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Honor 9 Review

Honor 9

Posted: , by Stephen S.

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Honor 9 Review

Introduction


There will always be top-shelf smartphones that spare no expense when it comes to design, features, and raw performance. And you're always going to be able to find bargain-basement hardware that may feel awkward and outdated, but gets the job done for a fraction of what those flagships cost. But it's right in the middle where things really get interesting, as manufacturers try to strike a careful balance that aims to still feel premium while also giving us a heck of a strong value for our money.

Last summer, Huawei's Honor sub-brand introduced its latest affordable flagship in the form of the Honor 8. It had a really attractive design, with dual flush-mounted rear cameras and a glass-covered etched back that caught the light in fascinating ways. We were quite impressed with what Honor managed to put together at the time, and the biggest thing that stopped us from being even more enthusiastic about the handset was that it faced some really steep premium-mid-range competition.

This year, Honor's back with its follow-up, the Honor 9. The phone sure looks a lot like last year's model; can we expect more of the same from the experience it offers, or has Honor managed to pick up some new tricks since the last time we crossed paths with this series? Let's take a look.

In the box:
  • Honor 9
  • Huawei Quick Charge adapter
  • USB Type-C to standard-A cable
  • SIM tool
  • Clear case

Design

An attractive, sleek look that may be just a little too smooth for its own good

While the Honor 8 represented a pretty big design departure from the Honor 7, this year the manufacturer isn't looking to reinvent the wheel, and the Honor 9 is easily recognizable as an Honor 8 successor. It's got a similar layout, with the most pronounced resemblance occurring around back, where the phone shows off the same sort of dual-camera setup as last year, as well as that same glass-topped metal-ridged design.

Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review

But not everything is a straight-up rehash, and there are a few elements here that clearly differentiate the Honor 9 from its predecessor. Most prominent of those is probably the repositioning of the phone's fingerprint scanner, from top-center on the phone's back to right underneath the handset's screen. Whether or not that's an improvement is going to depend a lot on your personal usage preferences, but functionally it's still an incredibly fast, largely accurate scanner.

Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review
Another, slightly less prominent change concerns the phone's edges. Now, the Honor 8 already featured curved edges, with a graceful metal arc helping to transition from front display to rear glass. That basic construction returns for the Honor 9, but this time around the back-panel glass has a bit of a more gradual curve to its sides, looking almost Samsung-like in its construction. That change still feels pretty good in the hand, but we miss the symmetry that last year's model enjoyed – here it's hard to ignore that the shape of the phone's front doesn't match its back.

The idea of making phones into a glass-and-metal sandwich is far from a new one, but sometimes we see companies struggle with the implementation – and here, the Honor 9 falls victim to the same sort of issue we had with this construction on the HTC U11. If you match those parts up well, your phone's going to be in great shape, but it can be tricky to get metal and glass components to always align perfectly, and with the Honor 9, we can feel some pronounced ridges where these disparate parts come together – it's not unlike the experience you get running your finger over the edge of a screen protector. On a mid-ranger like this, it's a more palatable misstep than it would be on a more expensive phone, but it still manages to feel a little short of the premium aesthetic that Honor is clearly going for.

Finally, all these design decisions contribute to a situation that leaves the Honor 9 with a bit of an unfortunate characterization: the phone is super, impossibly slippy. We kept placing the phone on seemingly flat tables (those on which every other phone remained perfectly still) only for it to slowly, slowly, slide off and careen down to the floor. We can't say if any one design element is more to blame than others, but between the perfectly flush cameras, the moving of the fingerprint scanner around front, and the reconfigured curved back edges, the Honor 9's glass back is just way too slick for its own good. We're used to needing to be careful with our phones, but this one feels way more damage-prone than we're comfortable with. At least, its glass back means it'll be harder for it to slip out of your hand, compared to a phone with back made of metal.

Honor 9
5.8 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Honor 9

Huawei P10
5.72 x 2.73 x 0.27 inches
145.3 x 69.3 x 6.98 mm
5.11 oz (145 g)

Huawei P10

Honor 8
5.73 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
145.5 x 71 x 7.45 mm
5.40 oz (153 g)

Honor 8

OnePlus 5
6.07 x 2.92 x 0.29 inches
154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
5.40 oz (153 g)

OnePlus 5


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


Display

A compact, bright screen scores more hits than misses

Honor 9 Review

In a world where it feels like everyone's pushing us towards phones with larger and larger screens, Honor's taking an unexpected (but absolutely very appreciated) step back this year with the Honor 9, giving the phone a comparatively petite 5.15-inch display. The screen's 1080 x 1920 resolution won't set any pixel-density records, but feels quite appropriate for a panel this size; anything much higher would go wasted.

