X

HONOR X9 5G Review: Good Phone With Not-So-Good Cameras

AH HONOR X9 5G review badge 1
Advertisement

The HONOR X9 5G has a lot going for it, but its cameras kind of ruin the overall image.

HONOR X9 5G
€350
Rating
star star star star_empty star_empty
Pros
  • Decent, high refresh rate display
  • Good build quality & in-hand feel
  • Great battery life
  • Really fast charging
  • Surprisingly good performance
Cons
  • Mediocre speaker
  • Bad camera performance
  • Videos are shaky with broken audio
  • Unreliable fingerprint scanner & power button

HONOR supplied us with a review unit of the HONOR X9 5G, but didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see this review before you. We’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks before forming an opinion.

Users have a lot of options when it comes to smartphones nowadays, across all price ranges, well, at least as far as large smartphones are concerned. Not everyone wants or can afford a flagship smartphone, and the same goes for the mid-range category. There definitely is a huge market for truly affordable smartphones, and the one we’re here to talk about kind of belongs in that category. This is the HONOR X9 5G review, the device is also known as the HONOR Magic4 Lite, by the way.

The HONOR X9 5G is the latest budget smartphone from HONOR. It comes with Google services, and it’s actually not a bad offering at its price tag. This phone costs barely over €200, which is a really affordable price point. Many phones that have a similar price tag don’t really perform well, and have a ton of other shortcomings. Well, the HONOR X9 5G is not perfect, but it’s far from a bad smartphone, that’s for sure. Let’s see what it has to offer, shall we?

The HONOR X9 5G both looks & feels great

The HONOR X9 5G is a really nice-looking smartphone. What I mean by that is that it looks modern, as you’d expect out of a 2022 smartphone. Its bezels are quite thin, even though the bottom one is slightly thicker than the rest of them, but that’s per course for devices these days. It has a centered display camera hole, and a flat display. Its camera island on the back is circular, and it does add a bit of flair to this design. It also protrudes a bit.

Advertisement

AH HONOR X9 5G image 2

The phone is made out of metal and plastic, it seems. The frame is made out of metal for sure, while the backplate seems to be plastic. I got the ‘Titanium Silver’ variant to review, and it actually looks really good. The backplate is frosted, and that’s actually kind of great for battling fingerprints (that doesn’t seem to be the case on the Ocean Blue color, based on what I’ve heard). It changes color based on the light source, and it really does look good. You wouldn’t even be able to guess this is plastic until you tap it, to be quite honest.

Most of its buttons are quite tactile

The volume up and down buttons are quite tactile, while I really didn’t enjoy the experience with the power/lock button, which is placed right below the volume up and down buttons. That button actually doubles as a fingerprint scanner, and it’s not as tactile as I’d like. You really have to hit it dead center in order to press it, and it feels quite mushy overall. It actually annoyed me quite a bit during my usage. That is something I definitely did not expect. That fingerprint scanner is decent. It’s not the most accurate nor the fastest one around. I did have to take multiple takes to unlock the phone, at times. It’s not bad, but it’s far from the best I’ve ever used.

Advertisement

AH HONOR X9 5G image 23

It is also worth noting that the earpiece on this phone actually looks like a secondary speaker, but it’s not. There is only one speaker on this device, and it’s bottom-facing. HONOR did a good job with the design overall, though. It does feel good in the hand, and it’s not too heavy. It both looks and feels more premium than it actually is. The only major design complaint I have is that power / lock button on the right.

AH HONOR X9 5G image 18
AH HONOR X9 5G image 25
AH HONOR X9 5G image 27
AH HONOR X9 5G image 28
AH HONOR X9 5G image 31
AH HONOR X9 5G image 32
AH HONOR X9 5G image 34
AH HONOR X9 5G image 50
AH HONOR X9 5G image 48
AH HONOR X9 5G image 18
AH HONOR X9 5G image 25
AH HONOR X9 5G image 27
AH HONOR X9 5G image 28
AH HONOR X9 5G image 31
AH HONOR X9 5G image 32
AH HONOR X9 5G image 34
AH HONOR X9 5G image 50
AH HONOR X9 5G image 48

The display is good, but not great

This handset comes with a huge 6.81-inch display. This is a flat, FullView display, which offers a fullHD+ resolution. It does also come with a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 240Hz touch sampling rate. Now, the display itself is not bad considering the price tag of this phone. The colors are okay, and it’s decently bright. Touch response is good, and that refresh rate definitely helps to make the phone feel more premium.

Advertisement

It’s not the brightest display around

AH HONOR X9 5G image 17

Now, do note that compared to higher-end panels, this display does pale in terms of outdoor visibility. That’s not all, though. You have to keep in mind that this is not an OLED display, so don’t expect the colors to pop as much as they would on an OLED panel. The viewing angles are not excellent either, as the colors do get rather odd when you tilt the phone. Those are all the things you can expect here as this is a budget phone, you have to keep its price in mind. There is a reason why more expensive phones are… well, more expensive.

High refresh rate and touch sampling rate help things

The display, overall, is good. Regular users won’t find much to complain about here, as it serves the purpose, and does a good job doing it. It’s also nice to see that HONOR managed to cram in a 120Hz panel into such an affordable device (240Hz touch sampling rate). The display is also more than large enough for pretty much everyone. If you don’t like large displays (and phones), you may want to look elsewhere.

Advertisement

The performance is really good, even while gaming

AH HONOR X9 5G image 32

What about the performance? This is definitely not the most powerful smartphone out there, specs-wise, but it’s not that weak either. It is equipped with the Snapdragon 695 SoC, and it comes with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. I’ve tested the 8GB RAM variant, and it performed really well, to be quite honest. I did get hiccups here and there, as you can’t expect flagship-grade performance, but the lag was present, at all.

