Honor 7S Review: Raises The Bar For Entry Level Smartphones

Updated on 2018-06-29 by Geetansh Arora


Honor 7S Review cover image

Huawei has been very aggressive in India lately. They have launched a lot of smartphones in almost every segment. During last 1 year, we have seen the launch of Huawei P20 Lite, Honor 9i, Honor 7X in the midrange segment. Honor 9 Lite, Honor 7C and Honor 7A in the budget segment. Honor View 10 and Honor 10 in the budget flagship segment and Honor P20 Pro in premium flagship segment. All these Honor/Huawei phones were launched with latest features like bezel-less displays and dual cameras and the prices have been very attractive. High value for money is something everyone loves and that has helped Honor to break into the top 5 smartphone brands in India in a very short time. Honor was ranked 5th in India in last quarter with 3.4% market share. Honor sales grey by around 150% which is phenomenal growth.

To continue this trend, Honor has come up with another entry-level budget smartphone: Honor 7S. The Honor 7S is the most affordable smartphone in the Honor 7 series of smartphones. Honor 7S pricing is expected to be around $110 which means Honor should launch the 7S at a price of Rs. 6999 or 7499 in India.

The Honor 7S will be competing with smartphones like Redmi 5A which has been a bestseller in India and have staggering sales numbers. Let’s take a look the detailed review of Honor 7S.

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Honor 7S Specifications:

Inside the box:

Inside the box, we get

So, nothing special inside the box. The 5V 1Amp charger is actually disappointing to see because with a 3020 mAh battery and 1 Amp charger, we are looking at a charging time of over 3 hours. More on this later in our battery and charging review.

After the first boot, we get around 1 GB of free RAM and 10 GB of free storage. There is a dedicated MicroSD slot available so you can increase the storage by up to 256GB.

Design and Display:

On the front, we have sharp and bright 5.45-inch display of 720 HD+ resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio. All new phones are coming with 18:9 or 19:9 aspect ratio tall displays these days and Honor is bringing it to the budget segment with Honor 7S.

The curved back makes it very comfortable to hold. It can also be used with one hand without any issues.

The bezels on the top and bottom are decent and help to pack a larger display and keep the overall size of the phone similar to other 5-inch phones like Redmi 5A. Honor 7S is 8.3 mm thick and weighs 142 grams. The curved back makes it very comfortable to hold. It can also be used with one hand without any issues. If you have been using large phones with both hands, Honor 7S would be a welcome change.

Honor 7S display and design

The touch is smooth and responsive and works well. There is no 2.5D gorilla glass on the top of the display so having a tempered glass would be a good choice to protect the display from scratching or breaking. The display resolution is just 720p but it is very sharp and vibrant with good viewing angles. The color reproduction is not accurate but it looks good overall. The display brightness levels are decent. Overall, it is one of the best displays you can get on phones in this price segment.

It is a 5 touch display means it can sense 5 touch inputs simultaneously. Honor has provided plenty of settings for display. You can use the eye comfort option if you are reading ebooks. Color temperature settings can be used to adjust from Warm to Cool. The Full-Screen Display option allows you to change the resolution of apps from 16:9 to 18:9. If it breaks some app then you can undo it from here.

Honor 7S display settings

On the right side of the phone, we have a power button and volume keys. Triple Slot tray is on the left. 2 slots are for SIM cards and the third slot can be used to expand the storage by up to 256GB. Kudos to Honor for providing a dedicated MicroSD slot. The phone comes with just 16GB of internal storage so a dedicated MicroSD slot is great for those who need more storage. On top we the 3.5 mm headphone jack and on the bottom, there is a Micro USB charging point. 

Honor 7S back design and camera

The back design of the Honor 7S is similar to other Honor phones like the 7C and 7A. The camera sensor and the flash is placed horizontally on the left corner and there is Honor branding at the center. The design and build of the phone are decent. We wish there was 2.5D gorilla glass on the front to make things better.

Processor and Performance

The Honor 7S is powered by MediaTek MT6739 chipset which is a Quad Core Chipset with 4 Cortex A53 cores running at a max frequency of 1.5 GHz. The MT6739 is an entry-level chipset and is a bit better than Snapdragon 425/430 in performance. The GPU inside is the PowerVR GE8100. The GPU operates at up to 570MHz frequency and supports the latest 18:9 display type with HD+ (1440 x 720) resolution. 

Here's a snapshot of system information. As you can see on the rightmost snapshot, there's an accelerometer, light sensor and proximity sensor. 

Honor 7S System information

The processor performance is decent overall. It is able to handle games like Real Racing and Mortal Combat X. You will notice some lag during switching between apps and we think the 2 GB RAM is the limiting factor here and not the processor or GPU. 

