Huawei Honor 5X: Hitting the Mid Range Sweet Spot for $199 [Review]

By - March 2016

Honor 5X Smartphone

Over the past couple of years the mid-range market has been heating up. Particularly with international companies getting their fix in the United States. Some have taken the usual approach of releasing a mid ranger while others have gone through code names to hide out who they really are. ZTE did it with the Axon Pro and Huawei is doing it now with the Honor 5X. When I attended the Honor 5X back at CES a couple of months ago there wasn’t any branding what so ever of Huawei. So with a smartphone priced at $199.99 and no contract is it really worth the cash?

Style

Honor 5X Body

When I first picked up the Honor 5X it eerily reminded me of the Nexus 6P. More so its shape and that nifty fingerprint scanner on the back brought me into familiar territory. Holding them hand in hand though you can feel the premium build in the Nexus 6P compared to the Honor 5X but also you have to remember the Nexus 6P is a little over double the price. It does feel like a sturdy well put together device and that could be in part thanks to Huawei. Build wise it has a speaker grill on the bottom with a microUSB port, headphone jack on top, volume controls and power buttons on the right and then it gets interesting on the left side. There you get a microSD slot for storage purposes, and a DualSIM slot which can be used with either a nanoSIM and/or microSIM. This can be great for overseas traveling if you do that pretty often.

The Honor 5X does come equipped with a simcard pin, microUSB cable, and wall charger.


 

Display

For its low pricing Huawei is giving you a clean 5.5″ FULL HD IPS 1080p screen. Its pretty responsive to the touch and actually takes up an amount of real estate on the phone itself at least side to side. Colors come out pretty okay when reading some texts, watching some YouTube or playing some quick games. I do feel it could be a bit brighter at times as I felt like being in bright outdoorishy areas wasn’t it strongest suit.


 

Hardware

Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor which isn’t too shabby and cool for a midrange device. It also has a Adreno 405 GPU and 16GB of storage and mixed with 2-3GB RAM depending on which model you get. To help all this run you are even getting a 3,000mAh battery which is hard to see even in some of the most premium high-end smartphones out there now. Sad thing is even though you have a 3K battery this phone is painful to charge. It takes excruciating long and just doesn’t make sense. Also a sacrifice made in the hardware department is no 5GHZ WiFi. It may not be a big deal for some but I pretty much have grown used to it. I mean its even on the Moto G 2015.


 

Software

Honor 5X Standby TimeWhile it is running Android 5.1 its Huawei’s own OS on top called EMUI 3.1. We first got a glimpse back on their P8 smartphone last year and its back again in the Honor 5X mid ranger device. It reminds of me of the iPhone OS has there is no app drawer and all your apps are for show on the front screen. I have even reorganized them and moved them around but they have gone back to their original spots. I can most likely go in the settings and fix but its a minor nuisance.

Pulling down the menu from up top gives you Notifications and Shortcuts similar once again to the iPhone system. I’d prefer a nice clean skin like on the Nexus 6P but I can see how this may work for some, just not me.


 

Camera

Thankfully the days of mid-rangers getting low res cams went out the window a couple of years ago and the camera on the Honor 5X is’t too shabby. It has a 5MP camera on front for those selfies and possible group shots. A feature pretty cool on it is there is a window that pops up in the left hand corner to make those facials look better. Flip over to the back and there is the 13MP shooter. I have used it in daylight, office lighting and even some night viewing around Times Square. Shots aren’t bad but they don’t have that vivid clear pop like some of the better camera shooters out there.

Video isn’t bad as you can record in 1080p FHD quality which is pretty decent. Specs aren’t bad and this camera can be for the casual picture taker but don’t expect anything ground breaking. They offer some nice options compared to phones in the same price range and really few are offering 1080p video.


Verdict

Even with the absent of 5GHZ WiFi, painful battery charging and iPhone familiar software, the Honor 5X by Huawei is a well-built piece of machinery at $199.99. It has a nice metallic feel to it, and holds decent specs with nice processing power to handle everyday tasks and occasionally play some mobile gaming. It’s fingerprint scanner is top-notch and some of the best out there even from some of the premier models. If you are a bit conflicted or looking for something a bit straightforward the Moto G 2015 is also a nice alternative hovering in the same price range.

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Jason Million is Managing Editor. Jason currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S6 with T-Mobile among other gadgets. Hailing from the streets of NYC, always trying to have a blast or catch a bite to eat. As well as enjoying technology to the fullest. Any other questions hit him up.