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Huawei Honor 5X Review

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Honor 4X was one of my favourite sub 10k smartphones last year. It got a lot of things right – screen, connectivity, battery – beginning Huawei’s sub-brand journey with a bang in the Indian market. With the Honor 5X, the price tag is a little more (Rs. 12,999) and so are expectations. So, let’s try and see if the 5X does justice to the Honor budget lineup or not.

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The Honor 5X (KIWI L22) follows a new metallic body, different from the Honor 4X’s plastic chassis. The phone doesn’t feel heavy to hold for the first time and plastic curved edges and slightly brushed rear gives it a good grip, but you can’t deny it is still quite big a device to handle for most users. The front features a 5.5-inch full HD display that has sensors, ear-speaker grille, 5 MP front-facing camera and notification LED on top, and plain White chin at the botton. The whole front comes with coated with a tempered glass for added protection. On the right, you have the volume rockers and Power/ Lock key near the middle – both feel sturdy and tactile to use; while the left side hosts microSD card slot and two SIM card slots (micro + nano) removable using a SIM ejector tool. The back, apart from the brushed metal, sports the fingerprint scanner situated right below the 13 MP camera, which is next to the LED flash; there’s also a Honor logo towards the bottom. At the bottom, you the microUSB port mounted in the centre, sourrounded by pouspeaker and primary mic. Huawei is done great job when it comes to the design part and making the phone not look cheap or creeky from any angle.

The device sports a 5.5-inch (1920×1080) LCD (IPS) that’s an upgrade resolution-wise from its predecessor. The screen is sharp, shows colours fairly well for this price tag and is usable outside under sunlight. You can say the screen is quite sharp and among the best in this price segment.

Here are a few sample images from the 13 MP rear camera: http://imgur.com/a/Vi1Bp

The camera seems like an average performer here. It has decent sharpness and contrast level for bright outdoor shooting and struggles a bit with low-light situations. The camera app, too, is quite sluggish and takes its own time to capture a shot regardless of light available. Otherwise, the camera app has quite a few useful modes to choose from and most users will find those simple to try.

Powered by a 3,000 mAh battery unit, I found the phone generally lasted me nearly a day on moderate to heavy use. With one SIM card inserted and birghtness at 40%, the phone saw Email, Twitter, half an hour of YouTube and music (plugged in) without dying within five hours of screen on time, which is not bad at all.

Connectivity-wise, both SIM slots support 4G LTE, but you can only use 4G on one SIM card at once. Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS work really well and din’t cause any trouble throughout my usage. Loudspeaker at the bottom, too, is decent enough and, while it doesn’t provide the best output among smartphones, is good enough for games and an odd video in a quiet place.

The Honor 5X is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 616 SoC (1.7 GHz quadcore + 1.2 Ghz quad core processor, Adreno 405 GPU) coupled with 2 GB of RAM. It runs on Android 5.1.1 (with December security patch installed) with Huawei’s Emotion UI 3.1 in place. The software performance is where the phone falters a bit, in my opinion. Emotion UI is largely unchanged from its previous iteration. All your app icons and widgets fall into various Homescreens, and swiping down from the top gives you notifications and toggle switches (scrollable list). Icons have been revamped a little, but a lot more could be done to improve the overall look. Thankfully, you can install more themes from an external source by just placing them in the HWThemes folder and then swithing between them using the Themes Center. The onscreen keys can be customized to have four keys – Back, Home, Recent Apps List, and Pull Down for Noitifications; the keys could have been a alligned a little better, but I am probably nitpicking here. Where Emotion UI falters is smoothness of animations and opening and switching between apps. Whenever I hit the recent apps key and switched from one app to another, hardly ever the app I switched to resumed from where I left. Almost every time it restarted, meaning I coulsn’t start from where I had left off. What’s strange is that I had never really faced such a memery management issue with the Honor 4X. The company has stated that the Marshmallow upgrade is still a month away for the 5X, so there isn’t a big chance that we are going to see this software issue fixed sooner. Having said that, the phone handled games like GTRacing 2 and Leo’s Fortune without breaking a sweat and I was able to enjoy it with hardly any frames dropped. It’s pretty obvious by now that Snapdragon 616 is a considerably better chipset than 615, as I also didn’t counter any major heating issue despite prolonged use. Talking about the fingerprint scanner, I can honestly say that Huawei has gone a terrific job with it – it is accurate, quick and multi-purpose – meaning you can not only use it to unlock the screen but also swipe down on it to access notifications or swipe up on it for checking recent apps. Credit to Huawei for that.

Honor 5X

Wrapping our review up, the Honor 5X scores well on a lot of fronts – battery life, screen, fingerprint scanner and design, but at the same time struggles relative to other smartphones in this price segment for when it comes to smooth and lag-free OS performance. It will be great if Huawei gives a quick OS update to fix that memory management issue for what’s otherwise a really good smartphone for its price.

Student. I also write a bit about phones, apps, and stuff here and there. Almost nobody.

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