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The Honor 5x is the best budget phone of the year. 8.4/10

Build Quality: 9/10
Display: 7/10
Battery Life: 10/10
Software 5/10
Performance: 7.5/10
Fingerprint Reader: 9.5/10
Networks: 9/10
Total (my overall score, not average) 8.4/10

Specs

Display 1080P IPS LCD Display: 5.5in
Processor Snapdragon 615
OS Android 5.1.1
RAM 2GB
Camera- Back 13MP
Camera- Front 5MP

When I first  ordered this phone, I expected this phone to be of sub par quality and lack a premium feel of a more expensive phone. But BOY WAS I WRONG. The Honor 5x is the best budget phone for anyone in the U.S.

Build Quality

This entire phone is made of metal. It has “chamfered edges”, according to Honor. However, do not expect that much here. The chamfers are nowhere as high quality as the iPhone 5s’s edges. Also, the metal on the back is quite soft. Another drawback of this metallic design is its attraction for fingerprints. The whole back is a fingerprint magnet. I am constantly finding myself wiping its back off because of random smudges. The back is also very slippery.

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How does it fit in my hand? I personally do not love its size. The size of the phone is 5.5in and quite hard to hold in the hand. The curved back does help alleviate some of its size, but I still have a hard time using it in one hand. If the edges were more curved like the Moto X, it would be so much easier to hold in my hand. One very useful addition is a fingerprint scanner on the back. We’ll talk about the performance of that later, however, its placement is wonderful. A fingerprint scanner on the back is one of my favorite places for it. The only drawback to this is when it is laying flat on the table, you can not access the fingerprint scanner. My absolute favorite in placement for fingerprint scanner is the Xperia Z5. The fingerprint scanner on the power button is, in my opinion, the best location for a fingerprint sensor.

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Display

The screen on this phone is great for a $200 phone. It gets considerably bright and has pretty good color reproduction. One thing I wasn’t a fan of were the awkwardly huge black border around the screen. This wasn’t a bezel per say, but they were the borders around the LCD screen. They were too big for a smartphone in 2016. Also, there was a screen protector installed on the screen already. Thanks Huawei and Honor! The screen protector scratched quite easily and didn’t have an oleophilic coating on there.  An oleophilic coating is used to help reduce the amount of fingerprints and oil that make it onto the screen. I ended up removing it and putting a different tempered glass on there.

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Battery Life

Battery life on this phone was absolutely excellent on this phone. I was so used to the terrible battery life of my Moto X, that I was so surprised when I didn’t have to top out my phone in the middle of the day. On some of my most heaviest days of usage, I was able to get ~4-5 of screen on time. Standby on this phone is OK. At the time of this writing this article, this phone did not have Marshmallow, and I could not use the Doze feature. Over a night, it lost ~ 12-13 percent in 12 hours. Not bad for a budget phone.

Software

Now we come to the worst part of the phone, the SOFTWARE. C’mon Honor! Learn how to get software right! The Honor 5x I have runs EMUI version 3.1. Spoiler: It’s terrible for people used to stock Android. I absolutely hate it. Moving from a Moto X, it was a huge change. Most things are different, settings, dialer, installer, music, launcher, short cuts, and notifications are just a few sections that are changed. All the apps just look more childish than the more polished Android layout. Everything is also kind of laggy on here. The animations are jittery and aren’t buttery smooth as I would expect. Here are a few screen shots below:

 

Performance

Also, the performance on this phone is less than expected. The phone has a Snapdragon 615, an octa core. The performance isn’t that bad, nor is it great though. I think it is the software holding the phone behind in terms of performance. It has the capability to perform greater, but it is held back. Even after changing the launcher to Nova, I still get random slow downs.

Fingerprint Reader

Fingerprint sensor is quite fast and relatively accurate. It’s location is great. When I was enrolling my finger, it took 6 scans. However, it didn’t capture the edges of my fingerprint that great. So, when I use the upper portion of my finger, the sensor can not detect my finger. I would rather have that the finger print sensor take longer to enroll and get more data for my finger. Then, my finger will be detected more often.

Camera

Ahhh… Now the camera portion. The camera is actually really good for budget phone. Also, the camera on this is better than my Moto X 2nd gen’s camera. This is a budget phone and it beats a flagship! There is no OIS, but I wouldn’t expect that on a budget phone. The photos come quite vivid and sharp. Lowlight performance isn’t great, nor is the HDR. In my opinion, the HDR is not powerful enough and does not bring the difference between the highs and lows. There are samples below.

Networks

This phone works perfectly on U.S. GSM networks. It will not work on CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint. Call Quality was fine in Houston on ATT. Also, the LTE speeds were fine. One thing to note is that T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling will not work on this phone. Also, a notable exception of this phone was to omit NFC. This was quite a disappointment to me, as I am quite a frequent user of NFC. Please include that in the next version of this phone Honor!

Conclusion

Now, you must be thinking why this is my favorite budget phone of the year? I had so many complaints about it. Even though I did have many issues and concerns, Honor gets the major portions of this phone right. It may not be perfect (ahem… Software!), it can be fixed easily by Huawei, or with custom ROMs from XDA developers. You can not beat the specs of this device with anything in the U.S. market. Nothing comes close. I hope Honor can make this device’s software better in the coming update. I really did enjoy writing this review for this device. I am surprised every day by the new advancements in the budget market.

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