*This is a review of a loaned product unit from Huawei Malaysia*
It seemed like just yesterday when I published the review of Huawei’s Honor 6 Plus. I was impressed with the smartphone – from hardware to performance to pricing. No longer are Chinese smartphones cheap and knock offs. The Honor 6 Plus was a really good phone. And with an amazing price tag as well.
Now, Huawei released a new upgrade to their highest end Honor series Android smartphone – with the introduction of Honor 7 – their latest flagship.
First up, here’s a quick specs overview of the Honor 7 :-
- 5.2″ Full HD TFT display (1920 X 1080) (424 ppi)
- 1.5 GHz quad-core Hisilicon Kirin 935 CPU
- 16 GB internal storage (up to 128 GB expandable microSD) + 3 GB RAM
- Powered by Android 5.0 OS + EMUI 3.1
- 20 megapixel PDAF rear camera; 8 megapixel front facing camera
- 8.5 mm thin, weighing only 157 grams
- 3,100 mAH non-removable battery
- Connectivity : Dual SIM (micro & nano SIM), 4G LTE/3G HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Available in 2 colours : Mystery Grey, Fantasy Silver
For more information and specifications, check out the Honor 7 Malaysian product page HERE.
Considering I’ve not been prompt with my blogging, I was still a gadget geek, all excited about getting hands on time with the Honor 7. In fact, I was thinking about buying the phone as my personal phone. Thanks to the fine folks at Honor Malaysia, I got my hands on time with this metal smartphone.
See Also : Huawei Honor 6 Plus User Review
Inside the turquoise box, is the Honor 7 smartphone, 3-pin power adapter, USB to micro USB cable, SIM tray pin, user manuals and warranty cards. As expected.
Hardware and Build Quality
I was previously impressed with the Honor 6 Plus with it’s glass front and back build quality. Very much like a Sony Xperia series, in my opinion. Which means, good materials and solid build. I didn’t expect this updated Honor 7 to be any less, as their latest flagship smartphone.
Honor 7 has a nice metallic, non-removable back. And this is real nice, solid metal here.
The honor 7’s fully metallic body is air-brushed with a ceramic coating, offering an unmistakably premium finish.
We’re not talking about plasticky back that’s painted to look like metal. This feels really premium and solid to the touch. The metal back has a nice brushed metal finish and it feels really nice to hold in your hand. The fingerprint scanner is also placed at the back, which in my opinion, is much more ergonomically feasible than a fingerprint scanner in the front at the bottom “Home” button.
Headphone jack at the top, Power button and volume rocker on the right. Micro USB charging port at the bottom. Just as expected. On the left side, there’s a singular button called”Smart Key” button. You can configure this as a shortcut button to apps or actions for your convenience.
One cool bundled feature is the Smart Key that sits as a physical button on the left side of the device. You can configure it to work however you wish, from their recommended list of actions – whether as a shortcut button to launch an action or an app. You can also configure different actions for single press, double press and press-and-hold.
I really like this feature a lot. I set the buttons to launch the camera app and snap quick photos (even when the phone is locked), long press to launch the Torch (easy when you really need it urgently in the dark), and launch Dialer when I need to quickly make a phone call.
Very handy and regularly used this Smart Key feature throughout the review.
From a hardware and build quality perspective, Honor 7 scored high marks for me. It looks and feels good. Definitely on par with other higher-end smartphones in the market today. Underneath the lens at the back, is the small square for the fingerprint scanner.
Most manufacturers chooses to include their fingerprint scanner in the front, at the bottom, on their “Home” button. Not only does the Honor 7 not have any physical button in the front, the placement of the fingerprint scanner at the back felt much more convenient for me.
During the review, I read about the quick response time of an iPhone’s fingerprint unlock feature. I tested it with this Honor 7. How fast is the fingerprint scanning detection to unlocking my phone?
By just tapping my finger at the back at the fingerprint scanner, the phone unlocks itself almost instantly in a split second.
I was really impressed! The Marketing literature says the Smart Fingerprint unlocks the phone in 0.5 seconds. And yes – I have to agree – it does!!!
