How I got a new smartphone for $100

By | July 16, 2016

honor 5xIt had been a while since I got my (first) smartphone. I entered the smartphone arena later than most, and I hung onto my android phone for nearly 5 years. Over the last few months many of my friends and family were getting new phones. I began thinking things like “It would really be nice to load Google maps in 5 seconds rather than 30…” It was Amazon Prime day, and I got an email saying that if I spent $150 or more, I would receive a $30 gift card. So I logged onto Amazon to see what they had to offer. One of the featured deals was on a Huawei Honor 5x smartphone. I had never heard the name before so I was skeptical. However, the price was knocked down from $195 to $120, and the reviews were great. I delved deeper. What features did it have? What were the hardware specs? Well, to say the least, the Honor 5x is an impressive device for the cost –  it boasts two quadcore Snapdragon processors, its own GPU, 3 GB of memory, a 13 MP camera, 5.5″ display, a fingerprint scanner. All wrapped up in a quality aluminum alloy body. The only catch being a controversial user interface called EMUI. It is an interface that sometimes jars new owners because of its similarity to the iPhone, despite being an android phone.

It’s possible to install your own operating system (or ROM) on phones so this imperfection did not repel me. In fact I prefer using using free, open source custom ROMs as they often result in increased battery life and greater control over apps and privacy. Another featured deal was a 64 GB microSD card for $15, why not? I added a screen protector and a case to bump it up to $150 and checked out. I went to enter the promotional offer I mentioned earlier but got “Sorry, this offer has expired”. I thought “Darn, another missed deal.” I looked around for other things I needed or wanted to buy but didn’t come across much in the $150 range. Feeling deprived of a snappy new phone, I went back to my cart and checked out without the promotional offer. It was still a fantastic deal, I would be stubborn if I turned down a new phone because it was $120 instead of $90.

Then, the next day I got this email:

amazon promo email

Amazon delivers (heh) again! With the gift card, my total was effectively brought down to $120 with the extras – 64 GB microSD card, screen protectors, and a good case. Essentially a $90 phone + $30 of extras = $120. When two solid discount stack like this, it’s possible to get a deal “too good to be true”, you just have to do some work to find it. This may seem like a shameless promotion of the Amazon brand, but they really do have excellent customer service. One time I had a complaint about the condition of another item I ordered, so I called up support and spoke with a rep. When the rep and I decided on a fair course of action within a few minutes, I experienced legitimate surprise from how quick and painless the call was. They have a customer service oriented approach to handling their transactions and clearly it is working. They do however close accounts at their discretion if they have evidence that their service is being taken advantage of.

via GIPHY

Back to the phone itself. It arrived two days later (Prime shipping). What comes with the phone could be called minimalistic: a quickstart guide, a USB+wall charger, the pin to push out your SIM/microSD trays (it has Dual SIM), and the warranty card. I poked around the phones interface and observed the bloatware and apps I would never use. I tried out the fingerprint scanner (really cool, but actually less secure). Then I flashed it.

The phone has a solid feel and more than adequate screen size. It was an upgrade in every way from my old Galaxy. The volume buttons and power button are on the right side, a little too close to the center of the phone. The micro USB fits in snugly and doesn’t feel like it will be deteriorating any time soon. The battery is rated at “76 endurance hours” – right between the Nexus 5x (72) and the Galaxy S7 (80). I give the phone a 5, so far. Here is a link to the Amazon page where I got mine:

The price went back up a bit ($160 from one store, $180-195 most others), but this is still a good deal as the phone competes with $250 phones (J series) and holds its own against the latest $500 flagship phones, albeit with a few less megapixels and gigawhats. That concludes my “casual-smartphone-owner” review, I hope I’ve brought you closer to a decision. If you want the details on how I flashed the phone, leave a comment as I have all the guides in my history. Cheers!

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