Honor 7 first impressions: loaded, from the inside out

“The Honor 7 packs in a fingerprint sensor, full metal body and a 20MP rear camera. We go hands on”

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Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has had a successful run in the Indian market over the last year, with popular devices like the  Honor 6 (review), Honor 4X (review) and Honor 6 Plus (FAQs | camera review) in its kitty. Now the brand is back with a new flagship device, the Honor 7. The latest smartphone is quite a big upgrade over its predecesors, the 6 and 6 Plus, and is expected to launch in India shortly. Before that, we got a chance to go hands on with the smartphone at IFA 2015 in Berlin, and here’s what we thought.
 

While the Honor 6 Plus looked significantly more premium than the Honor 6, the Honor 7 takes that up several notches. It features a unibody full-metal frame measuring a slim 8.5mm around the waist. While the front looks pretty standard, the back panel is made of aluminium alloy. The neat facade features a 5.2-inch display with full HD resolution. The screen delivers crisp, clear visuals, and seemed smooth and responsive during our brief usage. Above the display, you’ll find the front 8MP camera, a front-facing LED flash, the earpiece and sensors. The bezel below the screen is bare, with the Android navigation keys being implemented as software overlays.

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Coming to the port and button placement, the right spine is where you’ll find the power button and volume rocker. On the left side, there’s an ejectable tray that holds a nano-SIM card slot, as well as a hybrid SIM card slot which can accept either a microSD card or a nano-SIM card.

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Next to the tray, you’ll find another button, which Honor is calling the Smart Key. This button is customisable, letting you configure actions for a single press, double press or long press. The bottom edge is home to the micro-USB port and loudspeaker grill, while the top edge is where you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack, IR blaster and secondary microphone. The back panel houses the large square lens that hides the 20MP sensor, alongside a dual-tone LED flash. Underneath, you’ll find a square fingerprint sensor, which is capable of a couple of neat tricks apart from biometric authentication. For example, you can swipe down on it to open the notification shade, and swipe up to view recent apps. Engraved Honor branding in the centre completes the embellishments at the rear. 

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Powering the Honor 7 is a 64-bit octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 935 chip paired with 3GB of RAM. There’s 16GB of internal storage, out of which around 9.3GB was available on our demo unit. The storage can be topped up by an additional 128GB. Handling software operations on the Honor 7 is Huawei’s custom interface called Emotion UI. The smartphone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop as a base, overlaid with EMUI 3.1. While we’ve covered EMUI extensively in our previous Honor smartphone reviews, on the Honor 7 you’ll find new features like ‘Knuckle Screenshot’ which lets you take a screenshot by rapping your knuckles on the display, as well as a smart voice wake-up functionality. 

Fuelling the device is a generous 3,100mAh battery. Honor says the battery is supports quick charging. As a neat feature, you can use the Honor 7 to charge your other devices via USB OTG. As far as the connectivity options go, the smartphone features 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac and GPS. 

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In the UK, the Honor 7 is retailing for £250, approximately Rs 25,500. We’re not sure what Honor’s pricing strategy in India will be, but if it manages to get below the Rs 20,000 mark, as it did with the Honor 6, we could be looking at the next budget flagship blockbuster.
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