Honor 7s review: Looks great, performs terribly

Android Central Verdict

Price: €119.90 ($140)Bottom line: The Honor 7s has a great look to it, far beyond its super-low price tag. But good looks, a nice display, and a somewhat decent camera cannot save this phone from its biggest flaw. It's slow, slow, slow.


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    Nice display

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    Good looking design

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    Decent camera for the price


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    Unacceptably slow performance

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If the Honor 7s slipped you by unnoticed, it's easily done. Launched in China under a different name, it's a new budget phone that is available in select global markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, South and Central America. The closest it gets to a U.S. release is Mexico, likewise, it's not currently available in Western Europe.

But Honor does some great work in providing quality phones at excellent prices, so it's always interesting to see what's new. The Honor 7s continues the slightly awkward naming scheme from the brand. Being an 's' model shouldn't lull you into thinking this is something it's not.

But name aside, is it actually any good? Well...not really.

Honor 7s

Honor 7s: Nice design, rough performance

It's worth leading with the price because it's largely why anyone would seriously consider buying it at all. In Europe, it's going for €119.90 (£106 or $140) so it's really cheap. That, in turn, leads to a number of compromises.

Design and build quality aren't one of those, though. You still get a metal-look back and sides that are solid as a rock and around the front you're treated to an 18:9 "Fullview" display. The resolution is 'only' 720p but on a 5.45-inch display, it isn't the end of the world, especially at this price. More important is that it's a good-looking, vibrant display. The size and weight are excellent and perfect if you're looking for a smaller phone but still getting one of the larger 18:9 displays.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SpecsASUS ZenFone 5
Screen5.45-inch HD Fullview (1440 x 720)
ChipsetQuad-core Mediatek MT6739
Rear Camera13MP
Front Camera5MP

There's actually quite a lot to be happy about. In the blue finish I have here it looks really good, and at first glance, there's nothing really to identify this as a cheap phone. It becomes more apparent when you look closer, such as the plasticky front, lack of fingerprint sensor and 'only' a single 13MP rear camera.

It's packing a sizeable 3020mAh battery which combined with this hardware is more than ample for a busy day's use, and the 16GB of internal storage is at least expandable with a microSD card, which can also be stacked alongside a pair of nano-SIM cards.

While it looks great and certainly has a number of positive features about its hardware, there's an equal dose of frustration. Whether it's the MediaTek CPU, the 2GB of RAM, a combination of both or just inadequate software engineering, this phone is slow. Not just slow when you're pushing it, slow all the time. Hopefully, it's an optimization issue that could be fixed with an update rather than something more deep-seeded, because just navigating the phone is a chore.

You're treated to constant stuttering and lag, and even for a phone this cheap it's unacceptable. With the likes of Nokia and Motorola pushing out cheap phones that perform much better, not to mention the advent of Android Go, Honor simply cannot allow a phone that performs this way to hit any market.

So it needs sorting out.

Honor 7s

Honor 7s: Same old software, decent camera

If you've ever looked at a Huawei or Honor device before then the software will come as no surprise. It's mostly the same as you'll find on the likes of the Honor 10 or the Huawei P20 and remains consistent with some of Honor's cheaper phones in look and feel.

Underneath EMUI you're actually getting Android 8.1 Oreo, which is fantastic. I shouldn't be surprised that a phone launching in mid-2018 is running the latest version, but you know. It's especially pleasing to see on a budget phone.

There's little to say about the software that hasn't been said before. It's still a blast of color to the face, though the dark notification shade is a neat touch, and as ever with EMUI there are a ton of themes and icon packs out there you can apply to give it a spruce up to your own tastes. The number one issue is what I've already discussed, and that's performance. It's just not a nice experience.

The camera pairing on the Honor 7s stacks up fairly well. Around the back, you get a 13MP single shooter, with a 5MP front camera with an LED flash. Honor is pretty good at putting the camera ahead of other areas of priority, and for a budget phone, it's a pleasing experience all round.

Selfies look pretty good and you've access to the usual beautification treatments you'd find on any other Honor phone, and while the rear camera won't necessarily take any award-winning shots, it's a solid performer. Images can look a little dark and flat, but it's by no means the worst you'll find on something this cheap. Detail is pretty good, and the camera app is loaded with some of the features you'd find on Honor's more expensive phones.

Honor 7s

The bottom line

Availability is the key here, and the Honor 7s is probably never going to cross the path of many budget phone hunters reading this. It's priced well though in the markets it will be sold and has plenty to like.

It looks good, with a design and construction that outstrips its price tag, the display is nice and the camera is decent for something in this segment of the market. It's even packing a pretty big battery so you'll likely never have to worry about running out before the end of the day.

It's ultimately the performance that lets this phone down. Perhaps it's because Honor opted for a MediaTek CPU and not a Kirin or Qualcomm chip, perhaps it's just engineering gremlins. Whatever the root cause, the phone is mostly not enjoyable to use because it's so stuttery and full of lag. I do hope it's the latter and Honor can push out a fix, because without this spoiling the experience we'd have a really nice budget phone on our hands here.

2.5 out of 5

See at Honor

Richard Devine