Honor 8X vs. Honor 7X: Battle of the beautiful budget phones

Huawei Honor 8X review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor 8X has finally been released, and Honor’s latest affordable phone is looking like it’ll appear on our list of the best budget phones, thanks to an upgraded processor, slimmed-down bezels, and a spruced-up camera.

But its predecessor, the Honor 7X, is still a solid choice if you’re looking for a great Android phone that won’t break the bank. Which do you buy? We’ve put these two great budget phones head-to-head to help you decide.

Specs

Honor 8X Honor 7X
Size 160.4 x 76.6 x 7.8 mm (6.31 x 3.02 x 0.31 inches) 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm (6.16 x 2.96 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 175 grams (6.17 ounces) 165 grams (5.82 ounces)
Screen size 6.5-inch IPS LCD 5.93-inch IPS LCD
Screen resolution 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (396 pixels per inch) 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (407 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo (under EMUI 8.2) Android 8.0 Oreo (under EMUI 8.1)
Storage space 64GB, 128GB
32GB, 64GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 400GB Yes, up to 256GB
Tap-to-pay services In certain markets No
Processor Kirin 710 Kirin 659
RAM 4GB, 6GB 4GB
Camera Dual 20MP and 2MP rear, 16MP front Dual 16MP and 2MP rear, 8MP front
Video Up to 1080p at 30 frames per second Up to 1080p at 30 frames per second
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroUSB 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroUSB
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance No No
Battery 3,750mAh 3,340mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T
Colors Black, Blue, Red, Pink Black, Blue, Gold, Red, Gray
Price Around $280 $200
Buy from Honor Honor, Amazon
Review score Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

honor 7x review back full
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You won’t find flagship-level performance in either of these budget phones, but they still possess good specs. Both are equipped with a Kirin processor, with the Kirin 659 in the Honor 7X and the newer Kirin 710 in the Honor 8X. The Honor 7X’s Kirin 659 proved to be a capable processor in our review, providing solid performance across a variety of apps. The upcoming GPU Turbo update will likely make gaming performance even better. The Honor 8X’s Kirin 710 is the more powerful processor, though, with four of its eight cores being the same as those found in the powerful Kirin 970 chip that graces the Huawei P20 Pro.

The Honor 7X comes with a 3,340mAh battery that lasts a day — but it’s not the equal of the huge 3,750mAh battery found in the Honor 8X. Even with a bigger screen, we’re expecting the 8X battery to last a little longer. Charging speed is much the same on both phones sadly, with outdated MicroUSB ports on both. There’s no wireless charging, but that’s no surprise at the budget end of the market.

While the Honor 7X is a good performer, the Honor 8X represents an upgrade in every way.

Winner: Honor 8X

Design and durability

Huawei Honor 8X review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor 7X was a breath of fresh air in the budget market last year, and it brought the latest bezel-less trends to a $200 phone. It looked modern, and that was one of the phone’s strongest elements. So it means a lot when we say the Honor 8X has definitely managed to top the 7X.

The first major change is the 8X’s glass back. It’s the first time Honor has used glass in its budget X-range, and the 15 layers of glass refract light in a similar fashion to the gorgeous Honor 10. Let the 8X catch the light and you’re in for a show. Honor hasn’t slacked off elsewhere either — the bezels have been slimmed down even further from the 7X, to the point where the Honor 8X can claim an incredible 84.3 percent screen-to-body ratio. That’s higher than the iPhone XS.

It’s not all good news. Thanks to the fragility of glass, you can expect the Honor 8X to be more breakable than the metal-bodied Honor 7X. The airbags in the Honor 7X’s corners also aren’t present in the Honor 8X, so you’ve probably got a more fragile phone. Neither phone has any water-resistance, so keep a tight grip around water.

