Thoughts On the Huawei Honor 7

Honor 7 in her Box

Been away a while

So I have done very little regarding mobile for quite a while, I chat on Twitter and post mobile photos on Flickr and Facebook, but generally haven't had much to write about as such. Anyone who can remember the last thing I wrote will no my main interest in mobile was Nokia and is now Microsoft handsets running the Windows OS, and despite a number of handset releases this year and my great good fortune in having several trial handsets from Lumia Voices, they have all been either budget or at best mid-range handsets and although they have given a good user experience, none of the 2015 Lumia releases have exceeded the overall performance of my 1520/930 for speed or usability and none have challenged in my number one requirement of top end phone camera and as a result I haven't bought a replacement for my current main phone (hopefully that may change shortly) , still after two years, the Lumia 1020 is my top choice for snapping pics, although the Lumia 930 I also use is pretty good and due to newer hardware manages a few tricks my 1020 can't compete with, that said , I am digressing more than normal , and the point I am really trying to ramble about in this introduction is that as a mobile enthusiast I follow various tech sites and people on the web and although mainly a Windows user I am interested in most mobile/tech stuff.

New Toy

On Aug 27th this year a few people I know and some tech sites I follow were attending the UK launch of the Huawei Honor 7 handset . I was following their Twitter feeds and most of the feedback was extremely positive on all aspects of this new mid-range handset from China and the loudest noise was the ridiculously low price, particularly by pre-ordering the handset via Honor's 'V Mall' website where you got a voucher to reduce the cost of the handset on your order, so on a whim, because I hadn't owned a 'New' phone for over a year I thought I'd take a punt and buy the Honor 7, and you know what ? It turns out it was a very good decision .

Now a few people I know 'virtually' also pre-ordered the Honor 7 and more by luck than management, although I think not specifying a Grey handset, mine arrived before most folks I know, as my handset was 'Fantasy Silver' which apparently was more readily available than the Grey version, so on the 7th of September , a couple of weeks after my order, my Honor 7 arrived at work and I had a new Andoid handset to play with. I won't go through specs in detail but anyone wanting full specs GSMArena.com have them all listed HERE . All I'm going to do is give my experience of using the handset and my opinions of using it.

Honor Rear Sticker

Rear sticker with button labels when the phone comes out of the box
Rear sticker with button labels when the phone comes out of the box

Pics of the phone

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Close up 'Smart Button'Lock screen using one of my pics as a wallpaperPower/on-off button and volume rockerChamfered edges and buttonsSim Tray & Smart ButtonSpeaker grill & USB Port at bottomDual sim/micro sd card tray (bit fiddly to put in but works fine)Close up sim trayPhone speaker, FFC and proximity sensor
Close up 'Smart Button'
Close up 'Smart Button'
Lock screen using one of my pics as a wallpaper
Lock screen using one of my pics as a wallpaper
Power/on-off button and volume rocker
Power/on-off button and volume rocker
Chamfered edges and buttons
Chamfered edges and buttons
Sim Tray & Smart Button
Sim Tray & Smart Button
Speaker grill & USB Port at bottom
Speaker grill & USB Port at bottom
Dual sim/micro sd card tray (bit fiddly to put in but works fine)
Dual sim/micro sd card tray (bit fiddly to put in but works fine)
Close up sim tray
Close up sim tray
Phone speaker, FFC and proximity sensor
Phone speaker, FFC and proximity sensor

Retail Package

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Box & ContentsCharger & CablePapers & Stickers
Box & Contents
Box & Contents
Charger & Cable
Charger & Cable
Papers & Stickers
Papers & Stickers

Build & Packaging

So here we go, the packaging the handset arrived in was a simple blue box with a '7' embossed on it which contained the handset, a charger (a standard one, although the Honor 7 supports high speed charging and it's possible to buy a high speed charger, I haven't so can't give an opinion) , usb cable, a sim/microsd card tray removal tool and some instructions & quick setup paperwork, so simple and compact. First impressions on unboxing the handset are quality, quality materials, looks and screen, it's made of alluminium that's been 'Sandblasted' which gives it a cool but grippy metalic case, the end caps match but are plastic to allow the antennas to recieve a good signal, the screen is a bright clear 1080p 5.2" LCD panel and all the buttons and ports are metalic , beutifully engineered and ,in the case of the buttons, nicely weighted and clicky, to look at and hold the Honor 7 looks like a £400-500 handset, really do not know haow they do it ??

