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honor 5X – best budget premium to date?

The honor 5X is on its way to the US market for just $200, making it one of the most premium budget phones available at this price point.
By
January 18, 2016
Huawei-Honor-5X-14

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.

Premium metallic design

Huawei-Honor-5X-6

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

Huawei-Honor-5X-8

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
Display
honor 5X
5.5-inch 1080p display
OnePlus X
5-inch display 1080p display
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
5-inch 720p display
BLU Vivo 5
5.5-inch 720p Super AMOLED display
Processor
honor 5X
1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 616
OnePlus X
2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615
BLU Vivo 5
MediaTek MT6753
GPU
honor 5X
Adreno 405
OnePlus X
Adreno 330
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405
BLU Vivo 5
Mali-T720
RAM
honor 5X
2GB
OnePlus X
3GB
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
2GB
BLU Vivo 5
3GB
Storage
honor 5X
16GB
OnePlus X
16GB
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
8 or 16GB
BLU Vivo 5
32GB
MicroSD
honor 5X
Up to 128GB
OnePlus X
Up to 128GB
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Up to 128GB
BLU Vivo 5
Up to 128GB
Connectivity
honor 5X
Wi-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
OnePlus X
2.4GHz b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, BDS, LTE
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, FM radio
BLU Vivo 5
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, FM radio
SIM card
honor 5X
Dual SIM (one micro, one nano) -- does NOT take up a microSD slot
OnePlus X
Nano SIM, dual compatible (but uses microSD slot)
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Single Nano-SIM slot
BLU Vivo 5
Dual-slot SIMs
Camera
honor 5X
13 MP, f/2.0, 28mm, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, 5MP front cam
OnePlus X
13MP ISOCELL 3M2 CMOS with f/2.2 rear cam, 8MP front cam
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
13 MP, f/2.0, autofocus, LED flash, 5MP front cam
BLU Vivo 5
13MP LED, 5MP front cam
Battery
honor 5X
Non-removable 3000 mAh battery
OnePlus X
Non-removable 2,525 mAh LiPo battery
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Non-removable 2400 mAh battery
BLU Vivo 5
Non-removable 3150 mAh
Software
honor 5X
EMUI 3.1 (based on Lollipop)
OnePlus X
Oxygen OS (based on Lollipop)
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sony customizations
BLU Vivo 5
Android 5.1 Lollipop with BLU customizations
Dimensions
honor 5X
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.2 mm, 158g
OnePlus X
140 x 69 x 6.9 mm, 138g
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
145.5 x 72.6 x 7.3 mm, 136 grams
BLU Vivo 5
151.9 x 74.6 x 6.9 mm, 141 grams
Pricing
honor 5X
$199.99
OnePlus X
$249 (invite required)
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
$199.99
BLU Vivo 5
$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.

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A unique software experience

Huawei-Honor-5X-12

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.