The Honor 7 has now been officially announced in the UK. The Honor 7 release date was August 27, with online availability via Huawei's VMall. The Honor 7 price in the UK is £249 for the 16 GB model and you can save £40 pounds with the coupon code H7BRAVE40UK between August 27 – 31.
The Honor 7 can be ordered elsewhere in Europe via VMall for 349 Euro with a 50 Euro discount with the coupon code H7BRAVE50EU between August 27 – 31. 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 $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.
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 at only 5.2-inches (the Mate 7 weighs in at 6 inches). The all-metal housing is just as well-crafted in the Honor 7 as it is in the Mate 7 but the Honor 7 gets an added bonus of a polished frame surrounding the display glass.
The Honor 7 is definitely not in the thinnest smartphone race though, with a thickness of 8.5 millimeters, a whopping 2 mm thicker than, for example, the Huawei P8. It has so be stated that the Honor 7 has nicely rounded sides though, that actually makes it feel more comfortable in the hand than the blocky P8, despite its added thickness.
The back of the Honor 7 is virtually all aluminum, with a fingerprint scanner located right underneath a large square camera lens, flanked by a dual-LED flash. The entire back isn't metallic though, with metallic-look plastic at both the top and bottom of the phone. This detail is to allow the antennas to operate unhindered by interference from a full metal chassis.
At the bottom you'll find a centered micro-SUB port with small holes on either side. Don't let the appearance of stereo speakers fool you though, as we have seen multiple times in the past only one side emits any sound. The other side just holds the microphone for calls. There is something to be said for design symmetry but stereo speakers would be even better.
The power button and volume rocker is 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 with touch alone. There's another button on the left hand side which is a little confusing to start with, but it is simply a user-configurable hardware key. In the settings you can set it as a shortcut to your favorite app, camera or any other useful action.
Above this user button lies the SIM card slot that 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 Huawei devices and we've already come across them in both the Huawei P8 and P8 Lite.
Probably the best feature of the Honor 7 is not even new. Huawei has previously included a fantastic finger scanner in the Mate 7 (at the time we dubbed it the best finger scanner on Android). The Honor 7 ups the stakes on this already-impressive foundation with a lightning-fast unlock speed.
Operating the finger scanner couldn't be simpler and 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, recording video and shooting photos, dismissing alarms or to call up the notifications area.
This latter function is actually 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 another notable Honor 7 feature that falls into the “special” category. 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. Naturally, you can change the button's function to whatever you prefer in the settings menu.
The Honor 7 display measures 5.2 inches and has Full HD resolution (1,920 a 1,080 pixels). If this sounds a little familiar it's because it's the same display size, resolution and pixel density as the Huawei P8.
However, where the P8 used 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, benefiting from accurate color reproduction, good brightness with very stable viewing angles.
If you're not entirely satisfied with the color reproduction of the display, then you'll find that the settings of the Honor 7 has options to adjust the color temperature to your liking. However, in my opinion the default setting is very well adjusted.
A little tip you may have missed: the Honor 7 can be awoken from sleep by double tapping on the display, similar to LG's KnockOn function. For some unknown reason Honor has this feature hidden deep in the settings. To enable it, you go into Settings > Gesture Control and tap the double-tap box.
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 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 all of 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 alternative launcher like the Google Now Launcher for example, you'll have to go to the overview section in the standard apps settings to enable a third-party launcher. Weirdly played Honor.
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 anywhere in Europe or the US. We can only assume the changes between the two versions are limited to available storage though and not to any additional performance enhancements.
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 though I did witness some slight stuttering, even if these occurrences were rare and hardly noticeable. On the graphics front, intensive games like Dead trigger 2, Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 ran smoothly and without any performance problems.
If you're into raw numbers to compare, we also benchmarked the Honor 7 with a respectable score of around 45,000 in AnTuTu. Strangely, that is lower than the Huawei P8, which actually has a Kirin 935 clocked at a lower speed than the Honor 7. Nevertheless, the Honor 7 is equipped with more than adequate performance for most tasks you throw at it.
As we mentioned earlier, at first glance you might think the Honor 7 features stereo-speakers, but it's audio performance is only powered by a mono speaker. That speaker is housed in the left speaker grill on the bottom with the other one hiding the microphone for calls.
Even if a mono speaker is a little disappointing, it is more than 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 like on the road or in the subway. Both incoming and outgoing call quality was perfectly fine and consistently clear.
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.
As far as shooting modes beyond the ordinary, there are a few of note, 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 photos: 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.
On the battery front, Huawei plays to its strengths again with an impressive 3,100 mAh battery. The honor 7 battery managed to regularly get me through around 18 hours of usage that included 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 like 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.
In many ways the Honor 7 could have been the star in the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”. The honor 7 is in many excellent ways a smaller Ascend Mate 7. It's also a great upgrade over the Honor 6 with the addition of the finger scanner, metal chassis and Quick Start button, not to mention 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 fast and accurate, producing good pictures generally except in low light. The fingerprint scanner is incredibly fast and very accurate as well, with a number of nice additional functions lacking in many other phones with scanners.
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 point this phone delivers in all the key areas: looks, camera, battery, performance.