Huawei is a company which will ring a bell to anyone because they’ve existed for a long time and has been a pioneer in communication. Huawei Honor 5X is the latest phone from them. Huawei has constantly been evolving, and they’ve been making a few premium phones too. But the biggest hit for Huawei was when they partnered with Google last year to make the Nexus 6p. In some countries like India where they sell their entry level smartphones, they sell it under the name Honor. The Honor 5X is the second most expensive phone in that lineup.
We’ve been using the Huawei Honor 5X for over a couple of weeks now, and since this is the first Huawei phone we’ve used, there was a lot of new things we had to discover. So strap on for this long review, where we get into every detail for both hardware and software of the phone.
The Honor 5X is predominantly made of metal in its back except for a small portion on the top and bottom which houses the antenna. The metal is curved, and it wraps around the phone to the sides. On the front, the glass which takes up the whole area.
Honor 5X is made metal and looks metal, but it is hard to believe that it is metal because Huawei seems to have used a light alloy and the phone feels extremely light.
On the back, first, there’s the camera sensor which is raised above the body and the flash next to it. Right below the camera, there’s the fingerprint sensor which is the same colour of the phone and it blends really well. Way on the bottom, there’s the Honor branding.
The curved back and the weight makes it easy to hold and use the phone in one hand. The phone does wobble when kept on a table, but it is not difficult to use.
On the front, there’s the Ambient light sensor in the top left corner followed by the camera module and a speaker to the right. The Ambient light sensor does a good job at measuring the light to set the brightness level automatically, and the speaker is good enough to be using in loud environments. The screen is 5.5 inches with a resolution of 1920×1080 which is 400PPI.
There is nothing on the bottom. All the navigation buttons are present on screen. This is disappointing because there is a lot of space in the bottom which could’ve been used to place the navigation keys.
Going to the sides, the top has the headphone jack and right next to it there’s a small noise cancelling microphone. On the right side, there’s the volume rocker and the power button which has a subtle pattern to it making it easy to reach for them. On the left, there are two separate trays which can be accessed by using a SIM eject tool. The first one is for Nano SIM and Micro SD Card, and the second one is for Micro SIM. The Honor 5X is a dual SIM phone and both the SIM slots support 4G. For the Micro SD slot, it supports cards up to 128GB. In the bottom, there’s the Micro-USB port for charging and syncing. To the left, there’s a grill for the microphone and to the right, there’s a grill for the speakers.
The speakers are OKish when used in hand, but they are ridiculously loud and has a high quality when set flat on a table.
On the inside, the phone is powered by an Octa Core 64 Bit Snapdragon 616 in which 4 cores are clocked at 1.5Ghz and the remaining 4 at 1.2Ghz. For graphics, it runs on the Adreno 405. The phone has 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM, which is expandable up to 128GB Via Micro-SD.
The phone packs in some decent internals which is good enough to shred through everyday tasks. But when directly compared with other competitors in the same range, they offer twice the storage and 3GB RAM. The storage is not an issue since it is expandable via Micro-SD. But the lack of RAM does show up at times when switching through multiple apps in quick succession. The processor and GPU are good enough, though.
The Huawei Honor 5X has a 3,000mAh battery, and it supports 2A charging(Not included in the box). The battery life on the phone is impressive. It easily lasts one whole day of heavy usage on a single charge, and you can leave it to recharge in the night. My usage is really heavy and I had no issues with the battery or the phone heating up. If at all, it got a bit warm when used outside with the insane Chennai Weather.
There’s a square fingerprint scanner on the back right below the camera module with its colour synced with the colour of the phone. If there’s one thing which you can remember about this phone: it’s the fingerprint scanner! For starters, it looks like the regular fingerprint scanner in every other Android phone, but it is so much better than those and does a lot more.
Registering a finger takes only a few seconds and requires placing your finger less than six times. Once a finger has been registered, the unlocking is ridiculously fast.
This is the only phone whose fingerprint scanner is as fast as the TouchID 2 on iPhone 6s Plus making it the fastest fingerprint scanner on any phone I’ve used.
Also, the sensor is continuously learning and detects bruises if you happen to injure your finger.
Apart from unlocking the phone, it has the usual features like locking down files, folders, and apps with the fingerprint. But the software on Honor 5X makes full use of the sensor, and there’s a lot more to it.
For starters, each finger can be assigned to unlock the phone and do a particular task. I have the middle finger on my right hand to unlock my phone and automatically open snapchat making it the fastest device to snap with. I’ve used the left index finger to automatically unlock the phone and call a friend who I call frequently. The feature is not just convenient, it is useful and other companies should learn from this. Also, swiping down the sensor will open the Notification Center and swiping up will open the multitasking menu.
The Huawei Honor 5X has a 13MP primary camera and 5MP secondary camera. The cameras are not exceptional, but they do an excellent job of capturing images. They might be over saturated at times, but not something to worry about.
The 13MP shooter does a good job both under natural light and artificial light. The camera comes with a whole range of modes which you can tinker around with.
One extremely handy feature with the camera is that double pressing the audio button opens up the camera and automatically takes a shot. This can be activated from anywhere, including the lock screen and the whole process takes about 1 second!
Also, there are eight different filters which can be activated and viewed live before taking the shot. On the back, there’s a single colour flash and not dual tone which has become a standard these days. But I don’t miss it though because I’m not a huge fan of flash photography.
Good Food: This one mode is for food photography. It automatically makes any food look better. What this does though, is that it bumps up the saturation by a bit and increases the warmth. It is something that can be done manually once the photo has been shot in the normal mode, but this saves the time!
Beauty Mode: This one has a slider from 1 to 10 which can refine how your face looks.
