Honor 7X vs. Honor 6X: New school versus old school

honor 7x review in hand full best honor 7x cases
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Honor, the subsidiary company of Huawei, has made a good living the past few years by offering budget and midrange devices that we’ve enjoyed, and that have seen good commercial success. The Honor 7X is Honor’s latest phone, offering an upgraded Kirin processor, an improved camera, and a gorgeous new redesign that’s so 2017. But how much of a difference will you see if you’re already familiar with the Honor 6X? If you’re already an Honor 6X user, is the 7X worth the upgrade? We took a look to find out.

Specs

Honor 7X

honor 7x vs moto e4 plus huawei

Honor 6X

honor 6x

Size 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6mm (6.18 x 2.96 x 0.30 inches) 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm (5.94 x 3.00 x 0.32 inches)
Weight 165 grams (5.82 ounces) 162 grams (5.71 ounces)
Screen 5.93-inch IPS LCD display 5.5-inch IPS LCD display
Resolution 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (407 pixels-per-inch) 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (403 pixels-per-inch)
OS EMUI 5.1 (over Android 7.0 Nougat) EMUI 5.0 (over Android 7.0 Nougat)
Storage 32GB for U.S., 64GB for international 32GB for U.S., 64GB for international
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 256GB Yes, up to 256GB
NFC support No Not in U.S., international models only
Processor HiSilicon Kirin 659 HiSilicon Kirin 655
RAM 3GB for U.S., 4GB for international 3GB for U.S., 4GB for international
Connectivity GSM / LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n GSM / LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Camera Dual sensor 16MP & 2MP rear, 8MP front Dual sensor 12MP & 2MP rear, 8MP front
Video 1080p@30fps 1080p@30fps
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1 Bluetooth 4.1
Audio Headphone jack Headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Water resistant No No
Battery 3,340mAh 3,340mAh
Charging port MicroUSB MicroUSB
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Colors Black, Blue, Gold, Red Gray, Gold, Silver
Availability HiHonor Amazon
Price $200 $200
DT review 4 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

If big technological changes get you hot under the collar then you’re going to be slightly disappointed here. Honor hasn’t made many changes in the internal tech between the Honor 6X and the 7X; both phones feature 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM (or 64GB and 4GB of RAM on the international versions), and both have similar specs in terms of Bluetooth connectivity and removable storage expansion (MicroSD cards up to 256GB). That said, don’t take that as a major problem — the Honor 6X offered great performance in our tests, and we’ve seen similarly great results from the Honor 7X, so a lack of serious upgrade is a compliment to the existing technology in play.

We do see a small difference in the upgraded processor. Honor uses Huawei’s proprietary Kirin processors, and there’s a Kirin 659 in the Honor 7X, compared to the Kirin 655 in the 6X. As you’d hope, the upgrade does give the 7X a little more oomph, but not as much as you might expect: The Kirin 659 in the Honor 7X scored 399 in the 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme benchmark, while the 6X’s Kirin 655 scored 378. It’s not a massive difference, but it’s worth pointing out both the Honor 7X and the 6X cost $200. These benchmarks are competitive with midrange phones like the Moto G5S Plus, and HTC U11 Life — and both the 7X and the 6X cost significantly less than their competition.

You’re unlikely to be disappointed with the specs on either phone, and they’re quite evenly balanced. However, the Honor 7X’s slightly beefier processor offers a little more raw power, and helps it to take this round.

Winner: Honor 7X

Design and display

honor 7x review fingerprint
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Here’s where the real changes took place. The Honor 6X is a good-looking and a good-feeling phone; the smooth metal body curves around your hand, it’s slim and easy to hold, and it has an understated minimalist style. Around the back, the dual sensors for the camera are stacked vertically — clearly Apple knew who to copy for the iPhone X‘s camera placement. It was one of our favorite-looking phones when we reviewed it back in January 2017, and that makes it even more incredible Honor managed to exceed these good looks with the Honor 7X.

The key to the 7X’s good looks is the trend of 2017 — the edge-to-edge, bezel-less design we’ve seen in most of the premium flagships this year. It’s one of the first we’ve seen in a budget phone, however, and it’s gorgeous. The slim bezels around the edge of the screen give way to a similarly small forehead and chin at the top and bottom of the phone’s front, and while it isn’t as sleek as, say, the Galaxy S8 or the LG V30, it’s still a gorgeous look that really outshines previous budget phone designs.

As you might expect in a bezel-less phone, a massive display dominates the front. A 5.93-inch LCD display takes up almost the whole of the frontage, and sports a 2,160 x 1,080-pixel resolution in an 18:9 format. While the Honor 6X also has a full HD display going for it, thanks to the 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution, its 5.5-inch LCD display simply can’t compete with the 7X’s mighty screen.

Moving on to durability, both phones are protected by their metal bodies, but only the Honor 7X has Gorilla Glass protecting the screen from damage. The Honor 7X also has extra durability with the addition of internal “air-bags” at each corner of the device. They’re not fully shockproof — Honor describes it as “life-proof” — but when we first saw the device, the Honor team dropped it multiple times to prove the system’s effectiveness. It’s a cool addition we’d like to see on more phones, and we anticipate seeing it on more Honor devices at least.

