Honor's budget phones promise to beat iPhone X's face unlock

They cost a fifth of the iPhone X, but Honor reckons its new phones will recognise your face faster than Apple's.

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Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
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Andrew Lanxon
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It's a brave move to challenge Apple's iPhone X, particularly when the phones you're putting up against it cost less than a fifth of the price.

But that's the challenge Huawei's Honor 7A and 7C throw at the iPhone X's feet. These two budget handsets are equipped with face unlock technology the company claims will recognise your face faster than Apple's flagship iPhone can manage. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Both the Honor 7A and 7C use the front facing camera to map 1,024 points of interest to register your face, and it's this that apparently lets them unlock with such speed. They don't use depth mapping technology like the iPhone X's 3D front-facing camera, however, so whether the method is as secure remains to be seen. Huawei has yet to make it clear if its face unlock is present for security or convenience.

In my brief hands-on time with the phones, I did find the unlocking to work easily, so I'm looking forward to seeing how consistently it can get it right against the iPhone X.

Watch this: These rock-bottom phones promise to beat Apple's face unlock

At £170, the Honor 7C is the more expensive of the two handsets. It's got a large 6-inch display, a metal design in that striking blue colour that Huawei's Honor sub-brand uses for all its phones, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor and 3GB of .

Honor also claims the 7C is the most affordable phone with a dual rear camera. In this case, it has a 13-megapixel main camera with a 2-megapixel additional lens that provides depth information to let you shoot portraits with artistic out-of-focus backgrounds. The 7C also has a fingerprint scanner in case you don't fancy using your face to access your phone -- a backup fingerprint reader is something even the iPhone X doesn't even have.

Huawei Honor 7A, 7C unlock your phone fast, for cheap

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The smaller Honor 7A comes in at a lower £140, and makes a few trade-offs to get there. There's a single 13-megapixel rear camera instead of two lenses on the back, and it uses a Snapdragon 430 processor with only 2GB RAM. Its shell is made from plastic, not metal, although it's been given a metallic look that's not bad. Also, there's no fingerprint scanner on the Honor 7A.

The phones are due to go on sale later this month in Europe, although the company has yet to officially say whether they'll make it to US and Australian stores though. For reference, the Honor 7A's £140 price and the Honor 7C's £170 price convert to $200 and $242 or AU$256 and AU$311, respectively.

Honor 7C specs

  • 6-inch display
  • 1,440x720-pixel resolution  
  • 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel dual lens rear camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Front-facing flash for selfies
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor
  • 3GB RAM, 32GB storage
  • Android 8 Oreo software
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Fingerprint scanner below screen

Honor 7A specs

  • 5.7-inch display
  • 1,440x720-pixel resolution
  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Front-facing flash for selfies
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor
  • 2GB RAM, 16GB storage
  • Android 8 Oreo software
  • 3,000mAh battery