HUAWEI’s HONOR brand launched the HONOR 9X, the company’s latest mid-range smartphone and the successor of the Honor 8X in India last month. It has a new no-notch design with pop-up camera, but the International version is powered Kirin 710F Octa-Core 12nm SoC compared to Kirin 810 in the Chinese version. Is the phone worth the price when there is a huge competition in the mid-range segment? Let us dive into the review to find out.
- HONOR 9X smartphone in Midnight Black color
- 2-pin charger (5V-2A)
- USB Type-C Cable
- SIM Ejector tool
- Clear protective case
- Screen guard (pre-installed)
- User manual and warranty information
Display, Design, and Hardware
The HONOR 9X comes with a 6.59-inch Full HD+ LCD 2.5D curved glass display with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, pixel density of 391 PPI, 19:5:9 aspect ratio without notch and a screen-to-body ratio of about 91%. The display is bright, offers decent color reproduction, has good viewing angles and the sunlight legibility is good as well.
Since this has a 19:5:9 aspect ratio screen, you can pinch to zoom to fill the screen when you use apps like YouTube, but the content gets cropped. You can also select apps to enable full screen display, but it might not work for all apps. You can also select the screen resolution to HD+ or select the smart resolution that automatically lowers the screen resolution to help save power. You can also change the color temperature from Default to Warm or Cold, and also set your preferred color temperate using the color circle. The Eye comfort mode filters the blue light so the screen has a yellowish tint when the mode is enabled. This is more useful when you are reading at night as it avoids eye strain.
On the top there is an earpiece and a 16-megapixel pop-up camera with Intelligent Fall Detection and Quick Retraction, Downward Pressure Protection, Anti Dust and Splash Mechanism, according to the company. The camera takes couple of seconds to come up, which is slightly more compared to realme X and Redmi K20 phones. The phone has usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors as well as gyroscope and magnetic sensor otherwise known as magnetometer for VR headsets. Even though the phone uses on-screen navigation, it has a tiny bezel below the screen, but it doesn’t have any branding.
Coming to hardware buttons and the ports, the phone has a volume rocker and the power button on the right side, Hybrid dual SIM slots and secondary microphone on the top, 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C port, primary microphone and the loudspeaker grill on the bottom. Lack of dedicated slots might not be a big deals since the company offers 128GB storage.
The glass back looks and feels good, but only the blue version shows patterns. Since the back is prone to fingerprints, it is recommended to use the bundled case. It has a vertical triple camera arrangement, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and HONOR branding on the back. Under the hood there is a 4000mAh battery. The phone has an aluminum, and you don’t see antenna lines. It measures 163.1×77.2×8.8mm and weighs 206 grams, which is a bit high for a phone with a 4000mAh battery mainly due to the pop-up camera. Overall the build quality of the phone is good.
Coming to the camera, the phone a has a 48-megapixel rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, along with a 8MP ultra-wide sensor with f/2.4 aperture and 2MP depth camera with f/2.4 aperture. On the front there is a 26-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture.
The Camera UI is similar to most other HONOR phones. It has smart HiVision that lets you just scan the object to identify that item online, toggle for flash, AI, while the bottom bar houses mini-gallery, shutter button, and front camera toggle. It has Aperture, Night, Portrait, Photo, Video, Pro mode, Slow-mo, Panorama, Light Painting (Traffic trails, Light graffiti, Star trails and Silky water), HDR, Time-lapse, Moving Picture, Filters and Stickers. There is partial Cam2API support and there is no RAW support.
When AI mode is enabled, the phone can recognize 22 categories of 500+ scenes and provides optimized shooting result. AI looks artificial since it boosts colors, but some might like it.
Coming to the image quality, daylight images are good, macro shots are good as well and the HDR shots were better. Portrait shots are good with good amount of blur. Low-light shots have noise, but the night shot mode is better in capturing perfect image even in poor lighting since the phone has adjustable exposure of up to 32 seconds in the mode. The Night shot mode and requires a tripod since the phone needs to be steady or use tripod. The front camera is pretty good.
Check out the camera samples below (Click the image to view the full-resolution samples).
The phone can record 1080p videos at up to 60fps, but lacks 4k recording. Video quality is good, and the audio is crisp since it has a secondary microphone. There is also 16x Super Slow Motion mode offering 480 frames per second video recording at 720p for 10 seconds, but the quality is not up to mark. It also has Automatic Motion Detection, which allows users to capture any fleeting moment easily. You can set and motion-detection area on the camera screen that can be adjusted. Check out the samples below.
