HONOR X9B 5G Review : Can Gimmick Still Sell?

HONOR X9B 5G
HONOR X9B 5G
The HONOR X9B steps into the mid-range smartphone market with a bold claim: durability on a budget. But does it deliver beyond its tough exterior? Let’s dive deep into its strengths and weaknesses.
Design
8
Display
8
Performance
7
Camera
7
Battery Life
9
Value
8
Reader Rating2 Votes
9
Approve
Smooth 120Hz OLED
Near-unbreakable glass
More RAM than X9A with same launch price
Massive 5800mAh battery translates to long battery life
Approvn’t
Very poor ultrawide and macro performance
Could use a performance boost
Still mono speakers!
35W charging for 5800 mAh is slow
7.8

Out of 10


ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 (4 nm)
RAM & Storage12GB+256GB (UFS 3.1)
Display6.78-inch FHD+ HONOR FullView 120Hz OLED Display
Cameras108MP f/1.75 (Main)
5MP f/2.2 (Ultrawide)
2MP f/2.4 (Macro)
16MP f/2.5 (wide-selfie)
Battery 5800 mAh
35W Fast Charging
SoftwareMagicOS 7.2 (Android 13)
PriceRM 1499
ColorsSunrise Orange (Vegan Leather),Titanium Silver,Midnight Black

First Impressions

The Works

The HONOR X9B comes out as a competitive offering, coming in just one variant, which is 256GB with 12GB RAM. It packs a 5G ready Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset to take care of all performance needs, and whether it can meet those needs are left a lot to be desired.

It’s barely a mid-range chip, and it has just enough power to run your day-to-day including the simplest of games. The phone isn’t marketed as a gaming device which is fair enough. It’s more of a lifestyle phone with a highly durable screen being the highlight.

You can play any game on this, but don’t expect stellar performance. 2D titles like Cookie Run Ovenbreak and Nikke stayed at 60 FPS for the most part, whereas demanding titles like Genshin Impact and Diablo Immortal barely left the 40 FPS range despite lowering graphics quality. More mobile titles are becoming CPU stressful than GPU, so do keep that in mind when you’re picking a smartphone.

That being said, it measures up to 6.78-inches tall, with an AMOLED panel that goes up to 120Hz. Colors are beautiful and there’s barely any screen tearing to be seen when navigating around quickly. Watching movies were a joy too, since it comes with the same high 1920Hz PWM tech as the HONOR Magic4 Pro, and during our movie test at lower brightness levels, there was no flickering to be felt or seen.

The screen is curved and is protected by one of the toughest glass we’ve ever seen, being able to smash fruits and nuts into pieces like it was NOTHING. Compared to Huawei’s Kunlun glass, I’d say it’s more or less the same tech, being based heavily on a nanocrystal injection process.

This is a selling point of the Honor X9B, being a smartphone with an incredibly tough screen. If you’re a clumsy person constantly dropping their phone, then this is definitely the safest choice for you!

Overall, the phone feels nice to hold and has a faux leathery finish that’s now common practice for brands, including HONOR.

Camera

The triple-lens camera system boasts a 108MP main sensor, with 2 accompanying macro and ultrawide sensors to complete the setup. but results are mixed. In good lighting, photos are decent, although details can be soft. Low-light performance suffers, with noticeable noise and loss of sharpness. While adequate for casual shots, the camera might not satisfy photography enthusiasts.

Camera Tests

Main Sensor

From a base line, the Honor X9A’s main 64MP sensor outputs to 16MP images by default, where 64MP is simply achieved via taking multiple low resolution shots, comparing them, and then it results in one, high resolution image (sub-pixel localization).

Now, being used as a daily point ‘n shoot, the main sensor sadly didn’t perform up to par, producing images that had a basic level of detail, lighting and slightly flat colors. One thing it did right was keeping dynamic range at bay, making sure sky shots didn’t look too blown out and overexposed.

2x Zoom was actually good, keeping lots of detail even as a digital crop-in. It might not be as bright as the default 1x, but it gave it a nice cake of depth and contrast that turned out pretty nice.

Left: Default 16MP |Right : Hi-Res 64MP

High-resolution mode simply stacks multiple lower-res shots into one piece as i’ve mentioned before, and it results in slightly better detail levels at zoomed ranges at the cost of more noise and a drop in sharpness. At this point, it’s better to shoot at default 16MP over high-res mode unless you have lots of light to compensate. Otherwise, I’d advise against it.

Ultrawide

The 5MP ultrawide is very basic, producing iamges that had below-passable level of detail in the centre which gets worse towards the outer circle of the photo. As you can see, edges were sharp and very noisy, with the shadows being painted with noise and a poor attempt at trying to light up those areas. The problem is really pixel count. 5MP is a very old and unusual number akin to the time where we all had Nokia’s and Sony Ericsson’s.

We’re pretty sure HONOR knows this well, and to compensate, a very aggressive post-process painted our ultrawide photos with a layer of saturation, exposure correction and some denoising (which barely did much).

Use this sensor only when you absolutely need an ultrawide shot and there’s nothing else to do so.

Macro

This is a basic 2MP macro with an optimal 4 cm ideal range. It falls in line with all Chinese based Android smartphones that have a similar setup. Shots were low in detail, slightly saturated with a warm bias and a case of overexposure and oversharpening from the same post-process. Just a filler lens to keep the number of available sensors high.

Selfies

Finally, we reach the optimistic part of the camera test. The HONOR X9B does a very admirable job with selfies using its 16MP shooter with an f/2.5 aperture.

Default mode takes a good level of detail and sharpness with a good amount of exposure. It doesn’t seem to have a warm or cold bias and an outdoor afternoon shoot seemed like the perfect environment to take advantage of this.

Their A-game continues on portrait mode, adding a good layer of bokeh whilst retaining lots of good detail on my face and facial hair. There’s only a faint softness on the borders of my hair and ear which is barely noticeable, and also towards the logo on my t-shirt. That’s nitpicking, and overall portrait selfies are pretty fun and good to do on the Honor X9A.

In extremely sunny conditions however, we did notice some overpowering exposure that the selfie-cam couldn’t handle, but optimistically speaking, the amount of detail I was left with is quite satisfying, with a consistent level of bokeh.

The Verdict

If you’re looking to maximise some memory with a strict RM 1500 budget, the Honor X9B offers 256GB of storage with 12GB of RAM which is a leg up over the X9A from last year.

I appreciate the OLED screen. It was colorful, sharp and incredibly durable thanks to Honor’s own glass tech.

It’s not for you if you’re looking to take great photos as I feel that it simply just does its job without any additional charm to it.

If you’re a selfie-lover however, the Honor X9B is definitely right up your alley.

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