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Device review: Honor 9X

Saf Malik
November 5, 2019

A valuable addition to the lower end of the smartphone market let down by a poor camera 3.5/5

Huawei-owned brand Honor announced last month that the Honor 9X would arrive in the UK within the next few months. After being released in the Netherlands and Russia, it doesn’t yet have a UK release date.

The smartphone launched in China over the summer and was announced before Huawei was placed on the US Entity List meaning it will still feature Google services.

The Honor 9X represents the newest addition to Honor’s growing repertoire of budget devices, and one that stakes its claim as one of the top affordable smartphones on the market. The Honor 8X was priced at £229.99 after its launch and was one of the best mid-range phones of last year so expectations for its successor are high.

While there is no word on how much it will cost after its UK launch, the Honor 9X will almost certainly retail for less than £300.

At first glance, the phone looks and feels like a flagship and the specs are impressive for a low budget entry. It significantly improves on the Honor 8X in terms of specs with a slightly better triple-camera and a larger battery. It is also the first Honor device to feature a pop-up selfie camera.

Design

With almost all smartphones following the same basic design, the Honor 9X doesn’t deviate too much from the winning formula. The 9X looks similar to a few other Huawei models and comes in both silver and a sapphire blue. The differentiating factor is the matte finish on the side of the phone which looks and feels great.

Both models come with a plastic cover that can be placed at the back of the phone but makes it slightly heavier and bigger which I found made it slightly too big to use with one hand.

The size (6.59 inches) and weight (206g) give it the look and feel of a flagship and is significantly bigger and heavier than my iPhone XR even without a cover.

The fingerprint scanner is still placed on the back of the phone and works pretty well, unlocking the phone fairly quickly although not as quick as the realme X2 Pro. There isn’t a facial unlock scanner on this device.

The phone also has a headphone jack which is a refreshing change for those who don’t wish to spend £249 on AirPods.

The LCD display looks great, especially for the price and isn’t significantly worse than the OLED displays on other phones. I tested out a few videos and games on the 9X, and the graphics looked incredible, particularly on Call of Duty. Despite not being built for gaming like the realmeX2 Pro, the size of the phone added to the great gaming experience when turned to its side.

Hardware specs

  • OS: Android 9.0
  • Screen 6.59 inches
  • Resolution: 2340 x 1080
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 6GB RAM, 8GB RAM
  • Internal storage: 64GB, 128GB
  • Water resistant: IPX3 splash proof
  • Rear camera: 16MP
  • Front camera: Triple Camera 48MP
  • Video: 1080p @ 30fps
  • Battery: 4000mAh
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dimensions: 163.1 x 77.2 x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 206g

Camera

The camera isn’t great like some of the high-end Huawei devices, but it is what you’d expect for a phone sub £300. It comes with a 16MP pop-up camera at the front of the phone which allows recording of up to 1080p and is a good addition to a budget phone despite not being the fastest or clearest on the market.

The time it takes to pop-up from the phone is perhaps the reason why it doesn’t have the facial unlock feature.

The main camera is 48MP and is joined by an 8MP sensor. The pictures I took generally looked good, if not outstanding. What was interesting is that it has a maximum zoom of 6x which is strange for a Huawei model considering some of their models allow for a 50x zoom.

There is a range of different modes including wide-angle and night mode features that both disappoint. The wide-lens photos lack detail even in good lighting and some photos came out almost panoramic which made them look ridiculous.

The night mode option was equally disappointing with some images appearing blurred and grainy but the feature pulled off the odd gem despite its inconsistencies.

Overall the camera is average which should be seen as perfectly acceptable for a mid-range entry. The Honor 9X doesn’t offer anything exceptional with its triple-camera like other Huawei devices on the market.

Key selling points

  • Great looking design
  • Look and feel of a flagship
  • Beautiful display
  • Great size for gaming
  • Practical fingerprint scanner
  • Excellent battery life

The performance of the phone is solid with the Kirin 810 chipset and 8GB of RAM – which again is impressive for a cheaper phone. The performance isn’t outstanding by any means but is significantly better than last year’s Honor model.

The battery life of 4000mAh is mightily impressive with Huawei never seeming to have any problems in that department. In fact, the battery is superior to both models of Google’s new flagship, and I found the Honor 9X lasted two days after a full charge.

It comes with a 10W charger that charges the phone fairly quickly, although there isn’t wireless charging available for this device which is expected given its place on the market.

The games on the phone don’t use up too much battery life like my iPhone XR which is often drained by running games such as Fortnite and PUBG. It most certainly isn’t a gaming phone but it functions a lot better than higher-priced alternatives on that front.

At a glance

  • Speed: 3/5
  • Camera: 2.5/5
  • Battery: 5/5
  • Design: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5

Overall the Honor 9X is a valuable addition to the budget market and can hold its own against some of the higher-priced models on the market. The excellent battery life and the great display make up for a pretty poor camera, particularly for a Huawei device.

At under £300, the phone is an absolute steal and has the significant factor of Google apps which will ensure that it sells in European markets.

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