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Home / Reviews / Tablets & computers / Tablets / Honor Pad 9 review: affordable ace

Honor Pad 9 review: affordable ace

Good luck getting a more well-rounded tab for less

Honor Pad 9 review lead

Stuff Verdict

The Honor Pad 9 looks slicker than its price suggests, and has decent performance to boot. It’s a tempting Android alternative to an entry-level iPad.


  • Colourful and detailed screen
  • Respectable hardware for the price
  • Optional keyboard adds productivity chops


  • Battery life and charging speeds could be better
  • Software update promise is nebulous
  • Distinctly average cameras


Honor is still fairly new to the tablet game, having largely stuck to home territory until the Honor Pad 8 went global in 2022. It was a big screen slate with a teensy tiny price, which was unusual at a time most oversized Android tabs were targeting the iPad Pro’s territory. Now its successor has arrived, with slightly more premium ambitions.

The Honor Pad 9 brings faster internals, an improved display, and uprated cameras. Sounds great, but the price has gone up to match. At £300 directly from Honor (or £350 with the keyboard cover accessory), Honor is essentially asking shoppers between one of these or a 9th-gen Apple iPad.

Historically Android tablets have lagged behind iPadOS on the software front. Can Honor make up any deficit with some slightly higher-end hardware?

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Design & build: keep it glassy

If I passed you the Honor Pad 9 and asked you to guess its price, solely on how it felt in the hand, I seriously doubt you’d get it right first try. This feels like a properly premium slate: all aluminium and glass, with precision-milled speaker grilles, relatively svelte screen bezels, and an impressively thin form.

At 555g this isn’t an especially lightweight slate, even among those with 12in screens. Still, I could hold it for the length of a movie and not develop hand cramp half-way through.

The grey metal rear panel isn’t the greatest at hiding fingerprint smudges, but otherwise looks pinstripe suit-level sharp with its minimal branding and central camera bump. The lens protrudes out a little, but not enough I ever snagged it when putting the tablet in my bag. Still, I wonder if it needed to at all, given the camera hardware inside isn’t all that special.

There’s no fingerprint sensor here – something you do get on a 9th-gen iPad – meaning you’ll need to fall back on a PIN or password for banking apps and the like. The selfie camera supports face unlocking, but only to get you past the Android lock screen. Honor hasn’t given the Pad 9 an IP rating for water resistance, either, though I can’t think of any other affordable tablets that do any better.

On its lonesome, the Pad 9 makes sense for multimedia and web browsing. But for more creative tasks, Honor will also sell you a variant with a keyboard cover included in the box for an extra £50. It’s not as clever as some tablet ‘boards, which charge from the tablet using pogo pins, but will keep the screen safe when you’re not using it and prop it up while you’re typing. If you’re giving any thought to writing documents on this thing, I reckon it’s worth the investment.

Screen & sound: size matters

The Pad 9 matches its predecessor on screen size, but this time the 12.1in panel has a higher 2560×1600 resolution. It looks a lot sharper and ensures images or videos show plenty of resolved detail.

Perhaps more importantly, the refresh rate has doubled to 120Hz; this makes the whole UI feel that much smoother, and is one place this tablet wipes the floor with the 9th-gen iPad. A Dynamic preset can swap between 60Hz and 120Hz based on the amount of on-screen movement, but I opted to leave it at 120Hz full-time. The increased smoothness was worth the minor battery life trade-off.

A 16:10 aspect ratio is a good fit for productivity as well as films or TV shows, and viewing angles are pretty good too. The IPS LCD panel can’t match an OLED for contrast or black levels, but it otherwise delivers punchy colours and respectable contrast. You’d have to spend a fair bit more to get a better display.

Brightness has received a boost compared to last year, and is now just about enough that I could read web pages while outside on a sunny day. Honor hasn’t added HDR support, though, so don’t expect streaming services to benefit too much from the extra lumens.

There are an impressive eight speakers dotted throughout the Pad 9’s slim chassis, for a quad stereo setup. There’s an impressive amount of volume on tap, and overall clarity is really rather great. Bass is largely absent, admittedly, but it still gets the job done for music and movies.

Cameras: yes, it has some

They’re a step up on pixel count compared to the last-gen Honor Pad 8, but don’t expect the Pad 9’s 13MP rear snapper or 8MP selfie webcam to deliver anything other than ‘OK’.

Even in great light colours look a little muted, and exposure isn’t brilliantly judged. Dynamic range is respectable for a budget tablet, and there’s a fair amount of detail on display. At least, there is until the light drops – at which point pics become messy with noise and detail falls off a cliff. There’s no optical image stabilisation, no long exposure settings at night, and a portrait mode that isn’t much cop.

