When it was launched earlier this year, the Honor 9 Lite redefined expectations from a mid-range smartphone. It was the first smartphone from Huawei’s sub-brand to sell over 1 million units in India. Even though the Honor 9 Lite is still going strong, the company now wants to shift its focus to the Honor 9N that aims to provide much of what the original device did right.
So the company has not changed the phone’s design or internals, rather it has added a notched screen and made the Honor 9N available in vibrant shades of Lavender Purple, Midnight Black, Robin Egg Blue and Sapphire Blue. Can Honor sell a phone with a focus on color and craftsmanship? Let’s find out in our detailed review of Honor 9N.
Honor 9N has an attention-grabbing design which we rarely see in a mid-range smartphone. Taking cues from the Honor 9 Lite, the Honor 9N touts a reflective glass back, giving it a mirror-like finish. For a change, the Honor 9N is available in a dash of colour options: Lavender Purple, Midnight Black, Robin Egg Blue, and Sapphire Blue. Honor says blue and black colour options are currently available, while the other two are coming at a later date. The decision to launch the device in multiple colour options has been made to target the younger consumer market.
Our review unit came in Sapphire Blue and it looks pretty eye-catching. Sure, the design is appealing but the glossy back is prone to attract smudges and fingerprints. Thankfully, the company has provided a plastic case inside the box.
Smartphones these days come with a fingerprint sensor and the Honor 9N is no different. The fingerprint sensor on the Honor 9N is located on the back, which lets you quickly unlock the phone in mere seconds. Plus, the phone also comes with a facial recognition feature which in my opinion is fast and reliable.
Overall, I liked the design language of Honor 9N. The handset is easy to hold and the phone won’t slip out of the hand. The thin bezels around the display mean the phone is not going to get outdated anytime soon. The build quality of the phone is its highlight.
The 5.84-inch 19:9 FHD+ (2280×1080) IPS LCD display is bright, colourful and it is pretty crisp. The screen fills the entire front, although you will notice a chin at the bottom. This is the year of the “notch” and the Honor 9N jumps on a trend. A small cut-out on the screen contains a selfie camera, earpiece speaker, and sensor.
Honor 9N is powered by an octa-core Kirin 659 chipset coupled with either 3GB or 4GB RAM depending on which model you choose. Our review unit came in 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal memory.
The phone is fast enough in switching between apps. I ran a number of applications on the Honor 9N such as Facebook, Twitter, Saavn, and Messenger. There was no lag or dip in performance. It is a smooth device, at least, based on my week-long observation.
Gaming is something I would like to highlight. The version I tested was able to handle Tekken fairly easily and I did not encounter an issue of overheating, a common case in most budget offerings.
The 3,000mAh battery life is decent, if not the best in class. Our review unit lasted a day on a single charge. But I don’t expect the battery to be able to squeeze out more.
Honor 9N runs on a customised version of Android, dubbed EMUI 8.0, based on Android 8.0 Oreo. This is the same version as running on every Huawei or Honor-branded smartphone. I am sure most of our readers are familiar with EMUI and in case you are not, Huawei’s customised interface acts as iOS — since it lacks Android’s app drawer. I still believe a lot needs to be done to make EMUI intuitive which sadly is not the case.
The camera on the Honor 9N is a mixed bag. On the back, you have two snappers, 13MP primary one, and 2MP secondary camera. One camera captures image details, while the other measures depth of field information, producing images with “bokeh effects”.
The cameras are capable of taking good shots, but mostly outdoors. Low light isn’t that great, but it isn’t terrible either. I wish the camera could have been better. The 16MP selfie camera is good, but struggled to produce natural shots in indoor locations.
Honor 9N is a good smartphone and most people who are planning to buy one will not regret their decision. As a reviewer, I observed that Honor has cut the corners to make the Honor 9N beat the competition. Honor 9N will go on sale for the first time in India for a starting price of Rs 11,999 for the base version (3GB RAM + 32GB) and it goes up to Rs 17,999 for the model with 4GB RAM and 128GB model. A model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage will also be available in the market. That model is priced at Rs 13,999. Honor 9N is exclusive to Flipkart.