Hands-On

Honor 7A hands-on review: Back to budget

Did Huawei hit all the right notes?

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After Honor released smartphones that match the premium P20 series in terms of performance (but at a much easier-to-digest price), it’s easy to forget that Huawei’s sub-brand has had a strong budget game, as well.

Going down the very bottom of the pricing ladder will bring you to the Honor 7A, which launched in China in early April and in India later in May.

I got my hands on a unit, so here are my early impressions.

As budget as can be

With a starting price of US$ 130 in both China and India, it’s a no-brainer that you’re getting a basic smartphone in the Honor 7A. But as Xiaomi and ASUS have proven, selling at a low cost doesn’t necessarily mean the device will suck.

In front we have a 5.7-inch 720p display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which conforms to the newer standard without applying a camera notch. Instead, there’s a small amount of bezel at the top and bottom. This consequently brings the fingerprint reader to the rear.

The body itself is light thanks to a mostly plastic construction and a glass front that doesn’t feel like it can withstand scratches. If you’re planning on using the Honor 7A as a primary phone, you better find a decent case right away.

What impresses me most is the triple-card slot, allowing you to have two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time — helpful for travelers and to expand the lacking 16GB of storage. On the downside, it uses an outdated micro-USB port with no fast charging.

Surprising cameras

From afar, it looks like this handset has a dual-camera setup on the back and front, but that’s far from the truth, as well as earlier news on this phone.

The Honor 7A variant I have here has a single 13-megapixel camera on the rear and an 8-megapixel selfie shooter in front. What’s great is they both have an LED flash.

Unfortunately, the extra illumination doesn’t help improve the output that much. Unless there’s a strong amount of light, I’d always find noise in my photos and softness on my subjects.

But when you get it right, the results can be surprisingly good. Here are a few samples from my short time with the cameras:

Up and down performance

In an unusual move, Honor chose to equip this phone with a Snapdragon 430 processor, which is quite good for this price range, but isn’t Huawei’s own Kirin chip. No complaints from me, however; I’d pick the reliability of a Snapdragon processor any time.

Going through the EMUI 8.0 interface (appropriately based on Android 8.0 Oreo), is pleasantly snappy except for when too many apps are active at once. I felt the stuttering begin once I started flipping through five apps. It was most apparent when I wanted to take a photo; both picture taking and photo viewing had noticeable lag in between.

I played a couple of graphics-heavy games, namely Asphalt 9 and PUBG, to test how far the Honor 7A can go. As expected, they were playable, but the visual settings had to be turned down to low since the phone has only 2GB of total memory to work with.

Since the processor is efficient, the 3000mAh battery drained gradually even while playing for an hour straight. Without gaming, the phone can easily last an entire day of usage with mobile data or Wi-Fi always on.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s too early to tell if the Honor 7A can stand up well against the likes of the ASUS ZenFone Max (M1) or Xiaomi Redmi S2, but it’s safe to say that it’s an attractive option if you’re a fan of Honor and on a shoestring budget.

The Honor 7A doesn’t have a standout feature like its two aforementioned rivals — the former has a large battery while the latter takes great photos for the price — so this really does seem catered toward Huawei users who want something more affordable.

As it stands, the Honor 7A is a solid entry in this competitive, bang-for-buck space. It’ll start rolling out to more countries soon, and will help Honor spread its honorable name across more market segments.

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Hands-on: What’s New?

Any differences from last year’s Galaxy Z Fold3?

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Samsung paved the way for foldable smartphones that transform into tablets.

That engineering marvel made the Galaxy Fold possible.

After three years, the Galaxy Z Fold continues to evolve.

The Galaxy Z Fold4, while it may look almost the same as the Z Fold3, offers upgrades that one should consider.

What are those changes?

You should definitely watch our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 hands-on for you to find out.


Pre-order the Galaxy Z Fold4: howl.me/1782498420013699516

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Hands-on: Flip That!

Watch Before You Buy

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Of all the foldables that have been around for the last few 3-4 years, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has been the most fun.

Today, Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Z Flip4.

While it looks exactly like last year’s Galaxy Z Flip3, it comes with some nifty improvements.

But should you rush out and pre-order though?

Head over to our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 hands-on video to know more.


Pre-order the Galaxy Z Flip4: howl.me/1782498419600267258

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The marriage of engineering, technology, and design

The Mate Xs 2 reminded us of what we used to love about Huawei

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Thin. Light. Flat.

These words got me ecstatic, knowing that it’s been years since the first foldable devices came out and these aren’t the words we used to describe them.

Huawei certainly has come a long way, fighting head-to-head with Samsung back in 2019 in bringing a taste of the future.

The company, pressing on after the US-Google-Huawei fiasco, strives to refine its portfolio of foldable smartphones.

Now, in case you’re confused, the first foldable — the Huawei Mate X — was launched in 2019. Huawei introduced the Mate Xs in 2020, and then the Mate X2 in 2021. Later that year, Huawei also brought the P50 Pocket, the direct rival of the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

In 2022, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 undoubtedly succeeds the Mate Xs, continuing its prominent outward-folding design. Let’s take a look at the world’s thinnest and lightest foldable yet.

Elegantly refined in a design that’s imperfectly perfect

One thing I like about Huawei’s smartphones is how they all look classy and elegant. The formula they’ve used to win many hearts over — as seen on the Huawei P and Mate line from a few years ago — is carried vehemently to its foldable lineup.

Up front, when folded, the Mate Xs 2 looks like your regular slate. Tall, boxy yet somehow curvy, and looks and feels sturdy. It has a 6.5-inch OLED display, much like the same slab you see today.

