Review: honor 5X Smartphone

Premium device, without breaking the bank

Tags: Honor ( Arab Emirates
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Review: honor 5X Smartphone Looks may be deceiving: This is a budget phone.
By  David Ndichu Published  February 7, 2016

The latest off the honor production belt is the 5X, which the company apparently refers to as the “Budget Beast.”

The moniker could have been inspired by a combination of its girth, at 5.5 inch screen size, and its price, at a modest AED 899.

The honor 5X is supposed to be the predecessor to the 4X. However the new version is such an improvement from the 4X, it feels like a completely new phone.

I initially thought what I had in my hand was the flagship Honor 7 launched late last year when I unwrapped the 5X.  The all-metal surround, the fingerprint sensor, and the premium feel all screamed honor 7, which is a phone geared for the mid-market, as opposed to the more budget-friendly 5X. 


The honor 5X is apparently crafted from a diamond-polished aluminium alloy. Honor clarifies that, what I initially though was a brushed aluminium façade, is in fact the effect of a sand blasting surface treatment.

With a 5.5-inches, the honor 5X is humongous although the curved design of the phone’s exterior makes for a more comfortable fit in your hand.

The honor 5X sees the introduction of the back fingerprint sensor, its standout feature in my opinion. The fingerprint reader is where I feel honor, and its parent company Huawei devices, have really differentiated themselves.

First, its placement-unlike other phones where the sensor is embedded in the home button, the fingerprint sensor is at the back, offset towards the top, where the tip your index finger would normally rest when holding your phone. This creates what I feel is a more intuitive fingerprint sensor operation. The placement also allows the sensor to carry out many more functions, as we shall see later.  


You get 2 GB RAM and a powerful Qualcomm 64-bit Octa-core processor with the 5X as well as 16 GB internal storage. honor were a bit stingy with the storage, although this can be upgraded with a MicroSD card. This is a bit of a surprise-Huawei has been using its own Hisilicon Kirin chipsets in its brands and has been touting the chips’ capabilities. Not sure if this is a gradual shift towards the more widely known Qualcomm or a one-off adventure.   

The honor 5X is dual-SIM with slots for a nano and micro-SIM, both 4G enabled, as well microSD slot, with expandable storage space up to 128 GB. Actually, the nano-Sim and MicroSD fit into the same compartment.

The display is a 5.5-inch, 1080p full HD, fully laminated screen. We are talking about full HD here, so colours are bright and crisp. Watch videos from the left or from the right with little loss of saturation thanks to IPS technology and its improved viewing angles.  

The main camera is 13 MP with a wide F2.0 aperture. The front camera is 5 MP affair with an F2.4 aperture with an 88-degree viewing angle for panoramic selfies.

Photo taking with the 5X is somewhere you can have some fun, thanks to a myriad of cool features. Take Perfect Selfie mode for instance. This feature will recognise the face of the device owner and then apply a special preset effect to the image. You can adjust the size of your eyes or how thin you want your face to look for instance, and the camera will apply these effects whenever you take a selfie. Set this mode when you want to stand out beautifully from your friends in a groufie, you narcissistic you. (A Groufie, for the uninformed, is a group selfie, a catch phrase incidentally coined and trademarked by honor’s parent company Huawei).

If you like taking photos of your food to post online, then the Honor 5X’s Good Food Mode is the one for you. Take a photo of your fast food take out, and watch it glisten like a gourmet serving. White table cloth optional. 

Another feature with potential is voice commands, which you can activate to take photos by uttering a cheesy line like “cheeeese”.

EMUI is Huawei’s own software adaptation of vanilla Android. The Honor 5X comes with EMUI 3.1, ostensibly a better and more subtle user experience. Huawei has received flack with EMUI in the past for being too convoluted and gimmicky.

There are now new privacy features that let you hide home screen apps, store personal files in a safe place, and restrict access to personal info, like that surprise Valentine’s booking.

EMUI also enables H.265 video compression, reducing the time for data transfer while adding some precious storage.

Check out Motion Control under Settings if or when you get your hands on honor 5X. There, you will find features such as Flip, through which you can mute sounds and stop vibrations from incoming calls, alarms and timers simply by flicking your device. Double Touch on the other hand turns on the screen by tapping the locked screen twice,

My favourite though is the “Draw” feature, while allows to literally draw a letter to, well, draw out an app.  Assign a letter, say “i” for Instagram and the phone will open that app whenever you draw that letter in locked mode.

Gamers rejoice. Now you can continue dominating your enemies with no risk of callers interrupting your flow. The honor 5X includes a pop-up call reminder for incoming calls that occur in the middle of a game, which of course you will ignore.

EMUI verdict: Good to see real utility in some of the features like privacy, video compression, and pop up call reminder.


The fingerprint sensor is the second-generation variant from Huawei, and offers much faster operations, officially 0.5 seconds. I have used the previous generation and I can tell you this one is more responsive.  

The sensor is also adaptive, learning about your fingerprint as you use it and will eventually recognise you even with wet hands or partial fingerprints.

To get you going with fingerprint operations, the device will ask you to record different points in your finger to record a 360 degree imprint of your digit.  Six steps in all actually. Compare that with my IPhone 6 which demands at least ten steps to fully document your thumbprint, in two different segments. You can use your fingerprint to lock certain apps, so you only have access to them for privacy.   

The fingerprint technology also allows for guest mode, so four other users can record their own fingerprints. Each one can again be allowed access only to certain folders and apps.  

After registration, the honor 4X allows you to call a number through touch of a finger by linking a fingerprint with a contact in locked-screen mode. Like the modern method of the quick dial.

You can also link your fingerprint to a specific commonly used app and launch it with a single touch from locked-screen mode.

Other fingerprint-friendly functions include taking photos, answering calls or cancelling an alarm.

Powering the honor 5X is a sizable 3000mAh battery, enough juice to take even the most demanding of users through the day. This is enhanced through the SmartPower 3.0 technology, an eight-point power saving plan to reduce power consumption by 30 percent, according to Honor.


The honor 5X is proof enough that the age where you needed to take out a second mortgage to afford a premium phone are over. For an 899 steal, you get a good looking premium phone, with great features like the fingerprint sensor and great batter life.

The 5X is an e-tail brand, so it’s soon to be available at honor’s website or other ecommerce sites.

For: Price, Fingerprint sensor, Design, Battery life
Against: Low storage
Verdict: The best quality budget phone, anywhere


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