Software, UI and Apps
The phone runs on Android 9.0 (Pie) with Android security update for December 2019. It runs EMUI 9.0 out of the box. The UI gives users an option to choose the home screen style — Standard (shows all apps on the home screen) and Drawer (shows all app on drawer screen). It doesn’t have native Dark mode, but you can install Dark mode app to get dark mode option in Google Play, WhatsApp and Instagram that support it. The company says that it will roll out Android 10 update for the phone starting from next month.
It has one-handed mode, scheduled power on and off option, Flip to mute, pickup to reduce ring and three-finger screenshot gestures. There is also ride mode. Once enabled, callers will be notified that the user is currently riding, and cannot answer calls. The feature essentially functions as a Do-Not-Disturb option that sends a message to the caller saying that the user will not be able to attend the call since they are riding. However, the caller will also get an option to call the rider in case of an emergency. App Twin feature that allows users to log-in and use two different accounts at the same time on the same phone.
Out of 128GB storage, you get 112GB free storage, out of 6GB RAM, 5.6GB is usable, out of which 2.8GB is free on boot, when default apps are running in the background.
Apart from the usual set of utility apps and Google apps, the phone comes with Booking.com, Opera News, Helo and some games preinstalled, however these can be uninstalled.
The phone comes equipped with a fingerprint scanner on the back, which is comfortable to unlock when you are holding the phone. It unlocks the phone quickly. In this phone, you can add up to 5 fingerprints. And then there is a Fingerprint recognition option, which helps users to find out which fingerprint belongs which ID. You can also take photos or video, answer call, stop alarm, bring down the notification panel and browse photos with it.
Music Player and FM Radio
It has a separate music player with support for Huawei Histen sound effects when you use headphones. Audio through third-party headset is decent, and the loudspeaker is decent as well, but it could have been better. It also has FM Radio support. The phone comes with Widevine L1 support out-of-the-box so that you can enjoy HD content on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hotstar and other streaming apps.
Connectivity, Calling and Messaging
It supports 4G VoLTE for Reliance Jio and Airtel as well as support Dual 4G VoLTE that offers 4G in both the SIM cards at a time. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 LE and GPS. Even Bluetooth version is acceptable, but lack of 5GHz Wi-Fi is disappointing. It also has USB OTG support that lets you connect USB drives. Moving on, the call quality is good, and we did not face any call drops and earpiece volume was loud as well.
Performance and Benchmarks
It is powered HUAWEI’s own Octa-Core Kirin 710F Octa-Core 12nm processor with Mali-G51 MP4 GPU and AI photo features under the hood. 6GB RAM compliments the hardware in making multi-tasking easier than ever. Talking about the real world experience, the performance is smooth and snappy as we experienced no lag or hang. It is good even for graphic-intensive games like PUBG, but the Qualcomm counterpart, Snapdragon 710 does a better job, even though the company promises better performance with the GPU Turbo technology. Check out the synthetic benchmark score below.
It is powered by 4000mAh(typical) / 3900mAh (minimum) battery under the hood, slightly bigger than the 3750mAh battery on the 8X. It can last for the whole day even with heavy use, thanks to the optimization, and it should last more than a day with casual use. There is also has power saving mode and ultra-power saving mode to increase the battery life. Sadly, the phone doesn’t have fast charging, even though it has USB Type-C.
In our One Charge rating, the Honor 9X scored 16 hours 46 minutes, which is good. Since doesn’t have support for fast charging it takes about 2 hours to charge the phone from 0 to 100% with the bundled 10W charger, and 0 to 50% took about 50 minutes.
At a starting price of Rs. 13,999, the Honor 9X is an decent mid-range smartphone with a large no-notch display with minimal bezels, attractive design, good battery life and at par cameras, but you have to live with the Kirin 710F SoC, lack of fast charging, dual-band Wi-Fi and no 4K video recording. The company also sells 6GB RAM with 128GB storage version at Rs. 16999.
The Honor 9X is available exclusively from Flipkart. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.
- Large no-notch display
- Good design and build quality
- Good battery life
- Not a powerful SoC for the price
- Average cameras and no 4K video recording
- Average audio quality
- No fast charging