Honor 5X review
Processor: Octa-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 616, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10.5GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Dimensions: 151x76x8.2mm, Weight: 158g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1
Honor's made some great value budget smartphones in recent years. Last year's 4X was a decent Moto G contender, and the Honor Holly was surprisingly good for its £90 asking price. Now we have the Honor 5X, which costs £190 but comes with a large 5.5in Full HD display, an octa-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, a 13-megapixel camera and a fingerprint sensor.
That's an impressive spec for a smartphone under £200, and one that overshadows many of its rivals, including the 3rd Gen Moto G. Of course, a 5.5in phone isn't for everyone, but if you're after something big for not a lot of money, then the Honor 5X is worth a look.
Design & fingerprint sensor
Its design riffs heavily off the Honor 7, as its square camera, rounded fingerprint sensor and fake material dimple pattern at the top and bottom of the handset look almost identical. However, you can tell the Honor 5X is the cheaper of the two phones as soon as you pick it up, as despite having a full metal unibody, Honor's sand-blasted finish actually makes it feel more akin to a cheap kind of tacky plastic. Its dimpled, plastic antenna sections also don't lie flush to the back of the handset, there's a very slight amount of flex in the screen if you apply too much pressure, and its fingerprint sensor sits just few millimetres too low to be the right height for my finger.
It's not brilliantly well-made, then, but at least its fingerprint scanner is very quick. It can unlock the phone from sleep in just over a second, putting it neck and neck with Huawei's Nexus 6P, and it rarely made a mistake even when my finger wasn't covering the entire sensor. It can also be used to take photos, answer calls, stop alarms and double up as the home or back button depending on whether you hold or tap it.
All these actions work very well, but sliding up on the sensor to show your recent apps and sliding down to bring up the notification panel can be a little more temperamental, as the sensor just isn't big enough to register these movements accurately. I often had to try these several times before they registered correctly, by which time it would have been much quicker to simply swipe down from the top of the screen or press the onscreen button.
Android & Emotion UI
There's also Honor's Emotion UI to contend with, which has to be one of my least favourite Android interfaces. It might be based off Android 5.1.1, but Honor's interface has more in common with iOS. There's no app tray, for instance, and as a result of Huawei's desire to make everything more iPhone-like, the app icons all sit in rounded-off squares, which can be a bit hit and miss depending on which apps you have installed.
Honor's first party apps look fine, as they've all been designed to fit inside its rounded silhouettes, but third-party apps, including most of Google's apps, often sit awkwardly in the centre with blocks of colour around the sides to fill out the space, and they just don't look particularly smart.
Admittedly, this can be rectified by downloading a different launcher onto the Honor 5X, such as the Google Now launcher, which reverts the design back to something closer to vanilla Android, but this still doesn't fix my other main bug-bear with Emotion UI, which is how it separates its notification and settings menus into different tabs when you swipe down from the top of the screen. Not only is it irritating to have to switch between them constantly, but it also doesn't make very good use of the 5X's large, high resolution screen. With so much space available, it would have been much more convenient to combine them both into one, easy to use menu instead of only showing one or the other.
Its 5.5in 1,920x1,080 display isn't the best I've seen at this price, but an sRGB colour gamut coverage of 88.9% is by no means terrible. Colours can be lacking in warmth at times, but its high white level of 468.69cd/m2 certainly helps images jump out of the screen, and a contrast ratio of 1,170:1 provides plenty of detail in dark, shadow areas. Its mediocre black level of 0.40cd/m2 could be a bit grey at times, particularly on maximum brightness, but it's no worse than other phones I've tested.