honor 5X – best budget premium to date?

by: Team AAJanuary 18, 2016
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In the early days of Android, a good mobile experience meant forking over $600+ for a flagship level device, as purchasing anything cheaper required users to accept a laundry list of compromises. Finally in 2013, this reality began to change, starting with the original Moto G. The Moto G proved that you could have a great Android experience without paying a fortune and this is a trend that has continued in full force ever since.

The 'premium budget' may have just reached a whole new level, thanks to honor.

Fast-forwarding to 2015, we saw the game further heat up as “premium yet affordable” budget handsets began to surface, with a few notable examples including the OnePlus X and Sony M4 Aqua. These devices not only pushed pricing below the $250 mark, they also brought high-end build quality that had been previously reserved for flagship class devices only.  Now it’s 2016 and the emerging premium/budget market doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In fact, it may have just reached a whole new level, thanks to honor.

At CES 2016, the honor 5X was officially announced for the US market and is up for pre-order right now, with an expected shipping date of January 31st. Though Android Authority’s full review is yet to come, it is pretty obvious that the honor 5X is one of the most premium budget phones released to date. But what makes the honor 5X so special? Let’s jump in and take a look at some of the phone’s best attributes.

Pre-order the honor 5X

Premium metallic design

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Sharing a body that is very reminiscent of high-end flagships from honor’s parent company, Huawei, the honor 5X looks like it’s a flagship tier product. Judging by the metallic body alone, you’d think the honor 5X was significantly more expensive than it actually is. What’s more, it doesn’t just look good, it feels good too.

Many budget devices manage to look stunning at first glance, but upon further inspection it is easy to see where the manufacturer cut corners with the phone’s design. We are delighted to say that this isn’t the case for the honor 5X.

Top of the line fingerprint scanner

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A fingerprint scanner on a budget device? Unlike pretty much all of its competition, the honor 5X is equipped with a fingerprint scanner. Located on the rear, the 5X’s implementation is much more convenient than the front-facing readers found on flagships from Samsung and Apple. Of course, the real question is how well the scanner works, and we’re happy to report that the 5X employs one of the fastest, most accurate fingerprint scanners on the market.

If you’ve ever used a device like the Nexus 6P or a Huawei flagship with a fingerprint scanner, you are probably well aware that honor and Huawei are pros when it comes to implementing fingerprint tech, and the 5X is no exception.

Top-notch specs & killer pricing

The honor 5X doesn’t just look sexy, it also has the specs to back up the premium mid-tier experience. In order to give you a better understanding of how competitively spec’d the honor 5X is, we created a chart that stacks up the 5X against a few of its competitors:

 honor 5XOnePlus XSony Xperia M4 AquaBLU Vivo 5
Display5.5-inch 1080p display5-inch display 1080p display5-inch 720p display5.5-inch 720p Super AMOLED display
Processor1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 6162.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615MediaTek MT6753
GPUAdreno 405Adreno 330Adreno 405Mali-T720
RAM2GB3GB2GB3GB
Storage16GB16GB8 or 16GB32GB
MicroSDUp to 128GBUp to 128GBUp to 128GBUp to 128GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1
Bluetooth v4.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, FM radio
USB microUSB v2.0
2.4GHz b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, BDS, LTEWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, FM radioWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, FM radio
SIM cardDual SIM (one micro, one nano) -- does NOT take up a microSD slotNano SIM, dual compatible (but uses microSD slot)Single Nano-SIM slotDual-slot SIMs
Camera13 MP, f/2.0, 28mm, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, 5MP front cam13MP ISOCELL 3M2 CMOS with f/2.2 rear cam, 8MP front cam13 MP, f/2.0, autofocus, LED flash, 5MP front cam13MP LED, 5MP front cam
BatteryNon-removable 3000 mAh batteryNon-removable 2,525 mAh LiPo batteryNon-removable 2400 mAh batteryNon-removable 3150 mAh
SoftwareEMUI 3.1 (based on Lollipop)Oxygen OS (based on Lollipop)Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sony customizationsAndroid 5.1 Lollipop with BLU customizations
Dimensions151.3 x 76.3 x 8.2 mm, 158g140 x 69 x 6.9 mm, 138g145.5 x 72.6 x 7.3 mm, 136 grams151.9 x 74.6 x 6.9 mm, 141 grams
Pricing$199.99$249 (invite required)$199.99$199.99

Among the specs worth highlighting is the honor 5X’s dual-SIM configuration. Although most of its competitors offer the ability to use two SIMs at once, most of these devices require you to sacrifice the microSD slot in order to use two SIM cards. With the 5X, you get three slots, two for SIM cards, one for the microSD. No need to compromise.

