LAS VEGAS - If your smartphone budget tops out at $200, you're in luck. The new Honor 5X packs a full HD display, big battery, octa-core processor and fingerprint sensor in a premium metal body for just $199 unlocked. Here at CES 2016, Huawei unveiled its super affordable new phone by its value brand, Honor, and the overall package is a compelling one. I had a chance to play with the Honor 5X and am intrigued by its potential.
For the price, I really wasn't expecting the Honor 5X to carry a fingerprint sensor, but it does. Like the Nexus 6P and Huawei Mate 8, the Honor 5X's fingerprint reader is located below the rear camera, and unlocks your phone within 0.5 seconds. It can also read your fingerprint any side up, thanks to the 360-degree print recognition.
It is likely not to work with Android Pay at physical locations, considering the phone doesn't appear to support NFC. However, the fingerprint sensor works with Honor's File Safe and App Lock apps, as well as a Visitor Mode feature for more convenient protection of your sensitive data.
You can also assign specific fingers to launch specific apps or dial specific phone numbers when laid on the sensor. At the launch event, Huawei showed off how quickly the Honor 5X could call a pre-set number just by placing the right finger on the sensor, challenging users of other popular phones to do so faster.
Of course, thanks to the shortcut, the Honor 5X beat out the other unnamed phones, one of which looked like a Samsung Galaxy handset.
The 13-megapixel rear and 5-MP front camera setup on the Honor 5X are also sharper than the 8-MP shooters I'm used to seeing in this price range, and the selfie I shot with a Huawei rep looked colorful and clear.
In addition to extra camera modes like Selfie Panorama and Audio Note, the Honor 5X also comes with cool security features such as Privacy Protected, which hides your sensitive pictures, apps and messages. You can also encrypt your microSD card, which is one of three cards you can store in the Honor 5X, along with microSIM and nano SIM cards.
The EMUI 3.1 interface on top of Android Lollipop also lets you use your knuckle to draw letters such as C or E on the screen to launch apps such as Camera and Browser respectively.
I'm also pleasantly surprised by the generous 3000-mAh battery. The phone uses what Huawei calls SmartPower 3.0 technology that features an 8-point power-saving plan to cut your power consumption by 30 percent, making your phone last about 1.46 days on a charge with moderate use.
Packing an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, the Honor 5X should also be capable of smooth multitasking, although it did stutter a little when performing shortcuts. You'll also get a 5.5-inch 1080p display in a diamond-polished aluminum alloy body, which felt premium when I held it.
Overall, the Honor 5X looks to be a great bargain. Stay tuned for our full review to see if it's worth the money.