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