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REVIEW: Honor 9.

Summary: Premium design and blazing-fast performance - another flagship killer?

Alvin R. Cabral

The Honor 9 has some neat tricks up its digital sleeves.

Many years ago I said that Huawei was going to be a force to be reckoned with - and I even doubled down on that .

Well, I just wasn't able to predict that they'd also come up with a sub-brand that's also becoming one, thanks to its attractive price points.

So here we are giving some honour (pun intended) to them, thanks to another smartphone that will surely lure those who don't want to spend that much: the Honor 9.

Right off the bat, the successor to the Honor 8 is a beauty in your hands, thanks to smooth round edges coupled with a glass-finish back - and even if it could be a magnet for fingerprints and smudges, it can be wiped off clean. The layout is simple enough: power and volume keys to the right, and USB Type-C and 3.5mm audio ports below.

Below the 5.15-inch full-HD screen are the navigation keys; by default, they are, from left to right, back, navigation key and recent apps - though you can customise this in settings to interchange back and recent, or turn them off to use various gestures with the navigation key - which also houses the fingerprint scanner that is very accurate and lightning-quick.

Also, the fingerprint scanner in that position is a major shift for Honor, since they've traditionally placed this sensor on the rear. A welcome change, if you'd ask me.

And furthermore on gestures: you can use your knuckles to activate some tricks up the Honor 9's sleeves. For example, you can draw letters to open pre-defined or defined apps - by default, 'e' is for Chrome and and 'c' is for camera - and even draw a horizontal line to enter split-screen mode or a circle to capture a screenshot, which includes a regular one, scrolling, part of the screen or a video. Pretty convenient.

And we welcome back a staple in Honor phones, the dual-lens camera. This time around, we have a 20MP monochrome sensor working in tandem with a 12MP RGB snapper - a good upgrade from the Honor 8's 12MP shooters and which pretty much reminds us of the Huawei P9. There's also an all-too-familiar portrait and moving picture options - similar to the iPhone's Portrait Mode and Live Photo - plus wide-aperture for even more blurred backgrounds, on top of the camera app, and swiping to the right reveals a bunch of other options, including Pro and 3D Panorama. Snaps are great, even in low light - not just too low light, that is.

Here's a little beef: the Honor 9 doesn't come with optical image stabilisation, so you'd really have to steady up your hands, especially if you're shooting in a zoomed angle. This also means low-light situations may give you a little undesired results, as well as for video. And speaking of video, you can shoot up to 4K - though the lack of OIS may require you to use a tripod to capture the best possible quality. I'm quite surprised that they didn't incorporate OIS here, given that it's basically a standard in good phones these days.

The Honor 9 runs on the brand's very own EMUI 5.1 platform on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. It's pretty straightforward, with no fancy stuff (I love it when brands keep it simple). And by the way, don't bother looking for the app drawer: from the you can just swipe left to see your apps ala-iOS, and even to the right if you decide to place some apps to the left of the home screen.

Battery, meanwhile, has also been bumped up to 3200mAh from the Honor 8's 3000mAh. It isn't exactly good for a couple of days, as with mixed use during the day, I had to hunt down for its charger as night approached midnight. To put that into perspective, using the device for a couple of hours taking snaps for this review took off about 20 per cent of life. Good news: it's enough to get you through your day. And its QuickCharge feature lets you jack up your juice to about 40 per cent in half-an-hour.


The Honor 9 is one of those phones - much like the OnePlus 5 - that makes the case for having a premium phone without having to spend too much.


Goodies - Beautiful design, very versatility, fair price, blazing-fast performance

Baddies - No OIS, tends to be a bit slippery, lens beneath glass cover makes it more prone to smudges, front camera sometimes takes a while to process shots

Editor Rating - 9.0/10


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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 18, 2017
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