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Review: The Huawei Honor 5X -- a lot for a low price

Dan Rosenbaum | Feb. 10, 2016
Its Android overlay will annoy some users, but the Honor 5X is a solid low-cost phone.

Beyond that, the Phone Manager app is an omnibus utility that helps users manage memory, data usage, block harassing calls or texts, and optimize power usage. A Mirror app doubles as a selfie app and has an amusing Easter egg. (Hint: Blow into the mic.)

Better camera software

Camera functionality is also enhanced. There are five basic modes: Good Food, Beauty, Photo, Video and Time-lapse. Most of those are self-explanatory, although the Beauty setting is a bit odd -- it seems to equate "beauty" with "soft focus." More complex modes are hidden behind a menu: panorama, burst, HDR, slo-mo and watermark (with location, time/date and weather).

There's also a fascinating All-focus mode, which lets you decide what you want to focus on after the fact. It's more dramatic in close-ups; the focus on objects that are different distances from the camera lens is more critical than it is in long shots.

Bottom line

The deeper you dig into the Honor 5X, the more it may surprise you. The hardware is so-so: a mid-range processor, no 5GHz Wi-Fi, fit and finish that's just okay.

But the EMUI interface built on top of Android marries Android to a distinct iOS feel, and it's surprisingly successful. Android enthusiasts who are used to dealing with Google's standard interface elements and settings will want to pitch this across the room in short order. For the rest of us, EMUI brings a lot of important functionality to where casual users can find it. And although the EMUI skin built on top of Android unquestionably slows system response, the very fact that Huawei has and executes its opinion about how people want to use a phone is a clear sign that the company is aims to compete on value, not just price.

And then there's the price. A 16GB iPhone 6S Plus costs $749, while a 16GB Honor 5X retails for $200. No one will mistake the latter for the former, but the distance between the two is much shorter than the price differential might imply. Besides, you can buy nearly four Honor 5Xs for the price of one iPhone 6S Plus, which is a calculus that anyone who's accidentally dunked an iPhone and needed to replace it is probably already thinking about.

The Honor 5X is not premium hardware, but represents a more than credible value in a phone. Honor's tagline is "For the Brave," which is a little unfortunate, because it implies that buying the product is something of a risk. But if you can't afford -- or just don't want to pay for -- the top of the line, the Honor 5X is a more than reasonable option. Be not afraid.


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