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Honor 9 Review

Honor 9

Posted: , by Stephen Schenck Stephen Schenck




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

Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review
Honor 9 Review

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.

The camera does support a hardware “zoom” mode, letting you switch between 1x and 2x views, but it comes at a cost. You can choose to shoot pics at the full 20MP resolution of the monochrome camera and interpolate-up the 12MP color data – this makes sense to do, since the human eye is far more sensitive to brightness changes than shifts in color – but the zoom mode is only available when taking shots at native 12MP and below.

The front 8MP selife cam's not bad itself – again, even in low-light environments – but the phone pushes a little too hard on the software-enhancement side here. The blurred-background bokeh mode has worse edge-detection than most, and we're still not quite sold on the idea of “beauty” filters in the first place.

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

Honor 9 Review

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.

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Honor 9

Honor 9

OS: Android 8.0 7.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
8Very good
Display5.2 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (428 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera12 megapixels
HiSilicon Kirin, Octa-core, 2400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A73 and ARM Cortex-A53 processor
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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