The Honor 5X is powered by a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor. It ships with 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal memory, the latter of which can be expanded up to 128GB when you add a microSD card.
When we ran Geekbench 3, the Huawei Honor 5X scored between 700 and 704 on the single-core test, ranking it among flagships from 2013 and 2014, like the Nexus 5. The multi-score test yielded far better results with a score between 3042 and 3067, which situated its performance higher than 2014’s Samsung Galaxy S5’s average 2836 score.
NFC isn’t supported, which means you won’t be able to use apps like Google Wallet or Android Pay. This could be a deal breaker to some but is more likely to be a non-issue to the vast majority who still don’t mind busting out their wallets to pay for things.
The Honor 5X comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop installed, but the overall user interface is changed up courtesy the addition of Huawei’s EMUI 3.1 skin (short for Emotion User Interface). This tweak doesn’t exactly wreck the user experience, but it does require a bit of getting used to with respect to getting around.
For example, accessing smartphone settings requires an additional step some might find annoying. First, you have to swipe the dropdown menu, which defaults to Notifications (like iOS). From here, it’s a matter of tapping over to Settings. Not exactly a chore, but the difference is noticeable. That aside, the EMUI interface enables added personalization, like choosing from a couple of different page transition animations and adjusting default font sizes.
We would love to have seen the 5X ship with Android Marshmallow (6.0) like its big brother, the Huawei Mate 8. But reports that state Huawei made minor improvements to the EMUI 3.1 platform to clear up some snafus inherent in the Mate 8 – such as email notifications being difficult to read – make up for that shortcoming. There are also reportedly plans in the works for updates that will enable the 5X to run on Marshmallow and EMUI 4.0, although as of this writing there have been no official announcements from Huawei.
There are two killer features present on the Honor 5X we mentioned earlier that are worthy of a deeper dive. First is the fingerprint ID sensor, which is a feature seldom found on smartphones in the sub-$200 category. It’s highly accurate and fast, unlocking within a half-second and requiring just a half-dozen presses to fully register a print. As we mentioned earlier, it’s conveniently located on the back of the 5X, which makes for quick work accessing your smartphone with one hand. You also will be required to set up a password PIN, as each first unlock after rebooting the phone requires numeric pass entry.
Another benefit of the fingerprint sensor is that it can be used to not only unlock the phone, but you can also program specific apps to launch from the lock screen based on which finger you’re using. So, for example, you can program Gmail to launch by pressing your pinky finger to the sensor. Likewise, you can program your middle finger to dial a specific contact – like work. This is nifty, and even if it’s not something everyone would use, it’s a cool touch. (See what we did there?) You can set up to 5 unique fingerprints for different actions.
Dual-SIM capability is the second exciting feature that comes with the Honor 5X. As we mentioned earlier, both slots are compatible with nano-SIM, micro-SIM and microSD. Each slot supports 4G LTE and expanded memory cards up to 128GB. While this may not be something that everybody needs, it’s yet another bonus inclusion that serves to separate the 5X from the multitude of affordable smartphones that are, at best, barebones basic in their flexibility.
The Honor 5X supports various GSM and LTE bands, meaning T-Mobile and AT&T users should have no trouble connecting. Sprint and Verizon users will have connectivity problems, given the lack of CDMA support. It also supports 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. It does not support ac or dual-band Wi-Fi, which is disappointing, but still common with smartphones in this class.
The smartphone comes with a large, non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery, which Huawei claims will get you about a day and a half (1.46 days, to be exact) of moderate use, and one day of heavy use before you have to plug it back in to recharge. The battery also comes with an integrated power saving plan that reportedly cuts down on power consumption by about 30 percent. 2A chargers are also supported, which Huawei claims will result in quicker charge-up times. This is a good thing, and possibly worth the investment, as the 5X took an inordinately long time to fully recharge: 3 hours and 15 minutes from absolute zero to 100 percent.
Once fully charged, the Honor 5X battery lasts a decent length of time. In hands-on testing, we maxed out the screen brightness, cranked the volume, and streamed Netflix over Wi-Fi to test out its longevity. The 5X provided 5 hours and 18 minutes of continuous play before it finally shut down. During that time battery heat was minimal, as it was during moderate to heavy daily use. While these results aren’t lousy, they’re also not exceptional. Bear in mind that typical flagship smartphones will chug along for around 7 hours in similar testing, with the best of the best lasting close to 10 hours.
The Honor 5X has a 13MP rear-facing camera and a 5MP front-facing selfie cam. The quality of images taken on the 5MP front camera are what you might expect from as many megapixels, but it’s the rear camera that appears to outdo its 13MP limitations by producing superlative results. Overall, we found pictures taken with the Honor 5X are well balanced with great detail, and recreate colors that well represent the subject.
Both cameras support fun features like panorama, burst mode, HDR, audio notes, live filters for photo and video, a location watermark, a beautifying effect for eliminating blemishes, and all-focus which lets you reassign the focus after a snapshot’s been taken. An additional “good food” photo option enables you to take in-focus close-ups of meals, if you’re in the mood to torture your friends.
ISO settings are defaulted to Auto, but can be set to 100, 200, 400 and 800. White balance is also defaulted to automatic, but include optional manual settings like incandescent, daylight, fluorescent or cloudy.
Video records up to FHD 1080p at 30 frames per second and captures stereo audio. Other video resolutions include HD 720p (also with stereo audio), VGA 640×840, QVGA 320×240, and MMS 176×144. Slow motion video is also supported, which records at 120 fps. You can also create short time-lapse videos. There is no 4K video option, but that’s to be expected on a $200 smartphone.