I switched my $1000 iPhone X for a $200 phone and it was not all that surprising

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.


I've been using the iPhone X as a daily driver since November, finding it predictably solid as all the previous iPhones I've used through the years. There's very little to complain about it, seeing that it's rich with most of today's cutting-edge features, it captures some stunning portrait shots with its dual cameras, and it just operates at a higher level than most of its contemporaries. But there's just one thing that I can't fathom: its $1000 starting price.

I didn't personally buy this iPhone. The cost alone would cause me to reconsider forking over that sum of money. But it made me wonder what the real differences are between these flagship-caliber smartphones in the space, versus say, those budget phones that are a fraction of the cost of an iPhone X. Needless to say, pricing is the most obvious thing, but I thought I try to get to the bottom of it all.

Spending time with the $200 Honor 7X


The Honor 7X was announced and released over the most recent holiday season, garnering attention for its super affordable cost of $199.99. In our own review of the Honor 7X, we raved about its solid build quality, fluid performance, and the 18:9 aspect ratio of its screen. For the pricing and all, it adopted all of the big trends we saw come in 2017 – including dual cameras for those portrait shots.

I've been using the Honor 7X for a few weeks now, getting really acquainted with the budget smartphone. And just like what's said in our review, I'm impressed that a $200 smartphone can look and feel this good. Beyond that, I've been taking snapshots with its cameras, playing a few simple games on the go, and just generally using it as my daily driver.

For $200, it's unbelievable what today's low-cost budget smartphones can deliver.

For $200, it's unbelievable what today's low-cost budget smartphones can deliver.



Premium design without the premium price


The first point I want to make after test-driving the Honor 7X is that premium designs are no longer exclusive to high-end phones. For a long time, these so-called budget smartphones have had the stigma of looking and feeling cheap. Anyone holding them would be able to instantly distinguish them from flagships. But that's not necessarily the case anymore.

Sure, the design language is a bit different here with the iPhone X and Honor 7X, as Apple's pride and joy employs the glass-meets-metal construction – while the Honor 7X sticks with an all-metal one. But ultimately, both phones have their charming qualities, and it's impossible to tell that there's a $800 price gap between them by just judging their designs. Sure, the iPhone X features a water-resistant design, something that you won't find with the Honor 7X. But beyond that, the line separating the two is increasingly becoming tougher to establish.

Even with the significant price difference, the lines are a little blurred now between flagships and budget phones.

Even with the significant price difference, the lines are a little blurred now between flagships and budget phones.



Top-quality displays are still reserved for flagships


Specs still hold some value to people, but when it comes to displays, it's not quite the indicator as it once was. The two phones I'm talking about here are perfect examples of that, as they're very similar in the specs department on paper with their respective displays. I can agree that the two are equally detailed, especially when looking at them from normal distances.

If there's one instantly recognizable difference, it's that high-end phones still receive the higher-quality displays.

If there's one instantly recognizable difference, it's that high-end phones still receive the higher-quality displays.



Upon closer inspection, though, it becomes evident that the iPhone X's Super Retina Display continues to hold significantly better qualities than its rival. All you need to do is just look at the two displays side-by-side to one another. Not only is the clarity better on the iPhone X's display, but colors pop as well to capture our attention – whereas with the Honor 7X, they appears muted and washed out in comparison. Viewing angles, too, are noticeably superior with the iPhone X.

Even though the Honor 7X managed to implement the trendy 18:9 screen aspect ratio with its display, the other qualities about it are less inviting. It's safe to say that premium flagships still get better-looking displays. 

Core functions are intact


People use their smartphones for all sorts of things. However, when it comes to the basic essentials, like placing phones calls, reading emails, checking out social media posts, surfing the web, and watching videos, these two phones are capable of doing all this. Although, the Honor 7X just takes a bit longer to do some of them. Naturally, if you're the kind with plenty of patience, this shouldn't be much of an inconvenience. On this flip side, though, some people would rather want nothing less than the best performance, which in this case, they should just go with the iPhone X.

In my experience test driving the Honor 7X, it suffices enough for the things I do with my smartphone on a daily basis. However, if I wanted to do more, such as video editing on the go, which I do on occasion, it's best to pony up the money to get that hassle-free experience with the iPhone X. 

But gamers will want to stick with a flagship


If you're a gamer and don't want to be bothered by any lag that might hinder you from finishing first place in Asphalt 8, then you'll want to pony up the money and go with a flagship-caliber device. This particular area is where I see the weakest performance out of the Honor 7X in comparison to the iPhone X. Graphically intensive titles simply run smoother on the iPhone X, whereas the Honor 7X is downplayed by jittery frame rates and just an overall sluggish response. It's the difference between placing first in a race, versus second due to some sluggish responses. Hardcore gamers, in particular, appreciate the tighter performances out of today's high-end smartphones.

Low-light superiority


Another crucial difference is in the camera department, and camera performance can sway the buying decision tremendously for many people. Using the Honor 7X, we can attest that it can produce favorable-looking photos – when the lighting conditions are ideal. Unless you're super nitpicky, the quality from the Honor 7X can rival that of the iPhone X to some degree. Better yet, it also features a dual camera setup that's able to mimic those creamy looking portrait shots produced by the iPhone X's pair. Then again, Apple's flagship does a lot better job of appropriately applying the bokeh effect.

