ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502 Glacier Blue

The HONOR 9X was just announced not too long ago, and we now have the full details regarding this smartphone. It’s been more than a year since the announcement of the HONOR 8X in Malaysia, and I know that many Malaysians have already been asking about the HONOR 9X for a few months.

Before the comments start rolling in, we have two big questions to address – the Google apps situation and also the chipset. Here, we have the confirmation that the HONOR 9X is using Kirin 710F chipset and it has Google apps. HONOR has two options – it’s either Kirin 710F with Google apps, or Kirin 810 without Google apps. HONOR chose the former, and I think they made the right choice.

ASUS ZenBook 14 AMD

To summarize everything we have to say about the HONOR 9X, here is our review video.

Unboxing

The HONOR 9X comes with a pretty basic set of contents. Inside the box, we’ll find the barebones – the HONOR 9X itself, a TPU case, and also a charger alongside with the cable.

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One thing I realize is the included TPU case is slightly harder than other typical TPU cases, and it also has an unnecessarily large cutout at the top for the popup selfie camera.

HONOR 9X

Design

The overall phone design is quite simple this time around. HONOR did it right by having curved edges so that we can hold it comfortably.

HONOR 9X

Continuing HONOR’s unique trend in having beautiful-looking backs, the HONOR 9X has this grid design for the blue color variant. Unfortunately, we only have the black one for review, which does not have the aforementioned design.

If we are to slap on the included TPU case however, the back design will get disrupted or blocked off entirely.

Connectivity & Ports

I think this is limbo number 1. Since the HONOR 9X that we have is using the Kirin 710F, it is still stuck with last year’s WiFi tech only. That means you can only get N-WiFi, which I think is outdated in today’s standard as many other smartphones also support AC-WiFi these days.

HONOR 9X

Comparing with last year’s smartphone, the HONOR 9X also got a downgrade as it now only supports either dual nano SIM cards or a single nano SIM + microSD card slot. The HONOR 8X can support all 3 without an issue – so why is there a downgrade?

HONOR 9X

Other aspects of the phone are pretty much the same as last year’s – 3.5mm audio jack and USB-C alongside the speaker at the bottom, and both volume and power buttons at the right side.

Display

The HONOR 9X is still using an IPS LCD display – just like last year’s HONOR 8X. However, the main difference here is the bigger notchless display. At 6.59-inch, the HONOR 9X is a humongous phone and not having a notch really makes a big difference in the user experience.

HONOR 9X

Since it is using an IPS LCD, that means the HONOR 9X has placed the fingerprint scanner at the back. I personally prefer a physical fingerprint scanner rather than having an optical one under the display, though.

Cameras

To achieve this full view, notchless display, HONOR employed a popup selfie camera. The HONOR 9X also has some upgrades to the cameras compared to the predecessor. It now has:

  • Main: 48MP f/1.8
  • Ultrawide angle: 8MP f/2.4
  • Depth sensor

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Honestly speaking, the only additional camera compared to its predecessor is the upgrade to a 48MP sensor an also the addition of an ultrawide angle camera.

As for the picture quality that comes out of the HONOR 9X, here they are. You can also click here to visit our Shutterfly album to view the images in full size with its metadata.

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Honestly speaking, the pictures taken by this phone is just sub-par. For the main camera, just don’t capture pictures in 48MP mode. The image will be blurry and it just looks like someone smeared the picture.

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Capture in 48MP mode.
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Captured in 12MP mode, AI turned off.
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Captured in 12MP mode, AI turned on.

For this scene in particular, the flowers are completely overexposed and became a white blotch of color. I tried all permutations to take the picture – I swapped between 48MP, 12MP and also tried toggling AI. Nothing works. Then, I changed to night mode and take the picture – yes, it’s broad daylight and I’m using night mode – and the picture turned out to be pretty okay.

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Captured using night mode.

The flowers aren’t just a white blotch – they’re a tad bit yellow, and I can see the individual petals. However, the contrast had been boosted way too high and the background looks unnatural.

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At night, the picture turned out quite okay – could’ve been better for sure since the pictures look oversharpened while the sensor can’t pick up the details.

