Reviews
Pros

-Great battery life
-Premium metal build
-Fast and accurate fingerprint scanner
-Useful gesture controls with scanner
-Affordable price point

Cons

-Below average speaker
-Mediocre camera
-Software experience not for everyone

Rating
Our Rating
Battery
9.0
Display
8.4
Camera
7.0
Performance
7.3
Software
7.0
Design
8.8
Bottom Line

The honor 5X brings a beautiful metal build, a big 5.5-inch screen, and a fingerprint scanner, all for under $200 - features unheard of for such a low price point. Even with questionable software, a mediocre camera and sluggish performance, this affordable phone is still worth picking up.

8.0
Our Rating
You have rated this

There may have not been a lot of high-profile Android device releases at this year’s CES, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything for consumers to get excited about. In particular, the latest smartphone offering from honor joins the ever growing list of smartphones that fall in the “premium but affordable” category, and continues to push the boundaries for what is expected from a device with a sub-$200 price tag.

The great news here is that with the honor 5X seeing an official release in the US, users don’t have to worry about compatibility with US network carriers, or any costs that are otherwise associated with importing these devices. What else does the latest budget-friendly offering from honor bring to the table? We find out, in this comprehensive honor 5X review!

Buy now from Amazon
Editor’s note: We have confirmed with honor that the 5X in fact comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, not a 615. The review has been updated accordingly.

Design

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As mentioned, the honor 5X blurs the lines when it comes to what we generally expect from a device at this price point, and that starts with its design and build quality, with the phone featuring a metal unibody construction. The brushed metal build allows for a premium look and feel that you will be hard-pressed to find with other budget-friendly smartphones, but it has to be mentioned that the metal does make the phone quite slippery. Unfortunately, the metal is not of the highest grade either, making the body prone to scratches, and something you will have to be cautious about when handling it.

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While even the sides are made of metal, the top and bottom of the phone is made from plastic, but honor has done a great job of making that something that is not particularly noticeable just by looking at it. The power button and volume rocker are on the right side, and offer a good amount of tactile feedback. The buttons also feature a grippy, textured pattern that makes for a pleasant experience when using them. The headphone jack and the microUSB port are at up top and at the bottom respectively, with the latter flanked by two grills, even though only one of them houses the speaker.

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The honor 5X weighs 158 grams and is 8.2 mm thick, and with its 5.5-inch display, the handling experience is very manageable. All said and done, it is certainly very impressive that honor has managed to bring something that is quickly becoming the high-end standard, a metal build, to a device that falls in the budget category, and goes above and beyond what its price point might suggest.

Display

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The honor 5X comes with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 401 ppi. The display is actually quite impressive as well, and features vibrant colors that aren’t too over saturated, and with the whites being neither too warm, nor too cool. At this resolution, text is sharp and clear, and brightness is of no concern either, and allows for comfortable outdoor visibility.

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However, of note is the fact that the backlight shines through in darker areas more so than what is seen with other LCD panels out there, and the black bezel around the display can also be a bit of an eyesore, especially if you opt for the white version of the device. That said, these are the only areas where the screen falls short, and the overall viewing experience on this display is otherwise really good.

Performance

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Under the hood, the honor 5X comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, clocked at 1.5 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 405 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. There is a 3 GB of RAM version of the device available as well though, for those looking to get a little more out of the multi-tasking capabilities of the device. This has been the processing package of choice for most smartphones that fall in this premium but affordable category, and while the performance understandably doesn’t match up to current generation flagships, it has usually been good for the most part.

However, that isn’t entirely the case when it comes to the honor 5X, with things seeming a little more sluggish that what we’ve seen before. Animations will be choppy occasionally, and applications do take an extra second to open. There is also a bit of a delay when pressing keys on the keyboard, and the phone even freezes for a second or two while typing. You may also see app refreshes when switching between then via the Recent Apps screen, which is why spending a little extra to get the 3 GB RAM version may make sense for some users. Granted, the performance isn’t vastly different when compared to other smartphones powered by the Snapdragon 616, and these extra stutters can be attributed to the lack of polish of Huawei’s EMUI software package as well.

Hardware

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16 GB is the only internal storage option available here, but you do get expandable storage via microSD card by up to 128 GB, to help alleviate any storage concerns. The device also comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, along with dual SIM capabilities, as well as 4G LTE compatibility on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks, which is something that cannot often be said about smartphones from Chinese OEMs, and is another big positive of the honor 5X.

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Another useful addition in hardware that is not usually found with other similarly priced smartphones is a fingerprint scanner, placed on the back of the phone. The rear placement of the fingerprint reader definitely grows on you, and makes unlocking the device very easy, and without the need for any unnecessary hand gymnastics. The scanner also unlocks the device directly, without you having to press the power button first, and the reader is very fast and reliable. To see a fingerprint scanner on a budget-friendly device is an impressive fact by itself, and even more so when considering its high quality.

