The most powerful variant and also the only one in the new quartet of X-series phones with 5G connectivity launched by HONOR, the HONOR X9 5G is a budget phone that sits on the cusp of midrange territory with its RM1,299 price tag but the question remains – is it worth the money? Here’s our HONOR X9 5G review where we find out if it’s worth your dough.
HONOR X9 5G Review – Build and Design
The HONOR X9 5G comes in a 4G LTE only variant and a 5G capable version. Our HONOR X9 5G review sample is the latter and comes in a metallic silver shade that they’ve dubbed as Titanium Silver though the phone is also available in a shade of Midnight Black and Ocean Blue.
The most immediately striking aspect of the phone is its metallic Titanium Silver finish that runs all across the backplate which is primarily made of polycarbonate though they’ve done a decent job in aesthetically mimicking the appearance of aluminium. The finish itself repels fingerprints nicely and looks surprisingly fetching especially when viewed under sunlight where you can catch subtle striations of light playing across the backplate.
Bar the subtle HONOR monogram at the bottom quadrant of the phone, the most distinctive aspect of the phone is its rounded ‘Matrix AI Vision Camera’ camera housing that resembles a front-loading washing machine in a somewhat abstract fashion.
The camera housing features a 48MP primary camera, a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro camera in each corner with a single LED flash in the lower right quadrant of the housing to round things off.
On the base of the phone is a dual SIM card slot, a USB-C port for charging the phone and a grille for the mono speaker while the top and left sides of the phone are essentially unadorned.
The right side of the phone features a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader along with a volume rocker.
Up front, the large 6.81-inch FullView display has a tiny circular punch hole up top for a front-facing single 16MP fixed focus camera and impressively thin bezels all around that lend it a higher than normal 94% screen-to-body ratio. As a nice bonus, HONOR has also pre-applied a screen protector to the phone which saves a few bucks.
Belying the fact that it’s mostly made of polycarbonate, our HONOR X9 5G review sample has a surprising amount of heft to it in the manner of a more premium phone. It also has fairly good build quality without any creaking when holding it though the only giveaway is when you grasp its volume rocker which does feel somewhat plasticky.
To add a bit of extra value to the phone, HONOR has thrown in quite a few extra goodies in the box. On top of the free screen protector, they’ve tossed in a free soft TPU casing, a 66W fast charger and the USB-C cable to go with it too.
HONOR X9 5G Review – Performance and Benchmarks
The HONOR X9 5G is intended as a midrange phone that aims to offer a fair balance of performance and features with some concessions for cost efficiency. Here’s the official specifications for the HONOR 9X 5G in detail –
|Display||6.81-inch FullView display, 2,388 x 1080 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling, 94% screen-to-body ratio|
|OS||Android 11 w/ Magic UI 4.2|
|Memory||8GB RAM + 2 GB vRAM /128GB|
|Camera||48MP F/1.8 + 2MP F/2.4 macro + 2MP F/2.4 depth sensor [rear] / 16MP F/2.4 [front[|
|Battery||4,800mAh 66W HONOR 66W SuperCharge|
|Size/Weight||166.07 x 75.78 x 8.05mm / 189g|
Fortunately, HONOR hasn’t skimped on the display and the primary 6.81-inch FullView display features FHD+ (2,388 x 1080 pixels) resolution with a fast 120Hz refresh rate for smoother animations and a 240Hz touch
sampling rate for enhanced responsiveness when gaming.
HONOR didn’t officially state if the screen is colour calibrated but this typically isn’t the case at this price range. If the existing colours don’t quite appeal, you can go into the settings and change colour temperature and alter the refresh rate from the default Dynamic to a fixed 120Hz or down to 60Hz to save battery life.
Under the hood, the phone runs Android 11 overlaid with their Magic UI 4.2 user interface on a Snapdragon 695 processor paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage. The SD695 SoC is of recent vintage that was launched last year and is built on an efficient 6nm process. Of note here is that the phone has unfettered access to the Google Play store which means that the full panoply of Android apps is available for download and use.
In keeping with recent developments in firmware and hardware, our HONOR X9 5G review sample also features the ability to use 2GB of virtual RAM by allocating space off its 128GB of onboard storage to augment the existing 8GB of physical RAM. This 2GB vRAM can’t be disabled or reallocated to have more or less virtual RAM and is allocated automatically without the need for user intervention.
Unfortunately, the HONOR X9 5G lacks a microSD card tray which means that you’ll have to make do with the existing 128GB of storage and make do with regular house cleaning to avoid running out of space. Keeping it powered is a modest 4,800mAh battery which features impressively swift 66W fast charging support when used in tandem with the provided charger.
