honor 5X hands-on and first impressions

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Many have been waiting for the arrival of the honor 5X on local shores, and it isn’t particularly hard to see why. A metal build, a nice full HD display and a snappy fingerprint sensor are hard to come by at this end of the market. While honor have not announced when the device will go on sale or how much it would cost, we got to take a quick look at this all-metal midrange device.

Build

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A premium metal construction is almost a necessity these days. While we don’t think that a metal body is all that, smartphone manufacturers and people who want to show off certainly do. Has honor delivered with the 5X?

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Well, I can tell you that it definitely feels better than the more expensive honor 7. The front of the device is nothing to shout about, but when you move to the sides of the device, you can see where all of honor’s effort went. They talked endlessly about the sandblasting they had to do to keep the device feeling smooth in the hand and they did accomplish that to a certain extent.

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The sides are nicely chamfered (ala-Nexus 6P) to help with grip and very smooth to the touch. They decided to go with a brushed metal look for the back plate but the moment your fingers touch it, the panel feels in no way shape or form brushed. It was smooth as a baby’s bottom — which may appeal to some, but I like a little grain and roughness.

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There are other niggles that come from the buttons. While they had nice tactile feedback which felt really premium, the power button shifts around a little too much and if you apply pressure to the center of the volume rockers you will be greeted with an incredibly unpleasant flex.

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Performance

Since this isn’t really a high-end device, you can’t really expect much when it comes to performance. It sports a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor mated with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable internal storage. With proper optimisation, those specs would do fine for light to medium tasks, but from our brief hands-on it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Switching between applications was slow and sluggish. Exiting the camera app was the most painful thing to watch as the frames stuttered and choked. It was a disaster. That said, this can probably be fixed with a quick update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Camera

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The honor 5X comes with a decent 13-megapixel f/2.0 main camera with a dual-LED flash mounted on the rear, right above the fingerprint scanner. It’s a pretty decent snapper with a host of features as is the hallmark of EMUI’s camera app. Stuff like beautification, HDR, panorama are all bundled into it. Shots from that sensor are decent with reasonable amounts of colour accuracy and detail. The front 5MP f/2.4 selfie cam also takes reasonably good pictures, though we would have liked if it was a little wider for those crucial wefies.

Fingerprint scanner

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Its Huawei-made fingerprint scanner is as fantastic as ever. I loved the accuracy and speed though I would have appreciated a little haptic feedback when it successfully reads your finger but that’s me nitpicking. The honor 5X’s sensor only needs 6 taps to register your fingerprint yet it has an amazing level of accuracy.

As is a common theme in Huawei made devices, the fingerprint scanner at the back is more than simply a fingerprint scanner. You can swipe down on it to pull down your notifications, as well as hold it to exit your application and return to the home screen. It also allows you to take photos by tapping it though we found that quite pointless and horribly unergonomic.

It also has a curious function that lets the fingerprint scanner act as a back button allowing you to tap it once to go back to your previous task. So what if I’ve enabled the camera single tap to take a photo? Design oversight? It also lacks the swipe left and swipe right to scroll through pictures or text.

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All in all, it’s a pretty decent budget premium device with an okay camera and decent specs. All it needs is some proper optimisation (please patch ASAP) and a little skill when taking photographs. It’s a decent all-rounder but it faces tough competition from the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 and the Redmi Note 3 (when it arrives) even if our estimate of a sub RM1,000 price tag comes true.

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