Where we see the greatest advantage for the iPhone X is when we're snapping photos under low-lit situations. Even though the iPhone X's performance also diminishes, it's not nearly as bad as the Honor 7X. While some users are very adamant of how their photos come out, the Honor 7X's quality is by and large still passable given its pricing, especially for social media sharing. But if you just want to quickly take out your phone and achieve the best results, high-end flagships will still continue to come out on top in this area over these low-cost budget phones.

The low light performance of the Honor 7X (left) pales in comparison to the iPhone X (right).
The low light performance of the Honor 7X (left) pales in comparison to the iPhone X (right).

The low light performance of the Honor 7X (left) pales in comparison to the iPhone X (right).



Better video quality, more features


Over on the video side, the iPhone X's superior hardware also enables it to capture better video. You'll have the extra leverage with 4K capture on the iPhone X, versus 1080p on the Honor 7X, so if you want some additional room to work with in the post production process, the 4K footage from the iPhone X will go a long way to help out. Not only that, but thanks to the stabilization that's available with the iPhone X, its videos are significantly smoother – making it less jarring when you're freely moving around. 

Making a purchasing decision comes down to priorities


So, what do you really get by buying a $1000 iPhone X over a $200 Honor 7X? For starters, the brand recognition of Apple's name. Chances are if you intend on reselling your phone down the road, you're probably going to generate a higher quote with the iPhone X. Secondly, its processing performance is undeniably superior in every facet, so if you're not one for waiting, then you'll have to fork over the money to gain the speedier phone. And finally, it appears as though the camera in Apple's flagship is better equipped in snapping the best-looking photos and videos.

Knowing the true difference in what each phone brings to the table, it's still feasible for me to use the Honor 7X as my daily driver. For a brand spanking new phone, it still blows my mind what $200 can get you in this day and age. Sure, it clearly has its set of deficiencies, but they might not adversely affect people in the same way. Those who don't care about playing games, the Honor 7X can more than live up to their expectations – while still saving them considerable money in the process. On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, Apple's brand awareness gives rise to this idea of ownership in something that'll make people look and feel cool. There's a reason why Apple's iPhones are highly regarded as trend setters, establishing what's going to be hip and trendy in tech.

Your priorities will dictate your investment in a smartphone.

Your priorities will dictate your investment in a smartphone.



I'm still not too keen about the prospect of handing over $1000 just for a smartphone. Maybe $700 tops would be more reasonable for me to pull the trigger on some of flagship? Regardless, when I think about the savings I'd get with going with the Honor 7X, I then proceed to think about what other nifty gadgets I can scoop up with the savings. For the same price of just buying that iPhone X, I can get the Honor 7X along with a Nintendo Switch for $300 and a DJI Spark drone for $500.

It all boils down to priorities, right? With a separation of $800 between these two phones, I find it fascinating that the Honor 7X covers all the basics that I need in a phone. Yes, its camera performance isn't nearly as impeccable as the iPhone X and it doesn't handle intense gaming as great either, but the beauty is found in the savings you'll get from it. Considering how I used the iPhone SE for so long, it's feasible that I could just settle with a budget phone. Then again, those who crave the best of the best will gladly spend the dough on picking up a flagship.

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75 Comments

1. wabajak13

Posts: 52; Member since: Jan 02, 2018

Having replaced my beloved 6P with a 7X, it's definitely not quite a flagship when it comes to camera quality or or snappiness, but the screen and battery and all the basic stuff has been great. I'm not expecting it to last 5 years or anything, but I'd say that I'm getting 75% of a flagship for 30% of the price

6. wabajak13

Posts: 52; Member since: Jan 02, 2018

Just don't put it in battery saving mode ever. The processor slows to a crawl and makes it almost unusable.

8. Bankz

Posts: 2444; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Meh.. Flagships are overrated tbh..

11. Jango

Posts: 369; Member since: Oct 24, 2014

IKR? I also noted how John didn't generalise by saying flagship but opted to specify iphone x for every reason one would buy a flagship for. It sounded disingenuous. The iPX was cited at the beginning for the highest asking price, but if one wanted good gaming performance, high quality camera, one can get this from any flagship device (often costing lot less than an ipx), and not just from an iPX. I also noticed that the stabilisation was poor on the Honor7 but the video was less blurry and more detailed than the iphone X! Gaming on a phone? Aint nobody got no time for dat!

16. Subie

Posts: 2231; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

He specified iPhone X for everything flagship related because that was his "daily driver" that he was comparing the Honor 7x to. How can he get any more genuine or sincere then that...

41. worldpeace

Posts: 3049; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

IKR, it's clearly written on the title and the very first sentence, and he managed to miss that, SMH I guess he just jump to comment and just want to defend Apple..

35. Furbal unregistered

Other than camera 100% agree. Flagships are not worth what they cost now a days for the most part.

