Review: Huawei Honor 5X

The Honor 5X isn’t a phone you will fall instantly in love with. But a combination of mid-range looks and solid performance ultimately make this budget phone hard to resist. Additions like an aluminum body, a super-smart fingerprint sensor, and a solid camera distinguish this $200 phone from the rest of the low-cost options. And for those who can’t or don’t want to spend more than $300 on a phone, it’s a great choice.

Huawei Honor 5X

7/10

Wired

Smart fingerprint sensor lets you perform a bunch of operations from the back of the phone. Extended battery life. Dual SIM slot means you can add a second number or a more convenient data plan. Ridiculously affordable.

Tired


Huawei’s customized software leaves less than 10 GB of usable storage. Kinda bulky, with awkwardly thick edges. LTE connectivity won’t work on T-Mobile’s networks.

How We Rate

  • 1/10A complete failure in every way
  • 2/10Barely functional; don’t buy it
  • 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
  • 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
  • 5/10Recommended with reservations
  • 6/10A solid product with some issues
  • 7/10Very good, but not quite great
  • 8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
  • 9/10Nearly flawless, buy it now
  • 10/10Metaphysical product perfection

The first thing you notice when you pick up the Honor 5X is the aluminum body—a rare find at this price point. Another rarity? There’s a fingerprint sensor embedded into the panel right under the camera. The scanner is great: quick to recognize up to five different fingers, and it can be used to open a specific app or call a specific contact. It takes a while to remember which finger launches the browser and which calls the local pizzeria, but once you figure it out it’s a great shortcut. The sensor can be used for other features, too, such as opening and scrolling through the notification panel or recently used apps, taking photos, answering calls, or even accessing protected apps and locked gallery albums.

Speaking of shortcuts, Huawei’s customized software lets you draw a letter on the screen to open a corresponding application of choice. I found it useful for opening the Voice Recorder, Flashlight, Shazam, and Spotify. Some other additional gestures can be enabled from the settings menu and include more regular options, like double-tapping to turn the screen on or flipping it to mute calls and alarms.

Unfortunately, the software also comes with a selection of Gameloft games as well as the company’s own e-commerce and services, leaving nothing more than 9.6 GB of usable space out of the initial 16 GB (the maximum the Honor 5X offers). The good news is the expansion slot supports up to 128 GB microSD cards, even though that means spending more money on your new phone.

Shape of Things

The front of the phone is like many others these days, with large bezels that surround the 5.5-inch screen. The Full HD display is made of LCD IPS panels with 401 ppi resolution, and offers sharp colors and excellent viewing angles. Under the hood, the 5X packs a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 mid-range processor with 2 GB of RAM. The chip is powerful enough to handle heavy apps and multitasking with almost no hiccups, and yet needs a fairly reduced amount of energy to stretch the battery life up to a couple of days with no need to activate an energy saving mode. It does lag every now and then, usually loading big applications, like Facebook or Asphalt Nitro for the first time. Once launched, though, the 5X is capable of handling them all smoothly.

The camera is surprisingly good, too, much better than the average budget phone. In good lighting, the 13-megapixel sensor with its f/2.0-aperture 28 mm wide angle lens is easily as good as many mid-to-high end smartphones like Moto X, OnePlus 3, and the “other” 5X: the Google Nexus 5X. In indoor or low light conditions, the phone produces mostly decent shots that are occasionally disappointing. The interface comes with filters, HDR, and a Panorama mode that can handle on-the-fly exposure adjustments. Options include Time-lapse, Beauty mode for selfies and portraits, and a weird ‘Good food’ mode to take more appealing close-ups of meals for your food porn on Instagram.