Honor 7A + 7C bring face unlock to the sub-£170 price point

By | 16th April 2018

New budget phones pack premium features.

When you're selling a phone for less than £200, you need to be very careful about which corners you cut. This price point is rife with devices that choose the wrong compromises, and it's this which Huawei's Honor brand is set to counter with its new Honor 7A and 7C phones, selling for £139.99 and £169.99 respectively.

Both devices borrow heavily from the design language of the Honor 8 Pro and View 10 with curved metal adorning the 7C, and a metallic-effect plastic covering the 7A. And there are a few significant firsts in these phones: They're the first Android phones we're aware of at this price that pack 18:9 panels, giving more display real estate than rivals, and face recognition, a feature largely limited to flagship handsets at present. In our brief time testing the face unlock feature, we found it worked pretty well, though understandably it lacked the speed of high-end implementations, as found in the P20 Pro and Honor View 10.

The other big compromise is display resolution: While the screens are 18:9 panels, you'll need to make do with HD+ resolution, meaning 720p and change, on both models. The displays actually don't look bad considering the price point, and both were bright enough for clear daylight visibility, with vibrant colors. Still, the lack of pixel density is noticeable.

The 7C boasts extra RAM and storage, as well as dual cameras, for an extra £30.

The 7C also features a dual rear camera setup, which is common in mid-rangers, but pretty rare in entry-level phones. In some casual testing ahead of today's launch, the 7C's dual 13-megapixel-plus-2-megapixel setup. In the Honor 7A, you'll miss out on the depth-sensing tricks offered by the second camera. Neither phone skimps on battery capacity, though, with 3,000mAh cells included and considering the efficient Snapdragon 430 and 450 processors used in the 7A and 7C, that bodes really well for battery life.

We're a little more concerned about the RAM situation on the 7A -- Android can run on the 2GB included, but whether it'll run well once it gets loaded up with apps is another matter. By the same token, that 16GB of internal storage will likely have you offloading some apps to your SD card before long.

Both phones come equipped with Huawei's EMUI 8 firmware, though, based on Android 8.0, and the software is kitted out with the same performance-saving AI features found in Huawei's flagship devices. Out of the box, EMUI runs smoothly on both devices, and the software we played with ahead of launch seems to include some more recent fixes from the P20 as well. Specifically, the annoying "app running in background" message no longer displays for music apps, and lock screen notifications can be expanded.

Besides that, this is EMUI, just as we've seen it on many other Huawei and Honor phones, only now powered by a Snapdragon processor as opposed to Huawei's Kirin line. All in all, a solid experience, though with some customizations that may upset Android purists.

CategoryHonor 7AHonor 7C
Operating SystemAndroid 8.0, EMUI 8.0Android 8.0, EMUI 8.0
ProcessorSnapdragon 430Snapdragon 450
microSDYesYes (dual-SIM triple slot)
Battery3,000mAh non-removable3,000mAh non-removable
Display5.99-inch HD+ LCD, 18:9 aspect ratio5.7-inch HD+ LCD, 18:9 aspect ratio
Front camera8MP with soft light8MP with soft light
Rear cameras13MP + 2MP (mono)13MP
Headphone jackYesYes
Fingerprint scannerRearRear
Face recognitionYesYes

The Honor 7A will sell for £139.99 outright when it launches in May, and it'll be available through Honor's own HiHonor.com store, as well as Three UK on contract. The 7C will launch exclusively through HiHonor the same month, priced £169.99.

Honor's next big announcement, expected to be the Honor 10, will take place at an event in London on May 15.

An Honor spokesperson described the upcoming device as "the sexiest product ever."