The ultrawide angle camera still does not have night mode yet, which means it is impossible to take ultrawide angle night shots. The small f/2.4 aperture isn’t helping either, as ultrawide angle shots in broad daylight look disappointingly dark.

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Software – Android 9.0 with EMUI 10

Honestly, nothing much has changed compared to any other smartphones with EMUI 10. The only major complaint that I have is about the camera UI. Even after so long, HONOR has not fix the camera UI at all. The zoom slider is still at the bottom center of the screen – unreachable when using with one hand.

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Also, the camera UI is somewhat confusing now. You can select to take 48MP pictures when AI is turned off and the zoom slider disappears. Turning on AI will automatically switch to 12MP mode and the zoom slider automagically appears by itself.

This means if I am using 48MP, I cannot disable AI and take an ultrawide angle camera picture. I will have to remember that I am using 48MP, go into the settings and swap it back to 12MP. That’s annoying!

Performance & Gaming

Alright, so how does the the Kirin 710F performs? Does the extra “F” in the Kirin 710 actually make a difference? Before we get too hasty – here are the specs of the HONOR 9X:

  • 6.59-inch IPS LCD; notchless
  • HiSilicon Kirin 710F
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage (expandable with microSD)
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 9 with EMUI 10

Here, look at the benchmarks.

HONOR 9X 3DMark benchmark HONOR 9X VRMark benchmark HONOR 9X Geekbench 4 benchmark HONOR 9X Antutu 7 benchmark

Honestly the Kirin 710F has absolutely zero difference in performance with the Kirin 710 from last year. Seriously, the performance has zero difference btween the HONOR 8X (review) and the HONOR 20 Lite (review). So… what does the F in Kirin 710F stands for? 🤷‍♂️

Gaming?

It’s the same as the other Kirin 710-powered smartphones too. I suggest you to play PUBG Mobile at the “smooth” graphical quality with “high” frame rates. That’s the most playable, in my opinion.

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As for COD Mobile, these are the only settings you can have. Utter disappointment.

Battery & Charger

The HONOR 9X comes with a 4,000mAh battery – and that’s pretty common with mid-range smartphones these days. So we thought – maybe the Kirin 710F has better efficiency? So we put it to the test.

HONOR 9X battery life benchmark

And no, there is not efficiency improvement. The longer battery life compared to other Kirin 710-powered smartphones is from the fact that it is using a 4,000mAh battery. That means the Kirin 710F has zero tangible improvement over the Kirin 710F.

Charger

While many mid-range smartphones start to include fast charging, the HONOR 9X is still stuck with the standard 10W power. At least compared to last year’s smartphone, the HONOR 9X is now using USB-C.

HONOR 9X

The HONOR 9X takes nearly 2 hours to fully charge from 15% to 100%. Definitely not the fastest, and I recommend to charge overnight instead.

Wrapping up the HONOR 9X review

I think overall, as a smartphone, the HONOR 9X is quite okay. When compared with other smartphones, the HONOR 9X doesn’t really have a strong unique aspect to differentiate itself from any other mid-range smartphones – even from the company’s own catalog. There are numerous smartphones with Kirin 710 chipset in the market right now, too.

For the price of RM999, the HONOR 9X is just way too expensive for everything it offers. I’ll have to say that the HONOR 9X is difficult to recommend. There are better alternatives in the market too – like the Redmi Note 7 (review) and also the realme 3 Pro (review). And yet those are considered last-gen for those two respective brands.

If you’re already using the HONOR 8X, then don’t upgrade. Maybe shell out a couple hundred more for the HONOR View20 (review)? That is a much better smartphone overall.

But hey – at least the HONOR 9X that Malaysians are getting have fully functional Google apps out of the box! No unnecessary fiddling around after you bought the phone! 😏

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Materials
8
Software
7
Connectivity and ports
7
Screen
9
Performance and gaming
6
Camera
5
Battery and charger
8
Value
5
The enthusiastic nanoelectronic engineer who found his way into simplifying the world of tech for everyone. Introverted, but noisy. Nice to meet you!