Honor 5X

Tech Advisor - - CONTENTS - Chris Martin

Con­tin­u­ing its ef­fort to crack the world­wide smart­phone mar­ket, Huawei, un­der the guise of Honor, is bring­ing an­other bud­get-priced hand­set to our at­ten­tion. The ‘no-non­sense’ Honor 5X is an­other great-look­ing de­vice that of­fers much bet­ter spec­i­fi­ca­tions than you would ex­pect for the price.

De­sign

The 5X is the suc­ces­sor to last year’s Honor 7 and has a very sim­i­lar de­sign. The back and sides are con­structed from metal, while the strips along the top and bot­tom are made from plas­tic, with dim­ples that are sim­i­lar to Sam­sung’s Gal­axy S5. We par­tic­u­larly like the brushed fin­ish on the main part of the rear cover, though it’s picked up the odd scratch or two over the few weeks we’ve had it.

The cam­era sticks out a lit­tle, with the fin­ger­print scan­ner sit­ting be­low it, while the but­tons and ports are where you’d nor­mally find them (side and bot­tom). Like the Honor 7, the 5X looks like a pre­mium hand­set and feels solid in the hand.

A small dif­fer­ence com­pared to the Honor 7 is that the 5X lacks the ‘smart but­ton’ on the left­hand side, which can be cus­tomised to per­form dif­fer­ent func­tions. That’s not a big deal though, and a small rea­son why the 5X is cheaper. Its weight and di­men­sions are al­most iden­ti­cal to the Honor 7’s, weigh­ing 158g and mea­sur­ing 8.2mm thick, com­pared to its sib­ling’s weight of 157g and 8.5mm thick­ness.

The phone is avail­able in three colours: grey, sil­ver and gold.

Hard­ware

The Honor 5X will suit those look­ing for a phone with a large screen phone as it comes with a 5.5in dis­play – a fair amount larger than most of Honor’s pre­vi­ous de­vices. The res­o­lu­tion re­mains at Full HD, so the pixel den­sity is a lit­tle lower, but 401ppi is hardly poor. For us the screen is de­cent for the price, but the over­all qual­ity doesn’t match up to flag­ship de­vices from the likes of Sam­sung, of course.

In­stead of us­ing a Kirin pro­ces­sor, Honor has switched over to Qual­comm for the 5X, and although it’s pow­ered by the Snap­dragon 615 across the pond, the firm has gone one bet­ter for Europe – lit­er­ally. It has opted to use the Snap­dragon 616 in­stead. That’s still an octa-core chip with An­dreno 405 graph­ics. There is 2GB of RAM, which is what we ex­pect at this price.

Dur­ing our tests, we found per­for­mance to be slick and speedy, with only a small amount of lag when open­ing apps and the like. As you can see from our bench­mark re­sults (op­po­site), its Geek­bench 3 scores are very good (match­ing the Xiaomi Redmi 3) and it al­most keeps up with the Honor 7 in the graph­ics de­part­ment. We’ve not had any prob­lems play­ing ti­tles such as Alto’s Ad­ven­ture ei­ther.

It’s good news for dual-SIM fans as the Honor 5X can take both Mi­cros- and Nano-SIMs. There’s also a mi­croSD slot for cards up to 128GB and 16GB of in­ter­nal stor­age.

On the photography front, the 5X has a 13Mp (Sony sen­sor) rear cam­era and a dual-tone flash. Don’t ex­pect any­thing like op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion and an aper­ture of f/2.0 isn’t go­ing to of­fer the best low light per­for­mance around. That said, the cam­era is ca­pa­ble for the price and the app is de­cent with a se­lec­tion of modes and fil­ters. At the front is a pretty av­er­age 5Mp cam­era with a 22mm lens and f/2.4 aper­ture (see our test im­age op­po­site).

Although the 5X comes with a fin­ger­print scan­ner, it lacks some of the ex­tras that we ex­pect in to­day’s hand­sets, such as 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC and an in­frared trans­mit­ter. All of th­ese are avail­able on the Honor 7.

The bat­tery is a non-re­mov­able 3000mAh cell and Honor claims you’ll be able to get a day from the

phone with heavy use. Mod­er­ate use will mean the de­vice will last for 1.4 days, ac­cord­ing to the firm. In our bat­tery life test, it lasted five hours 12 min­utes with a score of 3125, which is not as good as we hoped.

Soft­ware

It’s a shame to see the Honor 5X pre­loaded with An­droid 5.1 Lol­lipop and not the lat­est ver­sion 6.0 Marshmallow. How­ever, that’s not the big­gest prob­lem here. Sadly, Emo­tion UI 3.1 is.

We’ve talked about its fail­ings in al­most ev­ery Huawei and Honor re­view we’ve writ­ten, but the soft­ware re­mains a stick­ing point when it comes to th­ese phones. That’s a big shame when the de­sign and hard­ware is gen­er­ally strong.

The con­tin­u­ing lack of an app menu or app drawer means you end up with an iOS-style set of home­screen pan­els, which get lit­tered with app icons. Yes, you can put them fold­ers but that’s not what most An­droid users want – it’s not how Google made the op­er­at­ing sys­tem. You can change the look and feel of the in­ter­face with a wide range of themes, but none change this key el­e­ment.

Honor has also changed other ar­eas such as the drop-down no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar and re­cent apps menu, and although we don’t dis­like them, it’s dif­fer­ent to stock An­droid and that is an­other thing that might put some users off.

You can draw a let­ter on the screen to launch an app –a ‘c’ for cam­era, for ex­am­ple – if you switch it on in Mo­tion Con­trols. It only works with four let­ters, though. A one-handed mode means you can view the in­ter­face on a smaller scale if you’re strug­gling with the size of the screen. There are other handy things such as be­ing able to dou­ble-tap the screen to switch it on, but this, along with oth­ers, are all off by de­fault so you have to go search­ing for them.

As well as un­lock­ing the phone, the fin­ger­print scan­ner can be used to launch apps. You can as­sign up to five of your favourite to dif­fer­ent fingers, although this can some­times be awk­ward, so it’s a bit on the gim­micky side of things. Luck­ily the world of An­droid is pretty easy to cus­tomise, so some is­sues, such as the app menu, can be sorted by in­stalling the Google Now launcher. How­ever, we’re still not con­vinced by the Emo­tion UI.

Ver­dict

The Honor 5X is an­other great value phone from Huawei’s sub-brand. It of­fers ex­cel­lent de­sign and build with some solid specs too. It is miss­ing some el­e­ments such as NFC and 11ac Wi-Fi so you might be bet­ter off spend­ing a lit­tle more on the Honor 7, es­pe­cially now it’s dropped to £209 (on of­fer).

GFXBench Man­hat­tan

Geek­bench 3

GFXBench T-Rex

JetStream** higher is bet­ter

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