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The scanner does more than just unlock the device as well, and offers some additional functionality in the form of gesture controls. Swiping up launches the Recent Apps screen, a tap takes you back to any previous screen, and a tap and hold functions as a home button. Swiping down opens the notification drop down, and you can even use the scanner to answer calls, silence alarms, and take photos. With it being fast and very reliable, and packed with a slew of useful gesture controls, it has to be said that the honor 5X features one of the best fingerprint scanner implementations in the market right now.

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Despite the appearance of a dual speaker setup, only the grill at the bottom right houses a speaker, and with this placement, is very easy to cover up when watching videos or playing games in the landscape orientation. The sound quality of the speaker is not particularly good either, with audio sounding muffled and almost distorted, even at lower volumes.

The honor 5X comes with a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery, and allows for surprisingly impressive battery life. Even on a day which involved a lot of gaming and taking pictures, the device managed close to 6 hours of screen-on time. You may not be getting any fast charging capabilities here, but with the battery life being as good as it is, its absence is not going to be felt either.

blu-life-one-x-vs-moto-g (1)See also: Best cheap Android phones (January 2016)378

Camera

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The honor 5X comes with a 13 MP rear shooter, with a f/2.0 aperture, and a dual tone LED flash, along with a 5 MP front-facing unit. There is no optical image stabilization to be had however, and overall, the quality is actually more of the same when compared to other smartphones that fall in this price range.

In optimal conditions, such as outdoors, the camera performs to the best of its ability and shots do look nice. Without any post processing or sharpening going on, pictures tend to have a lot of softness to them, but despite the seeming lack of sharpness, the images are still clear. The color temperature seems to be more towards the warm side, and colors appear to lack that punch of vibrancy as well. Areas of photos will also be overexposed the majority of the time, but all said and done, you can certainly get some pleasant looking shots from this camera when in good lighting situations. 

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HDR is available to help brighten up the shadows, and it does a great job for the most part. Sometimes, HDR tends to create an entirely brighter image however, resulting in a poorer looking picture instead. As lighting conditions deteriorate, the camera will try to compensate for the lack of light by increasing the shutter speed, but with no OIS to be found, very steady hands will be required to avoid blurry photos.

The camera can also shoot video in 1080p, but the lack of OIS once again means that videos will be pretty shaky, and over exposing is an issue here as well. It also tries to correct the exposure very rapidly with harsh adjustments, that can be very distracting. Video recording does come with a few extra modes though, including slow motion capture, and object tracking, which lets you select a particular object to focus on, after which the camera will track and focus on that object only, no matter where you move. 

The front-facing 5 MP camera also takes some decent shots, albeit with some extra noise. Indoor shots end up being less sharp and with a great amount of noise as well. The overall camera experience definitely has a lot of room for improvement, but is actually par for the course when compared to its similarly priced competition.

Software

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On the software side of things, the honor 5X is running Huawei’s EMUI 3.1 out of the box, based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. You won’t see a lot of Material Design elements in this user interface, and as is the case with most software packages from Chinese OEMs, there is no app drawer to be found, leaving users dependent on folders to stay organized.

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The software package is of course, very different from stock Android, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The notification drop down is very well organized, and split into two parts, with one housing all the notifications, and a swipe left required to bring up the quick toggles. Not only does this allow for a lot more notifications to be shown at once, but there is a lot more information here as well, including the exact time for received notifications. Customizations are seen in the form of themes, transition animations, and home screen grid, and you also get some fun features like shake to re-align icons and auto-align.

This particular software experience may not be for everybody, but if you do give it a chance, there are a lot of extra and fun features to be had. Huawei has also stated that the honor 5X will receive timely software updates, including an official OTA update for EMUI 4.0 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, as well as monthly security updates. In fact, the security updates for January are already available for the device, even before its release, and it does look like Huawei is going to stick to their word in this regard.

Specifications

 Honor 5X
Display5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
TP & LCD full lamination
Operating systemAndroid 5.1 Lollipop
Huawei EMUI 3.1
ProcessorOcta-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 616
Memory2GB of RAM
Internal Storage16GB, expandable up to 128GB via microSD
Dual SIMYes
Cameras13MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, SmartImage 3.0 image processor, 28mm wide angle lens with flash
5MP front camera with f/2.4 aperture, 22mm wide angle
Mobile ConnectivityGSM 850, WCDMA Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, LTE Bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 17
ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 b/g/n, 2.4QG
Bluetooth 4.1
microUSB 2.0
GPS, AGPS, Glonass
SensorsFingerprint sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Digital compass
Battery3000mAh, non-removable
Dimensions151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15mm
158g
ColorsDark Grey, Daybreak Silver, Sunset Gold

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The honor 5X is currently available from Amazon and NewEgg. It’s priced at just $199.99, with the available color options including grey, silver, and gold.

