So lately, there haven’t been a lot of Honor devices launching, contrary to what we were used to seeing a couple of years ago. That’s all thanks to the US-Huawei controversy for sure! Anyways, the Honor 9X I have with me is the global variant wherein you don’t get the Kirin 810 or the side-mounted fingerprint scanner. So, what does the 9X have and how has it fared in my usage so far? Let’s dig in and find out in this review of the Honor 9X!
Honor 9X International Edition Specifications
- Body: 6.42 x 3.04 x 0.35 inches; 206 gm; front/back glass
- Display: 6.59-inches IPS LCD panel
- Resolution: Full-HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels); 19.5:9 aspect ratio
- Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 710F; 12nm Mobile Platform
- CPU: Octa-core (4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
- GPU: Mali G51 MP4
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128GB (expandable up to 512GB)
- Software & UI: Android 9.0 (Pie) with Huawei’s EMUI 9.1 on top
- Rear Camera: Triple-camera; 48MP f/1.8 primary sensor, 8MP f/2.4 ultrawide lens, 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
- Front Camera: 16MP, f/2.2 aperture (motorized)
- Fingerprint sensor: Physical (rear-mounted)
- Connectivity: Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, AGPS/GPS/GLONASS/BDS, USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
- Battery: 4000 mAh battery with 10W Charging
- Colors: Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue
- Honor 9X Price in Nepal: Rs. 29,999 28,990 (6/128GB)
Starting off with the design, the Honor 9X features a glass back, while its frames are made of plastic, and if I recall correctly, the Honor 8X had a metal frame.
But I sure do appreciate this design. The back is shiny and glossy and you can see a holographic X rising when you tilt the phone at certain angles, which, I think looks cool. I have this Blue variant which has a very subtle appearance and I really like it. The phone looks and feels good on the hands as well, all thanks to its curved design.
The buttons, on the other hand, are clicky and give good feedback. But, one tiny thing that I dearly missed on the 9X would be a notification LED.
Similarly, another minor complaint with the design is that the phone is very slippery and prone to smudges, so I would advise getting a good case for protection against both. Also, there is no Gorilla Glass protection neither on the front nor on the back which makes this phone vulnerable to breakage.
And I am not saying this just for the sake of an argument. I had an incident where I dropped the phone and the screen just… shattered. I mean I was shocked looking at the phone break from such an insignificant height.
Plus, the repair cost blew me away too. I was liable to pay around 25% of the phone’s cost price to repair the screen, though Honor was generous enough to provide me some discounts.
But even so, I have learned my lesson, if your phone does not have the Gorilla Glass protection, make sure to get a good case and a screen protector.
Now that we have been talking about the display, let’s continue a little more. The Honor 9X has a 6.59-inches IPS LCD screen and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Although I would have preferred an AMOLED screen for the price just like Samsung’s M30s, because the IPS screen on the Honor 9X has good colors and contrast, I’m not complaining.
The best thing about its display is certainly the fact that its void of any notches and you get a clean display experience. The pop-up module up top houses the selfie camera and you can thus have all the screen area for yourself. The bezels all around are minimal too, however, the chin seems slightly more pronounced.
Overall, I have to say that I like the design and display of the 9X. Yes, I broke the phone once, but it was my fault as well. Nonetheless, all is good now! Okay, now, I would like to jump straight to the performance which, disclaimer, I am not a fan of.
While the Redmi Note 8 Pro shines with the Helio G90T, the Honor 9X gives us the Kirin 710F. It’s basically the same as the 710 and that disappoints me.
The Chinese variant, on the other hand, comes with a much powerful Kirin 810, which makes me want to ask – why this compromise on the global variant?
Just check out its GPU benchmarks against the Redmi Note 8 Pro. We can see how nonchalantly it defeats the Kirin 710F.
As for real-life usage, you can play PUBG in medium settings by default, which runs smooth enough to be playable. You can crank it to high settings and play the game in HD as well, but that would subject to a few stutters and lags in the gameplay.
On the upside, normal day-to-day works and multitasking were fine which is because of the spacious 6GB RAM on the phone. Likewise, you get 128GB of base storage with room for more if need be.
While we are on the subject of performance, the Honor 9X ships with EMUI 9, which I think has become slightly refined than it was before. However, I think it’s still not up to the competition considering Samsung, Xiaomi and even Realme have their software refined so beautifully.
And I think EMUI needs a change in looks as well because I think we have been seeing these boxy looking icons for a long time now.
By the way, it still runs on Android 9 Pie. Rumors have it that the phone might get the latest Android 10 update soon but, after that, I am not sure. Similarly, I have recently received the update for December’s security patch.
