It is so easy to become a tech snob these days. Your phone must have all the latest feature set and run at breakneck speed, the biggest display, the sharpest picture, the list goes on. You have to continuously upgrade to the new one just to keep up. But there is a whole section of the market that doesn’t get a lot of press and that is the huge swathe of the population who just want a cheap phone that covers the basics and any extras are just a luxury. There are a selection of brands that put real focus on this end of the snob spectrum and Huawei are one of the heavy hitters.

I’ve been playing with the honor 7C (the lower case “h” is a design flourish!), one of Huawei’s low price offerings for the last couple of weeks and the results are somewhat surprising.

I have had the latest iPhone every other year since the 3GS so I will hold my hand up and admit that I am one of the aforementioned snobs. A flagship fan if you will. Nothing wrong with that, but it does rather spoil you, so my initial impressions of the phone were not somewhat lacklustr. It looked good enough, the screen was nice and bright, there was actually a very nice colour pallet, but I found it irritatingly slow and the resolution wasn’t great. But then I realised I was thinking about this all wrong, I had to start thinking like my dad. When his contract is up for renewal he wanders into the phone shop and sees what he can get for the same monthly cost and little or no upfront fee. And suddenly this phone makes a heck of a lot more sense. You can buy a 7C for around £150-£170 sim free and it is generally available for free on a basic contract meaning you actually get a lot for your money.

Ok, it has 720 resolution, so you aren’t going to get super contrast and 4k viewing, but at 5.99”, the screen is impressively large for a lower end device and to be honest if you aren’t used to flagship level phones, it’s going to be more than good enough to watch videos on etc. It’s big, bright and clear and there are no issues with the viewing angle, so it’s a thumbs up for the screen.

The phone can be unlocked with the usual pin input as well as a finger print scanner on the back and facial recognition. The facial recognition works well most times although there were a few instances where it just wasn’t picking me up. When it does work, it’s a little slow, taking maybe a second or so to unlock, noticeably slower than the recently reviewed OnePlus 6. There is also no rise to wake function so you have to press the power button to activate the facial recognition. I found this a little annoying initially and then I realised I was doing it again. It’s a “free” phone and it has facial recognition for crying out loud!! That’s a high end feature that by all accounts this phone should not have. Who cares if it isn’t instantaneous?!

The 7C features a Snapdragon 450 processor that works at a slow and steady pace despite having 3gb ram to help it along. It means that the responsiveness of the phone isn’t particularly quick, but the flip side of this is that it extends the 3000mAh battery life to impressive levels, even with that big, juice sucking display. It’s more than capable of doing the usual tasks that would be asked of it, just at a more sedate pace. I noticed it more when scrolling down through web pages but it wasn’t such a big deal.

The phone runs on the EMUI overlay on Android 8 Oreo which is an apple-esque style, although it can be changed to a more traditional android appearance. When scrolling through the various settings, I did notice that there appears to be some options missing, such as the rise to wake feature. No glaringly major omissions, but it’s worth noting the streamlined options.

The camera is quite good on the 7C. 13mp + 2mp duel camera that will not set the art world alight but should be capable of capturing your holiday snaps. I did find the auto focus to have a bit of a mind of its own though, often sharpening the wrong parts of the image whilst blurring others. Even with HDR on, image stabilisation is a little…..quirky. Round the front is an 8mp snapper to fulfil all your selfie needs.

Build quality is good although the thin metal frame does feel like it could bend with a little encouragement, so if you are of a sort to tuck your phone into the back pocket of your skinny jeans……best not. 

The phone is charged by micro usb. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t include usb type c, even at this price point.

A predictable but still disappointing feature of this phone is the single external speaker, it’s terrible, sorry, but by any standards it sounds truly awful. Sadly this always seems to be a victim of budget level phones. Not everyone uses this speaker for media, so it won’t bother them, but for those that dolacklusteryikes. Yes it’s that bad. What genuinely surprised me though was when I played music through headphones. Like most lower end phones, there are no EQ settings unless the headphones are wired, so I was steeling myself in preparation of having my ears violated when I paired up my Bluetooth headphones. Shockingly, the sound quality actually was pretty good. Even without being able to tweak it, I was able to listen through a number of Spotify tracks quite happily. When I plugged my wired headphones into the 3.5mm jack (no adapters needed here!) I was able to access the, admittedly basic, EQ settings and fine tune the sound even further. I use my phone as my primary source of music, either on my headphones or in the car and my expectations were very low, it wasn’t anywhere near the quality of my iPhone, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at what it could do. Good Job Huawei!

The honor I had came with 32gb of internal memory which isn’t much, so you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the micro SD car slot that is attached to the end of the dual sim tray.

Overall I find it incredibly hard to believe that a phone like this is available for the money. It has features that have no business being on a phone at this level. Of course it doesn’t remotely compare to the flagship phones, but those all cost several times as much as this one and unless you are used to all the extra functionality they offer, the 7C will likely do most tasks the average Joe will need it to. I would certainly in recommend taking a look at this phone to anyone on a tight budget, or for someone who just wants a functional phone without all the fuss and expense.

Currently Honor have dicounted the price to £129.99 on their website, here.