A while back, pop-up cameras became immensely popular across all price segments – to the extent that we were convinced that abnormal notches were finally on their way out. But for some reason, the trend wasn’t sufficiently backed by smartphone makers and eventually their popularity ebbed. Anyways, after a brief hiatus, Honor made a comeback with Honor 9X in India – a phone with a pop-up front camera and consequently a notch-free immersive screen. 

The Honor 9X is the lowest you’d need to pay for a notch-less phone and the feature-set includes some eye-cathing specs like 128GB UFS 2.1 storage for the base variant, triple cameras, and a 4000mAh battery. Is this a phone that can stand its ground against the Redmis and Realmes that dominate the segment? We’ll find out in our detailed Honor 9X review. 

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Honor 9X Review: Price and Specifications

Model Honor 9X
Display 6.59-inch Full HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) LCD
Front Camera 16MP (f/2.0) motorized pop-up
Rear Camera 48MP (f/1/8) + 8MP Ultrawide +  2MP depth sensor
Processor Octa-core Kirin 710F SoC
Software Android 9.0 (Pie) based EMUI 9.1
Memory 4/6GB RAM
Storage 128GB, expandable storage up to 512GB
Battery 4000mAh, 10W charging
Price
  • 4+ 128GB: Rs. 13,999
  • 6+128GB: Rs. 16,999

Honor 9X Review: What’s in the box?

  • Handset
  • Charging adapter (10W)
  • USB Cable (Type-C)
  • Pre-installed screen protector
  • Transparent case

Also Read: 10 Best Phones Under Rs. 15,000 To Buy In 2020

Honor 9X Review: Design and Build

There’s a lot to like about the Honor 9X design, but the primary highlight has to be its uninterrupted screen. This helps the 9X stands apart from the dense crowd of similar-looking water-drop notch phones – at least from the front. 

The back and side frame aren’t real glass or metal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it helps Honor keep the weight in check. The back panel of our Black color variant is quite drab and uninspiring, but we did hear about the dandy sapphire blue option that reflects X pattern – if that’s your thing. 

The triple camera module juts out a bit, but the hump should be easy to even out for any case. The one bundled in the box does so. 

The 9X is a veritable big phone, but it’s also slim and light enough for comfortable handling. The phone retains audio jack and has the preferred Type-C charging port. 

As for biometric unlock, the phone has a reliable capacitive fingerprint reader at the back, which we know that many of you find more convenient and reliable. 

So, would we say that the Honor 9X looks and feels better than, say, Redmi Note 8 or Realme X2?  Perhaps, yes. But we’d have liked a few more color options to choose from. The Saphire Blue is too flashy for our subjective taste and the regular Black looks boring.  

Read: Realme XT vs Realme X2 vs Redmi Note 8 Pro Comparison

Honor 9X Review: Display

The Honor 9X has a 6.59-inch LTPS LCD screen with full HD+ resolution. Apart from being sharp and distraction-free, the display manages to be bright enough for occasional outdoor use. 

Colors don’t pop as they do on AMOLED panels, but they are still fine. EMUI software lists a few color adjustments options under display settings that you may use to customize color tones and color temperature. 

Honor 9X also has DRM L1 certificate that’s required to stream HD content. We couldn’t, however, stream HD content on Prime Videos and Netflix on our review unit. 

Honor 9X Review: Performance and Software

In China, Honor 9X is powered by Kirin 810 octa-core chipset. In India and Europe, the 9X employs Kirin 710F. The chipset is getting a little long in the tooth, but yes, the handset can handle day-to-day usage fairly well. The good thing is that even the base model gets 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and that kind of assures us of durable performance in the long run. 

High-end games including PUBG are also playable. The performance, however, isn’t quite as smooth or snappy you’d get from disruptive gaming phones from realme and Xiaomi

As for the software, the Honor 9x runs Android 9-based EMUI 9. The skin is well designed and feature-rich. In our opinion, the interface is cleaner and more appealing than ColorOS and MIUI. 

Read: Realme XT Review: XTream Value

But, here’s the scoop – Huawei is currently caught up in the middle of the US-China trade war and any new Huawei phone can’t license Google services. Which is why the prospect of future Android version update seems bleak. 

Honor 9X Review: Camera

The camera on the Honor 9X counts as an advantage. Sure, quad-cameras and 64MP-sensors are now prominent in this budget, the but 48MP-led triple camera system on the Honor 9X does a great job. 

The phone managed to capture amazing details in shots we clicked outdoors. The camera software is smart and can compensate for motion blur better than most affordable phones do. 

There is no macro camera but close-ups turned out pretty great. 

The AI enhancements aren’t over the top as they once used to be. In tricky indoor shots, AI did tend to sharpen and enhance images without making them look outright artificial. 

The lowlight shots aren’t much to write home about, but that’s an expected shortcoming of affordable and mid-range phones. 

The Wide-angle shooter can do a decent job in proper outdoor lighting, but we doubt you’d be using it very often. 

The portraits turned out so much better than expected. This is something that most affordable phones struggle with.

The motorized pop-up camera can take decent selfies. 

Honor 9X can capture u to 1080p videos and the footage quality is about average. 

Honor 9X Review: Battery

We manage to do quite well with the 4000mAh battery, but the lack of fast charging is a bummer. Realme and OnePlus phones have irreversibly spoilt-us, and it’s really tough to appreciate the meager 10W charging, especially in 2020 when users have myriad 18W+ charging options to choose from. 

Honor 9X Review: Conclusion

Honor 9X debuts in the most competitive price segment and yet strikes as a distinctive offering – in a good way. 

The notch-free screen is quite enticing, the performance is good enough for basic users, there’s ample available storage for the price, and most importantly, the cameras performed surprisingly well. On the downside, there is no fast charging and the uncertainty regarding software updates should be an issue for many. 

Should you buy it? Well, that’s a tough one. If you value the pros and can tolerate the cons, go ahead. 

Pros 

  • Interruption-free display 
  • Elegant design 
  • Decent camera performance

Cons 

  • Uncertainty regarding software updates
  • No face unlock 
  • Hybrid card slot
  • No fast charging

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