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Honor 5X Review – A solid mid-range contender

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Just after the launch of the smartphone in India, the Honor 5X is now available in the US too. The only difference is that the Honor 5X released in the US has a different SoC. As the Honor 5X has spent much time on its design language featuring a premium aluminum body, it has also focused on its hardware and specifications that include a 1.5 GHz octa-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC), 16 GB internal storage, a 13 MP camera, a 3000 mAh battery and a brilliant 5.5-inch full HD display along with a nice fingerprint scanner at the back. The specifications seem to be better than the what people usually seek at this price point. Okay, enough said, let’s move on to the Honor 5X review.

Honor 5X Review – A Solid Mid-range Contender

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In the Box

  • Honor 5X with built-in battery
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Power Brick
  • SIM Ejector Pin

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Honor 5X Specifications

  • Display: 5.5-inch Full HD IPS Display (1920 x 1080 pixels)
  • Software: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with EMUI 3.1
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, On the back
  • Processor: 1.5Ghz Octa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 (MSM8939 v2) (1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 & 1.2 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53)
  • GPU: Adreno 405
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Storage: 16 GB internal storage, Expandable up to 128 GB using MicroSD
  • Main Camera: 13 MP Auto Focus with an LED flash
  • Front Camera: 5 MP, wide angle
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth V4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS/AGPS/Glonass, Micro USB, 3.5 mm Audio Jack
  • Network: Dual SIM card support, one Micro SIM, one nano-SIM, 4G LTE network
  • Others: Qualcomm snapdragon audio+
  • Battery: 3000 mAh
  • Dimensions: 151.3 mm x 76.3 mm x 8.15 mm
  • Weight: 158 grams (with battery)
  • Color Variant: Grey, Silver, Gold

Design and Build

The moment you take out the Honor 5X from the box, you get a solid feel. The attractive design and beautiful metal finish body give you a premium look. Roughly speaking, the Honor 5X slightly resembles the Honor 7. It is quite light in weight (158 grams) and as thin as 8.15 mm. It almost slipped a couple of times from my hands, so the Honor 5X is slippery due to its metallic design but fits in your hands comfortably when you keep a tight grip.

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The Honor 5X has a unibody design and thus, the 3000 mAh battery is not user replaceable. It uses chamfered edges on the sides and brushed metal on the backside giving you a pleasant feel with its sleek metallic design. While the body is made of metal, the top and bottom are made of plastic, however, you won’t be able to figure it out from a distant unless you touch and feel it.

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Chamfered Edges And Brushed Metal

An added feature in the Honor 5X which lacks in many smartphones in this price range is the gesture-based fingerprint scanner. The placement of the fingerprint scanner is on the back below the 13 MP camera just like we have seen in the Honor 7. As the Honor 5X uses a flat design, there is a small camera bump that may bother you when you place it on a table or any other surface.

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13 MP Camera And A Fingerprint Sensor

The front has the usual 5 MP camera and a proximity sensor along with an LED notification light hidden under the hood. The bottom has a large space that doesn’t have any touch buttons on top but it’s stuck inside the display. Many smartphones offer touch buttons outside the display and that seems to be a more convenient option for the users.

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Moving towards the left, there are two SIM trays with one having a Micro SD slot. The first SIM tray supports a Micro-SIM while the other supports Nano-SIM and Micro SD. There are no buttons on the left side.

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Left
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Two Different Trays, One Includes MicroSD

On the right, you will find the volume and power buttons. The buttons feel very nice and give you a good amount of tactile feedback. The textured surface on the buttons will provide you a better grip and certainly won’t feel cheap.

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Right

You will also find a 3.5 mm audio jack and a microphone on the top with speakers and a micro USB on the bottom. The bottom will quickly catch your eye with a phony speakers grill. It appears to be two speakers below, however, the left grill has a mic while speakers being on the right.

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Top
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Bottom

Display

The 5.5-inch screen on the Honor 5X will welcome you with a nice crisp and bright 1920 x 1080 pixels IPS LCD when you turn on the smartphone. The display is a fingerprint magnet, hence smudges on the screen.

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The display is so far great in terms of the colors. The colors are bright and vivid though the blacks aren’t that deep but satisfactory. Though it’s an LCD display, the screen serves you brighter images instead of oversaturated colors as seen in the AMOLED displays. However, the color tendency of the AMOLED display appears to be accurate. Nevertheless, there is an option under the display settings that enables you to set temperature of the image to warm or cold.

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The viewing angles on the Honor 5X are very good, the text can be read on the either sides. When testing the readability under sunlight, the Honor 5X manages to remain brighter under sunlight shade but not sufficient under direct sunlight. Still when you compare it to the high-end and expensive flagships, the screen offers a great brightness in its price range.

