Honor 9 Smartphone Review: the data sheet are not everything

PROS:

  • Successful finishes.
  • Screen rather faithful.
  • High-performance fingerprint reader.
  • Fluid interface.
  • Good autonomy.

CONS:

  • Slab with little contrast.
  • Fingerprint sensitive back.
  • Quality of the pictures disappointing.
  • Heats up enormously.

BOTTOM LINE :

The Honor 9 would have been able to hang a 4th star on his final note. It was without counting on this tendency to heat a lot that penalizes it very clearly. This Honor 9 does not offer a satisfactory photo experience and is today one of the nerves of the war of smartphones. Defects that seem more hold of optimization. Maybe the 9th would have had to mature again a few months at Honor before going out. It will find on its way a very good OnePlus 5 and a Galaxy S7 become more affordable. The fight is going to be tough for the Honor 9.


Honor took the lead to get his spearhead out. The Honor 9 thus arrived in early summer 2017, just after a rather successful Honor 8 Pro. While previous models in the series were all showing signs of improvement, this Honor 9 seems to be slowing down.

The Honor 9 takes almost identically the technical sheet of his cousin the Huawei P10. Thus the last of the Honor embeds a plate LTPS of 5.2 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080 px), for an equivalent resolution of 423 dpi. It is powered by the high-end platform from HiSilicon, the Kirin 960. This SoC consists of 8 ARM Cortex cores (4 x A73 and 4 x A53), a Mali-G71 graphics chip and 4 GB of RAM. The Honor 9 also relies on an internal memory of 64 GB, expandable by microSD. For the picture, Honor 9 can count on a duo of back modules. The first is 12 Mpx RGB sensor and the second is 20 Mpx monochrome. At the front, selfies are ensured by a sensor of 8 Mpx. Connectivity is left to the Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and 4G LTE (it still lacks the B28 band of 700 MHz). The Honor 9 has a battery of 3200 mAh and, on the software side, we find Android 7.0, hidden under EMUI 5.1.

ERGONOMICS AND DESIGN

The Honor 9 takes back some elements of his ancestor, the Honor 8. The back is covered with glass but this time the back is slightly curved at the edges, as on a Samsung Galaxy S7. This surface proves to be flattering when it comes out of the box, but one quickly deceives as the fingerprints accumulate there. This glass has the merit of not being too slippery in hand.

The fingerprint reader is on the front panel, in the band that highlights the screen. A positioning which is, in our eyes, more relevant than before, since this reader is accessible when the smartphone is placed on a table. Overall, its operation shows no weakness and the unlocking is almost instantaneous. On either side of the fingerprint reader, Honor has chosen to place the navigation keys sensing.

It is regrettable that Honor did not take more risk in the design of his last. The occupancy of the front panel by the screen is only about 70%. A Galaxy S7 reaches almost 73%, when a GS8 climbs to almost 85%. It will be necessary to arm themselves with both hands to fully exploit the tactile surface of Honor 9.

On the grip side, the biggest problem comes from the heating of the device. Indeed, we have observed an external temperature of 40 ° C on the back and the front face reaches almost 45 ° C when the Honor 9 is pressed. Temperatures that are particularly disturbing to the user.

Updated 
29/06/2017 with 17:04
We did our heat test on two other units of Honor 9, to make sure it was not our test model that was failing. Unfortunately, we found similar temperatures on the two new aircraft. Honor told us that an update will be deployed soon to correct this problem. We will repeat our heating tests as soon as this one will be proposed to us.

SCREEN

 Honor does not change his habits and continues to offer a smartphone in LTPS (derived from the IPS). Here, the Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 px) is enough to offer a display thinness that will suit all uses, except the RV. We measured an average contrast ratio of 1072: 1, rather far from the results of the best IPS slabs, reaching 2000: 1. The Amoled screens are for their part very far ahead with almost infinite contrast ratio. The maximum brightness of 423 cd / m² is sufficient to counteract the reflections of a radiant sun, especially as the reflection rate is 13%; a correct score.
By default, as often, Honor 9 is far from offering a faithful colorimetry. A simple detour by the parameters makes it possible to correct this, by choosing the “hot” profile. With this one, we measure an almost ideal delta E at 3.1 and a temperature of 6490 K. What avoided the bluish drifts of the screens too cold.

The touch delay of the screen is below the average of our comparative (87 ms), at 77 ms. A satisfactory figure, but more than double the top students in the category. The remanence is in the average for an IPS panel, at 17 ms.

