After a troubled 2019 thanks to the US government and its bans, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor is back in India. It has started 2020 with the launch of Honor 9X in India with active Google Play services. Priced at Rs 13,999, Honor 9X competes with the likes of Redmi Note 8 Pro, Realme 5 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy M30s. If one were to go by specifications and design, Honor 9X does not come across as a device that stands out, but it does try to impress with gimmicks of a pop-up selfie camera and a tall display.
Honor 9X also comes with triple back cameras instead of Honor 8X’s dual cameras as well as a bigger display and battery. The processor is Kirin 710F, a slightly tweaked version of the older Kirin 710, which has the same specifications. The price starts at Rs 13,999, though the 6GB RAM variant goes up to Rs 16,999, which feels a tad expensive. So, how did it fare in our review in terms of overall performance? We find out:
Honor 9X specifications: 6.59-inch full HD+ display | Android 9 with EMUI 9 | Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 710F processor | 4GB/6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage | 48MP main sensor + 8MP ultra-wide +2MP depth rear camera | 16MP front camera | 4,000mAh battery
Honor 9X price in India: Rs 13,999 for 4GB RAM, Rs 16,999 for 6GB RAM with 128GB storage on both variants
Honor 9X has not given in to the waves and the auras and keeps it simple with a plain glass back design that looks elegant. The glass back cover is curved on both sides, which helps with the grip. Thankfully, the phone isn’t very slippery, though I will recommend a back cover because after all, it’s glass.
The three back cameras are placed neatly in a vertical strip at the top left. There’s a circular fingerprint sensor in the center. The colours are blended well, and though the camera strip juts out a bit, the phone looks like a singular block from the back. The phone retains a 3.5mm headphone jack, which a lot of users will appreciate and it is placed at the bottom alongside a USB Type-C charging port and speaker grille.
The display quality is in line with most smartphones in this price range. The colours look vibrant and I had no issues while using the phone in bright outdoors. One-handed usage was difficult thanks to a tall display, even for someone like me, and I’d like to believe I have fairly large hands.
Coming to the cameras, frankly, I was not disappointed given the photos turned out with good details, especially in places where there was ample light. The colours pop out as well. But in some cases, the over-processing by the AI feature in photos was hard to ignore, which I did not like. There were also times when photos looked washed out without the AI effect, so maybe keep this turned on?
The camera also adds an ultra-wide sensor, which I feel needs a lot of work as the photos lacked details and the colours washed out.
The low-light photos were impressive and managed to keep the details sharp with minimal noise. The night mode does a good job of making the photos more detailed and bright, but photos take forever to process and frankly, it was annoying to hold the phone steady for that long at times.
The selfie camera quickly pops up when needed and I had no issues there. It does keep the details intact, but I’m not sure about the colours as they appear superficial and extra bright. In some photos with the beauty effect tends to make the face slimmer, which again, some users would appreciate.
Daily performance is at par with most budget smartphones out there and I had no issues with regular usage during my review period such as playing games, browsing social media, watching videos, and listening to songs. In fact, I also enjoyed graphics-heavy games like Asphalt 9 without any lag, which is great. But do keep in mind that this is the same Kirin 710 chipset that was used on Honor 8X with a slightly different, ‘710F’ configuration.
Battery won’t disappoint either as I could squeeze worth a little more than a day and a half with moderate usage. However, it takes a long two hours to get fully charged, which is definitely a pain point considering phones like Redmi Note 8 Pro in the price range offer fast charging.
The fingerprint scanner was quick to unlock the phone almost each time I tried. But I feel the sensor size is small for most users and there were times where I had to struggle to find it. The speakers are not the most impressive as I couldn’t get loud, clear volume even at the highest levels.
Overall, Honor 9X does look like a decent smartphone in the price range, but it is difficult to recommend, especially given the older processor, lack of fast charging, and a design that didn’t quite stand out for me. The 6GB RAM is quite expensive at Rs 17,000, which if users are willing to pay should look at options like Redmi Note 8 Pro that offers 64MP quad-cameras, bigger battery and fast charging or Samsung Galaxy M30s. But do keep in mind that there’s the 4GB RAM variant of Honor 9X as well that can be bought for a slightly cheaper Rs 13,999. There’s also the issue of updates, though the company has said it will be upgraded to Android 10.