Honor 9 Review: Our Verdict:
The Honor 9 grants a lot of what the high-end flagship phones do right now, but for a much lower price. There’s no exciting, headline-grabbing feature here, but great design, fantastic performance and lots of nice touches make this an all-around impressive and affordable phone. Let’s dig deep for its features and specs in our in-depth Honor 9 review.
Honor 9 Review: What We Like?
- Attractive design
- Affordable price
- Great performance
Honor 9 Review: What We Don’t?
- One speaker driver
- No optical image stabilization
- Heavy bezel
Highlights Of Honor 9 Review
Before you read the details, we want you to have a glance at the highlights of Honor review:
- Honor 9 offers design standards previously unheard of in the sub-£400 smartphone sector.
- This 5.15in Honor 9 is the best-looking smartphone you can buy for less than £400.
- There’s a choice of either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of storage.
- The one caveat here is that in everyday use, the Honor 9 doesn’t feel quite as slick as the OnePlus 5.
It may be the brand’s latest handset, but the Honor 9 is a simple phone in many ways. It’s much the equivalent of what both Honor and Huawei have been doing for the last few years, and the updates here are minimum – but that doesn’t imply it’s not a great phone.
Honor has gradually but certainly been updating its design, spec and the way everything runs together in its phones over the last several years, and it seems like the Honor 9 is the culmination of that struggle.
There isn’t a great headline feature here. The phone doesn’t eliminate the competition when it comes to picture-taking, it doesn’t have a completely different looking screen like the Galaxy S8 or the Xperia XZ Premium, and it doesn’t have squeezy sides like the HTC U11
Instead, the Honor 9 is a solid device that proposes most of what the flagship competition does, and performs everything just as well, but costs a good bit less.
Honor 9 Review: Key Specs
- Review Price: £369.99
- 5.15-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD screen
- Octa-core HiSilicon 960 CPU
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- Android 7.0 with Emotion UI 5.1
- 20/12MP rear camera with flash
- 8-megapixel front camera
Honor 9 Review: Design:
From the back, the Honor 9 seems different to any other smartphone on the market, and during our time with it, we saw a lot of people getting excited about the way it looks.
Attractive shiny glass design that stands out
The Honor 9 has a glass body with a shiny surface. It’s reflective, but not like a mirror; rather, it diffracts light at numerous angles to form a significant effect that catches the eye immediately.
At a time when many phones struggle to stand out, this is a major selling point.
Fingerprint sensor on the front of the smartphone, below the screen
The front of this phone is much less overwhelming, but there is a fingerprint sensor at the base of the display which serves particularly well. That’s a significant change for the Honor brand, as it usually includes the sensor on the back, but it’s more comfortable to use when it’s below the screen, and we found it convenient to move with a thumb when holding the phone.
Cast into the phone’s body on either surface of the fingerprint sensor are the back and multitasking keys, but you can also switch these off and use swipe movements across the fingerprint sensor for those functions.
We noticed both prospects to work well, though once you’ve gotten used to the swipe gestures, that’s much more joy to play around with than hitting the buttons.
This is an easy-to-hold phone; it’s not a huge device, and it has curved sides on the back that enable it to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. It’s comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge on the rear, as it feels like it’s molded to the shape of your hand.
The Honor 9 arrives in at 147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45mm and only weighs 155g, which implies it’s easy to slip into your pocket and not worry about feeling weighed down by your phone, as you might with a phablet.
The camera sensors on the back of the phone sit flush with the body, so there’s no camera protrusion, which is something various people really dislike on a lot of modern smartphones.
Four color choices available with blue, grey, silver and black on offer
Color options are narrowed to Glacier Grey or Sapphire Blue in the UK, and the latter is the variant we had for this Honor 9 review. We prefer the blue variant, as it’s a bright color without harkening back the primary colors of the Nokia Windows Phones; although you may desire to go for something a little more restrained.
Different markets have other colors available though as there’s also gold and black option available in some locations too.
There’s also a variant of the phone called Robin Egg Blue (you can see it in the gallery above), and this short-lived version of the phone comes with 128GB of internal storage, but it can be challenging to find.
Honor 9 Review: Display:
The Honor 9 has a 5.15-inch screen, very comparable to that of last year’s Samsung Galaxy S7 regarding size. This is one part where Honor again has applied sensibly rather than mind-blowing tech; to get you 90 percent of the fruit for around half the price.
It’s a 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD; rather than an ultra-high resolution OLED. At this dimension, though, you have to attempt to understand the difference in sharpness between 1080p and the 1440p employed by the Galaxy S8 and LG G6. It seems sharp.
This is also an all-around excellent IPS panel, with high viewing angles and perfect contrast. A cheaper LCD phone can often look a bit dim from a corner, or make its image surface recessed below the surface. The Honor 9’s screen image is bright and looks so close to the display surface it might be about to split through the glass.
Colour is on the oversaturated view, similar to the Sony Xperia XZ Premium in this manner, and there’s no way to tone this down. However, tones don’t look flat-out nonsensical, and it’s in-line with how other high-end phones appeared when first turned on. Deep color is on trend.