So, look – iPhones are not the only superior device out there, iFanbois! This Chinese made Huawei Honor 7 performs equally as well as your overpriced phone. As I said, fingerprint scanner at the back is much more ergonomically placed for me. It’s a natural position holding my phone, with my index finger at the back. It’s so much easier to just swipe my finger while holding my phone in one hand.
To me, fingerprint scanners at the back forces me to hold the phone with 2 hands – 1 to hold it steady, another to place my thumb to unlock. This one at the back, makes so much more sense. While I was never a fingerprint unlock kinda person, with this Honor 7, it was my only preference!
However, I think the Huawei Honor 7 looks very much like the Oppo R7 Plus though. Eek. I’ve said this once, I’ll say it again – if you ever had any doubt that a Chinese manufactured smartphone will look cheap and feel flimsy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the Honor 7 looks and feels very much like a high-end, premium smartphone.
This Honor 7 has a solid construction and premium build material. I can’t gush about this enough to friends around me looking to buy a new phone.
Why buy a RM3000+ smartphone these days, you have so many more great builds like the Honor 7 out there.
Software and Usability
Honor 7 is powered by Android 5.0 OS, with Huawei Honor’s EMUI 3.1 skin on top. EMUI is their Emotion UI, has nice clean blue-ish green-ish hues, simple themes and clean interface. This is my second time using their EMUI skin, since my Honor 6 Plus review here, and I feel quite at home.
Even though the Honor 7 is only powered by a 1.5 GHz quad core processor, I really didn’t feel any lag or slow speed in navigation and use. In fact, unless you’re doing some internet usage mobile gaming with graphic intensive use, I don’t think most people will have an issue with the processor here. It would be nice if it has a better, higher spec, more powerful processor, though.
The usual Android navigation is present. From widgets and shortcuts on home screen, notification shade and shortcut toggles. There’s no specific App Drawer, but rather scroll right to reveal all apps, that you can organise in folders. Shortcut toggles are well thought out – from WiFi, Bluetooth, Auto Rotate, you also have useful shortcuts for Torch and Screen Brightness without having to dig deeper into settings and apps.
Overall, an easy to use interface.
As with any Android phones these days, manufacturers will usually pre-install some apps that you may or may not be able to remove. One of them on the Honor 7 is the Phone Manager.
It’s not an app, per se, but rather a feature for the Honor 7. There are some settings and extras that you can set here – from managing the Battery Life, increasing the speed and performance, cleaning unused files and closing inactive apps and more.
Throughout my couple of weeks of review, these features have popped up a few too many times to annoy the heck out of me. Most of the time, I was in the middle of something – checking emails, answering a call, Google-ing some info – and something will be persistent in my Notification shade, asking me if I want to clean up my storage to improve my phone performance.
While I think it is nice and handy feature to include, but the annoying notification every day has to be toned down a lot! Better yet, just clean and manage my phone’s performance and battery life quietly in the background for me, and pop up once a day, at the end of the day to give me a summary. Better, no?
Camera and Image Quality
From a spec perspective, the Honor 7 packs high megapixel count lenses – 8 megapixel at the front and 20 megapixels at the rear.
The front camera even comes with its own flash as well, to brighten up those selfies in low light condition. I can’t tell you how much this is appreciated. While I do take the occasional selfies (ahem), a grainy, dark selfie is a truly annoying.
The flash on the front facing camera may be a bit on the harsh side though. It also has a small square window of your face, guiding you where to look when you take a selfie. And not forgetting the “Beauty” mode that has adjustable level to smoothen your skin and complexion. Makes my face look so smooth and my skin looks so glowing and healthy. 🙂
For people like me who like to take pictures of their food (and coffee and such), there’s a “Good Food” mode where it highlights and enhances the food pictures to make them every more drool-worthy. With the habit of taking pictures of literally everything I eat, this is a very good feature, indeed.
As I was super impressed with the dual lens camera of the Honor 6 Plus, I didn’t expect anything less with the Honor 7. And I wasn’t disappointed.
