Honor, a Huawei subsidiary that aims to steal some of Xiaomi’s thunder through low prices and online marketing, is officially launching in the US. At a CES event marked by confident proclamations about millennials and excessive hoverboard stunts, the company revealed that its 5X smartphone will be available later this month for $199.99.
For that price, the Honor 5X — I’ll call it that to avoid confusion with Google’s somewhat better-known 5X — is a fairly appealing proposition. It has unusual features for the price level like a metal frame and a fingerprint sensor; the screen is 1080p at 5.5 inches; and there’s a Snapdragon 615 processor alongside 2GB of RAM. The camera is 13 megapixels with an f/2.0 lens, and the battery is 3,000mAh. Overall, the Honor 5X feels a lot more solid and expensive than it really is.
The main caveat is the software, which has much in common with the version of Huawei’s dubious iOS-style EMUI seen on the Mate 8, but runs atop Android Lollipop instead of the newer Marshmallow. It’s visually a little brighter and more appealing, but you’re still dealing with a heavy Android skin that removes the app drawer and rips off iOS at every opportunity — from the camera app to the folders and the notification shade. Honor’s prospective customers may not necessarily have strong thoughts on preserving the purity of stock Android, but it’s difficult to see who wins with EMUI.
Huawei, the number three smartphone maker in the world, has long struggled to sell its smartphones in the US, but as American customers and carriers move away from the traditional two-year contract cycle, inexpensive phones like the Honor 5X could become attractive options to buy outright. Pre-orders are up now for the Honor 5X at Amazon and Newegg, and the phone will ship on January 31st.