Video: The camera shoots 1080P videos with a decent level of software stabilisation, and the audio levels are also pretty good. The colour reproduction on videos is impressive and is as good as the one on photos.
Time Lapse: The Time Lapse mode on Honor 5X works like the time lapse on every other phone. You just hit shoot, and there’s nothing to do after that. For the photos shot on time lapse, they are of the same quality of the photos shot on the camera. Once it has been shot, they are stitched together to make up for an amazing video.
Panorama: This mode works the way you expect it to be. You sweep the phone in one continuous motion to take a panorama. The processing takes a while, but that happens in the background.
HDR: The HDR shots are fast, but they don’t seem to be HDR though. Not sure what it does, but I don’t really mind because the normal camera is good enough to take shots with all the details.
All Focus: In this mode, you can take a shot and later, you can choose the point of focus. It blurs everything else in the background.
Best Photos: This mode shoots ten continuous photos when the shutter is pressed so that later, you can choose to save the best shot manually.
Watermark: This adds a variety of overlays to your shots like the date, weather, place, etc.
Slo-Mo: This mode shoots 480P videos at 120fps. You can choose to have the video slow down at a specific portion. The colour reproduction for the Slo-Mo mode is not that great, but it gets the job done.
Audio Note: This mode takes a still photo and records audio up to 10 seconds after the photo has been shot. This just adds a nice effect to photos if you fancy.
The Huawei Honour 5X has a 5MP front camera which is pretty good. It is absolutely brilliant when there’s light falling on your face.
One of the biggest reason why selfies go bad is when you don’t look into the camera. In all phones, the shutter button is at the bottom and the camera on the top. This results in you watching the shutter button to get it right. With the 5X, a 3-second timer goes off once you hit the shutter button. Along with this, there’s a small box with the live feed on the top-left, right below the camera. This way, you’ll be forced to look into the camera instead of looking somewhere else. This is genius!
There’s a front panorama mode, which is good enough to get the job done when there’s a lot of people in the photo.
Overall, the camera is definitely impressive and one of the best in this range. Some of the software features give it an edge. The only feature missing was that there is no way to add grids which is an essential for me. Check out some of the shots we took with the Huawei Honor 5X below(Click on the images to enlarge them):
The Huawei Honor 5X runs on Android 5.1.1 with their skin, EMUI 3.1. It took us a while to figure things out because there is so much to it which stock Android never offers.
The phone has a bunch of pre-installed apps, but not a lot. Some of them are UC Browser and Clean Master. Most of the pre-installed apps can be removed, though. The phone also has pre-installed duplicate apps like contacts and calendar which cannot be uninstalled. But it does have the stock apps too letting you choose the one you want.
The phone supports theming, and it has a good number of free themes which can be downloaded via the Themes app. Changing a theme changes the wallpaper, icons, lock screen widgets and the user interface of some stock apps. I did not like the theme the phone came with, but I changed it to something of my preference which was flat and clean.
The navigation buttons are on-screen at the bottom. This was disappointing because there is a lot of bezel space where these could’ve been used. But since Huawei has decided to go with the on-screen buttons, they can be rearranged in the settings menu to the way you want it to be. Hitting the multitasking button brings up all the apps which are currently running, and you can close them individually by swiping up or close altogether by pulling the screen from the bottom.
Swiping down on the screen gets you to a search screen similar to the Spotlight search on iOS. Here, you can search for anything on your phone like apps, contacts, messages or files stored.
Swiping down from the top of the screen brings the notification menu which has the date and time always on the top. Below that, you have all your notifications in the order of oldest first. Each notification can be dismissed by swiping right, or all of them can be dismissed by hitting the trash icon. Swiping right on the notification menu brings up the widget screen. Alternatively, the widget menu comes up by default when there is no new notification to show. There’s a whole bunch of toggles which can be edited and moved around. Also, there is a slider for screen brightness.
The Huawei Honor 5X has a dual window feature which enables two apps to run together on the same screen. Press and hold the multitasking button to activate the dual windows where you can choose an app in each of the windows. The windows can then be resized and interacted with at the same time. A lot of apps support this and I frequently had a video running on YouTube in one window and a messaging app in the other window.
Also, the phone has two UI systems: Standard and Simple. Standard is what comes out of the box and the one you expect on any phone. Enabling Simple UI strips down everything, replacing it with large icons and nothing much to the interface. It is for people who use a smartphone with limited apps, and this helps in getting things done real quick.
Using the Huawei Honor 5X
The 5X is a really good phone to be using. It is super comfortable to use because of it’s light weight and the curved back. The fingerprint sensor is ridiculously fast and has so many features which no other phones have. The camera is also good enough for casual photography.
The processor is good enough, but the RAM is just 2GB while most of the phones in this price point come with 3GB RAM. This is not an issue with everyday tasks, but if you are constantly switching between apps, the phone gets noticeably sluggish. The lack of RAM does show. But the processor and GPU are brilliant, and they hold up well to resource intensive apps and games.
The 3,000mAh battery on 5X easily lasts one full day with heavy usage on a single SIM, which is continuously connected to the internet. The phone does not support fast charging, but it is not an issue since the battery lasts one full day on a single charge. You can just leave it to charge when you go to bed.
The Huawei Honor 5X is priced at Rs. 13,000 and is available in three different colours: Gold, White and Grey. There is a lot to this phone, and you get the complete package.
Regarding features, there is nothing extraordinary(Except fort the fingerprint sensor which is ridiculously good). But at the same time, no compromises have been made. It does everything a smartphone has to do, flawlessly for a smooth and reliable experience.
- Fingerprint Scanner is ridiculously good!
- The phone is light with a good metal build quality
- Storage expandable upto 128GB via Micro-SD
- Lack of RAM for heavy multitasking
- Internal memory could've been more