Now, let’s move on to the cameras. You get a triple camera setup with 48MP primary lens that shoots natively at 12MP, then we have an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens and finally a 2MP depth sensor.
First, I will talk about the portrait images. The 2MP depth sensor I must admit is a hit or a miss. Sometimes, the images look good while at other times, they are just plain bad. The edge detection in both cases takes a serious hit as it does not perform well in hard areas.
Comparing the 9X with the mid-range king, Redmi Note 8 Pro, we can see how the Note 8 Pro consistently beats the 9X. The edge detection is better and even the background blur looks better on the Note 8 Pro.
Okay, now talking about the primary images, the one thing I noticed is that the 9X has slightly toned-down colors in the images. You might not notice this at a glance but putting it side by side with the Note 8 Pro, you can see how its colors look extra punchy in front of the 9X.
Now, colors are totally a matter of personal preference, but I think I prefer the 9X over the Note 8 Pro. The colors on the 9X look very subtle and natural. But detail-wise, I think the Note 8 Pro does a far better job than the 9X.
On the other hand, the dynamic range is more or less similar on both the devices. At a glance, it might look like the Note 8 Pro is better, but it’s just because it has more punchy colors that make it look bright. Otherwise, they’re actually not that different.
Wide-angle images share the same story, both in terms of detail and colors. Herein too, the colors on the Note 8 Pro seem extra punchy and for some reason, with the reds in the images looking more pronounced. Detail-wise, the Note 8 Pro is better, but overall, I think the 9X has a better balance of everything else.
Now, for the night time images, I like the Honor 9X better. It takes a long exposure shot in the night mode and the end result is good. The Note 8 Pro’s night mode is also good but, I think Honor’s algorithm is just… better for low-light photography.
The video-side looks better on the Note 8 Pro, as it can go up to [email protected] whereas the 9x has a limit to [email protected] only. Similarly, the Note 8 Pro has a gyro-EIS in its lenses which makes for a better stabilization as compared to the 9X.
In the selfie department though, I like the Honor 9X more and that’s not because its selfie camera is extremely good. It’s rather because the Note 8 Pro produces this very unnatural looking selfies with a noticeable red tint that makes any selfie camera better than it. The Honor 9X has a slight yellow tint to its images but it looks good, to say the least.
Portrait selfies, however, look very bad on the Honor 9X. It’s partially because of the uneven background blur and poor edge detection. Yes, there are other brands too who don’t have a dedicated depth sensor for selfies, but this implementation is plain bad. The Note 8 Pro, on the other hand, evidently, does a far better job than the 9X.
So overall, I must say my test of the cameras on the Honor 9X has given a good result. Though portrait selfies look horrible and the details from the primary and wide-angle lens aren’t that good, other aspects of the 9X cameras have, to a very good extent, impressed me, especially regarding the “colors” on the images.
Now that we are done with most of the things, let me talk about how the battery on the Honor 9X has fared in my usage. In summary, it is pretty good.
The phone’s got a 4,000 mAh battery and with Honor’s aggressive battery optimization, the phone can go a full day with some juice left at the end of the day on normal usage.
On days that I clicked a lot of pictures with some gaming going on as well, I still got about a day’s use, which I think is satisfactory.
But what’s not satisfactory is the fact that, even though the 710F supports fast charging, the Honor 9X doesn’t. You get a 10Watt charger inside the box and that’s not even the worst apart. The worst part is that, even if you decide to use a fast charger, the phone won’t fast charge which is why it takes around 2.5 hours to get fully charge.
Other aspects like call quality and speakers are good enough. The audio is loud for sure, but as it is with other mid-range phones, its not very good for instrumentals. But, for the price, it’s okay, I guess!
Likewise, the fingerprint sensor at the back is fast and accurate as what we generally get on Honor mid-range phones. For face-unlock, although the motorized pop-up camera is at work, I must say it’s quite fast.
However, you don’t want the pop-up camera to be in action every time you unlock your phone. So, you would want to use the fingerprint sensor instead.
Okay, so what do I make of the Honor 9X? Well, I didn’t quite get the results I expected. Maybe that’s because Honor has used different chipsets in the global and Chinese variants. I think this review would have turned out differently if this 9X used the Kirin 810 too.
But keeping that aside, I think the phone is an average offering in this price range mainly because the competition offers more. I have absolutely no complaints about the design, display or even the cameras of the 9X, but aspects like a better chipset and inclusion of fast charging matters to me, which the company seems to have given a very little thought to.
So, overall, I don’t think the Honor 9X is a bad phone, but there are definitely better options in the market which offer better value than the 9X.
Honor 9X – Pros & Cons
- Good design
- Bezel-less display
- Good color-reproduction
- No Gorilla Glass protection
- Incompetent chipset
- Inconsistent camera performance