Honor 9X Review
Honor’s successor to the 8X, the Honor 9X, launched in China a few months ago. It’s set to land in the Philippines very soon, coming in with a Kirin 710F chipset, triple-rear cameras, a 4,000mAh battery, and Google services. We spent some time with this device and got a pretty in-depth look into it. Check out our full review below.
Design and Construction
Constructed with a glass body and an aluminum frame in between, the Honor 9X comes in the colors of Sapphire Blue and Midnight Black. The Sapphire Blue variant of the Honor 9X has what Honor calls a “Dynamic X” design, and unfortunately, that design isn’t present in the Midnight Black variant. We get a solid, classic black coating with no bells and whistles. The glass back curves at the edges, allowing users to hold the device comfortably. It’s a dirt, smudge, and fingerprint magnet, so we recommend using a case with it.
At the front, the Honor 9X has a notch-less display, surrounded by thin bezels. We have the device’s pop-up camera mechanism to thank for. As in most cases, the chin is slightly thicker than the rest of the bezels.
The triple cameras sit on the rear, along with an LED flash and a circular fingerprint scanner.
Occupying the right side is the power button and the volume rocker, while the left side of the device is pretty bare with nothing on it.
Sitting up top is the elevating front camera, with a microphone and the hybrid dual SIM tray sitting next to it.
Located at the bottom are the primary microphone, single downward-firing speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, and the USB-C port.
Display and Multimedia
The 9X employs a sizeable 6.59-inch FHD+ display, with a resolution of 2340 x 1080. It has an almost-full screen, with no notches or hole-punch cameras in the way, thanks to the pop-up camera. Streaming movies and videos on this device are incredibly immersive as it has a 91% screen-to-body ratio.
The colors are punchy and vibrant, although we do wish that the blacks were deeper. Under the settings, Honor gives its users an option to switch on a “smart resolution” feature, automatically lowering the screen resolution to save power. Panel brightness isn’t too high, though; we had to set it around 80% to use under direct sunlight.
Audio-wise, the sound isn’t too loud even when the volume’s set around 85%. However, once you slide it up to 100%, there’s a noticeable jump that allows the audio to fill in the room. It comes out distorted; mids and highs are there, but lows are nowhere to be found.
OS, UI, and Apps
For its operating system, the 9X has Android 9 Pie, with the EMUI 9.1.1 skin layered over it. The global version of the 9X does have Google services pre-installed in it, so users need not worry. The Honor Store also comes with it out of the box. Similar to all Honor and Huawei smartphones that have EMUI, the 9X has no drawer-style home screen option. Out of the 128GB storage, about 114GB of it is usable. Storage can be expanded up to 512GB via microSD.
For biometrics, the 9X in our region only employs fingerprint scanning. Despite the size of the smartphone, the placement of the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is easy to reach. The response rate is fast and snappy, as well. Hopefully, a future update will bring in the face unlock feature.
Residing in the pop-up mechanism is the 16MP front camera, while on the rear sits the 48MP, 8MP ultrawide, and 2MP triple cameras. Let’s have a look at them.
The 16MP front camera produces selfies that look pale and washed out. Details are present, but the photos tend to look overexposed. Selfies in portrait mode are also somewhat disappointing, as there’s a noticeable lack of subject-background separation. Honor does options on what kind of bokeh users prefer. Even with a chosen bokeh, parts of the subject end up getting blurred as well.
While the 9X has a 48MP primary camera, the standard photo mode defaults to 12MP. The 48MP camera is only available when shooting in the Pro mode. With the default mode, photos delivered are good enough, although they look washed-out sometimes. Portrait-wise, the subject-background separation is much better than that of the front camera. Ultra-wide shots are slightly terrible; while the colors appear to be more vibrant, there’s a pronounced fish-eye effect to the photos, and the details tend to come across as muddy.
Low-light shots not that good either, as the lights appear overblown, and the details are quite blurry. There’s a dedicated night mode in the camera app, and the images have more vibrant colors to them. However, noise is a little apparent, and the details are still pretty much a blur.
The 9X can shoot videos up to 1080p at 30fps or 60fps. There’s a bit of sharpness in the videos taken, although the colors seem to be muted. As with most cases, we recommend using a tripod or monopod for stabilization.
Performance and Benchmarks
Under the hood, the 9X is armed with a HiSilicon Kirin 710F processor, paired with 6GB RAM. Web and social media browsing, video streaming, navigation, productivity work, and the like aren’t an issue for the 9X. The smartphone did face roadblocks when it came to gaming. We tested out CoD Mobile and found that the game was limited to the lowest graphics setting, and it also felt sluggish during gameplay. For those interested, here are the 9X’s benchmark results:
- AnTuTu v8- 174,703
- Geekbench 5 – 321 (Single-core), 1,311 (Multi-core)
- PCMark – 5,957 (Work 2.0)
- 3DMark – 873 (SSE – OpenGL ES), 937 (SSE-Vulkan)
- AndroBench – 826.89 MB/s (Read), 193.19 MB/s (Write)
Connectivity and Battery Life
The 9X comes with 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and GPS features. It also has a gyroscope sensor, allowing AR apps to run. Sadly, the 9X doesn’t have NFC support. Location-based apps functioned rather accurately, as well.
Packed in the 9X is a 4,000mAh battery. Under PCMark’s battery test, the device yielded 11 hours and 55 minutes. On the other hand, in our video loop test – 50% brightness, 50% volume, airplane mode, 1080p movie – the 9X lasted 13 hours and 46 minutes. As the 9X doesn’t support any method of fast charging, it took us about 2 hours to charge up the device in full.
All in all, the Honor 9X is a decent smartphone. It has a solid build and a classic look to it, an immersive notch-less display, a modest battery life, and a good enough performance. There may be some issues with the images produced by the cameras, and hardcore gamers may also find that gaming on this device isn’t up to par. If you’re someone who’s not really into smartphone photography, or you’re the casual and once-in-a-while gamer who needs a reasonably decent smartphone to get by, you might want to include the Honor 9X in your choices.
The Honor 9X is priced at PHP 12,490 and will be available for purchase by December 7 on Lazada and Honor stores nationwide.
Honor 9X specs:
6.59-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080) IPS LCD, 391ppi
HiSilicon Kirin 710F 2.2GHz octa-core CPU
Mali-G51 MP4 GPU
microSD up to 512GB
48MP F1.8 (main) + 8MP (ultrawide) + 2MP (depth) triple rear cameras
16MP F2.2 pop-up front camera
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Fingerprint scanner (rear-mounted)
3.5mm audio jack
EMUI 9.1.1 (Android 9.0 Pie) w/ GPU Turbo 3.0
163.1 x 77.2 x 8.8 mm
What we liked:
- Immersive notch-less display
- Decent battery life
- Good build and design
- Google services
What we didn’t:
- Sluggish performance during gameplay
- Images produced by the ultra-wide mode
- Washed-out selfies
- No face unlock
- No fast charging support