mAh larger battery. I can wholeheartedly recommend the Honor 7 in terms of battery life.
Honor 7 technical specifications
The Honor 7 could have been the star of the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. In many excellent ways it's a smaller Ascend Mate 7. It's also a great upgrade from the Honor 6, thanks to the addition of the finger scanner, metal chassis and Quick Start button, not to mention its all-new specs sheet.
The build and feel of the Honor 7 are exceptional, even if it is a little on the thick side. The camera is super quick and accurate, generally producing good pictures except in low light. The fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate too, with a number of nice additional functions that many phones with scanners are lacking.
The design of the phone may be ripped straight from the Mate 7, and its interface from the P8, but there is really very little to complain about on the Honor 7. With a spectacularly low price, this phone delivers in all the key areas: looks, camera, battery and performance.