Being one of the biggest necessities in today’s world, the smartphone market has become really saturated with devices offering the same designs, specs, and other features. That’s the reason why brands have been hard at work in bringing out something new to the table.
HONOR was able to come up with one and applied it to their latest midrange phone, the HONOR X9a 5G. Despite all the advanced power and sleek look of recent devices, there’s one area that a lot of manufacturers often overlook: durability.
Aside from the usual things that consumers would expect from a modern smartphone, the HONOR X9a 5G is equipped with a durable screen. But how does it actually perform in day-to-day use? Does it offer great value for the money? That’s what we’ll find out in our HONOR X9a 5G review.
HONOR X9a 5G Specs
- Android 12, MagicUI 6.1
- Dual SIM, Dual standby
- 6.67-inch FHD+ OLED display, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 394ppi
- 120Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch sampling
- 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 octa-core processor
- Adreno 619 GPU
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB internal storage, non-expandable
- 16-megapixel front camera
- 64-megapixel (f/1.8) + 5-megapixel (ultra-wide) + 2-megapixel (macro) rear cameras, LED flash
- Under-display fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
- Loudspeaker, Hi-Res Audio, Hi-Res wireless
- HSPA+, 4G LTE, 5G
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
- Bluetooth 5.1
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
- USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 161.6 x 73.9 x 7.9mm
- Weight: 175g
- Colors: Emerald Green, Titanium Silver, Midnight Black
- 5,100mAh non-removable battery, 40W HONOR SuperCharge
Design and Build Quality
Let’s get right to it and talk about its key feature: the durable display. It uses 0.65mm reinforced glass. According to the HONOR’s website, it can withstand a marble drop test, random roll test, squeeze test, and steel ball impact test.
@noypigeeks Here’s our quick drop test video of the #HONORX9a5G. 🔥 #honor #PremiumOLEDCurvedScreen #2DayBattery #smartphone #mobile ♬ HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar
It was painful to do, but we did it. As you can see from the video above, we dropped the device face down from different levels landing on a wooden table and concrete. There were some little scuffs on the sides but the screen didn’t crack.
This gives you extra peace of mind that the screen wouldn’t break or become unusable in case you drop it.
In addition, it will give you extra confidence if you don’t want to use the included clear case to enjoy its sleek and ultra-thin build. However, don’t go around drop-testing it to impress people as the corners and the back are still prone to nicks and scratches.
Speaking of which, the HONOR X9a 5G is one of the sleekest and thinnest smartphones we’ve ever had our hands on. It’s only 7.9mm thin and even has a curved screen that makes it even more comfortable and premium in the hands. If we didn’t know better, we probably could have mistaken it for a flagship smartphone.
But using it with one hand can be tiring since it’s quite tall at 6.67 inches. Although at 175g, it’s very light and you’d barely notice it.
When it came out abroad a few days ago, the HONOR X9a 5G came in three colors: Titanium Silver, Midnight Black, and the unit we have here, Emerald Green.
This variant really looks clean with shimmering elements for a fancier feel. We also have HONOR’s signature large ring glass that holds the three cameras and the LED Flash. The glass is so large the device doesn’t even wobble when you lay it on a flat surface despite the camera bump.
We also love how the textured back isn’t prone to fingerprint marks and smudges so it stays clean, even without the clear case.
The main chassis might not be as durable as the tough display, but it’s still fairly robust with no flexing or creaking sound when we tried bending it.
To give you a tour of the rest of the hardware, we have a noise-isolating microphone on the top, with the main microphone at the bottom together with the USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, and the SIM tray that can only house two nano SIMs, no room for a microSD card.
The X9a 5G also didn’t get to have a 3.5mm headphone jack, due to its curved screen and thin design.
It goes without saying that the design, especially the build quality, is the main highlight of the HONOR X9a 5G — features that are enough to make it stand out from the crowd.
Display and Sound Quality
The HONOR X9a 5G has a 6.67-inch FHD+ OLED display with a 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch sampling rate for sensitivity, sub-pixel fine control, 1920Hz PWM dimming, and TUV Rheinland low blue light certification.
Display quality isn’t as vibrant as other OLEDs we’ve seen, but it sure is much better than the IPS panels we’ve seen in this category — making it great for watching Netflix and other content. Details, even small texts, look sharp.
Screen brightness is good, making it usable even in sunny outdoors. Also, thanks to the PWM dimming, the brightness gets low enough to make the screen still comfortable to look at in the dark.
Possibly one of the most disappointing things about the X9a is the lack of a stereo speaker, but we do forgive them for the omission of the headphone jack as we got a thin design because of it.
The single loudspeaker provides a really loud volume, albeit lacks a bit of clarity. Also, it managed to get Hi-Res audio and Hi-Res Wireless certifications.
Hardware and Performance
The HONOR X9a 5G is powered by a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 octa-core processor with an Adreno 619 GPU. HONOR wanted to simplify things, so it only comes in a single 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage variant. Unfortunately, no microSD slot for expansion.