Just 2GB of RAM limits the performance of the device and lag can be seen while multitasking.

Games would lag if the processor was unable to handle the load but they work fine. It is just that when you switch between apps, the apps reloaded and the phone feels laggy. We noticed that there is around 1GB of free RAM when you switch on the device and as you start using apps, free memory goes down and when it reaches around 550-580 MB mark, the OS starts killing apps in the background to create more space. 

If you use a lot of apps then you might feel frustrated. If you use your phone for basic stuff like calling, messaging and social media then it won’t be a problem. We do recommend using the Lite versions of Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps as it helps to make the experience smoother. If you play games on your phone then Honor 7S won’t disappoint you. Most of the games run fine expect some very heavy games like PUBG which is normal for entry-level budget phones. We think Honor should have provided a 3GB variant of the Honor 7S as the extra 1GB of RAM would have made multitasking much better. Let's take a look at the benchmark scores.

Here are the Antutu and Geekbench benchmark scores for Honor 7S.

In Antutu benchmark it scores 44391 which is around 20% higher than the score of Redmi 5A. Here's a snapshot:

Honor 7S Antutu Score

In Geekbench benchmark, it scores 644 in Single Core tests and 1459 in multicore tests. 

Honor 7S Geekbench Scores

 

Battery and Charging:

Honor 7S comes with a 3020 mAh battery and provides decent battery backup. With low usage, you can expect 1.5 days of backup on a single charge and with medium to heavy usage, the battery would last for a day. We got a backup of 1 day with the following usage:

1.    Installing 20-25 Applications.
2.    Antutu and Geekbench Benchmarks
3.    2 Hours of YouTube Usage 
4.    1 Hour of music playback
5.    30 Minutes of Calling
6.    2 Hours of Social Media and News
7.    45 Minutes of Gaming

The SOT (Screen On Time) was around 5.5 Hours. Watching videos on Youtube drains the battery at a rate of around 15% per hour with screen brightness and sound at 50% levels and gaming drained the battery at a rate of around 20% per hour.

Let’s talk about charging now.

The Honor 7S comes with a 5V 1A charger which is a bit disappointing. If you are not using the device, you are looking at more than 3 hours of charging time which can be frustrating for some users. After the first charge, we have been using another Honor charger which is rated 5V 2A and charges the phone in around 2 hours. Take a look at some of the charging charts below. Please note that 5V 2A charger was used for charging when these measurements were taken.

Honor 7S takes 3 hours to charge with the charger 5V 1A that comes in the box. 5V 2A charger takes around 2 hours to fully charge from 10% to 100%.

The charging chart was a bit surprising for us because it is almost linear. Usually, phones charge at a good pace (40-50% per hour) till 90% and then charging slows down (15% per hour). But here it maintained a good pace till 100%. The charging starts at a rate of 45% per hour and slowly improves to around 52% per hour and then slow down to around 40% per hour when the device is almost fully charged. The middle snapshot shows the temperature(in orange) while charging and the snapshot on the right shows the charging rate in orange.

Honor 7S Battery Charging charts

If you are thinking about overheating, then there is no need to worry. It does get warm while charging which is normal and not a problem because you won’t be using your phone. As you can see in the middle chart, the battery temperature was 37 degrees Celsius when the charging started and it went to around 45 degrees Celsius. 

Here are few discharging charts when Mortal Combat X was played. The left chart shows the CPU utilization which was near 100%, the middle one shows the battery discharging speed which was around 20% per hour and the rightmost one shows that the temperature rose by around 6 degrees.

Honor 7S Discharging while playing games 

Software, UI, Calling, and Security

Honor 7S comes loaded EMUI 8 which is a skin based on the latest Android 8.1. EMUI is one of the heaviest skin out there with a lot of preinstalled apps. EMUI on a device with just 2GB RAM isn’t a great experience and you will see lag while quickly switching between apps which we discussed earlier as well. 

The UI is very nice and clean actually. You get an option to add a drawer on the home screen which is something we always use. If you don’t like the UI, you can always install a launcher on your phone. Here we don’t recommend using a launcher because of low RAM. Here are some snapshots of the home screen (with and without app drawer) and settings page. A lot of themes are also available which will be useful if you get bored with the default theme.

Honor 7S Home Screen Images

Calling:

Honor 7S is a dual sim device and you can use one 4G sim and one 2G sim at the same time. Looks like the device does not support VOLTE as we were not able to use our Jio Sim for calling. However, all other 2G/3G/4G modes work well and data transfer speeds were good.

