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Alcatel Idol 5 vs. Honor 7X: Can Honor’s budget hit take out the new Idol?

Alcatel Idol 5 review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Flagship phones are great and all, but they’re a little pricey. Thankfully, these days you don’t have to break the bank to get a decent device — phones in the sub-$300 range are still easily able to handle everyday tasks like web browsing, social media, emails, and even some gaming. Among these phones are the new Alcatel Idol 5 and the Honor 7X, both of which offer some great features at an excellent price.

But which one is better? Does one phone stand above the other? We put the two devices head to head to find out.

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Alcatel Idol 5

Honor 7X

Size 148 x 73 x 7.5mm (5.83 x 2.87 x 0.30-inches) 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6mm (6.16 x 2.96 x 0.30-inches)
Weight 5.47 ounces (155g) 5.82 ounces(165g)
Screen 5.2-inch LCD 5.93-inch LCD
Resolution 1,080 x 1,920 (423ppi) 1,080 x 2,160 (407ppi)
OS Android 7.1 Android 7.0
Storage 16GB 32GB, 64GB (international version)
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 256GB Yes, up to 256GB
NFC support No No
Processor MediaTek MT6753 HiSilicon Kirin 659
RAM 3GB 3GB, 4GB (international version)
Connectivity GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / HSPA / LTE
Camera 13MP rear, 5MP front Dual 16MP and 2MP rear, 8MP front
Video 1,080p 1,080p
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Bluetooth 4.1
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Water resistant No No
Battery 2,800mAh 3,340mAh
Ports Micro USB Micro USB
Marketplace Google Play Google Play
Color offerings Metal Silver, Metal Black Blue, black, gold, red
Availability Cricket Wireless Honor
Price $180 $200
DT review 3 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Both of these phones offer some decent specs, but it’s clear that they’re a little different in their approach. It’s also clear that one approach scores much higher in the performance department.

The first thing to compare is the processor. The Alcatel Idol 5 offers a MediaTek MT6753 chip, while the Honor 7X includes Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 659. Both of these chips are decent midrange processors — but the Kirin 659 seems to be a much higher performer than the MediaTek chip. On the Antutu benchmark, the Alcatel Idol 5 scored 31,000, while the Honor 7X scored 74,998 — more than double the score. That was the 3GB version of the Honor 7X, too — so you could potentially get an even better performing device by going for the 4GB model, though it’s only available outside of the U.S.

When it comes to storage, Honor beats Alcatel once again. While the Alcatel Idol 5 offers just 16GB of storage, the Honor 7X steps things up to a much nicer 32GB, or even 64GB for the international model. Both phones offer a MicroSD card slot, so you can expand upon that storage if you need to.

When it comes to raw power, there is a clear winner here.

Winner: Honor 7X

Design, display, and durability

honor 7x review home screen
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Design is largely subjective, but these phones are both nicely designed in their own way. We like the fact that the metal bezel arcs up on the Idol 5 to house the dual front-facing speakers, and the overall metallic look of the Honor 7X is attractive. Sure, both phones are a little basic — but they’re not bad looking devices. In general, the Honor 7X’s design is a little more modern, thanks largely to its big 18:9 display, which we really appreciate.

The display is less subjective. Both phones offer a 1,080p display, but because of the 18:9 aspect ratio on the Honor 7X, its longer side comes in at 2,160 pixels over the Alcatel’s 1,920 pixels. While the Idol 5’s display measures 5.2 inches, the Honor 7X steps things up to 5.93 inches. There is a trade-off there — the larger display, with almost the same pixel count, means a slightly lower pixel density — but we don’t think that it is a noticeable difference, and the slightly larger display size is preferable.

Neither phone is that durable. Because of the larger display, the Honor’s screen is slightly more likely to get cracked in the event of a drop, but not by much. Neither offers water resistance either — so you will want to keep these devices away from water.

We like the Honor’s more modern design, and the nice big display is a bonus. This one goes to Honor.

Winner: Honor 7X

Battery life and charging

Alcatel Idol 5 review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

These devices are fairly different when it comes to battery life. While the Alcatel Idol 5’s battery comes in at 2,800mAh, the larger body size on the Honor 7X allows it to boast a bigger, 3,340mAh battery. Some of that extra juice might be used up in the larger screen, but we found that the Honor 7X offers significantly longer battery life overall — which is good news for users.

Both of the phones also offer some kind of fast charging tech, though you will want to use the supplied chargers.

Because of the longer battery life, this one swings Honor’s way.

Winner: Honor 7X


honor 7x review dual camera
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The cameras on these devices are also pretty different. While the Alcatel Idol 5 offers a single-lens camera that we found to be capable of handling most standard photo-taking situations, the Honor 7X steps things up with a dual-sensor camera that we found could also perform pretty well.

Let’s talk specs for a moment. The Idol 5’s single-lens camera comes in at 13 megapixels with an aperture of f/2.0. The Honor 7X, on the other hand, has a dual-lens 16-megapixel camera with a secondary 2-megapixel sensor and an aperture of f/2.2. We found that the camera produced generally sharp images with good detail and color balance. Not only that, but with the dual camera, you can create portrait-mode effects that blur the background, helping your subject pop.

While the Idol 5’s camera is decent for most standard photos, the Honor 7X’s camera offers a little more in terms of features and delivers good quality images.

Winner: Honor 7X


Alcatel Idol 5 review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

Both of the phones are Android devices, and they both ship with Android 7.0 Nougat — and Honor announced that the Honor 7X will be getting Oreo at some point soon.

Alcatel hasn’t announced which phones will get Android 8.0 Oreo, but we don’t expect the Idol 5 to get it. The company generally is not great with consistent updates. Because of that, this one goes to Honor.

Winner: Honor 7X

Price and availability

The price of the Honor 7X raised a few eyebrows at launch — not because it was high, but because it’s so low. The phone comes in at only $200, which is only $20 more than the Idol 5, but it offers much more than $20 of extra value.

Pricing is pretty similar, but availability is not. While you can get the Honor 7X unlocked from the Honor website, you can only get the Alcatel Idol 5 from Cricket Wireless, at least in the U.S. That is not good news for anyone who’s not on Cricket Wireless or willing to switch over.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Honor 7X is a GSM-only phone — meaning that it won’t work on Verizon or Sprint. You’ll need to be willing to switch to a GSM network if you’re currently on a CDMA one.

We think the $20 price difference is pretty small — but the difference in availability is not. The Honor 7X is the winner here.

Winner: Honor 7X

Overall winner: Honor 7X

There’s a clear winner here. While the Alcatel Idol 5 is a pretty good phone for the price, it just can’t hold its own against the Honor 7X. The Honor 7X is a better performer, has a better camera, a larger battery, and it’s more widely available. There’s no question — if you’re debating between these two phones, then the Honor 7X is the right choice.

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