High performance and low price. That’s the name of the game with these online driven brands. Before the rise of Xiaomi in international markets, Huawei claims to be in the forefront of e-commerce with its honor smart phone line up. Although both Huawei and honor share the same roots, they are distinctively different in terms of positioning and for us consumers, the price tag makes a whole world of difference.
During today’s event, “honor” was emphasised as a brand for the new generation and for those who are young at heart. Being a digital-native driven product, it goes directly to consumers, cutting out the middle man which results lower cost and a more competitive price tag.
Last year, the honor 6 stood out as one of our favourite 4G LTE smart phones under RM1,000. With its in-house developed Kirin processor, it performed just as good as a flagship Galaxy S5 and yet it cost half the price of other similar flagship devices. For 2015, the new honor flagship isn’t just an improvement but it aims to move the goal post further.
The honor 7 gets a slightly bigger 5.2” Full HD display encased in an all metal unibody design. It feels much better than the honor 6 which felt plasticky. The front looks virtually the same as the honor 6 but you’ll notice the changes as you turn to the sides.
The back has a nice curve which makes it comfortable to hold, while the top and bottom ends have a plastic cover with some nice texture to it. You’ll find a large camera lens which protrudes slightly but you need not to worry about scratches as it uses sapphire glass. Also prominent is a new fingerprint scanner that’s quite similar to the Ascend Mate 7.
On the right, you’ll find your usual power and volume rockers, while the left houses a SIM tray slot and a new Smart Key. At the top, it is no surprise with a typical headphone jack, a secondary mic as well as an infrared blaster.
Looking at the bottom, it gets a pair of speaker and microphone grills on each side of the microUSB port, which is much better than the old one having the speaker placed at the back.
[nextpage title=”Performance and Camera”]
It is no secret that the honor 7 is heavily based on the Huawei P8 flagship smart phone. It gets a slightly updated Kirin 935 Octa-Core processor that runs up to 2.2GHz as opposed to just 2.0GHz on the Kirin 930 with the P8. It also gets 3GB of RAM, and for the international market we are getting just 16GB for storage which is expandable using microSD up to 128GB.
The interface is smooth and the EMUI 3.1 offers quite an extensive customisable options with a variety of themes. It is still based on Android 5.0 and it comes with management tools for power, network and apps permissions. The 3,100mAh battery is similar to the honor 6 and it is larger than the Huawei P8’s 2,680mAh capacity. With the P8 being quite a battery power efficient device, we are eager to see how far the honor 7 could push with a bigger battery.
This device aspires to be a serious photography tool, packing Sony’s new 20MP IMX230 camera sensor, which is better than the ones found on Sony’s current Xperia Z series. It gets Phase Detection AF for shorter focus times and it is assisted by dual-LED flash light for natural illumination. In terms of features, it gets the same light painting options like the P8 and there’s even a Good Food mode to enhance your #foodporn photos. You also get slow-mo, time lapse and it shoots videos up to Full HD 1080p resolution only.
Taking pictures are snappy in its default 10MP resolution but as you crank it up to 20MP, it is noticeably longer to process. It isn’t a big problem unless you’re planning to shoot pictures repetitively non-stop.
For the front, it gets a large 8MP front camera and it even has its own LED flash light. As usual, there are heaps of beautification features and you can preset your own settings with the perfect selfie option. With a fingerprint scanner at the back, you can tap on it to take a photo but surprisingly this only works for the main camera instead of the front, which to us actually makes more sense for single handed selfie shots.
[nextpage title=”Fingerprint Scanner and personalisation”]
Since we’re talking about the fingerprint scanner, the honor 7 is surprisingly easy to set up requiring just 5-6 taps to register your fingerprint. Unlocking your device by touch is effortless and to some extent it feels quicker than a Galaxy S6, OnePlus 2 and possibly even the iPhone’s Touch ID.
The only complaint is the placement of the sensor at the back, making it impractical to use when the honor 7 is lying on the table. However we are told that this is designed for quicker unlocking as you take the phone out from your pocket.
The Smart key is one of the key highlights of the new honor 7 and it is supposed to give you access to services at your fingertips. For example, in China, it works as a personal assistance to book for movies, transport or simply to get more information. For the rest of the world, honor is looking for local partners to serve each respective target audience. Whether they have it or not, the Smart Key is fully customisable and you can set specific actions for a single press, double press or long press. For us, we set double press for touch light and a long press to trigger Google Voice search.
Better Gesture Controls
Like most Chinese phones, you’ll never short of having different ways to interact with the device. You can draw alphablets while the screen is off to quick launch certain apps and the honor 7 also comes with knuckle sense, which lets you screencap your device when you knock on the display twice with your knuckle. While this limits the Huawei P8’s “double tap to wake” functionality, surprisingly the honor 7 still offers that, giving you the best of both worlds.
[nextpage title=”Conclusion and availability”]
Overall the honor 7 ticks all the right boxes in the specs and features department. It also supports dual-SIM with 4G LTE, with the 2nd sim slot doing double duty as a microSD expansion. In our short hands-on, it performed over 50,000 points on Antutu, beating the likes of the Galaxy Note 4 and it doesn’t seem to break a sweat while running multiple applications. Looking at this versus the Huawei P8, the honor 7 is a better buy.
Of course, the Huawei P8 is positioned to be more premium with its thin and flat design, and most importantly it lacks the camera bump making it more aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps the only compromise on the honor 7 is the lack of NFC and the special director mode which lets you record video from multiple devices at the same time.
Despite having a microSD slot, the hardcore users might find the entry 16GB storage to be insufficient and honor says that they will observe each market demand. So there could be a possibility of a larger 64GB version if the situation permits.
Coming to Malaysia in September
The honor 7 is now available for orders on the European VMall from now until 31st August. For us folks, it is expected to arrive in Malaysia sometime next month. In the UK, it is priced at 209.99 GBP (about RM1,364) with its 40 GBP promo discount and we are expecting it to have a similar price range once it hits our local VMall.my. While on paper it isn’t as glamourous as other 4GB RAM touting flagships out there, the honor 7 stands out for having a metal unibody design, better cameras and a more responsive fingerprint scanner. With its tremendous success in China, this is likely to be a hit here. Hopefully the pricing will remain attractive despite our appalling exchange rate.
honor 7 Image Gallery