Honor 9N Review: Looks good but does it perform well enough?

Honor 9N is a light-weight and good looking smartphone on a budget but does the performance match the good looks? Find out in our full review

Honor 9N
Honor 9N comes with a notched display

Huawei’s sub-brand Honor recently launched the Honor 9N in India. The smartphone is here to compete against the likes of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Honor 9N surely looks more impressive than most of the smartphones in this price range, but should you get the phone? Read our in-depth review of the Honor 9N to find out.

Specifications

Honor 9N sports a 5.84-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080×2280 pixels and a 19:9 aspect ratio. It is powered by the Kirin 659 processor coupled with the Mali-T830 GPU. Our unit packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. All of this is backed by a 3,000mAh battery.

Design

The Honor 9N with the glass-sandwich design is surely one of the better-looking smartphones in this price range. As for placements, the Honor 9N sports a FullHD+ display up front with a tiny notch up top which houses the earpiece, selfie camera and a couple of sensors. At the bottom, there is a chin that also has Honor branding on it.

Honor 9N
Honor 9N sports a glass sandwich design

Flipping the phone reveals the beautiful glass back which is covered with fingerprints as soon as you take it out of the box. The dual-camera setup sits at the top left corner with an LED flash sitting right beside it. The fingerprint sensor is in the centre which makes it quite easy to use. While the right side has the volume rocker and the power button, the left side only has the removable hybrid SIM tray. The bottom is congested with the microUSB port, a speaker grill, a microphone and a 3.5mm jack. Up top, there is only a secondary noise-cancelling microphone.

Display

Honor 9N
the 5.84-inch display is easy to use single-handedly

The Honor 9N features a 5.84-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080×2280 pixels and a 19:9 aspect ratio. There is a notch up top which gives it a more premium look. The display itself is bright enough for indoor use case scenarios. However, take this thing out and you will start to feel that the max brightness isn’t giving you the best result. The colours are a bit unnatural and there are no options in the settings menu where you can tweak them.

Software & UI

Honor 9N runs on EMUI 8.0.0 which is based on Android 8.0 Oreo. Unlike some other Honor smartphones, this one is stuck with an older version of Android Oreo which also indicates that Honor 9N will be one of the last Honor smartphones to get Android Pie.

EMUI is quite easy to use and has great optimisations for better battery. However, the UI does lack an app drawer which is why you might want to consider switching to some other launcher like Nova Launcher. Also, during our testing, we did notice some lag and stutter in the UI which was caused due to the heavy skin on top. We feel that these stutters can be a major problem for the overall user experience. It is also worth noting that the device also ships with some bloatware which includes games like Asphalt Nitro, Dragon Mania and much more.

Ignoring these negatives and looking at the positives of the EMUI, the UI does offer a ton of extra features. There is a dedicated theme store, multiple transition effects on the stock launcher, an integrated app lock and many other extra useful features.

Performance

Honor 9N is powered by the company’s own Kirin 659 processor which has now become quite old as we have seen it running the show on Honor 7X from 2017. However, the chipset does not disappoint you when it comes to performing daily tasks or even playing games like PUBG. The software, on the other hand, looks like its the bottleneck here as it is not optimised to its best. We did notice a few stutters here and there while launching a few applications.

Camera

The Honor 9N comes with a dual-camera setup at the back consisting of a 13-megapixel primary and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor. The rear set of cameras are able to take decent pictures in outdoor lighting condition and the portrait effect also works quite well.

Up front, there is a 16-megapixel selfie shooter which is able to snap some really good selfies in outdoor lighting conditions. It also has a portrait mode which works only with the help of the software and does a decent job. However, the edge detection here is not up to the mark. Also, the camera tends to struggle a bit when in indoor lighting conditions.

Battery

Honor 9N comes with a 3,000mAh battery out of the box. During our testing, we were barely able to take it through a full working day with heavy usage. However, with light to moderate use, you might be able to get more juice out of the device. Standby time of the phone is pretty good, thanks to the optimizations made in EMUI. If you are looking for a better battery life, you should consider the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 instead.

Verdict

The Honor 9N comes with a premium looking design and is surely one of the lightest smartphones I have tested personally barring the Redmi 6A. When using the phone without a case, it feels premium, however, there is a downside to that, which is that it gets all smudged up with fingerprints as soon as you remove the cover. The software experience here isn’t the best and could have been better. The small form factor of the phone makes is quite easy to use single-handedly.

Honor 9N
Honor 9N is good but not the best

In a nutshell, the Honor 9N does give a premium look and feel to its user with the glass sandwich design and a notched display at a starting price of Rs. 11,999. However, the end-user experience is based more on software, than looks. EMUI still needs a lot of work and if Honor decides to make it better, it can be one of the best smartphones at this price range available in the market. Until then, we highly recommend checking out some alternatives from companies like Asus, Xiaomi and Realme.

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