Honor 5X first impressions: a fresh new face among budget phablets

“The Honor 5X is the loaded successor to the 4X. Here’s our first impressions”

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Among the slew of budget devices Honor released last year, the 4X (review) was among the most interesting. The affordable phablet packed in some high-end specs for its price, and was very popular in the sub-Rs 10,000 range. A few months after its launch though, we started seeing even more highly-specc’d smartphones like the Lenovo K3 Note (review), Coolpad Note 3 (review) and MEIZU m2 note (review) hit the market, and the Honor 4X seemed to lose its sheen. Honor isn’t a brand to take competition lightly though, because the smartphone’s successor – the Honor 5X – more than makes up for the deficiencies of its predecessor. At Honor’s second anniversary event in Shenzhen, China, we got a chance to spend a short time with the Honor 5X. Here’s what we thought.

The first thing you notice when you pick up the 5X is how premium it feels. The plasticky exterior of the Honor 4X has been replaced by a snazzy metal body, complete with shiny metal trims on the sides and a brushed metal backplate. The smartphone is available in two colours – Gold and Silver – although the former looked more eye-catching in our opinion. The 5.5-inch display of the Honor 5X might be the same size as the one on the 4X, but has received a major upgrade in terms of resolution. It’s now a full HD AMOLED display, with a crisp pixel density of 401ppi. The screen looked very sharp during our usage, with vibrant colours and smooth touch responsiveness. However, as you can probably make out from the images we took, sunlight legibility is an issue. The screen brightness is too low to be visible under harsh lighting, and the highly reflective nature makes it difficult to use outdoors. 

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Coming to the various ports and buttons, above the screen you’ll find the earpice, sensors and front 5-megapixel camera. The chin below the display is bare, with the navigation buttons being replaced by onscreen controls. On the right side, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker, while the left features two ejectable trays. One of the trays accepts two nano-SIM cards, while the other is a dedicated microSD card slot – no hybrid SIM slots on this one. The bottom features the micro-USB port flanked by two rows of precision drilled holes for the loudspeaker and primary microphone. On the top edge you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack and secondary microphone.

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Turn the smartphone around, and that’s when things start to get interesting. The plate at the centre features the brushed metal finish we talked about earlier, but the top and bottom sport a dimpled design, not unlike the Honor 4X’s back panel. That’s not the interesting feature we were talking about though, because right below the primary 13MP camera and dual-tone LED flash you’ll find a fingerprint sensor. Among budget phablets, a fingerprint sensor is still rare (the Coolpad Note 3 is the exception) so it’s nice to see the feature on the Honor 5X. 

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Inside, the Honor 5X is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor clocked at 1.7GHz. The smartphone is available in two RAM configurations – 2GB and 3GB – although the latter is what we spent time with. The 8GB of internal storage on the Honor 4X has been doubled to 16GB, out of which around 9.6GB was user available on the demo unit. The smartphone runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop as a base, masked by Honor’s EMUI 3.1 interface. Honor has announced that it will be rolling out EMUI 4.0 based on Marshmallow next year, so we should see a number of changes in the UI. For now, it’s pretty much the same, with colourful icons, no app drawer, a theme store and the Magazine Unlock feature. 

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The Honor 5X is fuelled by a 3,000mAh battery, just like its predecessor. In terms of connectivity, the 5X offers 4G on both slots with dual-standby, Wi-Fi 802.11, GPS and Bluetooth 4.1. In China, the smartphone is priced at 999 Yuan (approximately Rs 10,387) for the 2GB RAM variant, and 1399 Yuan (roughly Rs 14,546) for the 3GB RAM model. If Honor can retain the sub-Rs 10,000 pricing in India, at least for the 2GB RAM model, we think the 5X might be a very strong contender in the budget phablet space. According to Honor representatives, the 5X is expected to land in India very soon. We’ll keep you posted on India price and availability details when we have them.

Disclosure: This writer was in Shenzhen, China on Honor’s invitation 
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