Honor 9X: Honest Review!

Even with all the tension surrounding the US ban on Huawei, its sub-brand Honor has managed to launch a new mid-range smartphone with full Google services support at a competitive price tag. The phone is none other than the Honor 9X’s global variant which is the sequel to the bestselling Honor 8X – a mid-ranger that shipped in more than 15 million units worldwide to date.

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Honor 9X Review

Here’s an honest review of the Honor 9x after using it for two weeks to help you decide if it’s worth an upgrade over the Honor 8X or not.

Specs Summary: Honor 9X

  • Body: Front and rear glass, aluminum frame, 206g.
  • Display: 6.59″ LTPS IPS LCD, 1,080 x 2,340px, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 391ppi.
  • Rear camera: Primary – 48MP, 27mm, f/1.8; PDAF; Ultrawide – 8MP, 13mm, f/2.4; Depth sensor – 2MP. Video recording up to 1080p@60fps.
  • Front camera: Motorized pop-up with 16MP, f/2.2; fixed focus lens.
  • OS/Software: Android 9 Pie, EMUI 9.1.
  • Chipset: Kirin 710F: octa-core CPU (4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53); Mali-G51 MP4 GPU.
  • Memory: 6GB of RAM; 128GB storage; microSD card slot (hybrid).
  • Battery: 4,000mAh, 10W charging
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0; USB-C, 3.5mm jack.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted).

Price and Availability:

The only variant available in the Nepalese market officially as of now is the 6GB RAM/128GB storage variant with a single-color option i.e. Sapphire Blue and is priced at Rs.29990.

Honor 9X: Design and Display

Honor 9X Back Design

Let us start with what attracts the consumers to this device the most i.e. its no notch display which is a rarity even among flagship smartphones. Similar to Honor 8X, this handset enjoys glass panels on the back with metallic framing on the sides. Though the company has not officially stated it I think we can safely assume that the glass panels are Corning Gorilla as Huawei has been known for using it on its smartphones. The back has curved edges making it more comfortable on the hand along with the always-on blazing-fast physical fingerprint scanner with various system gestures support. We can notice a holographic X on the glossy back panel symbolizing for its name Honor 9X. Sadly, you will need to use a back cover anyway as the back-glass panel is a huge fingerprint magnet. The front is all about the notch-less display with a slightly larger chin.

Honor 9X Display

The 6.59″ IPS LCD screen with rounded corners is of 1080p resolution – 2,340 x 1080 pixels – making for a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 391ppi density. After comparing with various other phones that we had, we found Honor 9X’s maximum and minimum brightness, color accuracy, and contrast ratio to be pretty good for its price tag. In summary, we were neither disappointed nor amazed. Talking about its sides – the pop-up selfie, the second mic, and the hybrid dual-SIM tray are on top; the volume and power keys are on the right; and the bottom has the USB-C port, the audio jack, the mouthpiece, and the loudspeaker. With a mere thickness of 8.8mm, the phone weighs 206 grams.

Overall, it was a pleasure to handle the 9X personally and also show off its design and screen in the public as well. 

Honor 9X: Software and Performance

The Honor 9X runs on EMUI 9.1, which is based on Android 9 Pie. It has all the default Huawei and Google Apps preinstalled. The fingerprint unlock is super-fast but there’s no Face unlock on this phone. I don’t think it is a downside as security-wise Face Unlock for phones of this price segment is not recommended. The single downward-firing loudspeaker has decent audio output and lacks in the highs and lows a little. As always, I recommend you to make use of the headphone jack for your content.

Also Read: Honor Mobiles Price in Nepal

The phone is powered by Hi-Silicon Kirin 710F Octa-Core 12nm Processor with Mali-G51 MP4 GPU and comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage. The phone has an expandable memory of up to 512GB with micro SD. Thus, there has been no upgrade in the processor department from the Honor 8X of last year and even our benchmark results weren’t that impressive. We were able to run PUBG mobile at HD graphics and high fps without any lag or frame drops. Sadly, Call of Duty only ran on LOW graphics and medium frame rate.

I think the game isn’t optimized for this particular device because we were expecting it to run COD at medium graphics at least. The fun and immersive part here is actually being able to play the game and view videos and movies without any notch hindrance. Overall, I can’t possibly recommend this phone to gamers out there. Gaming aside, the phone’s UI is very smooth, intuitive and supports more than enough multitasking. The good news here is that the phone doesn’t heat or throttle at all even with long gaming sessions with Performance mode turned on in the battery settings.

Honor 9X: Camera

The Honor 9X has a triple camera setup on its back and a 16MP f/2.2 pop-up selfie camera.  On the back, the primary is a 48MP PDAF f/1.8 sensor, joined by an 8MP fixed-focus, f/2.4 ultra-wide, and a 2MP, fixed-focus, f/2.4 depth sensor. There is also a single LED flash.

The pictures taken from the 48MP sensor is pixel binned to a traditional 12MP image with less noise. In the daytime, the 12MP photos have mediocre contrast, dynamic range with noticeable over-sharpening but accurate white balance and colors. The same pictures have pumped-up contrast and boosted colors when AI mode is turned on. There is also the option to shoot in 48MP which shows more details when zoomed in. The 8MP ultrawide shots in daytime give that new perspective to the pictures but the detail, contrast and dynamic range are average at best. The distortion correction is done automatically by the smartphone.

In low-light, the photos from the main and the ultrawide sensor aren’t that presentable even with post-edits. The night mode helps a little in lowering noise levels, maintaining accurate colors and bringing out highlights but the resolved detail is pretty low. Also, there’s no support of night mode for the wide sensor.

 The 2MP depth sensor captures scene depth information resulting in good portraits in proper lighting conditions. There’s also the option to play with the type of background blur and lighting along with beautification support. Aperture mode lets us manually adjust the amount of background blur while clicking portraits of anything. 

The pop-up selfie seemed a little slow to me but it won’t make much of a difference actually. In plenty of light, the selfies come out very detailed with accurate colors and as always, I prefer not to beautify myself but there’s an option if you want to.  Selfie portraits don’t have that good edge detection and blur. It’s more of a hit or miss.

The max video resolution supported by both the sensors is 1080p but the ultra-wide supports up to 30fps only. There’s also no electronic or any kind of stabilization on either camera. At 60fps, the footage has some motion blur but at 30fps, the footage is quite nice with lively colors, decent dynamic range but average detail. The footage from the ultra-wide is not good at all with very little detail, bad dynamic range and off colors.

We can shoot slow-motion videos only at 720p and 120 or 480 fps. The videos are slow as their name suggests but the quality is not acceptable at least for me. There are also options like Panorama, Moving Picture, and Time-lapse. I highly suggest you use the Pro mode in smartphones. Here, it helps you adjust your shutter speed, white balance, ISO, Focus and balance the exposure value (EV) manually. You can also see how these values change automatically by the smartphone software when clicking pictures in various lighting conditions and environments.

Battery:

The Honor 9X is juiced up by a decent 4,000 mAh battery. It supports 10W non-fast charging, and the provided 5V/2A adapter refills about 30% of its depleted battery in half an hour, which is not that impressive. However, the battery life is pretty good as it lasted around 13 hours 11 minutes in our standard video loop test with half brightness, airplane mode and earphones plugged in.

Conclusion: Should you Buy Honor 9X?

Finally, I can frankly say that there are better alternatives for this phone out there in the market right now in terms of performance and camera but this phone definitely deserves some points for its bezel-less display, beautiful design, decent camera, and impressive battery life. So, would you guys give this phone a try?

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