Honor 9X review

Kaloyan Ivanov, 24 Oct 2019.

EMUI 9.1 on top of Android 9 Pie

The Honor 9X boots EMUI 9.1, which is based on Android 9 Pie. It has all Google services and complete access to Play Store. The Huawei P Smart Z has been certified to receive Android 10 and EMUI 10, which means the Honor 9X is going to be treated the same way.

Honor 9X review

The Honor 9X has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and it's among the best in terms of speed and accuracy. Face Unlock was not available on our Honor 9X.

Like all EMUI-driven devices, you can set up a magazine lockscreen style that changes the picture every time you wake up the screen. Sliding from the bottom will bring out quick shortcuts to some commonly used utilities. As usual, we found it to be useful and a bit annoying at the same time because there were times when we just wanted to unlock the phone, but we brought out the menu instead.

On the homescreen, you will find all of the installed and system apps, but there's a toggle in the settings menu that lets you choose between the standard layout or a homescreen with an app drawer. It's a personal preference, and it's good to be able to choose.

Lockscreen - Honor 9X review Tools - Honor 9X review Magazine unlock - Honor 9X review Homescreen - Honor 9X review Homescreen style - Honor 9X review
Lockscreen • Tools • Magazine unlock • Homescreen • Homescreen style

Swiping to the right from the homescreen will bring up your Google Feed while swiping down from an empty area lets you search in your apps and contacts. On other makers' launchers that last action could bring down the notification shade, but not here.

You can, however, pull down the shade by swiping on the fingerprint reader, then double-tap to dismiss all notifications and swipe back up to hide the shade - no more reaching for the top bezel when using this tall 19.5:9 screen. This is a setting that you need to enable in the fingerprint ID section of the settings menu, it's not on by default.

The notification shade itself is nothing out of the ordinary. It can fit three rows with five quick launch icons for each row and right under the icons, you will find the screen brightness slider.

Google Feed - Honor 9X review App/contacts search - Honor 9X review Notification shade - Honor 9X review
Google Feed • App/contacts search • Notification shade

Multitasking is a familiar affair. Holding the Recent key will let you activate the split-screen mode. You could even have a video playing on top of the two windows if for some reason you find that useful.

Notification area - Honor 9X review Toggles - Honor 9X review Recent apps - Honor 9X review Split screen - Honor 9X review Split screen - Honor 9X review
Notification area • Toggles • Recent apps • Split screen • Split screen

As we've seen on other recent Huawei/Honor devices, on the 9X, you can opt for gesture-based navigation if the classic navbar is too 2017 for you. It goes like this - swipe up for Home, swipe up and stop midway for Task switcher, or swipe from the left or right edge of the screen for Back.

From the phone manager app, which is now called Optimiser, you can access shortcuts to storage cleanup, battery settings, blocked numbers, Virus scan powered by Avast, and mobile data usage.

Huawei's Music app offers a way to listen to stored MP3s, while Huawei's Health app offers Google Fit syncing and step counting. The gallery is an entirely custom job, too, but it has the usual chronological and albums views plus an AI-powered highlights selection. There's a file manager app and a note-taking app. And if you don't like any of those - there is an abundance of alternatives in the Play Store.

FM radio support is available on the Honor 9X and you get an appropriate app preinstalled as well.

Optimiser - Honor 9X review Music Player - Honor 9X review Gallery - Honor 9X review Files - Honor 9X review FM radio - Honor 9X review
Optimiser • Music Player • Gallery • Files • FM radio

Performance and benchmarks

The Honor 9X is powered by Huawei's own midrange Kirin 710F chipset. It's made on a 12nm process (its efficiency was already proven in the battery chapter), and it features an octa-core CPU in a 4x2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A53 configuration. The GPU is a Mali-G51 MP4.

The international Honor 9X is available only with 6GB of RAM.

Honor 9X review

The Kirin 710F is the same chip as Kirin 710 specs-wise. The F stands for FCCSP or Flip-Chip Chip-Scale Package and means the 710F chip has a different integrated circuit package than the first-gen 710 SoC. But as far as performance and specs are concerned - they should be the same.

Huawei has made its Performance mode available to anyone and you can find the switch in the Battery settings of the Honor 9X. The Performance mode may offer a small speed boost in some instances (mostly in raw CPU power).

The good news is the Kirin 710F doesn't make the Honor 9X hot no matter which battery mode is active and how many benchmarks we ran. We got identical scores across all tests in both Balanced and Performance mode and that's just great. You can leave the phone in Balanced Mode and you will still get the maximum punch when necessary.

The performance of a single A73 core is nothing impressive these days - it delivers enough processing power and will do for a smooth experience, but there are better cores out there already.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno2
    2547
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    2537
  • vivo V17 Pro
    2382
  • Realme XT
    1899
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
    1851
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
    1715
  • Honor 8X
    1618
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    1576
  • Honor 9X
    1559
  • Realme X
    1475
  • Samsung Galaxy A30
    1319

The multi-core test shows the Kirin 710F processor does offer the same performance as the Kirin 710 within the Honor 8X. So, as far as CPUs are concerned - the Honor 8X and 9X are on par.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno2
    7001
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    6863
  • vivo V17 Pro
    6629
  • Realme XT
    6102
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
    5989
  • Realme X
    5915
  • Honor 8X
    5651
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    5549
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
    5396
  • Honor 9X
    5345
  • Samsung Galaxy A30
    4146

The Mali-G51 MP4 is still a good GPU and is equipped well for balanced and sustained performance. It is not the most powerful GPU in the mid-range - the latest Xiaomi and Realme phones easily double the Honor 9X scores, but what you'd get here will be mostly enough for smooth experience.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno2
    30
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    27
  • Realme XT
    26
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
    23
  • vivo V17 Pro
    17
  • Honor 9X
    14
  • Honor 8X
    14
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy A30
    8.1

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno2
    17
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    16
  • Realme XT
    15
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
    9.2
  • vivo V17 Pro
    8.8
  • Honor 9X
    7.7
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    7.7
  • Honor 8X
    7.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A30
    4.5

3DMark SSE 3.1 Unlimited

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno2
    2573
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    2329
  • Realme XT
    2284
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
    1959
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
    1353
  • vivo V17 Pro
    1221
  • Honor 9X
    991
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    988
  • Samsung Galaxy A30
    587

The compound AnTuTu test returned a good score although not an impressive one.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno2
    214097
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    211915
  • Realme XT
    185193
  • vivo V17 Pro
    176791
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
    175478
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
    144574
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    141600
  • Honor 9X
    140362
  • Honor 8X
    137276
  • Samsung Galaxy A30
    96550

Obviously, the Honor 9X is not the most powerful smartphone among its peers. It is as powerful as the Honor 8X and will do for lag-free Android operations and stutter-free gaming. This doesn't mean you won't experience a hiccup here and there, but it will be occasional.

The Honor 9X enjoys a good passive cooling system and we had no issues whatsoever - we observed no hot spots and no throttling.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

Huawei has a habit of launching the same device under different names for various marketing reasons. So selling a slightly modified version of P Smart Z as Honor 9X is nothing unseen, but it's for the first time we see an Honor device bear the m...

Its this problem only with my phone when i make a video with my back camera the video is croped and when i want to see is all in little cubes and if the video is 30 sec i can see only 5 sec and after that i cant see anything :/

  • tezz

I this problem only in my phone, when i make a video with the back camera my video is croped,of i make video 30 sec when i want to see it its only 5 sec and i cant see anything is all in little cubes.