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The notch fever is now gradually shifting from value flagship and flagship smartphones to budget and mid-range handsets. One of the first handset to flaunt a FullView Notch display has been introduced by Honor. Honor 9N can be seen as an alternative to the highly popular Honor 9 Lite. It also shares a very close DNA with the Huawei P20 Lite.
Honor 9N is touted as the most affordable smartphone with a notch screen boasting 18:9 aspect ratio. The smartphone also flaunts a dual-lens camera setup and features an all-glass design that instantly grabs the attention. Honor 9N will sell exclusively on Flipkart.com at a starting price of Rs. 11,999 for the base variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. The 4GB RAM+64GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 13,999, whereas the price of 4GB RAM and 128GB is set at Rs. 17,999.
In addition to a notch display, Honor is also focusing on the selfie camera performance with Honor 9N and has provided a 16MP front-facing camera that can also create a software-driven bokeh effect. We tested the smartphone for over two days and here's what we think of the new Honor 9N.
5.84-inch FullView display with a Notch
Honor 9N is basically the Honor 9 Lite with a notch display. And technically, this is the first handset from Honor to boast a screen with the infamous notch. The smartphone flaunts a 5.84-inch FHD+ FullView display. The notch houses the big 16MP camera sensor and circular earpiece. The screen carries a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels (433 PPI) and an aspect ratio of 19:9. The FullView display with a notch at its top results in a screen-to-body ratio of 79%.
Though it isn't over 90% as seen on some of the premium offerings in the market, it definitely offers ample screen space for multimedia consumption. The smartphone has 2.5D curved glass at both front and rear panel. Honor is betting big on the 9N's screen and I feel the company has done a good job here. The display is bright, colorful and works well for video playback and gaming.
Compact body with glass finish
One of the best things about Honor 9N is its compact form factor. The smartphone perfectly fits in your palm and can be easily used with one-hand. The overall look and feel is quite attractive as Honor has used metal and glass in constructing the handset. Resultant, you get a highly polished glass back that reflects light with the slightest change in orientation. The shiny glass gives the handset a premium look; however, it also makes it slippery and a fingerprint magnet. Honor 9N will be available in three color variants for now- Gray, Blue, and Black. The company also plans to launch two new colors- Lavender Purple and Robin Egg Blue later this year. These two variants look pretty interesting as they bring never before seen color shades on a smartphone.
While the Honor 9N looks premium and stylish, I found that the handset does not come across as robust as Redmi Note 5 Pro and Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1. These two handsets feel more durable than the Honor 9N in everyday usage as they largely use metal for construction. Nevertheless, Honor handsets have never failed our test of durability and we expect the same from the latest 9N handset in the coming days.
Dual rear cameras with impressive features
Honor has successfully established itself as a brand that offers dual-lens camera setups in every price segment. The new Honor 9N also sports a dual-lens camera module at its rear that comprises of a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary sensor. The camera works on a f/2.2 aperture and uses a 5P Lens. The camera comes with PDAF, ‘Snap First, Focus Later' that will let you focus on the subjects after capturing the shot, AR Lens, and Moving Picture mode.
Considering the price-point that Honor is selling the new handset, it comes across as a feature-packed camera device.
Rear Camera Sample Shot in Daylight
Honor 9N takes good shots in ample lighting. The pictures show good detailing and colors also look very punchy on the full HD+ IPS LCD panel. The HDR effect is quite effective and brings out plenty of information in shadow areas, which otherwise would be hard to spot in pictures clicked via standard mode. You also get a variety of filters and modes in the camera app.
16MP Selfie Camera with Beautify mode
As far as selfie camera is concerned, Honor 9N ships with a 16MP sensor that works on 4-in-1 light fusion technology. The technology converts 4 small pixels into 1 large 2.0um pixel to enable better low-light images. The feature works quite well and offers well-lit images in challenging light conditions; however, the beautify algorithms can get really harsh and soften your skin tone. The overall output just looks very artificial. Thankfully you can control the strength by which the beautify mode softens your skin tone. The selfie camera can also apply software driven Portrait Mode, but it also looks very artificial. The smartphone also supports face unlock. We are yet to test how well it performs in the face recognition department.
Hardware and Software
Honor 9N is powered by an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 SoC, coupled with Mali T830-MP2 GPU and 4GB of RAM. This is the same chipset that powered Honor 9i, 9 Lite, and even the P20 Lite.
The combination can handle everyday tasks with an ease and you will not find any performance drops while browsing web pages, clicking pictures, posting images on Instagram, calling, etc. I also played some moderate games and the handset did manage to deliver lag-free gameplay. The Zombie Frontier 3: Sniper FPS worked flawlessly on this budget handset.
As far as software is concerned, Honor 9N runs on EMUI 8.0 based on Android Oreo. EMUI is loaded with customization and useful software tweaks; however, if you are a fan of stock Android, this is not the handset for you. Some useful features in EMUI include-Wi-Fi Bridge that lets you share any Wi-Fi network as a hotspot and connect up to 4 devices to the same. You also get split screen mode for efficient multitasking. Honor has also added Ride Mode to make it easy for two-wheelers to avoid calls while riding a bike. Besides, you also PayTm Pay, which is a one-click payment option for PayTm users.
Battery and Connectivity
The Honor 9 Lite is powered by a 3,000 mAh Li-Polymer battery unit, which supports fast-changing technology. However, Honor 9N ships with the dated micro USB 2.0 charging port. As far as connectivity is concerned, you get a hybrid dual-SIM slot, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with A-GPS. There's no infrared and radio on Honor 9N.
Honor 9N is a well-rounded budget handset and comes loaded with all the latest and trending smartphone features. If you fancy a notch shaped screen and dual-lens camera in sub Rs. 15,000 price-point, the 9N will not disappoint you. As far as its comparison is concerned with the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the latter still seems a better overall package. We will find out more about Honor 9N's performance in our comprehensive review of the handset.