HONOR 9X review - Stylish and decent-performing smartphone for less than RM1k
The HONOR 9X is the latest offering from Huawei’s youthful sub-brand HONOR in its mid-range X lineup. A sequel to the well-received HONOR 8X which sold well over 15 million units worldwide and became the most successful Honor smartphone to date, the 9X has large shoes to fill in for the mid-range category. With prices starting from RM999, could this be your best midranger you can buy without breaking the bank?
Design - A Flagship-Quality Screen In A Mid-Range Phone?
The Honor 9X features a beautiful design that rivals even the most expensive flagships. The first thing you will see once you unbox the phone is the sleek, notch-less screen that is sadly often absent among higher grade phones. Turn the phone over and you will appreciate the shiny rear panel that is similar to the previous model. Available in Magic Night Black or Phantom Purple colours, the glossy rear panel gives the device a premium feel and one might be mistaken for thinking it as a full-out flagship phone instead of a mid-range model.
Volume rocker and power button to the right
No physical buttons on the left
It has a MicroUSB slot instead of the more modern USB Type-C slot
The glass-centric design surrounding the device might worry you, but the aluminium side frame provides more rigidity to the overall structure. As for the screen, the IPS LCD display may lack the appeal of higher-tier screens in the market such as OLED or AMOLED, but given the price, it still gives out a beautiful display with vibrant colours.
It is also bright enough to be seen under the glaring sun. The 6.59-inch IPS LCD screen has a resolution of 1080 x 2340 with an 84.7% screen-to-body ratio and the slightly larger display should offer a great experience in watching videos and playing video games.
Pop-up camera module to the top left
SIM tray for Nano SIM and MicroSD card
Triple rear camera accompanied by the capacitive fingerprint sensor towards the middle
Pop-up selfie camera in action
The rear design has many features that make this phone a very stylish device, as can be seen from the elegant glass panels surrounding its body. With the properly positioned camera and a fingerprint sensor at the top right of the rear panel, the device appears sleek even without an external casing. Nevertheless, we recommend you to use a casing to prevent unintentional scratches just in case.
Tech Specs and Features - Google Mobile Service included
Firstly, if you’re worried that this phone does not come with Google Mobile Service due to last year’s US ban towards Huawei, fret not as Google products are still included in the HONOR 9X, complete with the Play Store and all. The phone isn’t lacking in the tech specifications either, as this phone presents pretty good performance when it comes to gaming and photography.
It has GMS! Hurray!
The midrange Kirin 710F chipset will comfortably run the latest games at a steady frame rate. The 128GB storage provides ample storage to store a multitude of apps, photos, video recordings as well as video games (which takes even more space with new titles every year). If that’s not enough, a microSD card slot which also shares its place with the dual SIM tray there for you to expand your storage.
The specifications for the HONOR 9X are as follows:
- HiSilicon Kirin 710F chipset
- 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM
- 6.59-inch IPS LCD display with 1080 x 2340 resolution
- 48MP f/1.8 (wide lens) + 8MP f/2.4 (ultra-wide lens) + 2MP f/2.4 (depth sensor)
- Front-facing pop-up 16MP f/2.2
- 3.5mm headphone Jack, capacitive fingerprint sensor in the rear
- Android Pie 9-based EMUI 9.1
- measures 163.1 x 77.2 x 8.8 mm | 206g
- 4000 mAh with support for 10W charging
Moving to the camera, the phone is equipped with not one, but three main cameras consisting of a 48MP f/1.8 wide lens, 8MP f/2.4 ultrawide lens and 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor. For you selfie aficionados out there, the 16MP f/2.2 pop-up front-facing camera will help bring your selfie game to the next level as the added AI technology will help in getting the best photographs and videos.
Performance - A generally good-performing daily driver, perfect for most tasks
PUBG Mobile defaults it on medium visual quality settings
Gameplay was just fine though
The HONOR 9X managed to score 184545 on AnTuTu which is about what you'd expect for a midranger, and should be more than enough for general use. Gaming sessions were largely smooth with the default settings. The default configuration for PUBG Mobile set it on medium.
We also tried cranking the settings up to HD graphics and fast frame rate. Surprisingly, the game could still be played albeit with a bit of lag. A half-hour continuous gaming session can heat the phone up even with low graphical settings. Fortunately, it can quickly return to normal temperature if you let the phone cool without any usage.
Wi-Fi, cellular data and telephone calls to all networks worked perfectly without a hitch. Scrolling through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is a smooth experience, as normal usage such as that is what the phone is designed for.
The 4,000-mAh battery may not have a fast charger but on normal usage, the phone will comfortably last a day. Even with a cellular connection, GPS signal, using Waze for more than two hours, some light gaming sessions, multiple calls, browsing social media and taking some pictures, the phone had some juice left at the end of the day.
Without continuous app usage, you can stretch the battery life up to two days (five hours daily of screen time on average with Wi-Fi enabled). Hence even without fast charging, the device can get you through your day as long as you keep it within regular usage.
Even though its gaming performance might be average, the same can’t be said in the photography department as its picture quality is on par with that of flagship phones. Even in low light conditions, the photos still came out great thanks to its excellent night mode. A friendly reminder will pop up in your interface when you press the digital shutter button to remind you to stay as still as possible for a clear image.
As with its predecessors, HONOR 9X’s camera also comes with professional features such as ISO adjustment, shutter speed and exposure compensation. Other features such as HDR, moving picture, filters and panoramic mode complement the already great camera. You can ignite your creativity with the light painting feature, but it’s quite confusing.
Selfie in low-light situation
The beauty mode will be helpful in beautifying your face. It even has a slider to adjust how much beautification you need. And of course, the depth sensor means you can adjust the camera’s aperture, giving a nice depth of field effect to separate the subject and the background.
Video mode also features slow-motion recordings, up to 4x slower (120 fps) and 16x slower (480 fps). The detection of moving subjects works great under bright sunlight, but it’s pretty slow if no bright light is present. The wide lens of the main camera can be used for the timelapse feature, but not slow-mo.
Conclusion - an affordable device with well-balanced performance
Overall, the helpful photography features and presence of Google services make this phone a worthy purchase if you are looking for a straightforward device that can get you through your day. The better cameras would make it better for the budding photographer while the large full view display is also great for movie streamers as well.
If you are looking for another option at this range, the Huawei Y9s is a worthy contender as it is also powered by the same Kirin 710 chipset that powers the HONOR 9X. There is virtually no difference between the two phones and the price is similar too. This is clearly not a flagship model but if you are in the market for a casual mid-tier phone, you are in the right place.
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