The honor 5X also stands out when it comes to the display, offering a gorgeous 5.5-inch 1080p display. Looking at the list above, you can see that the OnePlus X also offers a 1080p display, but the 5-inch display doesn’t give you as much screen real estate to work with. Then there’s the BLU Vivo 5, which has a large 5.5-inch AMOLED display but offers a fairly low resolution of just 720p. The M4 Aqua is at the bottom of the list with a 5-inch 720p display. If screen size and resolution are both important to you, the honor 5X clearly stands a cut above the rest.

Sony-Xperia-M4-Aqua-Review-17

The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is just one example of what else is out there in the “premium budget” space.

As for the rest of the specs? honor either matches or slightly edges out the competition, offering one of the biggest batteries, a powerful Qualcomm processor, and all the connectivity options you’d expect from a mid-tier device.

If pricing is your concern, you’ll find that all of these devices come in at right around  $200, with the exception of the OnePlus X which sets its price at $49 more. Although it’s easy to find a well-performing phone for even less than $200 these days, the sacrifice is in the build quality. For example, the Moto G comes in at $180 but offers a much cheaper looking plastic build and actually has noticeably less impressive specs as well.

A unique software experience

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While EMUI is certainly a very different take on Android than we see from most competitors, once you embrace it, you’ll realize there are quite a few special features that make it stand out in a positive light.

Instead of a traditional app drawer, the colorful EMUI places everything on the homescreen, though it can be organized into separate drawers based on category. What’s really cool about the UI however is the addition of motion gestures, which allows you to answer a phone call by simply raising the phone to you ear, shaking the phone to rearrange homescreen icons, and more. There is also a custom theme engine that lets you change up the look of the UI to best suite your needs.

The honor 5X even offers Speech Awareness, a voice assistant that can help you find your device, place calls, and more. While the default phrase is “Okay EMY” you can customize it to just about anything.

Summing it all up

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If we had to sum up the honor 5X in one sentence? Here’s what we’d say: The honor 5X is the perfect device for honor’s US debut and if you’re looking for a high-end experience without breaking the bank, you’ll be hard pressed to find better.

Elaborating a tiny bit further, what makes the honor 5X such a great option is that it manages to get so much right: a first-class design, a fingerprint scanner, a large yet high-resolution display, great in-the-hands feel, and a spec sheet that allows the device to perform at a near-flagship level. Sure, the honor 5X might not stomp all over its competition in every area, but it manages to truly crush it in the aspects that matter most to today’s consumers.

Pre-order the honor 5X

Read also: Best cheap Android phones

  • Diego Opazo SV-Cross

    We are not there yet. We are on a good path nevertheless.

    • balcobomber25

      What we need is all of the Chinese budget phones to be sold here. There are dozens that are equal to or better than all of these for less money, they just dont have US LTE.

  • BlackElemental

    The phone would be a must buy if it ran stock Android. Still, it is a very compelling offer.

    • Cole Cawtuh

      Yeah hopefully the bootloader is easily unlocked & if so the folks over at XDA will have plenty of custom options.

  • ѦՊԻ

    What about performance ? How much points does it get with Antutu ?

    • balcobomber25

      Antutu points mean very little about actual performance.

    • Btort

      615 is very weak…., just look at how laggy the htc one a9 is

      • My sisters M8s doesn’t lag as far as I’m concerned, and it has a SD 615

        • ѦՊԻ

          How many Apps did she installed ?
          For me I want to install +100 apps . So is SD 615 good for me ?

          • It doesn’t really matter what apps you install, rather what apps you install.

          • It doesn’t really matter how many apps you install, rather what apps you install.

          • ѦՊԻ

            I use social media apps in addition to media players , google chrome , customization apps and light games .

          • Then it’ll be enough, your could get problems in heavier games or emulators, but you should be fine.

          • ѦՊԻ

            Thank you.

        • Btort

          nvm, I meant the 617 on the A9, The m8 rarely lag but the A9 is actually worst than a touchwiz samsung phone….which is unbelievable, Especially the price they are selling it for

      • Cole Cawtuh

        Doesn’t the a9 have the Snapdragon 617?

  • Box

    Im gonna grab one for the old lady! ;-)

  • Williams

    This reads more like an advertisement than an actual review, in my opinion.

    • Ray

      Or a press release. That said they did say that they will publish their actual review soon.

  • Scr-U-gle

    Great hyperbole, what an ad.

    Only problem is you seem to have been a bit to fast for yourselfs; the word budget and premium are opposites. Better luck next time

    • Ajmcnicol

      So is middle and upper…yes there is a Middle upper class. And middle lower class…etc…
      There is a BAND that is considered budget and that is at the top end.

      • Scr-U-gle

        have another go at comprehension, you have just missed by about four thousand kilometres.

        • drunken monk

          It means premium components at a budget price in this case. They’re words measuring completely different things so they are not exactly co-dependent in the sense that you’re saying.

