Honor 9

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Android Advisor - - CONTENTS -

The Honor 9 is the lat­est flag­ship from the Huawei sub-brand, and it lib­er­ally bor­rows from the Huawei P10’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions while stick­ing to the Honor aes­thetic and aim­ing for a much friend­lier price point.

De­sign

In terms of looks, the Honor 9 is a blend of the Honor 8 and the Huawei P10. It’s avail­able in three colours –

Glacier Grey, Sap­phire Blue and Mid­night Black – and our re­view unit is the brand’s sig­na­ture blue, which is im­me­di­ately eye-catch­ing.

The blue is shown off to max­i­mum ef­fect by the glass body – built, like the Honor 8, out of 15 curved lay­ers – which leaves the phone with an al­most im­pos­si­bly glossy fin­ish (with the in­evitable down­side of be­ing a bit of a fin­ger­print mag­net).

Honor has in­ten­si­fied the ef­fect this time around by round­ing the edge’s of the glass rear like the Galaxy S7, which helps the phone catch and re­flect the light in even more hues, while also mak­ing it a bit more com­fort­able to hold.

At 7.5mm and 155g it’s com­fort­able enough to hold and use one-handed with­out too much of a stretch, though the glass fin­ish is about as slippy as you might ex­pect – es­pe­cially on smooth, flat sur­faces. Even the cam­era lenses are to­tally flush with the body, so there’s no fric­tion at all.

The sides of the body are made of sand­blasted metal in the same hue as the front and back, though the fin­ish is less durable than you might hope. Ours had al­ready picked up a (tiny) chip within the first day of fairly care­ful use – com­bine that with the slippy fin­ish and you’ll def­i­nitely want a case for this one.

The right-hand side has the power but­ton and vol­ume rocker, with a the dual-SIM (or sin­gle-SIM and mi­croSD) slot on the left. At the bot­tom you’ll find the 3.5mm head­phone jack, USB-C charg­ing port, and speaker.

The front of the phone is al­most di­rectly lifted from the P10 – in­clud­ing the fin­ger­print scan­ner built into

the oval home but­ton be­low the screen – while the dual lens cam­era lay­out on the back is also iden­ti­cal other than the re­moval of the Le­ica brand­ing.

There is one down­side bor­rowed from the P10 too, though – like that phone, this doesn’t fea­ture any sort of wa­ter­proof­ing, so you’ll have to follow Grem­lins rules about keep­ing it dry.

It may sound like a bit of a hodge­podge of de­sign choices from other phones, but the good news is that it comes to­gether into one very at­trac­tive whole.

You don’t get the stun­ning bezel-less front that’s oh-so-2017, but the glass fin­ish and sim­ple de­sign leave the Honor 9 un­de­ni­ably striking – and do your­self a favour and opt for the blue model which re­ally shows it off the best.

Dis­play

The screen at least is slightly dif­fer­ent from the P10 – though not by too much. The Honor 9 has a 5.15in Full HD dis­play with a pixel den­sity of 428ppi, com­pared to a 5.1in screen in its big brother.

In ac­tion, it’s bright and glossy, with a great colour range that’s enough to make sure it isn’t go­ing to get out­shone by its (ad­mit­tedly very shiny) body.

Pro­ces­sor

Just like its older (and sub­stan­tially more ex­pen­sive) brother, the Honor 9 is pack­ing a Kirin 960 octa-core pro­ces­sor, with four cores at 2.4GHz and an­other four at 1.8GHz.

That’s backed by 4GB of RAM, 64GB of built-in storage, and a mi­croSD card slot that sup­ports up to 256GB. Again, ex­actly like the P10.

That trans­lates to rock solid per­for­mance, with tiny load times, and never a hint of lag no mat­ter what we threw at it dur­ing our time us­ing the phone.

It’s just as com­fort­able when it comes to our for­mal bench­marks, with re­sults that put it in grasp­ing dis­tance of some of the year’s top flag­ships.

Note: our re­view unit came with 6GB of RAM, a spec which isn’t avail­able in the UK. The units are oth­er­wise iden­ti­cal, but the extra 2GB will have helped it per­form slightly bet­ter in these bench­marks.

