We finally saw Honor launch the Honor 7X on December 5. At Rs 12,999, the 7X promises a lot, especially when seen in the context of the Mi A1 from Xiaomi. This, even as Xiaomi is still basking in the glory of its latest marketshare numbers which made Samsung for one very unhappy. The Honor 7X is a timely reminder about the perils of sitting back on your laurels for Xiaomi, as the Honor brand has steadily and quietly been building a solid reputation for quality, innovation and value.
2017 has definitely been a sort of ‘coming out ‘ year for Huawei, Honor’s parent firm, as it took the lead in dual camera phones, and delivered on the promise too. So much so that the form also won an award for its models in the mid-range segment at our very own Device World 2017 awards.
The Honor 7X builds on that happy legacy, with its dual camera setup, and a ‘fullview’ display. Complimenting these strengths is the mandatory metal body, a powerful 4 GB of RAM, and for good or worse, the Emotion UI software, also called the EMUI Skin which is available across all Honor phones. The Xiaomi A1 on the other hand, is pretty much a stock Android device. While that appeals to the finicky blogger, we believe the EMUI skin, as long as packs in enough relevant tricks and hacks, is a useful feature for a first time or even an upgrading user, as you would expect the buyer for these phones to be.
In fact, right from the blue box with its stark branding, we personally like the increasing slickness Honor displays, when it comes to the bells and whistles of marketing. So let’s move on to the shootout.
With metal bodies making a strong comeback during 2017, both the 7X and the A1 sport theirs well, with the A1 possibly just that little bit sleeker, although the hat tip to the iPhone may not be such a great thing.
The second big trend of 2017, the bezel less screen, is carried off better on the Honor 7X,giving it parity on looks.
With both the handsets having rear facing fingerprint scanners, the battle boils down to the speed of these. The 7Xdefinitely edges this one, with the A1 not too far behind.
This is where the 7X plays to its strengths. Its bezel less or immersive screen, at 5.9 inches, has a tall aspect ratio of 18:9. On a form factor that should ideally have had a 5.5 inch screen.
The larger screen and aspect ratio obviously means gaming, multimedia and even reading on the 7 X is easier on the eyes, and possibly fingers than on the A1. While the viewing angles work well, you might notice a slight colour oversaturation if you are really into natural looks. The A1 screen does as well as it can, but just on its own, perhaps not as well as the 7X.
Performance or Processor
The Xiaomi MiA1 is powered by the reliable and efficient Snapdragon 625 processor. The Honor 7X, of course, has Huawei’s own Kirin 659 chipset. Both the phones compliment their processors with 4GB ram and 64Gb storage, expandable to 128 GB. What that means is that on performance, there is little to choose between the two, though some people might value the brand name presence inside the Xiaomi A1.
The Star of the show, aka, the Camera
Dual Camera setups adorn both the smartphones at the rear.TheWhile the Honor 7X follows the dual camera template with the depth effects, the Mi A1 also has a 2X optical zoom, giving it a slight edge. But both the phones offer a pretty interesting option to anyone looking for a dual camera phone south of 15K.
This view will only get stronger when you checkout the primary sensor on the 7X.
The front camera on the 7X makes up for the optical zoom miss by having bokeh capability, something missing in the A1. Incidentally, this comes thanks to software algorithms, blamed for adding bloatware on the phone OS.
The front camera on the Mi A1 is impressive otherwise. But one would have to say, unless you are a finicky one for natural colours, the Honor 7X offers you more options on its cameras.
Other features that matter:
As we said Honor’s EMUI interface is a big if, when compared to the stock android on the MI A1. While it is easy to dismiss proprietary skins on a handset as bloatware, we do believe that a user will actually appreciate the skin on the 7X. While carrying the risk of irrelevant features, the EMUI 5.1 on the Honor 7X does have some redeeming features. The ability to run multiple versions of the same application,simpler ways to create folders and group apps, and even the fingerprint sensor that lets you slide down the notification tray can’t be argued against.
There is no doubt that this is really close race. The Mi A1 comes with the reputation of a market leader now, while the Honor 7X has the legacy of a solid legacy now, besides consumer trust. However, in a price sensitive category, its lower price of Rs 12,999 might just give it the edge it requires to get users to give it a shot. The larger capacity battery will only make add an extra tick to the list for it, with its 3350 mAH battery versus the Mi A1’s 3080 mAH storage. Even its higher version, with the better and larger screen, will give you a strong reason to pause and think, before you make that call.