INTERFACE AND NAVIGATION

 The EMUI 5.1 overlay, common to Honor and Huawei, is far from the most digestible for the lover of an Android stock . Honor puts his paw on the graphic part of the OS, but retains the navigation logic wanted by Google. You will find the usual menus with the application tray, the drop-down menu that contains notifications and shortcuts or customizable greeting panels.

Honor 9 does not arrive empty memory. Of the 64 GB promised by the datasheet, only 51 GB are actually available. And this is without counting on the myriad of applications pre-installed by the Chinese manufacturer. In addition to the usual Google apps (Gmail, Drive, YouTube or Play Store), there are games and apps like Booking or TripAdvisor. Fortunately, anything that is not essential can be uninstalled completely.

The “9” also extends the list of the gestural shortcuts that one usually finds. The possibility of capturing the screen or separating it in two thanks to phalanxes, the activation of the one-handed use mode or the use of a floating menu are part of the game.

The Kirin 960 and the 4 GB of RAM that accompany it work well. The Honor 9 turns without problem, even when subjected to greedy situations. As mentioned above, the only real problem remains the heating of the apparatus.

MULTIMEDIA

For video playback, the 5.7 inch screen of an Honor 8 Pro is more comfortable. However, we will be tempted by a small episode of series on the 5.2″ of Honor 9. The integrated video player decrypts the majority of the formats submitted to him, except the AVI, shunned by many smartphones. Without being the most powerful on the market, the headphone output of the Honor will suffice for the majority of headphones. It also delivers a distortion-free sound, a wide dynamic range and a stereo image above average. Make sure to disable the “Huawei sound effect” mode in the settings, otherwise all measures will collapse. Not surprisingly, the single speaker placed on the bottom edge is not excellent. It is still quite weak and its use should be limited to calls or short videos.

VIDEO GAMES

The performance of the graphics chip Mali-G71 MP8 is no longer to prove. The Honor 9 takes full advantage and runs all the games of the Play Store without lag. However, after several tens of minutes of 3D game, the smartphone becomes hot, very hot and the pleasure of videoludic is no longer the same. The rise in temperature of Honor 9 has the additional consequence of causing the fluidity to fall and visual snags appear.

PHOTO

As explained in the preamble, Honor 9 takes the photo part of the Huawei P10. So there are two modules that are enthroned on the back of the device. The first is based on a RGB sensor 12 Mpx while the second uses a monochrome sensor of 20 Mpx.In broad daylight, it is preferable to capture in color and in 20 Mpx, whereas in low light, it is necessary to privilege the 12 Mpx. Whatever the conditions of brightness, the Honor 9 is at best only good, even average. It remains at a clear cables of a OnePlus 5 (wide-angle) and a Huawei P10. Let’s not talk about comparison with an HTC U11 or LG G6, which are light years away from what offers Honor’s smartphone.

When working alone, the monochrome sensor behaves better. Its 20 megapixels offer detailed and contrasting shots of the day, but they degrade visually as the light decreases. The image processing applied by Honor remains a step below that of Huawei.

In video, the Honor 9 allows to register up to a definition UHD. However, as almost every time, you have to settle for a Full HD definition to get the best result. With the highest definition, jerks and focus tracking are not up to scratch.

The front photo sensor of 8 Mpx is correct, if you get rid of all the software artifices that concocted Honor. The mode of beauty only has the effect of smoothing to excess and the portrait mode is even worse than the back. It virtually never comes up with a relevant background blur and often forgets areas that should be blurred.

AUTONOMY

 The Honor 9 carries a battery of capacity equivalent to that of the P10, that is 3200 mAh. On our test of autonomy SmartViser, the first manages to do better than the second one. The Honor 9 holds 13:22 against 12:02 for the P10. It’s barely worse than a Samsung Galaxy S7 (13h32), but enough to make it miss the walk of the 5th star in autonomy. An ultimate star that would probably have been removed given the low score reached in streaming video playback  (8:48).

In practice, Honor 9 will have difficulty holding more than a day if subjected to a very sustained use. A standard or moderate use can see it run up to a day and a half, or even the evening of the second day.

Fortunately, it takes just over an hour and twenty minutes to completely recharge the Honor 9.

Telephony side

It is a habit at Honor, the 9 can embark two nano-SIM cards. However, it should be noted that only one of the two can benefit from the mobile data, the other must be satisfied with calls and SMS. A function that remains the same in everyone.

In communication, the caller get along without difficulty. Sometimes you have to push the volume of the Speaker 9 a bit when the environment is noisy, but nothing catastrophic. The grip on the grid does not show any noticeable weakness, as does the fix GPS, which requires only a handful of seconds.

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