Bat­tery life

Bat­tery life boasts some im­prove­ments from the P10. De­spite us­ing the same 3,200mAh bat­tery, there have clearly been some op­ti­miza­tion tweaks,

as the Honor 9 has com­fort­ably lasted a day or two be­tween charges. A 90-minute video call was enough to dent it by 20 per­cent or so in one go, but oth­er­wise bat­tery ticked down very grad­u­ally – and thanks to USB-C fast charg­ing, it’s quick to top back up too.

Cam­eras

Fi­nally, the cam­era setup is one of the most im­pres­sive fea­tures of the P10, and we’re pleased to see it ar­rive in the Honor phone pretty much un­scathed. The hard­ware isn’t Le­ica-branded this time, but oth­er­wise the set-up is iden­ti­cal.

The rear cam­era is dual lens, with a 12Mp colour sen­sor and 20Mp mono­chrome one, which helps the cam­era per­form bet­ter in chal­leng­ing light con­di­tions by com­bin­ing the re­sults from each, along with of­fer­ing up to 2x hy­brid zoom.

Photographs are con­sis­tently clear and vivid, and the cam­era does a great job of pick­ing up on var­ied light­ing within the frame with­out los­ing any de­tail.

Also bor­rowed from the P10 is the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar por­trait mode, which uses the dual lens setup and fa­cial recog­ni­tion soft­ware to sub­tly blur back­grounds (aka the bokeh ef­fect) and en­hance fa­cial de­tail in por­trait shots, mostly to im­pres­sive ef­fect.

You also get the usual se­lec­tion of other photo modes, in­clud­ing mov­ing pic­tures (essen­tially a twosec­ond video), panorama, time-lapse, light trails, and a spe­cial night mode that’s op­ti­mized for low light.

As for the front-facing cam­era, it’s 8Mp (though sin­gle lens) and has the same soft­ware sup­port as the rear. The front cam­era can cap­ture HD video, while the rear is ca­pa­ble of full 4K.

Soft­ware

Soft­ware is ar­guably the big­gest let­down of the Honor 9. It runs Android Nougat 7.0 out of the box, but it’s

cus­tom­ized with Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 skin, which has a ten­dency to bring a lot of un­wel­come clut­ter with it.

That’s most ev­i­dent in things like the Quick Set­tings drop-down, which is by de­fault packed with fea­tures you prob­a­bly don’t need im­me­di­ate ac­cess to, and ex­tends to mi­nor an­noy­ances like not of­fer­ing an App Drawer by de­fault.

You’ll also have to con­tend with a fair few of Huawei’s own ba­sic apps be­ing in­stalled in­stead of Google’s own – though you can of course in­stall the big G’s alternatives – and an as­sort­ment of bloat­ware that you’ll prob­a­bly want to unin­stall af­ter you first turn it on, in­clud­ing a sur­pris­ing num­ber of games. Still, there are some nice touches. Like a few other phones this year, the Honor 9 builds the Android on-screen nav­i­ga­tion but­tons into the fin­ger­print sen­sor, free­ing up some screen space. If you pre­fer, you can also use the ca­pac­i­tive but­tons hid­den in the body to the side of the sen­sor.

There are also fea­tures like the ‘Eye com­fort’ mode, which re­duces blue light from the screen to make it more com­fort­able to look at in the dark, as well as the cus­tom cam­era app men­tioned above.

You also get plenty of cus­tomiza­tion, so you can tweak the phone to suit your needs more closely – it just takes a lit­tle pa­tience.

Verdict

The Honor 9 is an un­de­ni­ably im­pres­sive phone for an un­matched price right now. In per­for­mance terms, it’s nip­ping at the heels of the year’s top flag­ships, and only lack­ing flashy fea­tures like wa­ter­proof­ing or

a bezel-less screen. It looks great, it runs fast, and it costs less than £400. We’re sold. Do­minic Pre­ston

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

5.15in (1920x1080, 428ppi) touch­screen Android Nougat 7.0 with EMUI 5.1 Kirin 960 octa-core pro­ces­sor 4GB RAM 64GB storage Dual lens rear cam­era: 12Mp colour, 20Mp mono­chrome, sup­port for 4K video at 30fps 8Mp front-facing cam­era Fin­ger­print sen­sor 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.2 4G LTE Dual Nano-SIM GPS NFC 3,200mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery 70x147.3x7.45mm 155g

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