One of the bizarre twists of the 2018 smartphone market is that the phones most Android fans want — ones with a headphone jack and without a notch in the screen — are easier to find among budget models than premium offerings. Today’s announcement from Honor is a perfect example: the 5.7-inch Honor 7A and the 6-inch Honor 7C both offer 18:9 displays with reasonably sized bezels and no notch to spoil the view, plus they retain the 3.5mm audio jack that more expensive phones seem to be allergic to these days.
I got my hands on both of these phones ahead of the unveiling today. Priced at £139.99 (roughly $200) in the UK, the Honor 7A asks that you accept a lot of compromises. Its display isn’t particularly bright or vibrant, and its resolution of 1440 x 720 isn’t really sharp enough, either. This phone’s biggest limitation might be the entry-level 16GB of onboard storage allied to 2GB of RAM, though Honor includes a neat 3-in-1 card slot — with space for two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card up to 256GB — that allows for expansion. A 32GB variant will also be made available. The 7A is powered by a Snapdragon 430 chip, has a 3,000mAh battery, and comes with Android 8.0 and EMUI 8 preloaded. It does offer face unlock and a fingerprint reader on the back for biometric authentication.
The Honor 7C is slightly dearer at £169.99 (around $240), but it gets an upgrade to a metal (rather than plastic) back and it adds a second camera on the rear. Both of these new phones have a 13-megapixel main sensor, with the 7C adding a secondary 2-megapixel sensor to help it detect depth and generate artificial bokeh. Up front, both have 8-megapixel selfie cameras. The battery is the same as on the Honor 7A, 3,000mAh, and so is the thickness at 7.8mm. No differences in software or biometric options, either, with face unlock and a fingerprint scanner on this device as well.
The 7C steps up to a Snapdragon 450 with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage by default, while also providing the 3-in-1 card slot option or an upgraded 64GB model. I can’t say that I was impressed much by either phone, with the Honor 7A showing noticeable lag in basic operations, but the 7C feels substantially more modern thanks to its superior materials and processor. It’s a little bit faster and smoother and a lot nicer to hold in the hand.
As much as I’d like to fete these two phones for sticking to tried and true designs, I do find them somewhat retrograde in the corners they cut. Aside from having underwhelming displays and performance, they also ship with MicroUSB ports instead of USB-C, which I no longer find an excusable compromise. Honor has yet to confirm release details for Europe and the US, but both phones will be available via Hihonor.com, with the Honor 7A also getting widespread distribution through the usual phone retail channels in the UK.