Brightness is really solid, with the Honor 9 emerging with one of the brightest screens we've seen on a phone all year – and that does a lot to keep the phone feeling flexible, and easy to use in all variety of environments.

Color accuracy is kind of middle-of-the-road, with both some minor saturation and hue issues, but the overall picture isn't too objectionable. And thanks to the phone's EMUI software, color temperature is easily customizable over a wide range, helping you tailor screen output to your preferences.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Honor 9 554
(Excellent)
3
(Excellent)
1:1405
(Excellent)
8353
(Poor)
2.27
4.37
(Average)
6.56
(Average)
Huawei P10 545
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1558
(Excellent)
8258
(Poor)
2.29
4.57
(Average)
8.37
(Poor)
Honor 8 528
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1508
(Excellent)
8502
(Poor)
2.23
5.26
(Average)
9.2
(Poor)
OnePlus 5 435
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8014
(Poor)
2.13
6.63
(Average)
6.29
(Average)
View all

14 Comments
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posted on 17 Aug 2017, 05:56 1

1. Jishnusur (Posts: 158; Member since: 07 Oct 2013)


8 hours of sot and such a wonderful phone. Just an 8? You guys must be kidding me.

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 06:56 3

4. minitechfan (Posts: 3; Member since: 05 Nov 2015)


They gave Honor 7 an under-6 rating, I am surprised that Honor 9 got a 8. This Site is very very Biased towards Huawei, if I were Huawei I would avoid any co-op with it.
These so called reviewers have no professional standards, their pros and cons are at least 50% based on personal preferences.
Speaking of BIASED sites, The Verge is the worst of them all.

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 07:48

5. maple_mak (banned) (Posts: 953; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)


They not only biased Huawei.

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 21:23

9. chenski (Posts: 582; Member since: 22 Mar 2015)


Biased against anything that's not Samsung or Apple

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 16:15

7. may_czos (Posts: 856; Member since: 22 Nov 2014)


It's not SOT, it a synthetic result of PA's custom test. Real screen on time is around 4-4,5 hours.

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 06:18 3

2. NoAllegiance (unregistered)


At least (Not available in the US) is not as a con.

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 06:38

3. jellmoo (Posts: 2117; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)


Oddly enough I think I prefer the Honor 8. Better battery life and a rear gps are nice perks to me.

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 21:23

10. chenski (Posts: 582; Member since: 22 Mar 2015)


Or the Honor 8 pro

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 10:36

6. davthom123 (Posts: 92; Member since: 02 Mar 2015)


when destiny becomes a con

posted on 17 Aug 2017, 16:16

8. may_czos (Posts: 856; Member since: 22 Nov 2014)


You forgot oe thing PA - Honor 9 doesn't have OIS (unlike his brother - P10) and it shows. More often you'll get blurry picture, especially in low light conditions.

posted on 18 Aug 2017, 05:43

11. Talhamid (Posts: 60; Member since: 13 Jun 2009)


It took Samsung to release perhaps the best phone ever (S8/S8+) to achieve parity with Apple in terms of review scores. And you can be sure the new iPhones will safely exceed that. Its Apple all the way for PA

posted on 23 Aug 2017, 13:01

12. dcwt2010 (Posts: 43; Member since: 01 Feb 2013)


Would have been much better if they'd kept the FP sensor on the back.

posted on 11 Sep 2017, 12:55

14. MoonlitTear (Posts: 45; Member since: 09 Jun 2008)


I love the Honor 8's back placement. I agree.

posted on 11 Sep 2017, 12:54

13. MoonlitTear (Posts: 45; Member since: 09 Jun 2008)


I have the Honor 8 using it on T-Mobile USA and I love it. I wish this phone had the band support. I agree, with everything they said, this phone deserves an 8.6+ when comparing to all phones, but comparing to whom this phone is competing with, a 9.3 is warranted based on what was said about the actual phone not what his personal preferences are.

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Honor 9

Honor 9

OS: Android 7.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
8Good
Display5.2 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (428 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera12 megapixels
Hardware
HiSilicon, Octa-core, 2400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A73 and ARM Cortex-A53 processor
4 GB RAM
Size5.80 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
(147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45 mm)
5.47 oz  (155 g)

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