Honor 8X vs. Honor 7X: Should you upgrade?

Honor 8X

The Honor 8X is remarkable in its ability to offer a premium-feeling device at a price tag that you often have to make too many compromises for. A striking design, efficient chipset, modern display, and fun new camera features combine to change minds about what cheap devices can and should be.

Honor 8X

Above The Mark

Premium two-tone glass finish
FullView display is blissful
Massive battery goes all day long
Kirin 710 chipset with 6GB of RAM runs EMUI 8.2 quite smoothly
AI-powered dual cameras simplify photography
EMUI, while smooth, comes with too many apps

Honor 7X

Honor's 7X was an uninspiring device when it launched because it didn't try anything new. That's fine because it allowed Honor to bring it in at a $200 price point that's quite generous for all the good it has. Even today, the Honor 7X represents an approachable introduction to a world of premium smartphones.

Honor 7X

Still Relevant

5.93-inch 18:9 display still feels modern
Kirin 659 offers enough power for a smooth Android experience
Dual cameras
Battery lasts all day
Oreo and EMUI 8.0 update refreshes its luster
Although beautiful, the "metal with attenuation lines" look is stale

Beautiful as it may be, the Honor 8X doesn't offer a ton of compelling reasons to upgrade from the Honor 7X. Those with phones longer in the tooth or looking for something different than they already have will find an excellent phone here, but Honor 7X owners should hold out as long as they can stand it.

Honor 8X turns head, but the 7X is still a workhorse

The Honor 8X blessed us with a bevy of upgrades over its predecessor. It has better cameras that are powered by AI to take the hard work out of dialing in your exposure. The glass back has a slick-looking gradation that stops at an off-shade stripe, making for an eye-catching design.

A FullView display opens up more screen real estate for your apps and games. And, most importantly, it's a $200 device that feels like it should cost much more.

We owe much of that premium feel to the underlying silicon, as the Kirin 710 seems to be one efficient wonder. Paired with 4-6GB of RAM, it powers Huawei and Honor's EMUI 8.2 user experience with a high degree of optimization. Its effects on the Android platform is a delightful surprise, as performance is often inconsistent for devices in this market segment.

Coming with Android 8.0 out of the box, the Honor 8X is primed to receive Android Pie, and likely Android Q whenever that's made available. EMUI's presence will surely impede Honor's progress on that front, but if you can stand to wait for updates then you won't find much to take issue with here other than gross levels of bloatware.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Honor 8XHonor 7X
Screen6.5-inch Full HD+ (2340x1080) IPS LCD5.93-inch Full HD+ (2160x1080)
ChipsetHiSilicon Kirin 710HiSilicon Kirin 659
Storage64GB/128GB, microSD slot32GB/64GB/64GB, microSD slot
SoftwareAndroid 8.1 Oreo, EMUI 8.2Android 8.0 Oreo, EMUI 8.0
Rear Camera 120MP, ƒ/1.816MP, ƒ/2.2
Rear Camera 22MP2MP
Front Camera16MP, ƒ/2.08MP, ƒ/2.0
SecurityRear fingerprint, face unlockRear fingerprint, face unlock
ConnectivityWi-Fi ac 5GHz, BT4.2, LTEWifi N, BT4.1, LTE
ColorsBlack, Red, BlueGold, Grey, Black, Blue
Dimensions160.4 x 76.6 x 7.8mm156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm

The Honor 8X improves on its older sibling in almost every way, but we're not so sure those improvements make it worth upgrading. The Honor 7X can still hold its own, and if rumors of an impending Android 9.0 Pie upgrade are accurate then it will be even harder to justify moving on.

The Honor 7X almost looks boring these days.

The Honor 7X almost looks boring these days.

There are some compelling reasons to make the jump. For starters, the Honor 8X adds NFC, bringing yet another feature that's typically only seen in a higher tier of smartphones. This may not be a strong advantage for some, but if you've ever wanted to embrace mobile payments then it's time to upgrade.

Honor is touting big performance gains in the Honor 8X's Kirin 710 compared to the previous SoC. It still runs on a 12nm process, and with four Cortex-A73 cores running at 2.2GHz parallel to another four Cortex-A53 cores running in a big.LITTLE configuration, its processor performance rivals that of 900-series Kirin chips. The GPU doesn't quite stack up to that level of power, but the Mali G51 MP4 inside the Honor 8X can hold its own.

As far as gaming performance is concerned, you'll get by so long as you aren't trying to play games like Fortnite on the highest setting, and there's a GPU Turbo feature if you do need to squeeze out those extra frames. Honor claims a 130% increase in GPU performance over the Kirin 659, as well as a stated improvement of 75 percent for single-core CPU performance.

Beyond that, though, the Honor 8X is a more marginal step up than its fresh design would lead you to believe.

The rear cameras move from a 16MP and 2MP array to a 20MP and 2MP duo featuring an aperture of f/1.8. As any photographer would tell you, it's not always about how many pixels you have, but how you use them.

The 7X's sensors are plenty capable of sharp imagery, but the AI-assisted modes in the Honor 8X can help those with less experience take shots in a variety of lighting conditions without fail. It adjusts exposure settings in real time and does so at a pretty quick pace so as to not cause you the loss of a moment.

Honor also uses machine learning for improved image stabilization and automatic image retouching. Plus, it can identify tons of objects and even claims to be able to identify hundreds of scenarios in real time, such as when you're recording people playing sports. The 16MP sensor on the front is also great for selfies and videos.

Even the FullView display on the Honor 8X doesn't offer many advantages unless you want to take on that notch as a fashion statement. It doesn't have nearly as much bottom bezel as the Honor 7X, but the Honor 7X doesn't exactly overdo it either. And one of the biggest marketing points for the Honor 8X — its facial unlock feature — ended up finding its way onto the older device through a software update.

So, should you upgrade? If you're coming from the previous device in this lineage, I personally wouldn't, especially if you're not one to use your phone to make payments. The Honor 7X is still holding its own and it doesn't look like software support is ending anytime soon. The Honor 8X boasts nice improvements, but not so much that it's easy to justify the extra money you'll spend making the swap. However, newcomers or those still on a 5X or 6X should flock right to the Honor 8X.

Quentyn Kennemer