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Viewed From Sides

Software and UI

The Honor 5X runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box with a heavy EMUI skin that is seen on most of the Honor lineups. The Emotion UI is highly customized and doesn’t look like its an Android but resembles the Apple’s iOS software. The homescreen doesn’t feature an app drawer which certainly isn’t an issue for many users. The UI gives a user-friendly environment and all the apps can be found on the homescreen.

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The icons and the text are highly modified in the Emotion UI and seems to be more refined and polished. The recent apps have a new look in which you can swipe up to clear the apps and free the RAM usage. Moreover, you can customize the homescreen with the wallpapers and the widgets. There are gestures like pinch and zoom (in and out) on the homescreen to open the homescreen settings and hiding the apps from the homescreen. Swiping to down opens up a search with the keyboard (similar to the iPhones) to find the desired apps from the homescreen. Although the software appears to be decent, the animations sometimes feel sluggish.

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Uses Swype Keyboard Modified By Huawei
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Easy Notification And Shortcuts Bar

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The EMUI software has many options to customize the interface such as the Homescreen style which can be used to switch to simple mode for easy access. The navigation bar can be tweak to get the desired buttons.

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The floating dock on the screen can be really helpful if you want to access the navigation buttons quickly. It can be enabled from the settings. Other options are available like ‘double tap to wake’, silent when flip and drawable gestures to open apps from the locked state.

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Because of the large 5.5-inch display, the Honor 5X can also be used one handed by enabling the one-hand layout feature in the settings. Swiping the navigation bar triggers the one-hand layout. Also, the keyboard can be shifted to the right or left side accordingly.

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The multi-tasking is easy with its octa-core processor. The Honor 5X gives you an option to run the apps simultaneously on the same display. You can find it under Settings -> Dual Window. A similar feature you have already heard before by other names like multi window. It can be activated by ‘press and hold’ the recent button on the navigation bar or swipe up from the home button using two fingers.

We felt choppiness when using the dual window a few times and there aren’t many apps to run in the dual window mode.

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Dual Window Running YouTube And Facebook

Just like the iPhones, the Honor 5X also give you control over the apps that uses mobile data or any other network. You can individually disable or enable the apps that require internet connectivity. A very useful feature when you are low on mobile data.

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The Emotion UI also supports an different themes which can be accessed within the theme app on the homescreen.

Fingerprint Scanner

The Honor 5X has the best fingerprint scanner at its price. If you are familiar with the fingerprint scanner on the Honor 7, the Honor 5X works a tad similar having the fingerprint gestures. The performance is very close to the fingerprint scanner on the Honor 7, the phone unlocks quickly (0.5-sec) the moment you place the finger on it. No matter how you place the finger, it unlocks easily as it supports 360-degree fingerprint recognition. It also unlocks the phone even if you have a wet finger.

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Rim-Free Fingerprint Scanner

The setup is very easy it, add the fingerprint in 6 attempts. It supports a maximum of 5 different fingerprints. There are some gestures that you can use in the fingerprint scanner. Swiping up with your finger will get you into the recent apps menu, swiping down will open the notification bar, one tap to go back, and tap and hold to homescreen. There are more gestures like tap to snap a photo, tap and hold to answer a call and stop the alarm. The fingerprint scanner can do much more rather than just unlocking the phone.

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Unlike the Samsung smartphones and iPhones, it can unlock without pressing the power or home button. To know more about the fingerprint scanner, see the features of the fingerprint scanner on Honor 5X.

Performance

Unlike the Honor 7 which used a home-grown SoC, the Honor 5X used Qualcomm Soc instead. The Honor 5X is powered by a 1.5Ghz Octa-core 64-bit processor using Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 (MSM8939 v2) SoC with a 2 GB RAM. There’s actually two quad-core Cortex A53 processors each clocked separately, one is clocked at 1.5 GHz for high performance and other is clocked at 1.2 GHz for power saving. It has an Adreno 405 GPU so that you can game on it.

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The Antutu benchmark scored 35186 points which are quite below the Coolpad Note 3 and the Honor 7. The Geekbench 3 scored 705 in single core performance and 3141 in multi-core performance. The Geekbench 3 shows that the performance is better than that of the Honor 7. Here’s the Honor 5X’s full benchmark test of the Geekbench 3.

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We notice a few lags while switching the apps, and also, the interface sometimes feel sluggish. We played a few games on the Honor 5X, they ran fine however graphics intensive games will perform slowly. The gaming is good on an entry level and mainstream level. Running high-end games certainly won’t make a happy gaming experience.

