Huawei's Honor 5X is the best work phone you can buy for $200, hands down. The sleek handset is a well-rounded device, with a sturdy metal body, a roomy 5.5-inch display, a security-boosting fingerprint reader and a long battery life to get you through the workday. And while Huawei's software overlay looks a bit cartoony, it shouldn't hinder your productivity a bit.
The Honor 5X feels a lot tougher than you'd expect from a $200 smartphone. While most rival devices in this price range have flimsy plastic shells, the Honor 5X comes with a solid aluminum back that's extremely rigid and gives the device a nice sense of heft. The metal back has a subtle curvature, which makes it comfortable to hold, and sports a brushed metal aesthetic that looks slick.
Business travelers, meanwhile, will benefit from the phone's second SIM card slot. A SIM card is a small chip inside your phone that lets it communicate with your wireless carrier. Dual SIM slots are good for workers because they let you juggle two separate data plans, eliminating one of the main reasons to carry separate smartphones for work and personal use. You can also carry an international SIM card to avoid roaming fees.
Workers will benefit from the Honor 5X's fingerprint scanner, which lets you keep your business phone locked down without fussing with a password screen every time you turn it on. The scanner is conveniently located on the back of the device, right in reach of my index finger when I'm holding it in one hand. The one-touch scanner worked quickly and reliably, whisking me away to my home screen each time I laid my finger over it.
I also liked the ability to assign individual fingerprints to shortcuts, letting me launch frequently used apps using the scanner. I set my right middle finger to launch the email app, and it worked to quickly open my inbox no matter what I was doing on the phone at the time. You can also set fingers to speed dial a particular contact, making it easy to contact an employee or co-worker with one touch.
The Honor 5X's big, 5.5-inch display is good for productivity, offering plenty of real estate for screen-intensive tasks like editing documents and spreadsheets. With a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, it's plenty sharp enough for a screen this size. Text looks crisp, and images are clear.
The display is also really bright, topping out at 539 nits of brightness. That outshines the category average of 454 nits, and beats rivals such as the Google Nexus 5X (454) and the Asus Zenfone 2 (325). A bright display is a perk since it's easier to view outdoors.
One minor downside is that the Honor 5X lacks split-screen multitasking like you'll find on many other big-screen phones. On the other hand, the omission is typical for devices in this price range.
The Honor 5X provides pretty snappy performance, considering the low cost of the device. The device comes equipped with an octa-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, a configuration that proved to be fast enough for moderate multitasking. I did occasionally notice a bit of slowdown when switching between apps, though.
Huawei's phone outperformed other budget-priced devices on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, racking up a respectable score of 2,990. That beats the Zenfone 2 (2,832) and the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 (2,029), but trails the category average (3,107) as well as the pricier Google Nexus 5X (3,507).
The Honor 5X will have no trouble lasting through the end of the workday and beyond. The device ran for a very solid 9 hours and 22 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous web browsing over LTE. That easily tops the smartphone average of 8 hours and 15 minutes, and beats rivals including the Zenfone 2 (7:05) and the Idol 3 (9:16). The Nexus 5X is the battery life champ, though; it ran for an impressive 11 hours and 30 minutes on the same test.
The Honor 5X isn't just a solid budget smartphone; it also happens to offer a number of work-friendly features you won't often find on devices in this price range. Business users will appreciate the phone's reliable fingerprint scanner, which keeps your device locked down and doubles as a handy app launcher. The Honor 5X's dual SIM slots are another standout feature that make it easier to travel without incurring roaming fees. Plus, the phone's roomy display, long battery life and solid performance make it a well-rounded device for everyday productivity, all for a low price of $200.
If you're willing to shell out a little extra money, Google's $300 Nexus 5X offers better battery life and snappier performance, though its 5.2-inch display is smaller. For workers with a tighter budget, the Honor 5X is a steal.