Whether you've seen the Honor phones released internationally or are just getting interested in the Honor 5X on its own, there's a good amount of information to take in about this budget-friendly device. With a metal body, fingerprint sensor and good screen this isn't your typical cheap phone, and it's definitely worth looking at if you're in the market to spend $200.
But before you go buy one, let's learn a little more about it.
You'll only find it unlocked and online for $199
The Honor 5X is only available online and unlocked, which may be a small inconvenience to some but is probably better overall than the alternative. It means you won't be able to walk into a carrier store and pick it up on a payment plan or with any sort of buying incentives, but you also won't be able to get your hands on the phone before you choose to buy one.
Not being able to have a carrier help you purchase the phone probably won't be too big of a deal considering it retails for a great price of $199, and we've done our best to show all of the high and low points of the device in our full review. Be sure to do your research before buying, and know when you buy the phone phone unlocked it's yours to use how you please!
There's a pre-installed screen protector, and you may want it
Though the trend of pre-installed screen protectors has slowed down over time, the Honor 5X comes with one pre-installed out-of-the-box that is intended to remain on the phone. Of course it will protect the glass from scratches, but the screen protector is also the only layer that has an oleophobic coating to it — that great stuff that keeps smudges from accumulating on your screen.
If you choose to remove the pre-installed protector — and we wouldn't blame you for wanting to — you'll be stuck wiping off your Honor 5X's screen more often than other phones that offer oleophobic coatings. How much that will bother you may vary, as will the existence of the screen protector itself, so there's a trade off either way — no matter what you do, think about it first.
You're missing out on high-end Wi-Fi
There are bound to be shortcomings in a phone of this price, and one of the missing features here is the highest-end Wi-Fi specs.
The Honor 5X only supports up to 802.11n speeds, rather than the newer 802.11ac, and also only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signals, not 5GHz. The former isn't likely to pose any real-world issues, but for some folks who are required to connect to 5GHz-only Wi-Fi networks on a regular basis, the fact that the Honor 5X simply can't connect to those networks could be a deal-breaker.
The fingerprint sensor is as good as any
You might expect a "budget" phone to have a sub-par fingerprint sensor (if it has one at all). But we're happy to report that's far from the case with the Honor 5X. That's probably in no small part due to the fact that Huawei has gotten really good at the fingerprint game in the past year or so — just look at the Mate 8 and Nexus 6P.
For the uninitiated, a fingerprint scanner allows you to use your finger another way to unlock your phone. You'll still have a PIN or password attached, but all you have to do is place your finger on the sensor on the rear of the phone and it'll wake itself and unlock. And with more apps adopting fingerprint features in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, having a sensor on the phone is becoming that much more important — that is, once the Honor 5X is actually updated to Marshmallow.
But until that update hits, the Honor 5X has a few extra software features that take advantage of the fingerprint sensor itself — not necessarily for security, but for other functions. You can swipe down on the sensor to show your notification shade, hold it to answer calls and more. It's a nice little bit that makes that extra sensor worth more than just bypassing your lock screen.
The software needs some tweaking to work right
The Honor line (as well as most of Huawei's own phones) runs what's called "EMUI" atop Android. It's not for everyone. It borrows heavily from iOS in that it doesn't have a traditional app drawer. And it's really pushy about apps running in the background or doing anything that might otherwise affect battery life. EMUI is also set at the lowest performance settings by default, again for battery concerns, which means it's definitely going to seem slow unless you crank things back up.
The good news — particularly because this phone has access to Google services — is that Honor has fixed the issues EMUI's notification center had with Google notifications being unreadable. You can also install your own launcher that offers a different look and functionality.
If you pick up an Honor 5X, hop into the phone's settings and look for the "Power saving" area — this is where you'll be able to turn the performance back up to acceptable levels, let apps run in the background and turn off notifications for so-called "Power-intensive" apps. Don't worry, you'll still get solid battery life from the Honor 5X, and the phone will work a whole lot better as well.
You get two SIM slots and an SD card
Huawei has historically done well to offer dual-SIM and SD card functionality, and with the Honor 5X you get both features at once. Rather than using one card slot that can take either a second SIM or an SD card, you can use the Honor 5X with two active SIMs and also expand its storage by up to 128GB with a microSD card.
Like most dual-SIM devices you'll only get LTE data on the primary SIM, and just 2G on the other, but the Honor 5X also has a really good set of settings to let you choose which SIM is active, which is used by default for mobile data, which takes calls primarily and how to handle call forwarding on the backup SIM. If you want to have two SIMs physically in the phone but only have one active at a time, you can easily toggle them on and off, too.
One of the SIM slots is for a Micro SIM and the other Nano, but if you have two Nano SIMs you'll have no problem using an adapter in the slot.
Charging up is a slow process
Though the Honor 5X model that launched in China supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge, the one we get here in the U.S. unfortunately doesn't have that capability. In fact, there isn't any sort of fast charging tech on-board on the U.S. Honor 5X, which is a bit disappointing considering there's a rather large 3000 mAh battery to fill up.
Making the situation a little worse, Honor only includes a lowly 5V / 1A charger in the box, which is rather slow by today's standards.
Now the battery will almost always get you through the day, and any charger can handle getting the battery filled overnight, but if you need a fast top-up during the day you'll want to go with a higher output charger. The Honor 5X will be able to handle more power than the charger brick in the box can offer, so plug it into another one you have if you need to fill up that battery quickly.
Hop into the Honor 5X forums!
Now that you're getting to know the Honor 5X, be sure to hop into our forums for any further discussion, questions or help you may need. There are already dozens of awesome threads going talking about this new phone.
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