Huawei launched the Honor brand in 2014 in India and it has tasted a fair bit of success if the sales numbers of its phones are any indication to go by. This year Honor released the 5X in India, a couple of months after the China launch of the same product. The Honor 5X will replace the Honor 4X, which was launched last year and was among the top sellers for Huawei. So let us see if the Honor 5X has what it takes to be a chart-buster.
Build and Design: 7.5/10
The Honor 5X makes use of a metal body in construction, and unlike the Honor 4X, it does not have a removable back. It comes in the Sunset gold, Dark grey and Daybreak Silver colour variants of which we got the golden coloured model for testing. There is an elegant brush metal finish on the rear side with some chamfering around the rounded edges. There is a slightly raised chrome lining around the edges when seen from the front, which gives added smoothness.
On the rear side you have the 13MP camera section which protrudes out from the plane of the body. To the left of the camera you have the dual tone LED flash unit. Below the camera you have the rounded square shaped finger print scanner. Honor branding graces the base of the rear side. On the top and bottom edges on the rear side, you have textured plastic parts.
Coming to the edges, you have the SIM card and microSD card slots on the top left hand edge. On the base you have the microUSB charging port in the centre, surrounded by speaker grille openings of which only the right side is the speaker section. The right hand edge has the volume rocker and power standby button. The front has the 5.5-inch display with significantly thick top and bottom bezels.
While the in hand feel of the phone is certainly better than the plasticky Honor 4X, the phone is slippery thanks to the polished metal back. We would have certainly liked less thicker bezels on the top and base.
Honor 5X comes with a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The phone houses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 616 system on chip which houses an octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz along with Adreno 405 GPU. It is paired with 2GB of RAM and comes with 16GB of onboard storage of which you get access to 10.51GB. You can expand the storage to 128GB using a microSD card slot. Thankfully, the Honor 5X uses a triple slot design which means you can use two SIM card and a microSD card and do not have to sacrifice one for the other. However only of the SIM slots takes in 4G cards.
The phone runs on Android 5.1.1 along with Emotion UI 3.1 skin atop it. On the camera front, you get a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. You have the regular set of connectivity options such as dual SIM (non-hybrid), Wi-fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.1, FM radio, GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS and sensors such as accelerometer, proximity, compass and fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor can be used to unlock the phone, click photographs, answer calls and more. The phone has 3000 mAh battery and it supports the SmartPower 3.0 technology.
The Honor 5X comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display with an IPS LCD panel which gives the phone good viewing angles. Due to the thick bezels on the top and base, you have a body to screen ratio coming to around 70% which isn’t much and that means one handed use isn’t convenient. The phone comes with scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection.
The display is sharp and has a slight bluish tinge to it. We did not notice any pixillation on the text or the app icons. Colours appear natural with respectable black levels. The display controls the reflections quite well with the lamination stuck onto the display. But it is a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Removing that takes care of the smudges, but reflectivity increases. The auto brightness settings isn't that impressive while shooting but when previewing photos, we noticed that the display levels changed dynamically based on the ambient lighting. Something similar to what we have seen with Xiaomi’s Mi4i adaptive display.
The Honor 5X comes with Android 5.1.1 along with the Emotion UI 3.1 skin atop it. In terms of overall look and feel, the user interface is quite reminiscent of the one we saw with the Honor 6 Plus and Honor 4X. So touches such as the changing wallpapers on every wake up gesture, timeline of recent notifications and sliding left to get to shortcuts has been carried forth.
The Honor 5X comes with a lot of pre-installed apps such as WPS Office, UC browser, InMobi services, Apps Gallery, honor Club, Hi Honor (which takes you to the site), Clean Master among others. You can thankfully uninstall unwanted third-party apps, but system apps such as magnifier, weather cannot be uninstalled.
The HiCare app lets you connect with Honor service centre through an app, which gives you a list of service centres; gives you an option to directly give feeback via mail; call their service hotline as well as visit forums on Facebook. Phone Manager lets you scan your device, clean memory, adjust traffic management, change power saving modes and more. You also get notifications everytime an app is consuming lot of power, letting you close the app from the notification itself. These are little things, but add value to the overall user experience.
