No, we didn't see that one coming either! The Honor 9 certainly doesn't look like a cheaper phone at a glance, and nor will your view of it change once you've pored over the spec sheet: it's essentially the same package as the pricey Huawei P10, believe it or not, aside from a few very small tweaks.
And yet it's £380 (S$680) SIM-free, which makes it about S$140 less than the highly impressive OnePlus 5. Can it really beat our new #2 phone in the world right now? Here's our verdict, now that we've put the Honor 9 through its paces.
Design: Metal or glass?
Neither of these phones looks cheap, of course – but neither looks cheaper than a pricier flagship, either. The OnePlus 5 resembles the iPhone 7 Plus, admittedly, with a similar front, back, and even dual camera array on the upper back. Still, it feels wholly premium: this is the best OnePlus build to date, and it's nicely slim to boot.
As with last year's Honor 8, the Honor 9 is a glass-heavy stunner. It has 15 layers of glass all neatly smashed together, which provides all kinds of kaleidoscopic, eye-catching reflections, with Samsung Galaxy-esque curves along the back too. The metal frame makes it feel pretty strong, though, and it fits well in the hand – even if that glass might end up being a bit slippery.
This one goes to preference, certainly, but if you're looking for a phone that dazzles like a much pricier flagship would, then the Honor 9 takes that win. The OnePlus 5 is a little too familiar in design to really stand out here. And neither phone offers water resistance, so that won't sway this particular battle.
Winner: Honor 9
Screen: AMOLED takes it
Top-of-the-line Android phones usually pack Quad HD panels these days, but both the Honor 9 and OnePlus 5 are content to stick with 1080p full HD screens. And it makes sense: for a ~5in display that sits in your hand, the difference isn't that dramatic.
The OnePlus 5 opts for a 5.5in AMOLED display, which looked pretty brilliant in our testing thanks to its 401ppi (pixels per inch) and impressive contrast. Meanwhile, the Honor 9 goes for a 5.15in LCD panel, which makes it a hair crisper due to the denser pixel array. Given that it's an LCD panel, however, it doesn't offer the deeper blacks and amazing contrast of the AMOLED, and the OnePlus does a better job of replicating spot-on colours.
Winner: OnePlus 5
Camera: Doubled up
Dual-camera arrays are no longer only to be found on £600+ smartphones. Both of these devices pop a pair of lenses on the back, giving you not only crisp snaps but also a few extra tricks – such as a portrait mode with blurred backdrops.
We've been deep in the trenches with the OnePlus 5, shooting photos of just about everything we can – and we came away really pleased and surprised by it. It stacks up well against nearly any other smartphone camera out there, thanks to its 16MP (f/1.7) main camera and 20MP (f/2.6) secondary sensor.
Detail levels are impressive, as are colour and contrast, although the edges of the frame can look at bit soft on closer inspection. Low-light shooting isn't all that great in the auto mode, either, and we'd give the slightest nod to phones like the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel. But those devices also cost a lot more money.
And the Honor 9? Well, believe it or not, it's essentially the same camera tech you'll find in the Huawei P10, with a 12MP main sensor and monochromatic 20MP secondary sensor (both f/2.2). The Honor 9 cuts out optical image stabilisation and laser autofocus, unfortunately, which hurts the nighttime shooting. And we found a bit more detail in daytime shots from the OnePlus 5, as well.
It's not a dramatic difference here at all, but OnePlus gets the edge.
Winner: OnePlus 5