Like other Honor phones, there’s a color temperature control that allows you tweak how warm the display seems, and an eye relaxation mode that makes it look very orangey to cut down on blue light. The concept is to decrease eyestrain and endeavor to stop late-night Facebook binges ravaging your sleep.
Honor 9 Review: Interface and Reliability
The Honor 9 is running Android 7 Nougat software, with Huawei’s own Emotion UI 5.1 running on top of it. Android Oreo has been validated for the phone – coming in the form of Emotion UI 8 – but the exact release date isn’t definite.
Emotion UI 5.1 is not the most beautiful-looking overlay on Android – the icons seem a little dated, although you can always jump into the Themes app to assay a different look – it grants some beneficial features that a lot of other Android phones don’t come with, and you may get you prefer it to stock Android.
For instance, Honor has incorporated a comprehensive Settings list to give you a lot of choices for customizing your phone. The drop-down on the home screen displays a variety of options, and you can even turn out the ones you don’t want.
There’s Eye Comfort mode, which dims the blue light transmitted by your display for a more comfortable browsing experience. It should serve with eye strain, and having this as an easy-to-reach prospect makes it easy to switch on and off as needed.
Honor still has difficulty with bloatware on its devices though, as there’s a category of apps you may not want on your phone already installed here – there’s TripAdvisor, Booking.com and eBay among others, as well as seven games.
Those games are all from Gameloft, and we didn’t find ourselves seized with the urge to play any of them during our time using the phone. You can delete them, but it’s irritating that such things are taking up much-needed space on your phone.
Honor 9 Review: Performance
Crucially, the Honor 9 software also seems very fast. App loads are fast, I found no strange bugs and the very active fingerprint scanner only scores to the slick sensibility.
In current years I’ve often suggested phones like the Moto G4 because they give a comforting Android experience for a fraction the price of a top-end phone. Phones like the Honor 9 remind you there is still a day-to-day difference between a compelling phone and an OK one.
This phone has the equivalent CPU as the Huawei P10, which is currently around £170 more expensive, in the form of the HiSilicon 960, a high-end octa-core chipset.
It has four Cortex-A73 cores and four Cortex-A53s, where a cheaper phone will conduce to use all Cortex-A53 cores. Those A73s are in a league above: true performance cores with a lot more power.
I would not recommend the HiSilicon 960 is a fit for the best from the Snapdragon series, though. It employs the 8-core Mali-G71 graphics chip, which is not as powerful as the Adreno 540 of the Snapdragon 835. And the Exynos 9985 marked in the UK Samsung Galaxy S8 has the 20-core version of the same graphics chipset.
As the Honor 9 has an ‘ordinary’ resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, the difference doesn’t seem to translate to any obvious real-world deficit, though. Games like Asphalt 8 run extremely well on the phone.
It is perhaps one reason to consider the OnePlus 5, however, if you really like to plan for the future.
The Honor 9 does have a free 4GB RAM, so we can’t see that becoming a day-to-day performance roadblock anytime soon. It’s DDR4 RAM, too.
Honor 9 Review: Camera
The Honor 9’s dual-camera setup on the back is, as the internal components, substantially the identical as the Huawei P10, except without the Leica branding. This implies you get a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and a 12-megapixel RGB sensor and these output in tandem to create crisp shots that also seem good in low light. The idea is that the 20-megapixel sensor takes the detail while the 12-megapixel sensor supplements color information.
What you don’t get are top-level specifications. The aperture is a fairly dim f/2.2, and there’s no optical image stabilization, so color photographs captured in low light aren’t quite as sharp or detailed as they are on the OnePlus 5.
The same goes for outdoor shots, which even in 20-megapixel mode, aren’t as feature packed as they are on the OnePlus 5 nor as color rich. Check out the text on the side of the silver van in the center of the shot above. In the OnePlus shot on the left, it’s blue; in the Honor 9 shot on the right, however, it’s lost all its color entirely.
The phone is capable of shooting up to 4K, but stabilization isn’t particularly smooth and probably not as good as it is on the Google Pixel XL.
Honor 9 Review: Battery Life
The Honor 9 has a 3200mAh non-removable battery using high-density lithium polymer tech. That sounds good when it’s 200mAh more than both the Honor 8 and much higher-res Samsung Galaxy S8.
In use for Honor 9 review, I’ve determined it to offer fair, but not especially notable, longevity. I tend to stream a lot of audio, listening to podcasts and Spotify a good deal most days, and this seems to eat away at the battery more rapidly than some.
Charging is fairly quick, getting you most of a refill within 40 minutes. Nevertheless, it doesn’t use the fastest standard out there; with Honor’s own 9V, 2A solution. As with other components of the Honor 9; charging speed is good, but there’s better out there if you’re happy to spend quite a lot more.
Honor 9 Review: Our Take On:
The Honor 9 officially begins at €449 in Europe, but there are numbers of propositions out there and for £379 or €429 where you can get the 64 GB Honor 9 and an Honor Band 3 fitness tracker together. But, no matter what you spend you will be getting a smartphone carrying pretty high-end specs – substantially the same as those found in Huawei’s other 2017 flagship devices but for a lot less money!