Honor’s biggest smartphone yet is also its best by a long way
Honor has steadily grown over the last year or so to become a major challenger in the smartphone space, releasing a series of devices which look to use the power of social media and grassroots campaigns to spread the company word.
The firm’s latest smartphone is the Honor 7, a high-end device that looks to take on the cream of the Android crop with a new all-metal build and powerful hardware. But how does it stand up to the TechWeekEurope test?
Given Honor’s previous smartphones sometimes used plastic backing and aimed for a fairly low-to-middle price point, the first thing you notice about the Honor 7 is that it definitely looks like a premium device.
The aluminium body feels solid and reliable in your hand, but this is by no means a heavyweight handset – it fits neatly into pockets and bags. The screen is bright and vibrant, with the initial experience of flicking through apps and menus is smooth and reactive.
All in all, it’s a promising start, and by a mile Honor’s best-looking device.
As well as being its most high-profile device yet, the Honor 7 is also the company’s most powerful smartphone to date.
Under the hood, there’s a Kirin 935 chipset which includes 64-bit CPU running up to 2.2GHz, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (which is expandable up to 128GB via microSD), meaning that the Honor 7 compares favourable to most mid-range devices today, and also keeps up nicely with devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9.
As for power, there’s a monster a 3,100mAh battery that comes with the company’s Smart Power 3.0 battery conservation technology, and even features optional reverse charging function which will let you power up your friend’s devices using the power from your device.
All this adds up to a solid, all-day device that is easily able to handle all the tasks everyday users will throw at it, plus extras such as watching films or playing high-end games.
Alongside this hardware is a majorly improved software experience, and Honor looks to push the message of personalisation.
The device runs Android 5.0 Lollipop supporting Honor’s own Emotion 3.1 UI, which lets users customise the look and set-up of their device with a range of themes and design tools.
There’s also a couple of interesting software features, which will either appeal or dissuade you depending on your liking for gimmicks.
For starters, Honor has equipped the Honor 7 with a useful voice-control function that will let you find your device if it ever gets lost. By asking ‘Where are you?’, the device will be able to answer, with the exact wording of the question able to be changed if you want that extra personal relationship with your device.
Users can also wake up their device using pre-set commands, as Honor looks to make your smartphone an inseparable companion.
The Honor 7 is also the company’s first device to feature biometric input, as users can interact with the device using a non-metallic fingerprint scanner which Honor says is the first of its kind on the rear, which along with unlocking the device can also be used to answer calls. Compared to the TouchID system this can be a bit fiddly, as the scanner’s placing on the rear of the device often means you’re fumbling around trying to find the pad with your finger, but this can be overcome with practice.
There is also an extra button, the Honor smart key, which can be programmed by the user for any specific purpose, such as mapping to open up a certain app, or taking photos quickly. We used it for the latter purpose, and after a few false starts, were able to hook it up nicely.
But where the Honor 7 really excels is its camera. For a supposedly mid-range hardware device, the Honor 7 has a fantastic camera which is able to take bright and vibrant photos. The 20MP rear lens and 8MP front camera (the former specially optimized for detailed selfies, apparently) come with a range of features that Honor says will help boost your photo-taking skills, including a super-fast focusing time of just 0.1 seconds, a timelapse video function, which allows a long duration of video to be captured, and even a ‘good food’ mode that lets you beef up bragging photos of your lunch.
The camera really is the stand-out feature of the Honor 7, creating images that other smartphones with this price would struggle to even produce.
Having reviewed several Honor devices previously, TechWeekEurope thought it had a fairly good handle on the brand, its devices and where the company was going in the future. Not anymore.
At £249, the Honor 7 is a fantastic bargain for those who don’t want the hassle of owning a device like an iPhone 6S or Galaxy S6 edge+ – something a bit more down to earth, with great usabilitiy and a fantastic camera.
The Honor 7 is a solid workaholic of a smartphone, but can also be smart and artistic when it matters, and there’s definitely no doubt that if you got this out at a party, it would raise some attention.
Despite some rather gimmicky features, it seems like Honor is finally getting all its ducks in a row and is producing some really good quality devices. The Honor 7 is by far and away its best device yet, and it will be interesting to see where the company goes next.
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