Honor 5X review: Top value, but can it dethrone the Moto G?

£190
Price when reviewed

The launch of the Honor 5X has to be one of the longest, most drawn out phone announcements of recent times. We caught our first glimpse of the phone at CES 2016, and since then there’s been a steady trickle of news and updates about the phone.

Now the phone has finally been officially launched in Munich, has it been worth the wait? 

Honor 5X review: Design and screen

Price-wise and design-wise, the Honor 5X looks pretty darned good. What we have here is a modern 5.5in Android smartphone, complete with a smart, metal chassis that costs a mere £190 inc VAT.

Honor 5X rear camera

That alone would have been enough to raise eyebrows a couple of years back, but big phones costing very little have become more commonplace over the past few years. What sets the Honor 5X apart from its main rivals – the all-conquering Motorola Moto G3 and the gorgeous OnePlus X – are size, design and features.

Let’s start with the screen: where the Moto and OnePlus phones have 5in screens, the Honor is equipped with a 5.5in display, and it also uses a Full HD panel, delivering a pixel density of 401ppi. That means it’s sharp enough that most normal folk won’t be able to see any kind of pixel structure from normal viewing distances. It’s all you need in a 5.5in phone and, even on a larger screen such as the Huawei Mate 8, isn’t a big problem.

Image quality is pretty good, too. I had the opportunity to test a pre-production unit prior to the launch, and under the beady eye of our office X-Rite i1 DisplayPro colorimeter, it returned maximum brightness and contrast ratio figures of 469cd/m2 and 1,170:1 respectively, capping things off with an sRGB colour space coverage result of 88.9%. Those are reasonable numbers and, to the eye, it’s perfectly pleasant, with colours popping nicely off the screen.

Honor has been steadily improving the design of its phones of late and that shows through here. The phone has a curved, brushed metal finish on the rear, a glossy, mirror-effect rim around the edge of the phone at the front, and it looks smart, too – from a distance. Up close, it’s still pretty classy for a sub-£200 phone, and looks a lot nicer than the third generation Moto G, but when you pick it up, it doesn’t feel as good as it looks.

Bend the phone and it creaks and cracks alarmingly, and it rattles when you shake it. This is where its rivals edge ahead of it. It isn’t weatherproof like the Motorola Moto G 3, which has a dust and water-resistance rating of IPX7, and it doesn’t feel as solid and unyielding as the OnePlus X.

In its favour, however, is a plethora of slots and expansion capabilities. On the right edge of the Honor 5X you’ll find a pair of drawers, which allow you to add two SIM cards (one nano, one micro) and a microSD card up to 128GB in size. It’s highly flexible, and ideal for travellers.

The cherry on top, however, is the fingerprint reader – in the centre, on the rear. It’s the first time I’ve seen one  on a phone costing less than £200, and it works extremely well, unlocking the phone at a single tap. Honor didn’t settle for just adding the ability to unlock your phone with the sensor, either – it’s also possible to launch your favourite apps with your – um – favourite finger, too. If you can remember which finger you registered to which app, that is.

Honor 5X front, screen off

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