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So there you have it for this in-depth look at the honor 5X! Priced at just $200, the honor 5X is definitely a great buy, and is one of the only phone at this price point to offer both a premium metal build and a fingerprint scanner, aspects that are usually found with devices priced at more than double what the honor 5X costs. These two things alone make the phone a great bargain, but add to the mix a great display experience and a feature packed software package, and it is difficult to not recommend the honor 5X. Granted, the device isn’t flawless, with its mediocre camera and speaker, and somewhat sluggish performance, but its very affordable price tag more than makes up for any issues the phone may have.

Buy now from Amazon
  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    Is that u’r Doverman? Wh’ts his name

    I’ve heard people who love dogs, have a heart of gold. ‘m already an admirer

    • coltieboy

      You’re on full creeper mode aren’t you?

      • Avieshek Rajkhowa

        hmm..

  • raju

    There is not a single phone with snapdragon 615 which runs smooth even the near stock moto x play, idol 3. please don’t attribute performance problem onlyto Huawei EMUI. The problem is with the soc

    • Avieshek Rajkhowa

      The SoC is fabricated with age-old 28nm proces (therefore, showing their lack of interest until competition) but can’t be fully blamed the way u putting it. Software plays every role.
      With Apple, it’s an iPhone and their processor with Android it’s an army against a particular, so OEMs are the one responsible to optimise and moreover with their custom UI that goes to 100%

      • balcobomber25

        The software can be blamed but in this case the 615 is a terrible SoC which has struggled on every phone it has been run on, even some with very good software.

        • Joshua Hill

          Oppo make the 615 seem like a speedy chipset allegedly!

      • raju

        801. 800. 600, 400 are manufactured on the same 28nm proces (i suppose) which don’t have
        atleast stuttering while navigating through screens, apps. I used moto e (410) which is far better than the ones which use 615. The 64 bit processors by Qualcomn have severe perfromance issues(due to throttling) which limits OEMs to optimise . Moto phones are good as they use stock android except for the ones using 615 and 808 .Even my moto x 2013 is smooth . Even nexus 5x has performance issues (which i sold has stuttering, slow app loading) which google was not able to rectify. All these point to the 64 bit processors made by Qualcom

        • Karly Johnston

          I have the 808 in the Mi4c and have no stuttering or slow downs. The 6P is the phone of the year with flawless performance. It comes down to optimization at the high end. The 615 is just a piece of trash at 1080p, it isn’t bad at 720p. The fab process has nothing to do with speed but power efficiency, as I said before.

      • Karly Johnston

        The dye size only effects the power consumption. Even X20 snd 652 are made on 28nm fab.

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          I meant to say, their lack of interest that may include in other areas of the development.

          • Karly Johnston

            It isn’t a lack of interest, it is a matter of cost. The 615 was a failure and there are warehouses full of unsold inventory. Hauwei gets it cheap and ships it to the US hoping consumers there are stupid. They tried this last year with the P8 Lite which was another total failure.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            I would like to know about MediaTek

          • Karly Johnston

            They can’t sell LTE equipped MTK to the US as they don’t buy the license for US carriers. They are too cheap unlike BLU who got it on the X10. They basically sell Chinese Whitebox and pay the license fee so they can get the proper bands enabled. Hauwei could do it if they weren’t so cheap.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            Some upcoming HTC is stated to use their processor

          • Karly Johnston

            Show it when it comes, the MTK they used last year was Asia only.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            Well, itvs not my company, but ofcourse there would be a review here

          • Karly Johnston

            What does Letv have to do with HTC?

    • Karly Johnston

      Yep, but this lags worse than idol 3 because it has EMUI.

      • Laramie Edward Holtman

        Karly, You really seem to know what you’re talking about. I was interested in the Honor 5x but have been on the fence about it since I first heard about it. I loved my Google Nexus 5 for the two years I had it. Would you suggest shelling out the extra money for the nexus 5x, maybe go with a Nexus 6 (previous gen) or do you have a better more budget friendly suggestion? Feedback is greatly appreciated. ( I have an iPhone 5s right now, and miss andoroid OS a ton. So anything that would outperform the Ip5s would be great.)

        • Karly Johnston

          If you need stock Android on a 5 inch, N5X is really the only option. I would not buy an N6, it is 32 bit and has a horrible camera and a washed out screen. If you are good with big phones I would highly recommend Moto X Pure for that stock Android experience. If you can budget higher and want the premium Android experience, N6P.

          • Laramie Edward Holtman

            This is great info Karly, Thanks!