I posted some pictures on my Instagram account here, #nofilter
Been so busy with work, didn’t get to roam / take much pics. Here’s evidence I am really in London. Note the double decker behind me. Haha. #london #selfie #nofilter #honor7 A photo posted by Winnie Chen-Head (@winniekepala) on
What we came for. Sunset @ Jimbaran. #sunset #beach #jimbaran #nofilter #honor7 A photo posted by Winnie Chen-Head (@winniekepala) on
The camera performs very well, almost as good as the Honor 6 Plus. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am very impressed with the 20 megapixel lens in this Honor 7. It takes amazing pictures in natural light, that I would definitely recommend this phone for those who enjoys taking pictures with their smartphones. Image stabilisation needs some improvement, too. I tend to take a few shots and pick the best of the lot.
In low light, images are not great, unfortunately. But hey – there’s flash on the back and the front. And they’re not overly harsh or over exposed.
Here are some more sample pictures taken from the Honor 7. Images are not resized or edited in any way, so click to view enlarged version.
Side Note : I had some issues with my photo backup solution and lost some of the pictures captured throughout the review. *sob*sob* But thankfully, the beautiful shots taken while I was in Bali was preserved in Instagram, although not in original hi-res file.
Obviously, as a new mommy, I had taken loads of pictures of my baby boy (aka #babyHead or #minikepala). Taking pictures of a moving, flailing baby is not easy, so chances are I have taken a million pictures and selected those I want to keep.
As you see from the last few sample pictures above, the picture of #babyHead turned out great. There’s incredible detail of the strands of his awesome hair! Also, when testing the depth of field (out of focus foreground) image looks good, too.
The pictures taken in a moving car might not be too great, though. It gets a little tough in focusing and I have to take more than the usual amount of pictures just to have a couple of good ones to keep. Image Stabilization on the Honor 7 camera leaves some room for improvement.
Throughout my review, I was using the Honor 7 rather heavily. It also helps that Huawei packs Battery improvement features like Fast Charging and the above Phone Manager functions to extend your battery life and phone’s speed and performance.
In my review, I can easily manage up to 14-18 hours of use daily.
This is at moderate to heavy usage, from checking loads of emails, data roaming, phone calls, social media, and more.
Pricing and Availability
The Honor 7 is available in two colors, Mystery Gray and Fantasy Silver, at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM1,399.
It’s only sold online via Huawei’s Online Store at http://www.vmall.my/honor-7.html
When it was launched, the device was completely sold out for a few days. Which goes to show how much people really like the Honor devices, even without the hands-on time people usually get when they buy a smartphone in the retail shops.
As of writing, it’s still “Out of Stock” due to an on-going promotion. Do check back on the vmall.my website periodically for such promotion. You might be able to get the phone for much cheaper than the list price! Yay!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time reviewing the Huawei Honor 7. Here’s a quick breakdown summary:-
What I Like
- Premium build quality with metal unibody construction
- Excellent and fast fingerprint scanner
- Great camera (front and back)
What I Dislike
- Phone Manager annoying notifications
- Camera’s Image Stabilization needs some improvement
- Only 1.5 GHz quad core processor. Can be higher spec
I was already thinking about buying the phone as my personal phone when I heard of its release. I was thankful that Honor Malaysia gave me this review unit to play with.
So, would I buy it? A big YES!
I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the Honor 7. This phone made me like using fingerprint scanner to unlock my phone. This phone has such good camera that I was taking more pictures than I normally would. More selfies, for sure, since the front facing camera with Beauty Mode really make my skin glow. Hehe.
The metal body was impressively solid in built that it really feels good to hold in my hands.
The only drawback is that it’s priced at the same price tag as the previous Honor 6 Plus. I have very fond memories of the Honor 6 Plus. That amazing camera with it’s dual lens rear camera for excellent depth of field. Makes my pictures look so professional like it’s taken with a DSLR.
It’s a tough decision for me, if I would choose the Honor 7 or the dual lens Honor 6 Plus. But hey – both phones left me super impressed with Honor series phones in general.
For more information, check out the Honor 7 website at http://www.vmall.my/honor-7 and *LIKE* Honor Malaysia Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/HuaweiHonorMY