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7 things to know about the Honor 5X

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

Honor 5X in box

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!

Read: Honor 5x review

See at Newegg See at Amazon See at Honor {.cta .shop}

There's a pre-installed screen protector, and you may want it

Honor 5X screen

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

Honor 5X 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

Honor 5X fingerprint sensor

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

Honor 5X software

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

Honor 5X card slots

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.

More: Full Honor 5X specs

Charging up is a slow process

Honor 5X charger

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.

More: Join the Honor 5X forums

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

35 Comments
  • Wow. This phone is pretty lacking then. 1. No fast charging
    2. EIUI software is a mess
    3. No CDMA compatibility Posted via the Android Central App
  • Name an unlocked phone for under $200 with CDMA and fast charging that also offers great build quality a finger print scanner. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I would argue the software is good and it continues to get better with each release. /huawei employee
  • I would argue the software is utter crap. And I don't even mind the missing app drawer. Everywhere EMUI touches is a complete and total fail. And installing a different launcher only takes care of a part of it. /huawei phone owner (P8 Lite)
  • Naw, EMUI is just fine. No worse than any other OEM launcher. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is your phone slowing up? Huawe P7
  • CDMA? In the Android world, all you have are these devices: Nexus 6
    Moto X Pure Edition (third gen)
    Nexus 5X
    Nexus 6P Posted via the Android Central App on the Moto X Pure Edition
  • And the 'unlocked' HTC One A9 has a Sprint CDMA version. The Sprint A9 supports GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), UMTS (850/AWS(1700)/1900/2100MHz), CDMA (0/1/10), and LTE (2/4/5/12/25/26/41) bands. And the Sprint HTC One A9 just received its regular monthly update. http://m.androidcentral.com/android-601-update-headed-sprint-htc-one-a9
  • It's a budget phone..... Don't get your expectations too high up on a phone that's $199. Unless they made some promise earlier. Looking at you, Motorola.
  • No one cares for CDMA so that's not a con Posted via the Android Central App
  • Moderator dpham00 has a guide in the forums on swapping the screen protector for a tempered glass one. http://forums.androidcentral.com/showthread.php?t=636034 Posted via the Android Central App on the Moto X Pure Edition
  • Good link! The plastic one really does feel bad. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not only that, but the stock screen protector still gets fingerprints galore. Imo, I would go with a tempered glass screen protector, as it would help with the fingerprints and feels really nice. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ya, seems weird that the article was making a seemingly small fuss about the protector. Might as well have said: "It's a HUGE decision. So really think twice about keeping it on or off cause there's no going back if you do, and easily smudged screens will forever curse your paths!!" (Read that in a Pirate/Irish voice) Instead of simply mentioning what most people do even on high end phones, and that's that they get a tempered glass protector. They're a dime a dozen on Amazon or eBay. A no brainer :-/ The tip is not included! So tip your Uber driver.
  • I'm gonna wait for the Marshmallow update before I buy it. Goole now launcher will make it for me. The phone looks pretty cool and the price is right for me Posted via the Android Central App on Moto G3 16/2 on $35 Cricket wireless plan.
  • Blu vivo xl just launched and it's so my phone compared to the metal piece of junk, honor x. I have had many finger print scanner phones, I am typing on the A9 by HTC. It's not all cracked up, it's nice and better than not having one but not better than fast charging. Oh and USB c. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why would you get the BLU Vivo XL when you can just wait for the Vivo 5? It's far better than the XL and the same price of the Honor 5X. Of course it'll only work for about 3 months before you have to buy something else... Posted via the Android Central App
  • The Vivo 5 looks cool, but it is missing band 12. If you want to run all of T-mobiles bands you need band 12, e911 and voLTE
  • My BLU Vivo XL will not stream wirelessly or work with Android auto with the 4.0 bluetooth it has. It is going back. It kept skipping every other second when playing google play music. That is with a 2016 honda accord. Android auto would not even recognize the phone even when plugged in. Just ordered today the Honor 5X as a member below told me it would work with AA and looking at the bluetooth specs, it matches the ones for my Nexus 6p which works with my 2016 Honda accord AA.
  • Thanks, Andrew for this list. I was thinking of buying this as I want to try something else than stock Android. The fingerprint sensor and decent battery life and screen is what's making me want this. Though, I'm wary of it's performance as I'm currently using a SD801 phone (OnePlus One).
    Btw, in India as well, this does not support QuickCharge, I believe.
  • I'd really like to try one out. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Andrew
    Please clarify or enlighten me about the following apparent contradiction. "...there isn't any sort of fast charging tech on-board on the U.S. Honor 5X,..." "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."
  • It comes with a fairly poor 5V/1A charger, however the phone will easily take 5V/2A. Fast chargers usually adapt to how much charge the battery can take at any one point and adjust the power output accordingly. Usually to like 9V/1.6A I think. Posted via the Android Central App
  • XDA's review said that the battery still takes just 1A even with a fast charger.
    Andrew, can you please confirm this?
  • In my opinion, network compatibility should make the list of any 'here are things you need to know about a phone' articles. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You're right. But from the specs it appears that they have all the AT&T and T-Mobile LTE bands covered. For best AT&T 4G data coverage, a phone should support LTE data bands 17, 4, 2 & 5 (700, 1700+2100/AWS, 1900 & 850 MHz, respectively), in that order of importance. (You could get by with just the first two, in most places.) T-Mobile is similar, but uses mostly band 4 (1700+2100/AWS) for LTE data. They also use band 2 (1900 MHz) and band 12 (lower 700 MHz) in some areas. The U.S. version of this phone apparently covers all those bands.
  • Andrew, thanks very much for the "few things to know" post. Awaiting the arrival of my 5X. Also ordered a BLU XL this weekend. Anxious to compare the two (and to see which supplier pushes out MM first). Much to wife's chagrin I'm a collector of android gadgetry.
  • My BLU Vivo XL will not stream wirelessly or work with Android auto with the 4.0 bluetooth it has. It is going back. It kept skipping every other second when playing google play music. That is with a 2016 honda accord. Android auto would not even recognize the phone even when plugged in. Just ordered today the Honor 5X as a member below told me it would work with AA and looking at the bluetooth specs, it matches the ones for my Nexus 6p which works with my 2016 Honda accord AA.
  • 7 things to know... And 3 reasons not to buy... Although for $199 its a good deal for my grandma or something .. XDA:Shayneflashindaily
  • Seriously, they added friggin fingerprint sensor but not full WiFi compatibility? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Does it support android auto and will it stream via bluetooth in car???
  • Yes, Android Auto is supported.
  • Thanks for the info. Order placed today and Blu Vivo XL received yesterday will be returned tomorrow. It has a base 4.0 bluetooth that will not stream or work with Android Auto in my 2016 accord sedan. I called BLU and that is what they said and may or may not work with every radio. Other than that it was quite slick phone. I am not a gamer so can not speak about that part of the performance. Ian B
  • Looks like a hybrid of HTC and iPhone!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I use the Samsung adaptive fast charger for this phone and it charges full in about and hour honor 5x US version Posted via the beautiful honor 5x with Android m ui theme