Honor always makes it a point to be the first and last to leave an impression in the smartphone biz every year. So here we are again, ending another calendar year with another offering from the Huawei sub-brand.
The Honor 9X continues to bring flagship-level specs down to mid-rangers and budget-friendly devices. As is the drill today, the company promises a 'picture-esque' experience for users.
This smartphone sports a 6.59-inch display that has thin bezels, save for a chin that's a tad thicker. Even at its brightest setting, it doesn't strain the eyes. Don't look for any notch, punch-hole or teardrop up front - the Honor 9X has a mechanised pop-up selfie camera. It's not new, but it amuses me and I spend time just looking at it going up and down. This, of course, gives you a true full-screen experience - and that pop-up camera is also tough to bring down by force.
There are no virtual buttons below, but it's easy to navigate through the phone. Swiping from the chin upwards will take you to the home screen; in menus, you can either tap the arrow at the upper-left portion or swipe from the left edge rightwards to go back one level. To show recent apps, swipe from the chin upwards and hold to reveal them. There's no app tray; all your apps are at home or to the right.
The two colour options present how funky or simple you want to be: the sapphire blue version comes with a dynamic effect that shows an 'X' when light is reflected on it, while midnight black has a garden-variety glossy surface. The fingerprint scanner is at the back as well, which works fast, just like its biometric buddy, face recognition.
Back to the pop-up camera, it has a 16MP resolution that takes really bright shots, taking advantage of how bright your location is. It has the usual portrait mode that works well too. You get all the doodling options, and I'm particularly enamoured by the mosaic and splash features.
Its big brother packs a punch too, with a triple-lens AI camera and a 48MP sensor taking the lead. Snaps looked good in general - again, the system takes advantage of the lighting around the shot - but switching through lenses may lead to some issues. For example, super-wide-angle pictures tend to have its edges a bit mushy, even if it's the same scene. One plus is that the sensor responds quickly to the subject in focus. Night mode, meanwhile, does its job well, with crisper results to boot.
To maximise the quality of your shots, turn on AI; it'll automatically detect scenes and adjust colours to give out the best snaps.
Battery life is fair. During our standard test, the device lost 14 per cent, which is decent for its tier. You won't have any trouble getting through a day with it, but you're sure to need your cable at night. Charging takes a while: from zero to 100 per cent, it took us two hours and 11 minutes. It doesn't come with a fast charger, but you can make an argument that it could've been faster - at least an hour-and-a-half would've done wonders.
Lastly, the phone runs on Android 9.0 Pie complemented by Huawei's very own EMUI.
The Honor 9X packs another value-for-money offering. The main camera could use a few tweaks but, overall, it shoots well. Props for the true edge-to-edge design. If you're on a budget, give this serious consideration.
Processor: Kirin 710F, octa-core; Mali-G51 MP4
Platform: Android 9.0 Pie, EMUI 9.1
Display: 6.59" Honor FullView IPS LCD, 2340 x 1080, 391ppi
Storage: 128GB, up to 512GB microSD
Main camera: Triple: 48MP wide (f/1.8) + 8MP super-wide (f/2.4) + 2MP depth (f/2.4) Front camera: Pop-up 16MP (f/2.2)
I/O: USB-C, 3.5mm audio
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Biometrics: Fingerprint, face recognition
IP rating: Unlisted
Pros: Solid build, good overall camera, great deal at its price
Cons: Takes a while to charge, super-wide shots get mushy at edges, snaps can be too bright in certain conditions
Author's rating: 4/5