• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

The Honor 9 isn’t the biggest name in phones, but like the Honor 8 before it it’s worthy of attention, through combining a stylish, premium design with high-end specs and features and just a mid-range price of £380 SIM free.

Usually corners have to be cut to achieve that, and some certainly have here, but fewer than you might expect.

So, is the Honor 9 the affordable flagship you’ve been waiting for, or does it fail to live up to its on-paper specs?

Screen

The Honor 9 has a 5.15-inch 1080 x 1920 screen with a pixel density of 428 pixels per inch. That makes it very sharp, sharper even than the iPhone 7, but still not quite a match for some Android flagships, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and HTC U11.

In fact, that 1080p resolution is one of the most obvious corners the Honor 9 has cut, as the Android flagship standard is now QHD. But it’s not a big deal, as it’s still sharp, and stands up to other affordable flagships like the OnePlus 5, which also has a 1080p screen.

It’s also fairly compact, at least by Android phone standards. 5.15 inches isn’t small, but nor is it overly large, so you should be able to comfortably use it with one hand.

Design

Honor 9 review showing colours

This is one of the most impressive aspects of the Honor 9. It has a glass front and back, held together by a metal frame.

That might sound fairly ordinary, albeit high-end, but it’s what the Honor 9 does with the glass that really makes it stand out. It uses 15 layers of 3D curved glass complete with Nano textures to make light bounce and reflect off it in a way that Honor claims is aurora-inspired, and we can see where they’re coming from.

While not quite the Northern Lights, the effect is impressive, and is sure to catch your friends’ envious eyes.

If there’s a downside to the design it’s simply that the Honor 9 isn’t at all water resistant. That’s another feature we’re starting to expect from flagships, but then the Honor 9 only has an upper mid-range price, so it can get away with it.

Power

The Honor 9 hasn’t cut any corners when it comes to power and performance. It uses 4GB of RAM and an octa-core Kirin 960 chipset with four cores clocked at 2.4GHz and four running at 1.8GHz.

Those are flagship specs, and while Kirin chipsets aren’t usually quite a match for top-end Snapdragon ones, the Honor 9 is still a very speedy performer.

Camera

Honor 9 review camera

Along with the design, the camera is a real high point of the Honor 9, as it’s a dual-lens snapper and a good one at that.

There’s a 12MP colour lens and a 20MP monochrome (black and white one) and it can use both of them when taking photos in order to capture more light and get more detail in images.

That helps for low light shots too, as does the phone’s pixel binning technology, and you can also use the two lenses for a hybrid-zoom with minimal loss of quality.

Plus, Portrait Mode delivers a bokeh effect with a blurred background while the subject stays in focus, and the Honor 9 can shoot 4K videos. There are also a wealth of other camera modes and options, and while the results aren’t quite as good as the very best smartphone cameras, such as the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 Plus, they’re not far off.

There’s also an 8MP camera round the front, making the Honor 9 a solid choice for selfies too.

Features

 

Honor 9 review-design

One of the less obvious highlights of the Honor 9 is its audio skills, as through a combination of different technologies it delivers virtual surround sound (through headphones) that’s been fine-tuned and optimised for clarity and quality.

The Honor 9 also has a fingerprint scanner, so you can speedily unlock your phone without sacrificing security.

Battery life memory and connectivity

There’s a 3,200mAh battery in the Honor 9, and while that’s a fairly average size the phone itself is a little smaller than many, and has just a 1080p screen to power, so the battery should go further.

In practice, you’ll likely get more than a day from it, which isn’t bad at all, and when you do need to charge you can go from zero to 40% in just half an hour.

There’s 64GB of storage along with a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB, so you’ll have plenty of space, and if you don’t need a microSD card you can even use the slot for a second SIM card instead, if you want two different numbers or access to two different networks.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC.

Verdict

With the Honor 9 you get a whole lot of phone for just £380 – or a likely similarly affordable price on contract.

The design is up there with the best, and the performance and camera aren’t far off. It also has plenty of storage and solid battery life.

There are a couple of cut corners – most notably the 1080p screen and lack of water resistance, but they’re small complaints given the price you pay.

And there’s little else that can compare at this sort of price. The OnePlus 5 is slightly better, but also £70 more, and most other better phones are even pricier.

If you want the best, this isn’t it, but if you want one of the best value flagship phones, the Honor 9 won’t disappoint.

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Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions (mm): 147.3 x 70.9 x 7.5

Weight (g): 155

Battery capacity (mAh): 3200

Colours: Sapphire Blue, Midnight Black, Glacier Grey

Screen size (inches): 5.15

Resolution: 1080 x 1920

Pixels per inch (PPI): 428

Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz

Processor make: HiSilicon Kirin 960

RAM: 4GB

Internal storage: 64GB

Expandable storage up to (GB): 256

Camera: 20MP and 12MP (8MP front-facing)

Operating System: Android 7 Nougat

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