Loud Voice Calls is a great feature for taking calls in a noisy environment.

Honor 7S has an interesting new feature called Loud Voice Calls and it is great for taking calls in a noisy environment. You just need to keep pressing the volume button during a call and once the volume reaches 100% as shown in the snapshot on the left below, it will enable the Loud voice call feature and you can increase the volume further. It gets loud enough and you won't have problem taking calls in a noisy area.

Honor 7S loud voice call feature

Security:

Honor 7S is very basic in the security department. There is no fingerprint sensor on the Honor 7S and no Face unlock as well. So, you have to rely on old methods of unlocking the phone: PIN, Pattern or Password. 

Camera Performance:

Honor 7S comes with a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front selfie camera. Both cameras have a flash which improves the quality of pictures in low light. Performance of both cameras is decent with good color reproduction. Sharpness and dynamic range are not that great though. Pictures look good overall and there is a decent level of details. 

The camera app has various modes like Beauty, HDR, Panorama. You can access the modes by swiping left in the camera app. Swiping right in the camera app will take you to camera settings where you can change settings like resolution, GPS tag, assistive grid, timer, burst shoot etc. You can also play with white balance, ISO etc.

Honor 7S Rear camera settings

While using the front camera, you get some additional settings like mirror reflection and perfect selfie. Perfect selfie is an interesting feature where the camera will take 3 shots of your face and then you can brighten your face/eyes, change the size of your eyes and change the shape of your face as well. We are not a fan of beautification features but a lot of people do use them so it is good to see an entry-level budget smartphone offering this functionality. 

Honor 7S Front camera settings

Take a look at some rear camera samples below.

An indoor shot in artificial lighting. The color accuracy is good but the image is not that detailed. 

Honor 7S First camera sample

A couple of outdoor daylight shots. The images look good overall. The text on the board on the right is legible. 

Honor 7S third camera sample

Honor 7S fourth camera sample in daylight conditions

Here's shot of a construction site. The picture looks decent overall but the details of the sky and inner part of the site are missing.

honor 7s fifth camera sample of a construction site

now an indoor shot with low lighting

Honor 7S indoor low light camera sample

Here are a couple of selfies from the front camera:

Honor 7S front camera selfie sample images

So overall impression of the camera performance is good. It is not a great camera and you can't expect great cameras in $100 phones but yes, it is a decent one and probably one of the best in this price range. Outdoor daylight pictures are going to look decent overall and indoor pictures under low light or artificial lights look average.

Pricing and Availability:

Honor 7S was launched recently in the UK at £99 and in Pakistan at PKR 14999. It is also available in China as Honor Play 7.

As of now, we don't know when it will be available in Europe, US, and India. We have contacted Honor and will update this article once we get more info about the global launch of Honor 7S. Honor 7S is expected to be priced around $110 in the western markets and around Rs. 7000 in India.

Honor 7S vs Redmi 5A

India is a very price sensitive market and plays a major role in deciding the success of any smartphone. Redmi 5A 2GB variant is available in India at 5999 and the 3GB variant is available at 6999. If Honor 7S is priced at 5999, it is a clear winner as it offers a bigger display, better cameras, latest Android and couple of interesting and useful feature like Loud calls. If Honor 7S is priced at 6999 or more than that, then it would be difficult to beat Redmi 5A as the 3GB variant of 5A provides better performance because of the extra 1GB RAM.

Pros and Cons of Honor 7S:

So, that was our detailed review. Here are the Pros and Cons of Honor 7S:

Pros:

Cons:

Overall Rating: 8/10

SuggestPhone’s Verdict:

Just a couple of years ago, $100 phones used to be terrible. Things have changed a lot since and it is great to see phones like Honor 7S which perform well and offer great value for money. Yes, it doesn't have plenty of RAM to handle heavy multitasking and it doesn't take good pictures indoor but it is just a $100 phone and it does perform better than the competition. Plus, you get a nice 5.45 inch 18:9 display which is again not common in phones priced in this range. Redmi 5A was the one to the set the bar for entry-level smartphones and Honor 7S just raises that bar.

For US and Europe users who need a basic smartphone with a large display and decent cameras, Honor 7S is the best phone in the price range. Redmi 5A is not available in these markets so 7S doesn't have strong competition.

For China and India, things get a bit tricky. There a lot of options in this price range and Redmi 5A is the best of them. If Honor can match the pricing of Redmi 5A 2GB variant in India then go for Honor 7S. If Honor 7S is priced at 7000 or more then you need to make a decision based on your usage. If you use a lot of apps then Redmi 5A 3GB variant would make sense. If your usage is basic and you need a better display and cameras then Honor 7S should be your choice.



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