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Honor next budget friendly phone. How does is it compare to the 5x?
on January 14, 2017
I am changing the review to 5 stars. After few more days of use: the 6x clearly outranks the 5x in design (which is growing on me), WiFi and cell reception, performance and battery life.
Honor 5x was the first true “budget” smart phone. Metal design and fingerprint sensor where rarely seen on any phone with close price tag at that time, are becoming more and more standard now. That being said that device had some shortfalls. The performance with the snapdragon was lacking under pressure and the EMUI android skin is not everybody’s cup of tea. Today we look at the true successor of the Honor 5x with similar price tag. How did the devices rank against each other? And are the differences worth the extra $80 or so? (Both available on Amazon now for $249 vs $169)
Un-boxing and accessories
Pretty standard boxes with nothing fancy for both. Accessories much easier to find for 5x but 6x is just launched so I am sure it will catch up. Not much to talk about here.
Both are gorgeous. I had the gold Honor 5x and now compared to the gray Honor 6x, they both look way much more premium than their price tag. You could easily mistake them for a $600 phone. That being said the Honor 6x is more round around the edges, has more mate finish on the back (both has aluminum body) and feels more comfortable to hold. Honor did improve the design but not much. Honor 6x still is marginally better.
Processor, RAM and performance
Honor 5x had the more widely known Snapdragon 617, while Honor opted for the in house Kirin 655. Honor 5x had 2 GB of RAM and 6x has 3 GB (in USA anyway). On paper, the Kirin outperforms the Snapdragon (it is actually more in line with Snapdragon 625-650). This is confirmed by multiple benchmark tests although I will not bore you with the details (easily obtainable by googling both processors). Kirin also seems more power efficient thanks to the more semiconductor size (28 nm vs 16 nm) which should translate into more less heat generation as well. How did this translate into real life performance? Both devices perform well for everyday use. You will notice a slight hiccups here and there for the honor 5x particularly when opening apps (Google maps seems to take few seconds) and this becomes more prominent when you install more apps (I had 100+ apps installed). The 6x seems to handle this much better. The lag is almost non-existent and apps open up quickly (even google maps! I hated those extra seconds of waiting on 5x when checking traffic in the morning before I head to work – no more with 6x!). Is it the new processor? Is the extra RAM? Being an in house chipset optimized more to work with the user interface? Or is it simply that devices become slower with time and the 6x will follow lead? Could be any of those, but for the time being I have to go with the 6x as a winner!
One last word: my only concern regarding the 6x is the GPU (which handles the display and 3d part, gaming mostly). The GPU on the 5x is Adreno 405 – no match for much better GPUs in today’s flagships but performs OK and tried in and out. The Mali T830MP2 is not as much. They both seem to handle things comparably now but will see how the Mali handles games released a year or two from now.
Both are gorgeous. Is this the best screen around? No. but for practical purposes both did great with a small edge for the 6x, colors seems more accurate. However, for the price range they may be the best you can get and it looks amazing for watching a movie or displaying pictures. Given the slightly higher price tag for he 6x, I would say this is a tie.
Both perform adequately. Both are poor in low light situations. Both will take OK pictures. Did the two lens format in the 6x make a huge difference? In my personal opinion, no. The second Camera is not a monochrome camera like you see in pricier phones, and mostly functions to give that nice background blurring but not much more. This seems odd as the two lens format seems to be a selling point to Honor but the phone has more to offer anyway. This is a tie.
This is where it gets messy. You will always hear bad things about EMUI. Let me get out of the way: It is not as bad as people make it look like. It is just different. It is somewhere in the middle of Android and iPhone and I think it took some nice features from both (I like that you can search for apps simply by swiping the home screen down like you can do on iOS). You still get the customizations of android, you get the widgets and you get the ability to run 3rd party launcher (Nova launcher seemed to make my honor 5x faster). But it is not stock android. If you like android as it is, do not go for this one. If you don’t mind Honor tweaks then I think you will do fine with both. For what it is worth, I think the EMUI is one of the best android skins to prevent battery drains – it seems well optimized.
As far as comparing the two devices: while it is disappointing that Honor 6x launched with EMUI 4 on android M, we are promised an update to Android N with EMUI within weeks. Honor kept their word re updating the 5x from android 5 to 6 so hopefully they will keep their track record.
This is also a tie.
Honor 5x best selling point for me was the battery. No, it will not last 2 days, 3 days or longer. No you will not get 10 hours of screen on time. But that is not what I am looking for in a phone. I am looking for a phone that can give me few hours (3-5 at least of screen on time) to check my emails and browse internet, may be the occasional game or two, and not drain itself to death when I am not using it. Basically I want a phone I can use moderately with no need to charge mid day. You would think this is easy to get but to me it was not. I tried several phones at this price range and higher since my nexus 4 died. I tried Lg g2, xperia z1 and z2, nexus 6p (yes), note 4 and Axon 7. They all had one issue or the other. My biggest problem that I do not get good reception in my work area where I spend several hours a day and this seems to suck the life out of every battery I tried. My phone would go from 100 in the morning to 40 or so while not being used but rarely. Not with Honor 5x. I finally would be able to go home with 50 – 60% + when I get home with moderate usage and 2-3 hours screen on time. It may be the software or the way honor handles the bad reception but that was why I stuck with the 5x for a year. Honor 6x seems to follow lead as well and I have no issues using it for 2 days with light use. It also lacks true quick charging but it charged to 100% in about two hours. At the price range I really do not care about the extra 30 min it seems to take when compared to, say, Axon 7 which took me around an hour and a half to fully charge. So far both devices perform well. A slight edge for honor 6x.
They both have fingerprint scanner. For all intents and purposes is it excellent and it does not get much better than this. I cannot remember last time I had to try more than once to open the device. It works while screen is off (unlike older Samsung models where screen had to be turned on manually first). The honor 6x sensor is faster than the 5x
Both are fully compatible with T mobile and AT and T. LTE is excellent: I get around 10-15 mg download speed in a major metro area. It does have band 12 on t mobile
Both have double sim, the second sim doubles as an SD card slot in both
6x is reported to have an IR port but I am unable to get it to work yet! no built in remote control app.
Both have the much more available USB 2 for a charger. While this may become problematic years from now for the time being, to me, this an advantage. You can use any old android charger with no need for adapters
This is an excellent phone. I am really happy that so called mid-range phones are getting better and better each year. It will not disappoint you and will perform more than adequately for everyday use and then some more. After few more days of use the much better battery life, design and performance easily justifies the price difference. Good work Huawei!