Huawei is a well known name in the telecom infrastructure department. So when it comes to call quality, you get an excellent performance. The voice was loud and crisp and the phone was also able to hold calls inside elevators which is a definite plus point. Earpiece speaker is loud enough and we did not hear any distortion even at high volume levels.
The Emotion UI 3.1 skin atop the Android 5.1.1 runs generally smooth, but there were some instances where we felt that the phone should have been more speedier. This is particularly evident when it comes to switching apps - there was a noticeable delay between the firing the multi-tasking menu and switching to another app. Swiping through the home screens is quick, but opening folders was slightly laggy in the first couple of instances. Once you enter an app there isn’t any issue as such. Hopefully Honor will release future updates to check this lag issue.
We played Asphalt 8: Airborne on the Honor 5X and there was barely any lag in the medium settings. There was no option to switch to the High settings. The phone does get warm on the rear side, but not problematically so. We did not notice the phone heating up while doing regular operations. So the phone manages the heat well.
Audio out on the phone is loud if you are listening to the phone is a single room. There was no noticeable distortion at high volume levels. But it is most responsive in the mid frequency range.
Fingerprint scanner can take in around 5 fingerprints and takes a couple of minutes to setup. The unlocking was quick with the fingerprint scanner. We even tried unlocking with mildly oily fingers and it worked fine.
The Honor 5X comes with a 13MP rear camera with the Sony IMX214 sensor and is complemented by a 5MP front facing camera. The phone comes with an f/2.0 aperture on the rear camera and f/2.4 on the front camera.
The camera app on the Honor 5X comes with some additional features. For starters, you now have a Good Food and Time Lapse mode which are present along side the Beauty, Photo and Video modes. You can quickly toggle between the five modes. The front camera retains the Beauty, Photo, Video and Time Lapse modes. Hitting that toast notification icon on the the right hand corner brings up more settings menu. In the photo mode you can turn on the HDR mode, Panorama, Best Photo, Slo-mo and other modes. For selfie enthusiasts, there is a Perfect Selfie mode where in the camera app helps you in composing the selfie shot and then doing post processing work on it.
Note: Images have been resized below. To see the high resolution images please click on the images. Alternatively, you can also check out the Huawei Honor 5X album on Flickr
Image quality is quite good for daylight photographs. There was ample detail in most of the daylight photographs. Purple fringing is well controlled but barrel distortion is noticeable. Focussing speeds are quite good in daylight. Also the HDR mode works well without overexposing bright areas.
While shooting indoors, you can see that the sharpness reduces and at 100 percent viewing, noise is prominently visible. The low light photographs were quite mediocre though as there was a severe loss of detail. Even focussing speed isn't that good.
Battery Life: 7/10
The Honor 5X comes with 3000 mAh battery which is non-removable. The UI keeps giving you prompts if any app is consuming a lot of power in the background, which you can promptly close form the notification itself. The phone supports SmartPower 3.0 which is a variation of the ultra power saving modes that we have seen on other phones, which elongates the battery life in emergency situations, at the cost of shutting down some apps and services.
In our everyday usage scenario which involved two email accounts on sync, messaging, calling, video and audio streaming and little bit of gaming, we could easily get around 9-10 hours of battery life. Honor did not provide us with the charger, so we cannot say how fast the charging is on this phone. In the PC Mark for Android test, we got around 8 hours and 34 minutes.
Verdict and Price in India
The Huawei Honor 5X is priced at Rs 12,999 which puts it in a very fierce price bracket, where competition is quite high. But the Honor 5X manages to hold its own with its overall performance. Sure, it is not a perfect phone and comes with its flaws such as slow user interface in certain use case scenarios, poor low light photography being things that stand out. But the phone also offers goodies in terms of a decent battery life, thoughtful proprietary apps, good call quality, lovely build and so on. The triple slot card arrangement is a good touch as it lets you use both the SIM card slots as well as add on a microSD card.
The Honor 5X is not meant for those who are looking at a clean OS, for them the Moto G Turbo is the best option at Rs 12,499. The LeEco Le 1s at Rs 10,999 is another competitor but we had faced call quality issues with that phone, which is non-existent in the Honor 5X. We have to yet review the Lenovo K4 Note which is also Rs 1,000 less. So wait for that review if you want to know which one offers a better value proposition.
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