Skip to main content

Honor 4X review

Power to the people: a capable phablet that delivers on a budget

Honor 4X
Another low-cost, high power phablet

The Honor 4X represents fantastic value for money, offering a powerful big screen experience and a multitude of advanced features for a low price.

We liked

Honor promised power on a budget and they delivered. While the 4X is no match for high-end flagships, it performs significantly better than the current crop of cheap smartphones. There's none of the usual budget-associated lag or stutter while navigating through Emotion UI 3.0, and the generous 2GB of RAM makes for swift multitasking.

Battery life is another area where the Honor 4X excels, with the 3000mAh power pack providing between one and two day's worth of juice, depending on usage.

Despite the battery being of the non-removable variety, lifting off the rear panel is necessary in order to access the 4G dual-SIM and microSD card slots. Both additions are extremely welcome and well implemented, although the former may only appeal to a niche group of users.

Affordable handsets often suffer from poor build quality, particularly those with removable rear panels like the Honor 4X. Yet the 4X feels extremely well made, with the body showing no signs of major flexing or creaking, and the buttons giving off some nice tactile feedback.

The 13MP rear camera and the 5MP snapper up front out-perform the units found on most affordable smartphones, and the Honor 4X can even take better snaps than some mid-rangers when in well-lit environments.

We disliked

Emotion UI 3.0 on the Honor 4X is certainly an improvement over previous iterations, yet it still has some critics. The almost cartoon-like aesthetics are not to everyone's tastes, and while the lack of an app drawer may make things simpler for first time Android users, it can also result in rather cluttered homescreens.

Honor has had to make some cuts in order to keep the price of the 4X down, and unfortunately that means no Coring Gorilla Glass screen protection. A factory-applied screen protector is present to help protect the glass underneath from scratching, but it does attract a lot of fingerprints.

To cut costs further, Honor has not included a backlight for the capacitive keys below the screen, and thus trying to hit the correct key in the dark can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.

Among the plethora of smartphones currently available, the design of the Honor 4X may not help it stand out, and for some the aesthetics will seem too minimal.

The fact that it's only available SIM-free via Amazon may also deter those who are accustomed to subsidised contracts and potential buyers who prefer to test out smartphones in-store before purchasing.

Verdict

Honor has once again delivered a very capable smartphone that embodies the company's value for money ethos. The breakaway brand's rapid rise to prominence is exciting for consumers and a major headache for other manufacturers.

Motorola maybe the king of budget smartphones for the time being but with the 4X, Honor is clearly signalling that it's ready to go toe-to-toe with the Lenovo-owned brand in the affordable segment of the market.

In the majority of areas the Honor 4X performs significantly better than rival budget devices, combining excellent performance and a multitude of features with impressive build quality.

If you can live with the large form-factor and highly customised Emotion UI, the Honor 4X may well be the budget smartphone you're looking for.

First reviewed: May 2015