Even without Leica branding, this dual-camera system holds its own against Huawei's best

Huawei (and correspondingly, Honor) has been on a big dual-camera kick lately, and that's not changing any for the Honor 9. Like the Honor 8, the phone's equipped with a pair of sensors, set tastefully flush and tucked away up in the corner of the handset's back. On the surface, things look a lot like they did on the Honor 8 – the only indication anything's changed at all is a 90-degree rotation to the camera's flash and laser-focus sensor.

But whereas the Honor 8 featured a pair of 12MP cameras – one full-color, one monochrome – the Honor 9 instead bumps the resolution of that black-and-white camera to 20MP, while keeping the color at 12MP. That's similar to the sort of arrangement we've seen from 2017 Huawei phones like the P10 and P10 Plus – absent any fancy Leica branding.

Image quality

To little surprise, the camera setup on the Honor 9 performs much in the same league as the cameras on the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. That means some strong low-light performance, as well as decent-looking shots in more favorable environments.

Once again, the software is packed with features, but the implementation could use a little work. Most everything's tucked away on a separate page of the camera's interface, which users must swipe to access; for common things like HDR or B&W mode, it might have been more successful to place more easily reachable toggles right on the main screen.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Honor 9 1.45
Huawei P10 2
Honor 8 2.1
No data
No data
OnePlus 5 1.1

Video recording

Recording video with the Honor 9 is a mix of success and failures. On the plus side, the phone's microphones work great, easily capturing audio even in noisy environments, and refocus times are fast. But on the flip side of that latter point, the camera's often a little too aggressive when hunting for something to focus on, and we often found it losing focus during pans.

Electronic stabilization works decently, but like so many other phones, its functionality is limited – here to shooting at 1080p (30fps) or lower.


3D audio gimmicks distract form otherwise solid headphone output

The Honor 9 pumps its audio out through a single bottom-edge-mounted speaker. The quality's not bad, and the volume's there when you need it, but we noticed a bit more of a going-through-a-tunnel-sounding reverb than we'd like to hear. That effect is most pronounced at higher volume levels.

However, it's not really the speakers being emphasized here, so much as the headphone experience: something being called Huawei Histen. Yes, Histen with an H – that's not a typo. The mode toggles on when you plug in a pair of headphones, and promises virtual 3D surround sound. While it definitely expands the soundscape of what you're listening to, there's an inescapable fake-ness to how it sounds – and we definitely prefer turning the surround sound mode off. Luckily, there's a standard Histen mode that offers a basic EQ and output tailored to specific headset types – and this one's much more successful.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Honor 9 0.35
Huawei P10 0.29
Honor 8 0.42
OnePlus 5 0.96
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Honor 9 72.1
Huawei P10 74
Honor 8 73.3
OnePlus 5 77



1. Jishnusur

Posts: 173; Member since: Oct 07, 2013

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

4. minitechfan

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 05, 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.

5. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

They not only biased Huawei.

9. chenski

Posts: 770; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Biased against anything that's not Samsung or Apple

7. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

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

2. NoAllegiance unregistered

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

3. jellmoo

Posts: 2594; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

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

10. chenski

Posts: 770; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Or the Honor 8 pro

6. davthom123

Posts: 121; Member since: Mar 02, 2015

when destiny becomes a con

8. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 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.

11. Talhamid

Posts: 61; Member since: Jun 13, 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

12. dcwt2010

Posts: 74; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

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

14. MoonlitTear

Posts: 52; Member since: Jun 09, 2008

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

13. MoonlitTear

Posts: 52; Member since: Jun 09, 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.

15. mike777

Posts: 8; Member since: Aug 11, 2016

A great phone. Would have never bought it, but with contract for 12€ the blue one was too tempting. Not sorry i bought it though. Excellent build, speedy, lost of space, great cameras, great reception, solid battery and great charging time. Battery life is lower than othe chinese phones (especially Xiaomi) but i get close to 6 hours which is pretty good. Fingerprint is blazingly fast, nothing quite compares to it. It just unlocks the phone immediately every time. For the price of 350-400€ would say quite a good deal overall. Surprised! Just get the blue version with a transparent case and tempered glass and you should be fine!
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin, Octa-core, 2400 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3200 mAh

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