This set of hardware and its RM1,299 price point put it midway at the cusp of being one of the cheaper midrange phones in the market and a somewhat pricier entry-level phone though it does have a huge battery with fast charging, full Google Play support and a large 120Hz display belying its price tag working in its favour.
When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, our HONOR 9X 5G review sample yielded the following:
|3D Mark Wild Life||1,206|
|3D Mark Wild Life Unlimited||1,198|
|3D Mark Wild Life Extreme||360|
|3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Ultd||351|
|Geekbench 5 Single Core Score||678|
|Geekbench 5 Multi Core Score||1,943|
|Geekbench 5 OpenCL||1,362|
|Geekbench 5 Vulkan||1,253|
|PCMark Work 3.0||10,317|
|PCMark Battery Life||11 hours 55 minutes|
Overall benchmarks for our HONOR 9X 5G review sample are fair for what you pay for and the surfeit of 8GB RAM and 2GB of vRAM enable it to be relatively snappy when swapping between apps and multitasking. It was able to handle gaming to a decent degree with Call of Duty Mobile and Genshin Impact on low settings and web browsing as well as general handling of apps was a relatively smooth experience.
Overall performance for its FullView display was pleasantly vibrant and crisp with its large size and good colour rendition lending it an advantage to competing phones. Screen brightness was good with fair clarity under direct sunlight and its large size and 120Hz refresh rate made it a decent choice for watching movies and gaming.
The sole speaker at the base is unremarkable at best with modest volume and a lack of sound staging. If you aim for a private listening session, you’ll need to use a wireless pair of headphones as the phone lacks a 3.5mm audio jack.
In terms of endurance, our HONOR x9 5G with 70% screen brightness managed a full day worth of usage with data or WiFi on, a few minutes worth of phone calls and liberal use of social media with moderate camera use while in PCMark it yielded a surprisingly good 11 hours and 55 minutes at dynamic brightness settings.
It’s on par with most phones with an equivalent battery size but it does have an ace up its sleeve with its 66W fast charging which was able to charge the phone from zero to full in about an hour and got to 80% in 30 minutes.
HONOR X9 5G Review – Cameras
On the imaging front, the phone has a rear triple camera array built around a primary 48MP F/1.8 camera with autofocus but no optical image stabilisation hardware that is capable of up to 8X digital zoom by cropping the sensor. While the phone lacks an ultra wide angle camera, it does have a 2MP macro camera for close-up shots and a 2MP depth sensor.
The front 16MP fixed focus camera is also capable of a Dual View mode to capture videos from both the front and the rear simultaneously. Both front and rear cameras benefit from an AI Photography mode to capture better stills and both camera arrays are capable of capturing up to 1080P@30fps video.
For most common photography subjects like group shots, food shots, scenery, cat photos and the like under brightly lit daylight conditions and indoors, it’s capable of shots with good colour accuracy and detail. If you ensure good lighting conditions, it’s capable of surprisingly good snaps at 8x digital like this external shot of the KLCC tower bridge.
Unfortunately, dimly lit shots are underwhelming at best with noticeable softness and it struggles with dynamic range with swaths of smooshed colour. Unfortunately there’s no Night mode to tackle oversight. The provided Macro mode is also highly situational at best and has trouble focusing on subjects even if you’re literally at point blank range. Captured videos aren’t exactly the best we’ve seen and you’ll need good lighting as well as a tripod or a very steady hand to eke out some usable video.
If you keep your expectations modest and you’re fairly patient, the HONOR X9 5G is capable of capturing some decent shots off its main rear 48MP camera.
Should you buy the HONOR X9 5G?
The HONOR X9 5G is a fair performer for what you pay for and will accomplish the tasks expected of a workhorse smartphone – making calls, web browsing, social media and the like for the better part of a day without too much trouble. A large display and good battery life blended with modest performance make it well worth a look for those seeking a bargain.
HONOR X9 5G review sample courtesy of HONOR Malaysia. For more details and to purchase please visit https://www.hihonor.com/my/phones/honor-x9-5g/buy/
HONOR X9 5G
HONOR X9 5G
The HONOR X9 5G is a fair performer for what you pay for, offering a large display and good battery life blended with modest performance. The provision of a free 66W charger and casing add a modest amount of value to its proposition. Worth a look for those seeking a bargain.
Offers 5G at modest price point
Crisp and vibrant display
Fair blend of performance for price
No microSD card slot to expand storage
No 3.5mm audio jack