For those interested the Honor 7 ships with Android V5.0 (Lollipop) but there are very positive rumours that it will be updated to V6.0 (Marshmallow) before the end of 2015. Performance on the handset is quick and positive, everything works as it should, media and many apps will store on the micro sd card so you can leave the built in memory pretty clear. Hauwei use their 'Emotion UI' skin over Android, like HTC do Sense etc, I've read a few people complain about it not having an app tray, but it had worked fine for me. I like widgets, always have since using Symbian, so I have five 'Homescreens' on the Honor 7 and my main homescreen has a Twitter (Fenix, not official, because all official Twitter apps require a description involving four letter words, which I avoid in writing, but official Twitter can almost F*&£ing push me into it) and a Facebook widget, my next has a couple of email widgets, then Music (including Mix Radio , check it out) and video, I then have a calendar and weather widget and finally a screen with apps grouped in folders and I'm done. Out of the box the icons on the handset aren't particularly uniform, so I simply changed the phone theme to one of those preinstalled on the handset and although some of the icons are a little garesh, they're all the same shape, it all looks neat and tidy and everything I need is easily accessable and works how I want it to.

Screen shots from settings

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Dual SIM SettingsFingerprint sensor optionsVoice Wakeup settingsOptions after voice awake'I'm here' screenKnuckle screenshot and selectionSmart Button Settings
Dual SIM Settings
Dual SIM Settings
Fingerprint sensor options
Fingerprint sensor options
Voice Wakeup settings
Voice Wakeup settings
Options after voice awake
Options after voice awake
'I'm here' screen
'I'm here' screen
Knuckle screenshot and selection
Knuckle screenshot and selection
Smart Button Settings
Smart Button Settings

The really clever, fun stuff

Now after the setting up of the Honor 7 , if you delve in the settings and check the phone out a little more carefully, the initial pleasing impressions of the phone skyrocket, as the handset, at least in my opinion, has some great little tricks built in. Some are a bit 'novel' but mainly really cool, really useful and really practicle. I know it isn't unique, but the Honor7 is the first handset I've used with a fingerprint sensor, it is REALLY fast and easy to set up, but it also works as a kind of mousepad when the phone is unlocked, if you swipe your finger over the sensor you can drop down the notication screen without touching the screen, return to previous apps and various other functions such as tapping to answer a call or take a photo when the camera is open, none of which as a non-Android expert, I believe are common fingerprint scanner functions. Another novelty function is the voice unwake feature, you can set a phrase to awaken the phone, I know about Hey Google , and Siri and Cortana, but if I misplace my Honor 7 and shout 'Wakeup Honor' then 'Where are you' the phone lights up the screen, plays a colourful cartoon, calls 'I'm here' at full volume and flashes the camera led repeatedly, it's actually worth misplacing the phone for the laugh .Another little trick I'd not seen before was smart screenshot , where you can tap any screen with your knuckle and draw around a tweet or web article and keep the area drawn around .But all this stuff pales into insignificance compared to the Honor 7's piece of resistance, it's unique selling point, the most useful thing I've had on a phone after the camera, THE SMART BUTTON, it is great, not the first time any button existed that you can assign function to, but Honor have done a great job with this and I don't know another phone that currently has one , I am, however , willing to bet it will become common on most handsets within the next few years. The smart button is located on the left hand side of the handset as you look at it and you can assign up to three different functions on it and it works wonderfully, most apps and functions can be assigned to the smart button and all you need to do to access it is either press once quickly, press twice quickly or long hold to access your three choices. It is a feature, once you've used it , you really wouldn't want to do without !

Couple of pics from the Honor7

Bit of HDR Landscape
Bit of HDR Landscape
Some Bokeh from the Honor7
Some Bokeh from the Honor7

Conclusion for now, hopefully more to come

So I'm just about done, I may get more involved more with the camera in another piece, but to be fair you get a hell of a lot of phone and class with the Honor7 for a couple of hundred quid or so. The 20 megapixel camera does produce some nice results and has a couple of tricks of it's own, but I may do a comparison with my Lumia 930 which also has a 20 megapixel camera and as they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so that will save the both of us a lot of time ;-D

Cheers

Stephen Quin

17/11/15

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