MILWAUKEE -- You don't realize just how expensive smartphones are until you need a new one and the store tells you you're going to have to pay full price for it. Next thing you know, you're looking at $500-$700 or $30 monthly payments for what seems like an eternity. Not so with the Huawei Honor 5X smartphone - it's just $200 unlocked - and you get pretty much everything you need in a quality device.
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For starters, don't call this a "budget" smartphone - think of it as a device for the person who wants the latest features, but doesn't necessarily need the speed and flash of a flagship device. The Honor 5X has all of the key features you want in a good phone - a great metal design with an accurate, fast fingerprint reader, a big bright screen and capable cameras. There's even two SIM card slots (handy if you travel or keep a work and personal phone number) plus a memory card slot so you can add up to 200 gigabytes of storage.
I have been playing with the device for a few weeks and I'm trying to figure out what you give up to save about $400 off your typical iPhone or Samsung device. For starters, it's probably a little bit slower than those devices, but a majority of users won't notice that. What really impressed me is the software - it runs Android but there are so many useful features built in. There's a mirror app (blow on the screen for a foggy surprise!), FM radio app and more. I love how much control the settings give you over the look and feel of the phone - things like the ability to toggle off the carrier name in the status bar or see your current network speed there.
There is also a home screen mode called "simple" which limits the number of on screen icons and makes them big and easy to press. Pop the phone into that mode and it's great for folks who want a super simple experience or can't see very well.
Just about everything on the Honor 5X has impressed me. Although the camera isn't the absolute best out there, it is more than sufficient for everyday pictures. It performs great in bright light and OK in low light. Video quality didn't impress me as much. Again, it's the little features that make this a great device - like when you go to take a selfie it pops up a little magnified window of just your eyes so you're looking at the right place.
Haven't heard of Huawei? They are one of the top smartphone makers in China and have been eyeing the United States market for a long time. They also teamed up with Google to make their flagship Nexus 6P device.
The best part - the Honor 5X is available same day on Amazon for just $200, unlocked. It works with GSM carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile and many of the pre-paids like Cricket and MetroPCS. It's an amazing value proposition, and you'll actually feel smart carrying around this phone.