          • coltieboy

            You can pick up pre owned LG G3s for under $200 these days. That phone has a great display and a really good camera. LG’s skin is quite different from Stock Android though. I don’t mind it, but it is quite the departure. I own a Nexus 6 (first generation) and I would disagree with a few of Karly’s points. I think the display is really vibrant, its a quad HD AMOLED display, so I don’t know how Karly could consider that washed out. If anything you could argue the colors are too saturated and therefore unrealistic looking. Also, I agree the camera is not great, but it isn’t horrible. In good lighting, it capable of taking some nice shots. It isn’t the best camera, but it’s completely serviceable for social media. You can pick up a Nexus 6 used for around $200 these days and a new one for around $300. If you don’t mind a huge phone, the Nexus 6 is great. It’s super fast, has solid battery life, and timely updates straight from Google. Lastly, if you are looking for a one handed device, you may want to consider the Moto G 3rd generation 2gb ram version. The camera is the same shooter found on the Nexus 6, it has a very stock like software experience, timely updates with Motoroloa – it’s already being updated to Marshmallow. And the waterproof coating is pretty neat. You can pick one of those up as well for around $200.

        • Andrew Day

          I was gonna buy the nexus 5x but lack of expandable memory stopped me. Bought the honor 5x and love it. Great phone for the price. Best fingerprint scanner sold me.

    • Mark TF

      Yeah, the SD615 is a joke, every time I get hyped up for a smartphone and then I hear it has the SD615 I completely lose interest for it. Not only it overheats and throttles like hell, but even when it’s not the performance is still awful. Why? Cause it’s not even a “true” octacore chipset. Either it uses the 4 1.0GHz clocked cores, or the ones clocked at 1.5GHz. So basically it’s like having a SD410, the difference is that this one overheats and it’s not properly optimized. I cannot believe that some phones like Oppo are priced at 500$ and they have this crappy chipset. Also “a big 5.5-inch screen, and a fingerprint scanner, all for under $200 – features unheard of for such a low price point” this isn’t true, there are quite a decent amount of other smartphones at this price that have those features and are better

    • Laramie Edward Holtman

      So everywhere I’m reading says its a 616, am I missing something?

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    A REQUEST: Please, don’t blur u’rself, nothing can be that interesting, not even the Chinese

    • balcobomber25

      I would rather see the phone…

      • Avieshek Rajkhowa

        Actually, not interested in that particular phone. Wonder how G5 might turn out.

        • balcobomber25

          I am not really interested in it either, but I come here for the phones not for the reviewers, I would rather not see them at all.

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            Then come to 9to5google

          • balcobomber25

            I have always heard of them but never ventured over there, I’ll have to check it out.

    • Sherpa

      It’s a review for a phone. People would rather see the phone. If you are looking to see girls or date one, there are other sites.

      • Avieshek Rajkhowa

        Oh, don’t worry, ‘m not new on the site.

    • AbbyZFresh

      Stop thinking with your penis and focus on the phone.

      • Avieshek Rajkhowa

        Some people are too blunt

      • Change

        By having that kind of thinking, you are proving that you are more into that sexuality stuff than for whom you are writing this for. You should accept the fact that everyone on internet is not a pervert and people have ways to entertain themselves rather than visiting an Android community for a reviewer. Please update you mentality before uploading your comment.

    • balcobomber25

      I come here to look at phones not the reviewers, I would prefer if they didn’t show themselves at all. There are plenty of websites for you to look at that sort of thing.

  • msk

    antutu score is off since it looks like the benchmarking crashed during 3d analysis. you should re-run that.

  • Tarun

    the 3GB is not available in US its only for China and India markets.

  • Ahmed Samir

    Unfortunately this phone not support OTG and fast charging :(
    the phone in Egypt with name Huawei RG5

  • Kawaii Kurumi

    Huawei with Snapdragon ????? Not a good comparision though, The only bet way to get EMUI and the phone running smoothly is only if the embed their own Hi Silicon Processors, Snapdragon 615 is a mid tier processor which tends to heat up and is not the best

  • Kyle Ong

    The color optins are grey, silver and gold. Front will be white? (Silver back)?

  • Tony Tone

    This is an interesting phone, Huawei is developer friendly it seems, offering up the source code and bootloader unlock codes on their website. Would like to see it running cyanogen or another custom ROM. May be worth the $200 if it performs good without the Huawei skin.

  • Bassiette

    I think it’s good phone but why don’t use kirin

    • balcobomber25

      There isn’t a midrange Kirin currently in production.

  • s2weden2000

    ch0ice …

  • Badelhas

    KRYSTAL LORA: Can you please inform us readers who won the “Nexus 6P (2) – Pixel C (2) – Sphero BB8 (3) International Mega Giveaway!!”?

    Thanks you

  • saksham

    why dont u guys review indian companies like micromax ? u would only review phones which u get money from

    • balcobomber25

      They only review phones that are sent to them for review. Micromax phones are tough to get outside of India.

  • Stephen Chen

    Snapdragon 615 made it deal breaker, pass!