Winner: Honor 8X

Display

honor 7x review in hand full best honor 7x cases
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find low-cost LCD displays in both of these phones, but that’s more or less where the similarities end. The Honor 7X has a 5.93-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a 2,160 x 1,080-pixel resolution. The Honor 8X’s display is even larger — a 6.5-inch display in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio with a 2,340 x 1,080-pixel resolution. A larger screen doesn’t mean a better screen, and you’ll find the Honor 7X’s screen is actually slightly sharper than the 8X’s stretched-out screen. It’s a very slight difference, though.

The Honor 8X comes with blue light-busting tech built-in for a more comfortable experience over a longer period, but unless you’re using your phone at night a lot, then you’re unlikely to see much of a difference.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Huawei Honor 8X review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor 7X’s camera was a welcome surprise, and the 16-megapixel lens and secondary 2-megapixel lens work extremely well together to provide some very good images. The two lenses provide bokeh background blur, and the camera produces images you won’t be ashamed to share on social media — though the background blur effect has a tendency to miss the mark sometimes.

The Honor 8X has improved on this further. The secondary 2-megapixel lens remains, but the main lens has been upgraded to 20-megapixels, and the bokeh mode has seen some improvements, too. Like many of Honor’s new phones, there’s been an emphasis on A.I. assistance in the 8X’s camera. Effectiveness varies, but it’s worth playing with — especially the A.I.-stabilized Night Mode.

Video capabilities are much the same in both phones, but the Honor 8X definitely has an advantage in terms of selfies with a 16-megapixel lens. The 7X is only packing an 8-megapixel front lens.

Winner: Honor 8X

Software and updates

honor 7x review screen bottom
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Bad news for stock Android fans — both phones come with the Emotion UI skin (EMUI), and it’s about as far from standard Android as you can get. Still, it’s not the worst skin to use, and it has improved a lot since it first came out. If you’re coming from a more usual Android phone, expect a few differences — but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

You’ll find Android 8.0 Oreo on both of these phones. Don’t expect timely software updates on either — EMUI is heavily customized and it takes time to make updates. Both phones are likely to get Android 9.0 Pie — but it’s likely that only the Honor 8X will be upgraded to Android Q. If you care about getting the latest updates, then it’s usually worth buying the newer phone.

These are going to offer similar experiences, being as they’re both from the same manufacturer — but the Honor 8X will be more likely to be updated for longer than the Honor 7X.

Winner: Honor 8X

Special features

Huawei Honor 8X review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find a fair few shared special features on these phones. Both phones will benefit from the extra gaming performance offered by the GPU Turbo mode, the option for facial unlocking, and EMUI’s built-in Phone Manager app that helps keep your phone running smoothly. But the Honor 8X is part of Honor’s drive to integrate more artificial intelligence into its phones, and you’ll find more A.I. smarts in the newer model.

There’s the aforementioned A.I. in the camera, but it doesn’t stop there. The Honor 8X’s onboard A.I. will also make your phone calls a little bit clearer by trimming out background noise with A.I. noise cancelling, and we expect to see even more software added as the 8X ages. Unfortunately, neither phone comes with NFC as standard, so there’s no Google Pay.

Winner: Honor 8X

Price

The Honor 7X is currently available, and you can pick it up for just $200. It was never officially released in the U.S. though, and like most Honor phones,you’ll have to import it. The Honor 8X has been released, but pricing for the U.K. and Europe hasn’t arrived yet, and we don’t know whether it’ll see a full U.S. release. Judging by prices in other regions, we’re expecting the Honor 8X to cost a bit more than $200.

All Honor phones have problems working with CDMA networks, so neither the Honor 8X or 7X will work on Verizon or Sprint — it’s T-Mobile and AT&T only.

Overall winner: Honor 8X

It’s a win for the Honor 8X, and the upgraded camera, design, and processor are enough to mark the phone as a clear upgrade to the Honor 7X. But it’s not a complete whitewash, and the Honor 7X put up a valiant fight until the end.

If you’re already using the Honor 7X, the 8X isn’t enough of a reason for an early upgrade — but if you’re trying to decide between the two, then the Honor 8X is clearly superior.

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