Honor 9 Review
Our earlier comments on possible band issues with North American cellular networks still stand so far as data is concerned, but none of that should have much of an impact on voice-call service. And indeed, we ran into no issues placing nor receiving calls with the Honor 9. Voice quality sounded fine, but as we so often note, a phone really has to go out of its way to mess that up these days. Just rest assured that the Honor 9 doesn't have anything to worry about in that department.
For a relatively thin phone, the Honor 9 doesn't compromise much in terms of power endurance
This year, Honor's giving its affordable flagship a battery boost, replacing the 3,000mAh battery from the Honor 8 with a slightly larger 3,200mAh component. The phone doesn't waste that power, either, and in our custom tests, we managed to squeeze out just over eight hours of screen-on time from the handset. While that's no record, it does compare favorably to big-name phones like the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, and even comes neck-and-neck with the Huawei P10 Plus and its 3,750mAh battery (though, of course, that one's also packing a larger, power-hungry screen).
Just as the Honor 9 holds its own against pricier phones in terms of battery endurance, it also puts on a comparable showing when it comes to recharging the phone, and the included charger (with the necessary adapter to use the euro-style plug in US outlets) refueled the handset in just north of 100 minutes. And if you don't have that long to wait, you can get the battery up to 50 percent in only around 45 minutes.
The only real negative here is that while the Honor 9 is being positioned as an alternative to expensive flagship devices, its pricing is much more in the mid-range space, and here shoppers may be used to phones that aren't just capable of good battery life, but utterly insane longer-than-day-long battery life – and that's due in no small part to the power-sipping nature of Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 625 chip. Compared to those devices, the Honor 9's at a disadvantage, but perhaps its speedy performance will help compensate for any endurance shortcomings.
In almost every aspect, the Honor 9 is a substantial upgrade over the Honor 8. And maybe even more impressive is how favorably it compares to the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus – both much more expensive phones. Just how much you'll shell out for the Honor 9 varies by market, but we're often seeing it for between 380 and 430 EUR. Doing a direct-to-dollars comparison won't make a lot of sense based on how smartphones are often sold, but anywhere from $350 to $500 (though probably not quite that high) would be believable if Honor ever decides to bring the Honor 9 to the States.
There are still weak points, and we really don't love how easy it is for this phone to accidentally slide off a desk – it's just way too slippy, and much as we docked the Moto Z2 Force because its easy-to-scratch screen had us feeling paranoid about damaging the phone, so too does the feeling that the Honor 9 is one slide away from breaking detract from the ownership experience it presents. To be fair, the phone does come with an included case, but we hate having to use any case if we don't have to.
We're not going to get too hung up on our problem with data bands, as this phone isn't yet targeted at US networks, but we do wish there were anything along the lines of waterproofing present here – that's increasingly something we take for granted when shopping for new phones.
In the end, the Honor 9 is an attractive option for international smartphone users who want a phone that's compact, a reasonably strong performer, enjoys solid battery life, and offers a decently nice camera – and all for quite a bit less than your typical flagship. There's no one stand-out area where the Honor 9 shines, but it does enough right to be worth recommending.