Honor 5X review

A premium phablet that's unbelievably cheap

Honor 5X review
Honor 5X review

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One area where cheaper phones tend to struggle is performance. Design can be done reasonably well on a budget, as can packing in a good display and camera tech, but getting a processor capable of doing everything high-end phones can do on top of those is a bit of a struggle.

This is where I found the Honor 5X to fall down most – it's not what we've come to expect from these phones.

I've been using the OnePlus 2 recently, and although I've sometimes had a few issues with its performance I got used to how strong it could be and how much I could do with it.

Honor 5X

Switching over to the Honor 5X I immediately found the slow down a frustrating process. Even signing into Android took longer than I was hoping for.

The European version I had for review packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, while the original Honor 5X that went to the US and other markets has the older Snapdragon 615 chip.

Jumping into apps was usually a simple to do process and there wasn't much slow down upon other high-end phones.

One of the best tests for performance is always gaming though so I've had the excuse to playing around on a few of my favourite titles. And to be honest, I was happily surprised by what the Honor 5X could do.

Playing Asphalt Nitro, which is one of the many games that comes preinstalled on the Honor 5X, and the gameplay was smooth and as you'd expect on a high-end phone.

Honor 5X

The action renders fast and while some phones in this price range would struggle with keeping up with the action, the 616 didn't have any real issues here. The Honor 5X initially launched with the 615, and it's unsure if the upgrade to the 616 has seen a significant performance upgrade.

I then went on to play Spiderman: Ultimate Power that struggled to start up at first and was a little jaggedly, but once it was ready to play there weren't any clear issues.

I ran the Honor 5X through the GeekBench 3 software a number of times and it came out with an average multi-core score of 3105.

Then there's the software. The Honor 5X is running Android 5.1.1 which is a bit of a shame considering Android 6 Marshmallow was released almost nine months before the Honor 5X launched in this version.

Honor has said it will get the Android 6 Marshmallow software eventually, but for now there's no guarantee how long that will take. The Honor 5X also runs Emotion 3.1 UI software over the top of Android.

Honor 5X

This is a heavily skinned version of Android that Honor and Huawei both claim is successful in Chinese markets. It means a lot of the apps look different to how you would expect them to on other Android phones, and it's a select taste.

I don't particularly like the design of Emotion 3.1 UI, and I even prefer the updated Emotion 4.0 UI that features on the Huawei Mate 8. The customisation from Honor and Huawei is too much for my taste.

All of your apps look different - the icons are now square and won't look as good as they do on stock Android. It also loses the ability to have an app drawer, so instead all of your downloaded apps appear over a number of pages and look a lot more cluttered than if you had designed your own homescreen.

Honor 5X

All in all, it's down to your personal preference. Some people love Emotion UI and feel it really adds something more onto Android, but personally I wouldn't recommend this phone for that exact feature.

Honor has also pushed a lot of different apps on the 5X. When you take this out of the box you'll already have a lot of apps waiting for you. Some are useful, and others aren't.

For example, one folder of key apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter makes sense to me as those are apps that almost everyone who owns a smartphone in the West uses.

Honor 5X

But then Huawei have also put a selection of Gameloft games in one folder, taking up quite a bit of the storage, as well as the company's own services like VMALL, Honor Club and HiCare. Unless you're a big fan of Honor products, it's unlikely you're going to use these.

Most of it just takes up space on your phone, and for that reason I don't like to be greeted by a phone full of apps before I've even set it up properly.

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.