Games Tested on Honor 5X:

  • Traffic Rider
  • Enemy Strike
  • Need For Speed – No Limits
  • Where’s My Water
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Enemy Strike
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Where’s My Water

With hours of gaming, the temperature didn’t go beyond 40-degree but remained under it. The Honor 5X remained on the cooler side. The temperatures according to the CPU Temp was around 37 degrees.

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The user gets around ~1 GB of free RAM which is acceptable. The competitors are providing 3 GB RAM instead of 2 GB in similar price. Honor 5X could have provided even more RAM because more RAM requires when multitasking especially using the Dual Window feature is there.

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Camera

With an impressive 13 MP shooter having F2.0 aperture and an LED flash at the back, the Honor 5X does a good job of capturing the shots. As you already know megapixels doesn’t always count for the quality of the picture, but also the processing and the hardware combined with the sensor. The Honor 5X uses Huawei’s SmartImage 3.0 image processor.

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The camera software doesn’t support many modes like its flagship companion Honor 7. A 10k priced Zenfone Max from ASUS provide you a plethora of options in the camera software. The Honor 5X lacks the different modes but still there are Panorama, HDR, Watermark, Slowmotion and All-focus options. The bad thing is there’s no night mode and manual mode provided in the camera. There are few more options in the camera settings like the exposure, white balance, ISO, timer, perfect selfie, and etc. Well, the good thing is you can tap the fingerprint scanner to take shots.

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We captured the shots in different lighting conditions and here are the results.

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Indoors, Daylight

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Closeup Shot

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HDR

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Panorama
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Indoors, Night

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With Flash

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In daylight conditions, the images look detailed and colors represented correctly. In optimal conditions, they really look nice and clear but sometimes overexposed. When there are less incoming lights, it is quite slow in capturing shots yet you get decent image quality giving you less noise. The camera performance is above average. It supports 1080p video shooting with slow motion video and time lapse video.

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Front 5 MP Camera

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The front has a 5 MP wide-angle camera for the selfies. The camera supports beautification that can give you some amazing selfie shots. Though it doesn’t have a front flash like the one we saw in the Honor 7 yet it comes to a good camera package at this price. The front camera doesn’t support autofocus which may be an issue for some people. The camera takes nice shots if there is a decent amount of light i.e. daylight. In low light areas, you will get a plenty amount of blur and details will be washed out.

See the full resolution images here.

Call Quality and Audio

The call quality on the Honor 5X is very good. You can hear the voice clearly without any distortion. In noisy areas, the calling on the Honor 5X is decent. Although there is a mono speaker on the right grill, the loudspeakers sound notably loud and can be heard from another room easily.

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Storage and Connectivity

The Honor 5X gives you 16GB of storage internally and it can be further expanded up to 128 GB using Micro SD card. The Micro SD slot is in the same tray that holds SIM card. The user gets around 10.5 GB of free space out of 16 GB with that being used by the system. A tool named ‘Storage Cleaner’ came preinstalled can be used to clear the junk files and increase the storage.

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Battery Life and Charging

The Honor 5X sports a 3000 mAh battery which isn’t user-replacable due to the unibody construction. On mix usage, the battery can last 2 days with a small percentage of juice left in it.

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Heavy Use (3G Data, Wi-Fi Hotspot, GPS, Max Brightness)

On continuous heavy use, the battery was near to death before even completing the day. We use it under extreme conditions by enabling GPS, 3G mobile data, a Wi-Fi hotspot in full brightness, and ran games and apps for few hours. Light usage can extend the battery life enormously. The software is smart enough to notify you the apps that causing the battery drain. The power saving settings can help you much out of it.

Here’s our battery test table that will give you an overview of how much the battery was consumed with the following apps or tasks.

Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
1080p Video4%20 minutesAutoAirplane Mode
Where's My Water8%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Need For Speed No Limits7%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Traffic Rider9%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
YouTube6%25 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
TuneIn Radio4%30 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Music (Offline)2%1 HourAutoAirplane Mode

Pricing, Variants, and Support

The Honor 5X is available for ₹12,999 on Flipkart and Amazon. There are three color variants:

  • Honor 5X Silver
  • Honor 5X Grey
  • Honor 5X Gold

The Honor 5X comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty.

Verdict

The Honor 5X looks more promising with its cutting-edge features like the full HD display, a fingerprint scanner, a decent camera as well as the balanced hardware. For the price it holds, Honor 5X could be the one. There are very few smartphones that give the Honor 5X a good competition. To name then, they are the LeEco Le 1S, Coolpad Note 3 and the Lenovo K4 Note.

Honor 5X Review

Competitors

Pros

  • Metallic Design and Elegant Looks
  • Bright Display
  • Fast Fingerprint Scanner
  • Great Software Customization
  • Decent Camera

Cons

  • Sluggish UI
  • No Physical Touch Buttons
  • Slippery
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