It does the job for video calls, document scanning, and those moments when your phone isn’t close to hand – but that’s the extent of this tablet’s photographic talents.

Software experience: oldie but goodie

Honor has a habit of launching its more affordable devices on older software, and that’s still true here. The Pad 9 arrives with Android 13, despite Google releasing version 14 to the public back in October 2023. There’s no word on exactly how many generational upgrades owners can expect, or when they might arrive. That’s not a great showing, even for an affordable tablet.

I had fewer grumbles about MagicOS 7.2, Honor’s custom Android skin. It’s well optimised for the big screen, with detailed icons, useful shortcut toolbars, and separate pull-down menus for notifications and quick settings. There’s definitely an iOS influence here, including the Honor Connect ecosystem for pairing other Honor kit, like a smartphone or laptop. Bloatware isn’t the worst I’ve seen, with only a handful of apps needing purging from the home screen after the initial setup.

Tablet-specific abilities are few and far between; most are shared with Honor’s phones. But some of the multitasking features work better on a larger screen, including the ability to run two apps side-by-side and more in floating windows above them. Stylus support would’ve been nice, but I can understand why Honor didn’t include it at this price.

It’s always worth highlighting that Android tablets in general are a poor relation to the iPad in terms of software support. Many are just phone apps upscaled to a larger screen, and don’t work as well in landscape view as you’d expect. If you’re after a laptop replacement, you might find the Pad 9 a bit clunky compared to an iPad.

Performance & battery life: not so entry-level

The Honor Pad 9’s key hardware isn’t exactly brand new – the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset is already two years old – but it’s no slouch. Paired with 8GB of RAM, this octa-core chip ran Android without any noticeable stutter or slowdown, and most apps tick away quite happily. Web pages open quickly enough and scroll smoothly; some benchmark scores are twice as high as the last-gen Honor Pad 8. Just don’t expect things to be quite as snappy as pricier flagship tablets, which still have the edge in overall smoothness.

Demanding 3D games default to low settings, which isn’t a big surprise, but I was impressed with how well they ran. Even Genshin Impact was playable without any blatant performance dips. I had zero issues with simpler, 2D titles.

It’s also great to see Honor include a generous 256GB of storage as standard. The equivalent 9th-gen iPad comes with just 64GB, which will be quickly filled with music, movies and apps.

Battery life isn’t best-in-class, but the Pad 9 still puts in a good showing away from the mains. I saw about twelve hours of typical use from the 8300mAh cell, putting it an hour or so behind a 9th-gen iPad and a Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. Then again, both those rivals have smaller battery capacities. The outgoing Honor Pad 8 also lasted longer with a smaller battery – probably because the lower resolution display wasn’t working its chipset quite so hard.

Honor puts a 35W charger in the box, so you should be looking at somewhere between one and two hours for a full top-up over USB-C.

Honor Pad 9 verdict

The Honor Pad 9 is an awful lot of tablet for your money. It has a great screen, very respectable performance, and sharp looks. It also adds a few user-friendly interface tweaks to Android. Battery life could be better, the cameras are basic at best, and I’d like Honor to commit to longer-term software updates – but there’s little else like it at this end of the price spectrum.

That is, unless you’re looking to shop Apple. Sure, you won’t get nearly as much storage as you will with the Honor, but an 9th-gen iPad 10.2in will only set you back a little more. In my view, Apple’s far greater selection of tablet-optimised apps and games makes up for the smaller screen and last-gen styling.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

The Honor Pad 9 looks slicker than its price suggests, and has decent performance to boot. It’s a tempting Android alternative to an entry-level iPad.


Colourful and detailed screen

Respectable hardware for the price

Optional keyboard adds productivity chops


Battery life and charging speeds could be better

Software update promise is nebulous

Distinctly average cameras

Honor Pad 9 technical specifications

Screen12.1in, 2560×1600 IPS LCD w/ 120Hz
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 octa-core
Cameras13MP, f/2.0 rear
8MP, f/2.2 front
Operating systemAndroid 13 w/ Magic OS 7.2
Battery8300mAh w/ 35W wired charging
Dimensions278x180x7mm, 555g
Profile image of Tom Morgan-Freelander Tom Morgan-Freelander Deputy Editor


A tech addict from about the age of three (seriously, he's got the VHS tapes to prove it), Tom's been writing about gadgets, games and everything in between for the past decade, with a slight diversion into the world of automotive in between. As Deputy Editor, Tom keeps the website ticking along, jam-packed with the hottest gadget news and reviews.  When he's not on the road attending launch events, you can usually find him scouring the web for the latest news, to feed Stuff readers' insatiable appetite for tech.

Areas of expertise

Smartphones/tablets/computing, cameras, home cinema, automotive, virtual reality, gaming