This round has a clear winner. The Honor 6X is still an attractive device, but the bezel-less trend of 2017 has taken its toll on any device with significant borders around the screen. The Honor 7X is prettier, stronger, and wins this round easily.

Winner: Honor 7X

Camera

Huawei Honor 6X
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Honor has been improving its camera technology with each successive smartphone, and the Honor 7X is no exception. We liked the dual sensors on the 6X; the 12-megapixel lens worked with the 2-megapixel lens to simulate DSLR-style “bokeh” selective blur, and gave us pictures that consistently satisfied our needs. It was good for the price, and it’s good to know Honor has continued to surpass itself with the excellent camera on the Honor 7X.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem too much has changed from the 6X; the 12-megapixel lens has been replaced with a 16-megapixel lens, and the 2-megapixel lens survives the transition. A larger amount of work has gone into the software, improving wide-aperture focus speed and boosting performance under low-light conditions. It’s a seriously impressive camera, and shots taken on the Honor 7X will often pass for shots from a more expensive phone. It does have its weaknesses at times, but it’s an extremely solid camera that’s worth picking up the phone for.

Flip each phone over and you’ll be greeted with an 8-megapixel front-facing snapper. It takes good selfies, and the software comes with a Portrait Mode and various fun filters that can be applied to faces. There’s not much to say outside of that — they’re both functional and of good quality.

The Honor 6X’s camera was very good for the price back when we reviewed it. It’s still good, but it can’t compete with the extremely strong camera on the Honor 7X.

Winner: Honor 7X

Battery life and charging

honor 7x review facedown bottom
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Like some of the other internal specifications, little has changed between the Honor 6X and 7X. Both come with a non-removable 3,340mAh Li-Ion battery that lasts between a day and a day-and-a-half on a single charge. In our tests we saw little difference between the two devices — the Honor 6X may last slightly longer, and you can blame the larger display on the 7X for that, but the difference is so negligible as to be non-existent. Neither phone comes with any real fast charging to speak of, and you’ll likely be able to fully charge up to full from empty in around three hours.

The inclusion of MicroUSB on the Honor 7X is something of a surprise; we’d have expected Honor to change to the faster charging and more versatile USB-C, like it has with other Honor phones. Still, it’s a small disappointment, and given how strong the phone is in other areas, we’re willing to forgive it. If you’ve spent any time with a USB-C phone, you might not.

There’s no discernible difference between the batteries on the Honor 7X and 6X. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software

Huawei Honor 6X
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends
Android purists need not apply, because all of Honor’s phones use Huawei’s proprietary Emotion UI (EMUI) laid over the top of Android. After some rough early years, EMUI has turned into a pretty good Android skin, and we’re satisfied with the implementation of EMUI 5 (laid over the top of Android 7.0 Nougat) on both the Honor 7X and the 6X. It’s got some nifty tricks, too, including multi-screen modes, effective power efficiency settings, and swappable themes.

The lack of EMUI 8.0 on the 7X is a gripe, though. It’s been some time since the new version of EMUI dropped, and we’d expect to see it on every new Honor phone, regardless of price band. There’s also been no word on when the Honor 7X will be receiving an EMUI 8.0 (and Android 8.0 Oreo) update, so for the moment we have to judge it purely on EMUI 5.

There’s no difference between the software on each of these phones — until the Honor 7X gets an upgrade to EMUI 8.0 this round has to be a draw.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

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

The Honor 6X is currently available, though you’ll struggle to find it on the official HiHonor store now. Amazon still has stock, with prices starting at $188 for an unlocked Gray model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. To get the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage model you’ll have to shop abroad and get it imported. Be warned though; like most Honor phones, the 6X lacks connectivity to the CDMA band, making this phone useless on Sprint and Verizon — so if you’re stuck with those carriers, give this a miss.

The Honor 7X will be released December 15, starting at $200 for the 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage model. Like the 6X, you’re stuck searching abroad if you want the upgraded 4GB/64GB model, and you’ll still be unable to use this phone on Verizon or Sprint.

Even with the limitations, $200 for one of these phones is a bargain. Both phones bring close to midrange specs for a budget price, and you’ll be satisfied if you end up plumping for either. That said, you’d be a fool if you chose to go for the 6X over the Honor 7X. The 7X’s more powerful processor, stronger camera, and gorgeous good looks put it so far above the 6X that a price difference of $12 is nowhere near enough of a saving to choose the older model. While you’ll need to avoid two major U.S. carriers, the Honor 7X represents incredible value for money.

Winner: Honor 7X

Overall winner: Honor 7X

honor 7x review back full
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When the successor to a budget phone as good as the Honor 6X comes out, there’s always the chance lightning has failed to strike twice. Thankfully for Honor, the Honor 7X is every bit as good as its predecessor, and then some. With a strong camera, exceptionally good looks, and an upgraded processor, the Honor 7X looks set to be the budget phone of 2018.

But that doesn’t make the Honor 6X a bad choice. We’re admittedly struggling to think of any situations you’d get the 6X over the 7X, save a larger price difference. But if you’ve already got the 6X, you can rest assured you shouldn’t feel the need to upgrade yet. Lightning might have struck twice, but the Honor 6X is still a great budget handset.

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