Huawei Honor 5X review: mid-range master delivers the goods

Huawei’s Honor 5X is a great option for those who want a solid performing smartphone, but who are unwilling to shell out for the likes of the new LG G5 or Samsung Galaxy S7.

The Honor 5X, launched online in the UAE this month, is a massive step up from last year’s 4X, whose solid performance was undercut by a subpar design.

But such upgrades come at a price, with the 5X setting you back Dh899, Dh300 more than its predecessor, which may push it beyond some people’s budget. But if you can spare the extra dirhams, you won’t feel short-changed.

Gone is the 4X’s cheap plastic casing, replaced by a smooth, brushed metal back, which sits comfortably in the hand. While it doesn’t have the premium feel of devices that are twice as expensive, the 5X’s design is far better than you’d expect for this price point.

The 5X’s 5.5-inch display has also been given an upgrade to full HD, sporting an impressive 401 ppi pixel density. While again that falls short of premium devices, videos such as the Captain America: Civil War trailer render very smoothly, with a solid colour palette.

The most significant upgrade, however, comes in the form of the new fingerprint reader, mounted on the rear of the phone, as per LG’s G5 and V10. And while the 5X’s reader cannot match the raw speed of those devices, it does the job very well, and is a great feature to see on a budget device.

Camera-wise, the 5X offers only modest improvements on the 4X, retaining both the rear- facing13MP snapper, and the 5MP selfie camera. Like the 4X, it struggles a little in low light conditions, but all-round performance is as solid as you’d expect at this price point.

The Honor 5X is once again proof that a great performing smartphone need not set you back a fortune. While better cameras and displays are available in devices three times the price, the Honor 5X offers very good design, a decent fingerprint reader, and reliable performance.

q&a worth an honourable mention

John Everington tells us more about the Honor 5X:

I’ve heard that people at Huawei are calling the Honor 5X a “budget beast”?

They are indeed. It’s a bit of a misnomer though, given that it’s more expensive than the 4X. We could perhaps call it a “mid-range master” instead.

There’s plenty of Honor but not much Huawei to be seen …

It seems as if Huawei is confident enough in the Honor brand for it to stand on its own, and separate from the higher range Prestige brand.

So aside from the 5X’s fingerprint scanner, what else do I need to know about its specs?

All in all, a fairly standard mid-range smartphone, running the Lollipop iteration of Android out of the box, overlaid with Huawei’s Emui skin, which many have found a little underwhelming. It includes slots for two Sim cards, plus room for a MicroSD card.

That’s nice of them. One last question …

Yes, it comes in gold, as well as silver and grey. Despite its pedigree, it’s still a mid-range phone, meaning that it doesn’t come in pink or “rose gold”.

That’s a shame. So what have Huawei been up to at MWC? Any new handsets?

Huawei was the first of the big three press conferences held the day before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona started yesterday. However, there were no new smartphones, with the new Matebook tablet, Huawei’s first Windows tablet the main attraction.

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