Behind that sleek glass is the folded, extended screen. It makes the device look thick when you check its bottom. But somehow, the cuts and edges fit perfectly, housing the speaker grilles, the SIM Card slot, and the USB-C port.

Flipping the device, you’ll find the extension of the screen. It snugs tightly, locking beside the camera strip together with a button that unfolds the Mate Xs 2.

When you press the button, it releases the lock and the screen rises.

Releasing the lock allows the device to stay in the same position. Yes, it’s still up to you to force it to get that large, square-like screen you expect out of a foldable device.

But let’s forget about that for a moment. Underneath, you can find a diagonal plaid pattern in a leather-like texture. While I loved anything and everything white, Huawei refined the way black smartphones should be. J’adore!

This one has more personality, looks sophisticated, and — beyond the marvelous appearance — has a sense of functionality, too. The texture aids the phone in keeping it durable and scratch-resistant.

A friendly reminder that style without substance is nothing. Don’t be fooled by grand showcases if it only exhibits lavishness without addressing the more important stuff.

Thin but not like ice

Upclose to its back, you can find the hinge gluing the screen together. Huawei attributes its precise and fluid movement to its new-generation Double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinge design.

With this proprietary technology, I’m still gobsmacked by how Huawei packed all the components tightly. This feels like the ASUS Zenfone 8 which shrank its components to achieve a compact form factor, but with a trickier and more intensive process.

Nevertheless, this fusion of engineering and design allowed Huawei to create the thinnest, flattest, and lightest foldable — with no visible crease.

Regardless of the angle and lighting condition, the Mate Xs 2 really doesn’t exhibit any crease on its display.

It makes the smartphone usage pleasant to the eyes — and even your fingers, simply because the crease is barely felt. And frankly, you’re more likely to swipe and scroll on the right side of the phone instead of the part where the hinge is.

While the Mate Xs 2 is pretty thin, weighing only 255g with a thickness of 5.4mm when unfolded, it’s easy to carry and hold.

Even when folded, which comes with a thickness of 11.1mm, the Mate XS 2 is easily gripped and fits your spaces like any slab smartphone.

Gorgeous, “sturdy” display

Besides the huge leap in engineering and design, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is emblazoned with top-of-the-line display technology.

With already a creaseless screen, the unfolded device sports a 7.8-inch high-resolution OLED display. It reportedly packs a billion colors and supports P3 wide color gamut.

With an artistic rendition of Weathering With You through a 4K wallpaper, the Mate Xs 2 exhibited rich and vibrant colors.

Watching a show is quite different though, especially with its strange aspect ratio. It doesn’t provide a full-screen experience even if you rotate the screen.

But fold the phone back… and you can enjoy an immersive viewing experience. It was delightful to watch Encanto and sing along with Isabela and Mirabel Madrigal.

Aside from the beauty and grandeur of the Mate Xs 2’s display, Huawei made sure it’s durable. The Mate Xs 2 adopted a bulletproof Composite Structure screen with a protective film, support layer, and rotating shaft.

I haven’t had a chance to test its resistance to drops, crushing, or impact. I still believe foldables are fragile, even with their claims of being ‘sturdy’ and ‘reliable.’

What I worry about is the folded part of the screen, since, without a case, the surface directly touches the folded rear. While Huawei assures us with an aluminum alloy protective frame around the screen that keeps it scratch-resistant, I can’t help but feel anxious whenever I place it on any rough, hard surface.

Is there power under the hood?

Okay, let’s talk specs. Huawei, for most of its flagship devices, pushes the limits of its hardware. It runs on EMUI 12, comes with an 8GB RAM and 512GB of ROM, a 4600mAh battery capacity capable of 66W SuperCharge, and a 120Hz refresh rate.

The only drawback that got me taken aback is its processor. Sadly, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 houses a Snapdragon 888 4G. While we have the thank the US government for that, the processor is somewhat limiting especially in terms of future-proofing.

Don’t get me wrong, Snapdragon 888 is still powerful. But plenty of chipsets are going above and beyond, and this flagship foldable getting left behind.

As for the user experience and the lack of Google Mobile Services (GMS), this has been addressed multiple times — from ways to augment your experience to the improvements Huawei made, especially for HarmonyOS. But that’s a story for another time because there are plenty of features to talk about.

Are the cameras still flagship-grade?

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 houses a 50-megapixel True Chroma camera system, including a 13-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera. Upfront, it has a 10.7-megapixel selfie camera.

A few tests here and there made me think that the photos are color-accurate, detailed, and flagship-worthy. But that wouldn’t be fair to be this subjective when I hardly have any photos to showcase. Hang tight! As of this writing, we’re brewing something cool about its cameras.

Anyhoo, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 — like its previous iterations — comes with a Mirror Shooting mode where the photographer can take a photo while the subject can see how they look on the rear screen.

This is similar to most foldables nowadays. Frankly, it’s a handy feature that might come in handy when you travel or want to capture an iconic moment.

Remembering the love for Huawei

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 reminds me of everything we’ve loved about Huawei. Elegantly-designed smartphones. Sleek and vibrant display technology. Impressive hardware. Huge leaps in engineering and design. Actual innovation.

The only barriers that propel it from taking back its crown are the people who can’t adapt to a new user experience, and the geopolitical issues surrounding the company. Nevertheless, the Mate Xs 2 is Huawei’s proof that they can still be a trailblazer, and they’ll probably keep on doing so.

Price and availability

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 retails for PhP 99,999. It will be available in Shopee, Lazada, or the Huawei Store. Learn more about the flagship foldable on Huawei’s website.


Editor’s Note: The article has been updated with new information. Previously, the story indicated pre-order details.

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