38. danny_a2005

Posts: 336; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

I got a pixel 1 128gb for $270, awesome camera, not worth the iphone x 1000 price at all

25. Scott93274

Posts: 6020; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

After the 6P and Pixel 2, I think I'm fine with going with a lower end device the next time around. Both devices have served me well, and I LOVE my Pixel 2's photo quality, but I've been content with the performance of mid-range devices for a while now. Hell, even my Mot X 2013 still runs great if you take into account that I don't really use any apps that really push the processor.

2. Nimbus

Posts: 433; Member since: Apr 02, 2018

Should have gone for nokia 8 or 7+ or 6.1 or moto x4 or sony xperia xa2,xa2 ultra or samsung galaxy A8,A8+ or blackberry motion for better updates and better performance,Honour 7X is crap if wanted huawei should have taken honour 9 lite or 8 or view 10 or SE or SE 2 for ios.

4. wabajak13

Posts: 52; Member since: Jan 02, 2018

All of the phones you listed are far more expensive if I'm not wrong? Plus they don't have the screen size or form factor. It's app trade offs.

22. Loveneesh

Posts: 413; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

Redmi note 5 pro, Honor 9 lite, Asus zenfone max pro m1, are best budget phones of 2018 so far. Honor 7x is also a great phone, no doubt about it but I think above listed phones are better choices.

42. worldpeace

Posts: 3049; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Mi A2, SD 660 for $250.. And it got Android ONE too..

49. Loveneesh

Posts: 413; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

But it's not officially launched and not available in the market yet. No doubt it's gonna be a bang for the bucks.

44. cogito

Posts: 42; Member since: Aug 18, 2015

It’s a matter of what’s available... I believe the reviewer is US-based but unfortunately none of the devices you mention have variants that support US bands.

3. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

I'd still stick to a former flagship than a current mid-range device. For instance, we got a Mi 5S, SD 821 and all, for $95 equivalent in my country. It's not even 5 months old when we got it. More worryingly, however, mid-range phones have started to look basically the same. The Honor 7X is a good phone with good value (with taxes, $215 in my country). But it looks the same as every other 18:9 phone from Asia. This same trend was also seen with the invasion of notch-ed phones...

5. wabajak13

Posts: 52; Member since: Jan 02, 2018

That is a good point, sometimes old high end technology is better than new low end technology. But also sometimes it's the opposite. Depends on your needs.

9. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3040; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

That's the smart move. A Galaxy S7 Edge in very good shape can be had for $200-225 and can give the iPhone X a good run for its money (no pun intended).

45. Leo_MC

Posts: 5915; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Maybe refurbished; a S7e is still 4-500€ brand new.

69. SammyFanBOY

Posts: 20; Member since: Jan 29, 2018

Yeah it costs $450 Brand new in my country as of May 2018.

21. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 898; Member since: May 07, 2014

I always buy former flagships.

64. An.Awesome.Guy

Posts: 636; Member since: Jan 12, 2015

Sadly, where I live it is hard to find old flagship devices, it is not impossible but it is not so easy, and that especially important if you want to buy it with a full grantee that cover whatever happens to your phone including rooting, breaking it and being stolen.

70. FreshPrinceOfH

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 31, 2017

You should have a look at the sd660, mid range cpu that benchmarks very very near the sd835. A current midrange sd660 would blow your sd821 out of the water. For very little money.

7. Bankz

Posts: 2444; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Meh, smartphones are now f**king stale tbh.. All we see now are different, alternative way to perform a task or feature that was already available. What we need is something totally game changing or revolutionary. Real innovation TBH. it's the reason I've stuck with a nexus 5 (on its very last spiritual legs). Let's be honest a $400 smartphone will also take very good pictures in good lighting (which there will always be) and no one will go about snapping photos in pitch darkness, they will make calls, send texts, will be beautiful, are loud enough, are bright enough, are fast enough, and even have batteries that last longer than those flagships. So what do we actually NEED these supposed flagships for?

18. rkoforever90

Posts: 405; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

you are right during the mid to late 2000`s I used to buy a new phone every 6 months. now innovation is dead I'm going to keep my nearly 3-year-old note 5 to another year or more until it completely dies.

36. Furbal unregistered

It's commoditised now. Very little separating them for most functions with tons of manufactures around. If we had universal Lte bands it would have been a race to the bottom awhile ago.

10. sks1969

Posts: 108; Member since: Mar 04, 2012

This is not a fair comparison, I really don't see a point with this sort of comparison, why not compare a flagship with a flagship? I would like to know why Apple charges 1000 $ instead of maybe 700 $?

43. worldpeace

Posts: 3049; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

"I would like to know why Apple charges 1000 $ instead of maybe 700 $?" Because.... Profit.

46. Leo_MC

Posts: 5915; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

It has been explained over and over again that an iPhone is cheaper than any android device when taking in consideration the support.

59. TerryD

Posts: 540; Member since: May 09, 2017

It is a bit of a stupid comparison and its obviously going to draw arguments from the usual Apple vs Android crowd. Why wasn't it a comparison of flagship android to budget android or iPhone X vs iPhone SE?

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