Not even graphically-intensive games were an issue

In fact, using this device was quite pleasant. Even with heavier multitasking, and pushing the phone with some games, the performance was really good. I managed to play Call of Duty Mobile without a problem, and the same goes for Asphalt 9, and Subway Surfers. I even decided to go old school and installed Temple Run on this thing, and everything ran nicely, I don’t have any complaints when it comes to performance, especially considering this phone’s price tag. It didn’t even get hot at any point, just quite warm after a longer COD gaming session.

Advertisement

Great battery life & extremely fast charging

The battery life was a non-issue on the HONOR X9 5G. This smartphone does have a large display with a high refresh rate, but it also comes with a nicely-sized battery. A 4,800mAh battery pack is included, along with 66W wired charging. HONOR says that this charging can get you to 81-percent in about 30 minutes, well, that wasn’t really the case for me. I managed to get around 70-percent of change in 30 minutes, which is still great.

AH HONOR X9 5G image 16

Even with heavy use, one charge per day should be enough

Do note that you likely won’t need to charge this phone during the day, though. Even with heavy use, it was able to last me until the end of the day. I pushed it really hard one day, playing plenty of games, and still had around 15-percent at the end of the day. Without gaming in the picture, you really won’t have to worry about the battery life at all. The Snapdragon 695 definitely helps things, as it’s not the most powerful or power-hungry SoC out there.

Advertisement

Camera performance is the HONOR X9 5G’s achilles heel

AH HONOR X9 5G image 10

The HONOR X9 5G has three cameras on the back, and one on the front. A 48-megapixel main camera is backed by a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth camera. A single 16-megapixel camera sits on the front. So, is the camera performance any good? Well, truth be said, it’s one of the weaker points of this device. First and foremost, there’s no ultrawide camera, instead, HONOR decided to include macro and depth cameras. We’ll talk about that in a second.

It has a tendency of overexposing, and blurring up shots

In regards to the main camera. The shots it captures are quite detailed, but it has one huge flaw… exposure issues. The vast majority of images I took were overexposed and washed out as a result, while the sun was around. When not, the images were kind of dull and uninspired. Some images ended up being darker than they should have been, for no apparent reason, and at times, the images were quite blurry, also for no apparent reason. You can get a decent shot if you manually control the exposure, which is far from ideal, needless to say. Images taken indoors, without plenty of light were also quite blurry.

Advertisement

AH HONOR X9 5G image 51

The macro camera is not good… at all

The macro camera is really bad, as it’s struggling to focus most of the time. If you plan on using this smartphone to capture images in low light, well, that’s not the best idea. It can do a somewhat decent job outdoors, with some light in the picture, but if you go a step further into darkness, or try taking images in a darker room indoors, well, that won’t work. I had to delete a lot of images I took as they were almost pitch black, despite the fact I didn’t take them in a pitch black room. No, ‘Night’ mode didn’t help things at all, at least not when the light was scarce.

Videos end up being shaky and overexposed

Video recording is also not its strong suit. It’s capped at fullHD at 30 FPS, the video ends up being shaky and overexposed. On top of that, the audio captured ended up sounding really odd, as if I’m underwater or something. It was really weird. All in all, the camera experience was really bad.

HONOR X9 5G camera sample 29
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 28
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 27
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 26
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 25
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 24
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 23
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 22
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 21
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 20
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 18
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 17
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 16
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 14
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 13
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 12
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 11
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 10
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 9
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 8
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 7
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 6
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 4
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 2
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 1
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 29
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 28
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 27
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 26
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 25
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 24
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 23
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 22
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 21
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 20
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 18
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 17
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 16
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 14
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 13
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 12
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 11
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 10
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 9
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 8
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 7
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 6
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 4
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 2
HONOR X9 5G camera sample 1

Its speaker is mediocre, but voice calls are good

The HONOR X9 5G has a single speaker at the bottom. That speaker is decent, but not great. It does sound a bit tiny, while the sound is not as sharp as I’d expect it to be. It can get quite loud though, but you’ll notice the distortion at higher volumes. The audio recording is not particularly great either, and if you plan on recording audio while you’re filming, well, you can forget about that. My audio sounded as if I’m underwater, as mentioned in the previous section. That could be a flaw with this device only, but it’s worth noting. The calls were decent, though, I had no issues in that regard.

The software is good, but you’re only getting Android 11 here

AH HONOR X9 5G apps image 1

You’d expect Android 12 to be pre-installed on this phone, but it’s not. You’re getting Android 11 here, with HONOR’s Magic UI 4.2 on top of it. This software doesn’t step far away from the Android experience you’d get on other phones. There is no app drawer by default, but you can add it via the settings. There are some added features by HONOR, and the gesture navigation works really well.

You do get Google Discover by default, though you can disable it, if you want. There are some customization options, but not nearly as much as you’d get with some third-party launchers. All in all, the UI looks good, and it’s well optimized for this phone. As I mentioned in the performance section, it works really well, so there’s really not much to complain about here.

The HONOR X9 5G would be quite compelling if not for its cameras

AH HONOR X9 5G image 36

So, should you get the HONOR X9 5G? Well, it all depends on what you need it for. If you’re getting a budget phone for the camera, or its audio capabilities, this is definitely not the device for you. If you’re planning to use it for multimedia consumption and/or gaming, well, it may be a good choice. It feels good in the hand, and the overall design is not bad at all. You’re also getting really good battery life, and more than fast enough charging. If not for the camera issues, it would actually be an easy recommendation. Those issues are extremely pronounced, though, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of getting the device.