Honor smartphones are really popular in Malaysia not only for its affordability, but their overall performance versus the price. This is evident with the Honor 8X, which is the 9X’s predecessor and was also such as great sell out when it was launched around the same time last year (2018). The Honor 9X created its own buzz as well, which points to the fact that for RM999, you will get incentives like a pop-up selfie camera (which effectively eliminated a notch or punch hole camera), three rear cameras and Google Play Store access for Google apps (more on this below).
Despite the US-China trade war drama, the Honor 9X was probably one of the last phones from Honor to make it out of production before the entire issue was a full-blown thing. This means that it will still have access to Play Store and can run Google apps, which many loyal users have been quite worried about. To that end, the Honor 9X is still relevant to Malaysians and fans who are still using Google apps for their day-to-day functions.
By incorporating a pop-up selfie camera, the Honor 9X does not need to have a notch or punch hole camera, thus freeing up the 6.5-inch screen up to 91% in terms of screen-to-body ratio. That’s quite a lot of screen for a mid-ranger. The resolution is 2340 X 1080 pixels, so the LCD display provides enough details for texts, photos and day-to-day videos.
For those who are worried if the pop-up mechanism is fragile, well, Honor demonstrated to us how much weight the mechanism could actually withstand, so you need not worry about it being easily damaged. Moreover, if a fall is detected, the Honor 9X instantly deactivates and hides the pop-up camera. The downside to incorporating the pop-up camera makes the Honor 9X a tad chunky at 8.8mm thickness.
The rear features a curved panel, which is quite comfortable to the grip. However, unlike premium smartphones, it is not made of glass and does not have NFC. The fingerprint sensor is located at a comfortable position that is reachable with your index finger. The three cameras sit in a line on the top left, which is pretty much the standard layout of many Android smartphones concurrently. The rear is simplistic with minimal branding, which really give off a premium look and feel.
For audio, there’s only one mono speaker located at the bottom and can be muffled depending on your grip. The audio quality isn’t anything to shout about being tiny and lacking of precision. But thankfully, the Honor 9X has a 3.5mm headphone jack to make listening a more enjoyable experience. An additional note to take is that the Honor 9X charges and transfers data via a USB-C port at the bottom of the phone.
Only two out of the three lenses on the rear of the 9X take photos. The third camera is a 2MP sensor, which is dedicated to controlling depth effects such as bokeh. The main camera is a 48MP shooter, which takes fairly good photos. Out of the box, you can expect photos to be sharp but slightly saturated. It would still depend on how you tweak the settings to balance out the saturation and colours.
Night mode is not too bad but don’t expect it to come close to more expensive flagships such as the iPhone 11 Pro or the Google Pixel 3a. The key to getting good night mode shots is keeping the phone as steady as possible.
The second camera is an 8MP wide-angle shooter. Photos seems to have some noticeable lens distortion while details don’t fair as great as the main sensor. However, it does its job at covering a wider area but if you’re expecting more out of it, the Honor 9X probably can’t meet those demands.
Finally, the quality of the pop-up selfie camera depends on lighting conditions greatly. This means that the camera does struggle to take good shots in low light environments. With adequate lighting, you can expect average shots that are sufficient for social media use.
As for everything else within the spectrum daily apps, the Honor 9X will do just fine. The Kirin 710F CPU might not be the best processor out there but the octa-core system paired with 6GB of RAM can run basically any contemporary apps with no issues.
Gaming however isn’t the 9X’s strongest suit as high-end titles such as PUBG can only be played comfortably at low or medium settings. For those particular with graphics, I won’t suggest the Honor 9X as a gaming smartphone as there could be frame rate dips and stuttering when playing other online games.
In terms of storage, the Honor 9X can be expanded up to 512GB using a microSD card of the same capacity. Coupled with the internal storage, you’re unlikely to run out of storage space for a long, long time.
The Honor 9X don’t feature fast-charging even with a USB-C port so do expect a charging time of up to two hours to fill it to 100%. The battery is a whopping 4000mAh that will last for quite a while through the day - depending on your usage of course.
As a part of Huawei (and the whole trade war thing), Honor will eventually drop Google apps. The Honor 9X is quite a special case being one of the last (possibly) phones from Honor to survive the bickering between US and China and so, if you do miss getting the 9X this time round, I cannot guarantee if the next Honor phone would support Google apps anymore.
For now, the 9X comes with Android 9 Pie with EMUI running on top.
The Honor 9X is indeed an inexpensive mid-ranger with decent looks and overall quality. It might not perform as a camera or gaming device but it does everything else perfectly. For the same price, it has its close rivals but there aren’t many phones of this price with a pop-up selfie camera either.
All in all, if you want a phone that’s not expensive and can run your daily tasks with a whopping battery life and expandable storage, then the Honor 9X is definitely a phone to consider.