Honor 5X review

A premium phablet that's unbelievably cheap

Honor 5X review
Honor 5X review

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With budget smartphones the display is usually one of the first things to suffer. Even options such as the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact only have a 720p display, but Honor has managed to avoid that.

The specs on the Honor 5X aren't comfortably better than you'd expect, with a 5.5-inch, 1080p display that is actually a great looking.

I particularly liked the Huawei Mate 8 screen, and while this panel isn't as large or as bright, the Honor 5X isn't far behind. In fact I've not used a budget phone with a display this beautiful.

The fact is, you don't need anything more than a 1080p resolution. LG and Samsung are embracing 2K while Sony is jumping to 4K on the Xperia Z5 Premium, but on such small screens the Honor 5X makes just a good enough picture with a far stricter pixel limit.

Honor 5X

Turning down the display brightness it was quite a struggle to see the picture, so just make sure you don't turn it down all the way. I found auto-mode was bringing it down a little too low for how I usually like it.

The size is also worth noting. If you're undecided between this and the Huawei Mate 8, the Honor 5X is a little smaller but when you're watching video or playing games it can be difficult to even notice the difference.

The bezels are another complaint about the Honor 5X screen. A lot of space is wasted on the black bars fixed around the screen.

Honor 5X

Especially along the bottom where you'd usually expect to find hardware buttons. It's a big thick line that feels like you should be able to tap it for buttons, but instead your only option is on screen buttons.

It's a strange choice, but clearly something Honor had to do to keep that price down.

Fingerprint scanner

One of the Honor 5X's key features is the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. Putting it on the back is traditional Huawei fashion, and for some people it works.

It's a rounder sensor than other phones we've seen from the company and is the first Honor phone to feature a fingerprint scanner.

Honor 5X

The good news is it works well – setting up this fingerprint sensor only took 6 or 7 presses from each finger making it a simple and fast process.

Honor claims it can unlock the phone in only 0.5s, beating a lot of the competition out there. The reality is it's hard to notice the different anymore.

Compare the Nexus 6P to an iPhone 6S and the delay is so minimal it doesn't really matter in a day-to-day scenario. All you need to know is the Honor 5X is fast at registering your print and it will unlock as soon as you want it to.

An interesting idea Honor has adapted is that you can use different fingers to open up different apps. So for example. you could program your left index finger to open up the Messaging app directly.

It's a smart idea, but something you need to remember you have switched on. It's so instinctive to just bring a phone out of your pocket and use the nearest finger and press the app you're looking for.

Honor 5X

After a week or so, I did get used to the feature though and found myself opening it up with a lot of different fingers than I do on other devices.


One of the key selling points of the Honor 5X is its price. The fact you're getting such high-end spec in such an affordable package is admirable and sometimes it's difficult to believe how much this phone does actually cost.

When you consider how closely I compare this phone to the Huawei Mate 8, a phone that costs two and a half times as much it's even more impressive. The spec on the Mate 8 is slightly higher end, and the design feels a little bit nicer, but if you're worried about price the Honor 5X is the one to go for.

It's only £189.99 (US$199.99, about AU$275). That would get you multiple Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6S handsets.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.