          • Scr-U-gle

            The components are not top spec, the fingerprint scanner is so-so, just like all other androne clones of Touch ID, CPU, low in the range, Rams mediocre and because of the terrible way androne runs virtually, is going to stutter.

            As the article clearly states, the only ‘premium’ part is the metal body, which is cheap brushed metal because they haven’t spent the money to get a perfect finish.

            Next you’ll start harping on about Similarsungs ‘premium’ plastic, shiny foiled plastic bands and pleather as the epitome of good taste!

          • drunken monk

            You still haven’t understood what Ajmcnicol wrote, that there’s a range with a min and max for each class/ category. Nor have you understood purchasing power and how much of what was previously reserved for the premium market (and certainly NOT included in the budget market) they’ve managed to include at this price point, like the fingerprint scanner, expandable memory and dual SIM. Most of the features RANGE from low-mid (most) to top tier (few) components.

            You expecting top shelf premium at $200 is laughable. You can only buy what you pay for in most cases and to a certain extent, this phone applies to that inherent limitation of all material goods produced on this planet.

  • balcobomber25

    Id rather have the Blu Vivo 5, I would gladly trade a 1080p display for more memory and double the space.

  • Lim Ming Quan

    Why do I just get this feeling that this article is written by a 5 year old Huawei fanboy…..

  • Btort

    the Snapdragon 615 sucks, I bought a used htc one a9 for a great price and it was super laggy. It’s even more laggy than a S4 or a galaxy s5…..this is the first time I experienced LAG on a htc sense android skin. Even my moms M8 doesn’t lag as much as this phone

    • Roberto Tomás

      I can imagine that this is the problem with the phone.

      the 615 looks particularly lackluster. In Antutu v5 benchmarks, it tended to score between 30 and 55k, and looked pretty good. But in antutu v6, it tends to score in the high 20s to high 30s — don’t take my word for it, go look around at results on a google search.

      This is in contrast to nearly every other phone, whose scores improved with the move to v6, because of the added points and emphasis for UI responsiveness and gpu performance. The only ways I can imagine that an soc could lose points would be if the gpu was much worse than the cpu, or if the single core performance was much, much worse that multi-core. Not even second tier SoCs like the lower-end mediatek ones lost points.

      • Well, the 615 does have a rather weak iGPU, the Adreno 405

    • elchuby

      Doesn’t the HTC One A9 uses a Snapdragon 617? But I agree, Snapdragon 615 isn’t as good as people may think.

      • Btort

        Oh my bad. you guys are right. It’s the 617, luckily I only paid 305 shipped with this phone. Traded for a 64gb s6 edge, great trade also lol,

  • Allanitomwesh

    Reminder that the Oneplus X is the only one with a near stock experience. They also conviently fail to mention it has an AMOLED display yet its pointed out for the Vivo.Adreno 330 > Adreno 405 and 801 > 615. Worth the $49

    • Cole Cawtuh

      No fingerprint scanner though if you care about that and if you care about a couple year old 32bit SoC.

      • Allanitomwesh

        That “couple year old 32bit SOC” mops the floor with the SD615. I’d rather a tried and tested CPU known to perform than a 64bit meme that doesn’t translate in real life.

    • DDD

      If only it wasn’t behind that stupid invite system.

      • Allanitomwesh

        You can get it every Tuesday,no invite.

  • Relaxing Tomato

    Lol this is an advert you sellouts

  • Samir

    There is a microSD card up to 128GB huawei honor 5x

  • Cole Cawtuh

    No NFC and I’m hearing now no gyroscope. What’s the gyroscope do anyways? I was a little sad that there was no NFC. Fingerprint scanner and NFC go together like 2 peas in a pod.

  • Marc Perrusquia

    I think the Honor 5x is a great value too, and I love my 6p, but this reads like an advertisement…

  • DDD

    We already know that you guys sold out to Huawei and don’t seem to care one bit to hide it. The 5x really only has the fingerprint scanner and the higher resolution over the Vivo 5. It still has less built-in memory, less RAM, lacks Gorilla Glass and lacks a gyroscope(for whoever knows what that does). Against the OnePlus, all it has is the fingerprint scanner and well, that horrible invite system.

    Another thing. The Vivo 5 has Bluetooth 4.0 and you’re the only ones reporting NFC with it, so that’s probably not true either. You might want to change that.

  • Sadiq Night-Fury Ahmed

    I think it’s rocking the snapdragon 617 and not the 615.

  • Armaan Modi

    Nice phone, but Le1s and Redmi note 3 by Xiaomi are better in a lot of ways..

  • Queef McGee

    Thinking about getting this to replace my latest Moto G. The Moto G is actually pretty nice but the camera is just so awful. What do you folks think?