If you’re choosing an affordable phone, you want something with all the basics: a little style, enough processing power to play your favorite casual games, a capable camera, and battery life that can get you through the day.
The Honor 5X offers all of these things for a measly $199. That’s a hell of a deal, but it comes with a few compromises. What’s more: Honor is supposed to be Huawei’s cooler, hipper brand that’s meant for a younger crowd, but it might take more than what the 5X is offering to turn those millennials into repeat customers.
When I think of the Honor brand and how it relates to Huawei, I think of the difference between buying a knockoff dress at H&M and purchasing the real thing at Bloomingdale’s. The quality garment from the department store certainly looks and feels the best overall, but its exorbitant price point is not usually worth the splurge. And no one will really be able to tell how much you spent on your clothes, anyway.
That’s how I feel about the Honor 5X. It’s a relatively attractive device, and though it doesn’t feel as preened and polished as HTC’s One A9, for example, it has all the finishing of a high-end device: a brushed aluminum backside, pearl white trim around the edges (it’s available in black and gold, too), and a ridged power button and volume rocker on the left-hand side. It also offers dual SIM slots—one nanoSIM and one MicroSIM—and a MicroSD expansion slot, so you can store your music, movies, and photos without worrying too much about taking up space.
There’s also a rear-facing fingerprint sensor that’s just as quick as the Nexus 6P’s, which you won’t typically find on phones in this price range. However, the 5X is missing a few other smartphone staples, like NFC and wireless charging. You shouldn’t expect to have it all for $200, but I feel like millennials will want to at least unlock a phone with their fingers and use it to pay for things.
The Honor 5X’s 5.5-inch 1080 IPS screen is also where you start to see the difference in build quality compared to a more costly device. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the 5X’s display, but its viewing angles are not as clear as a phone that costs three times as much. I also noticed a ghosting effect when I glanced at it from the side.
Performance that could wane over time
You don’t expect stellar performance from a phone this cheap, but the Honor 5X’s 1.5GHz Snapdragon 615 processor is good enough. Loading applications and games was typically a cakewalk, though I did deal with the occasional sluggish interface. I was pleased to see that the 5X could also handle some of the heavier millennial-geared applications like Ditty, a silly little app that lets you make your own music videos, andRayman Adventures. My only issue while using the 5X is that it gets scalding after you’ve had the screen on for a while. Ow.