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Honor 9X Review: Display, Camera, Benchmark Performance
Honor is quite popular in India, thanks to its pocket-friendly smartphones that offer good cameras and other features. The company's Honor 9 series has created ripples in the market owing to its lower price tag and fully-loaded internals. Recently, this series was expanded with the launch of the Honor 9X.
- Big display with FHD+ resolution
- Pop-up selfie camera under Rs. 15,000
- Decent battery backup
- Dated Software
- Smudge Magnet
- Not super comfy for single hand usage
It comes as the first handset in the Honor 9 series to be equipped with a pop-up selfie camera module. The device is launched starting at Rs. 13,999 and competes against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy M30s, Realme XT, and the Redmi Note 8 Pro. We have seen the performance of the aforementioned devices in the past and it wouldn't be wrong to say, they are amongst the top contenders. This might get you thinking if the Honor 9X stands a chance against them. Let's find out:
Honor 9X Review: Design And Display
The Honor 9X is also made out of plastic like the majority of the handsets nowadays. The rear panel is shimmering and as we mentioned in our initial impressions it is prone to fingerprints and smudges. But, the ‘X' pattern appearing when light falls on it, is something that will grab your attention.
Also, the rear surface is a bit slippery, so using it without a case could be a bit risky. Do note that, the company doesn't ship any case inside the retail box so you will have to shell out some extra bucks.
The rear panel accommodates three cameras aligned vertically on the top-left followed by an LED flash. The only other thing you will find on the rear panel beside the circular fingerprint scanner is the Honor logo at the bottom.
Speaking of the keys and ports' placement, the right edge accommodates the volume rockers and the power key, while the left edge is barren. On the top, it has a pop-up camera module and a hybrid SIM card tray. At the bottom, the USB Type-C port is tucked between the 3.5mm headphone port and the speaker grille.
Speaking of the overall form factor, the Honor 9X offers a big built which limits one hand usage to some extent. While I was able to perform basic tasks like answering/making calls and texting, reaching the corners was a task. The design no doubt looks good, but a smudge-proof design and easy one-hand operability would have done the trick.
Coming to the display department, the handset is equipped with a 6.59-inch LCD display that offers an FHD+ resolution. Thanks to the pop-up camera, the company has been able to ditch the notch design for a FullView experience.
The bezels are narrow on three sides, but the chin is slightly thick. But, that can be overlooked, considering; you are getting a wider area without disruptions for media. Also, the Honor 9X is one of those few smartphones that is equipped with a motorized selfie camera under Rs. 15,000. Consider this as a positive aspect of the design.
The tall form factor and high-resolution support make it apt for media consumption. You won't be disappointed if you are a binge-watcher or occasionally play movies and shows on your mobile. The output is crisp and colorful; no complaints as such.
It has good viewing angles and optimum sunlight visibility. But, under direct sunlight, it isn't too great. The display comes with Eye comfort mode and you can also tweak the display color and temperatures from the Settings menu. I personally found the Vivid mode suitable for media consumption.
Honor 9X Review: Hardware And Battery Performance
Under the hood, the handset packs the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710 processor. This is an in-house mid-range chipset which the company has also used on the Honor 8X. You can select from 4GB/6GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration.
Notably, the device has a hybrid SIM card slot which will limit the device from using two SIM cards and a microSD card simultaneously.
This could be a bummer for some. For an enhanced gaming experience, it has GPU Turbo 3.0.
Speaking of which, the Honor 9X's performance with high-end games is decent. You won't find it aggressive though.
While the processor does a fine job of rendering games like PUBG in medium settings, upgrading it can result in frame drops. But, there are no noticeable lags while multitasking and switching apps. Also, apps launch instantly without any specific delays.
Its 4,000 mAh battery gives a long backup which is one of the positive factors of this handset. The Honor 9X can last well over a day if you are using it moderately with tasks like web surfing, occasional media playback, and gaming. The backup subsequently increases or decreases depending on how you use it.
But, you will only need to plug in the device more than once if you are playing graphic-hungry games intensively or streaming high-resolution videos continuously. Its 10W charger feels sluggish and refuels the handset in approximately two hours. We would have appreciated if the company bundled a faster charger.
Honor 9X Review: Software And Benchmark Performance
The Honor 9X is launched with an Android Pie-based EMUI 9.1 user interface. While this UI has no specific issues, it would have made more sense for the company to launch the handset with the new Android 10 OS.
The UI is similar to what we have seen on the previous-gen Honor smartphones. While it isn't as cluttered as the one you see on Oppo smartphones, it does have some pre-installed bloatware. But, you can uninstall the third-party apps manually to make the UI look cleaner.
In terms of benchmark scores, the handset has scored 5551 points in PCMark benchmark test and 654 points in the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme test. It has logged 319 points in the single-core and 1314 points in the multi-core tests on Geekbench.
Honor 9X Review: Triple-Cameras Do A Fine Job
The Honor 9X's AI triple-rear cameras pack a 48MP primary sensor with an f/1.8 aperture. This sensor has been used by the company on some of its premium devices like the Honor View 20 as well. Remaining cameras comprise an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor with 120-degree FoV and a 2MP sensor for depth mapping.
The imaging quality is good when you click images in broad daylight or in the areas that have ample lighting. Do note that the primary camera uses pixel-binning technology and clicks 12MP shots by default. The images have less noise in this setting and sufficient clarity.
If you shoot images using a 48MP sensor, you will notice some noise in the background. Images in the low-light conditions can be enhanced using low-light shots.
But, don't expect anything super amazing. The images in low-light scenarios appear grainy and some images appear dull. We would recommend using the Night mode if you are capturing photos in low-light scenarios for better output.
The motorized-camera upfront houses a 16MP selfie snapper backed with AI. The camera comes with fall detection that automatically retracts it upon detecting a fall.
This function works fine and saves the camera module from accidental damage. As for its performance, you will be satisfied with the daylight images. Besides, it helps you click software-based bokeh shots as well. The output is sufficient for social media uploads.
The Honor 9X is a decent smartphone that you can buy under Rs. 15,000. But, don't expect it to give a top-of-the-line performance. It's a capable mid-range handset that can take care of your day-to-tasks with ease. While you will like the tall display that delivers crisp and punchy output, its big and slippery design is something you will have to workaround.
At a starting price tag of Rs. 13,999, the Honor 9X is a fine deal. But, in my opinion, you can also consider the recently launched Poco X2 which is available starting at Rs. 15,999. This extra investment will help you get better cameras and other features that make sense in the longer run.