HONOR X9a 5G benchmark scores
Performance feels pretty solid and smooth, especially together with its fast display. We were able to accomplish a lot of tasks without any hitch. Streaming movies, taking pictures, recording videos, reading articles online, catching up on social media, and more are easily doable on this device.
We’ve noticed some stuttering when scrolling fast on the Google Play Store, but other than that, we’re more than satisfied with its performance.
The HONOR X9a 5G’s gaming prowess is also above average. Mobile Legends and Call of Duty Mobile ran smoothly under Medium to High graphics, but we’ve noticed some lag on Ultra settings.
As for the cameras, the HONOR X9a 5G comes with a 64-megapixel main sensor, joined by an oddly low-resolution 5-megapixel ultra-wide lens, 2-megapixel macro, LED flash, and 16-megapixel selfie snapper on the front.
We’re not sure if it’s a software issue, but the main camera takes underwhelming images. The colors look pale and the contrast is a bit off. Also, video recording is capped at 1080p@30fps. No 4K and 60fps recording either. Hopefully, HONOR is preparing a software update as a fix.
Still, the camera hardware shows potential with enough detail and clean natural blur. Low-light shots are also acceptable, although we’ve seen some oversharpening on Night Mode shots.
What we’re curious to know is why the ultra-wide lens only got a 5-megapixel sensor instead of the more acceptable 8-megapixel.
To no one’s surprise, the image quality is not good with poor details and color quality. It’s still usable as the lens does a great job of cramming big landscapes, a group of people, and architecture in one frame.
On the upside, the 16-megapixel front camera takes great selfies with fine details and the right skin tones. The portrait mode also has good edge detection for a believable blur effect.
Camera quality is definitely not the HONOR X9a’s strongest suite. So if you’re mainly in it for taking pictures or recording videos, this may not be the phone for you.
Software and User Interface
Being a smartphone released in 2023, we expected the HONOR X9a 5G to run on the latest Android 13 operating system. However, this model ships with Android 12 and the brand’s Magic UI 6.1 on top.
Not a big problem, though, as Magic UI is still clean and one of the most intuitive softwares around. We’re particularly fond of the gesture navigation controls as it’s more satisfying to use on a great screen like this that has ultra-thin bezels.
Customization adjustments are abundant, especially for the Always-On Display (AOD) feature thanks to the OLED panel.
Both the under-display fingerprint scanner and the face unlock worked really well on the device. In fact, the latter was able to detect my face so fast I never got to use the fingerprint sensor to unlock the device.
HONOR’s digital assistant, YOYO, is also here. Although, it does nothing but recommend apps based on your habits or the current scenario.
Android’s Digital Wellbeing is also here that shows your smartphone habits, as well as parental control that limits access to certain apps and content.
One-handed mode is enabled by swiping from left to right at the bottom of the screen until the UI shrinks. This is especially useful on a smartphone this large.
For better multitasking, you can also use the multi-window mode, so you can have up to three apps running at the same time.
Out of the box, it ships with Microsft Swiftkey as the default keyboard. It’s a great keyboard, easy to type on, and has the side benefit of syncing clipboard with your Windows PC. The camera app is also straightforward and easy to use.
The HONOR X9a might not have the latest operating system around, but it sure still feels complete and convenient to use. Plus, since it’s a fancy new phone, we’re quite certain that it’s in line to receive the Android 13 update.
The HONOR X9a 5G, as the name suggests, comes with the latest 5G connectivity, which worked fine during our tests allowing us to stream Netflix at high quality and download big apps in a jiffy.
This device also has dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC connectivity, an IR blaster for controlling non-smart appliances, and a USB Type-C port for charging, data transfer, and OTG capabilities.
Here’s what really surprised us. Despite its thin profile, the HONOR X9a managed to have a 5,100mAh battery, which is even larger than the majority of phones in the market today.
What’s more, the numbers we got in our test are really impressive, possibly due to its power-efficient processor and OLED screen.
In our standard PCMark test, it was able to get a screen-on time of 15 hours and 11 minutes. That’s after the software ran synthetic workload again and again until the battery drops to 20%. In real-world use, this means that you can get up to two days of light to moderate use, while heavy users might still have a little juice left before a day ends.
As for charging, the HONOR X9a 5G has a 40W HONOR SuperCharge adapter. The company claims it can provide up to 12.5 hours of video watching with just a 30-minute charge.
In our tests, we were able to go from 13% of charge to 62% in just 30 minutes. After another 20 minutes, we were able to get it to 91%. That’s mighty impressive for a mid-range device like this.
HONOR clearly has a winner with the X9a 5G. The company managed to put durability first thanks to its ultra-though display, while also giving importance to the other key things that a device should have: sleek design, capable performance, modern connectivity features, great display, long battery life, and fast charging.
Take note that it’s far from perfect, as it misses in some areas. For one, the device doesn’t have a stereo speaker setup. The camera quality is below our expectations — albeit it’s not something a software update can’t fix.
Still, the HONOR X9a is more than just its ultra-tough and durable display. For the price, it’s definitely one of the best smartphones you can get today.
HONOR X9a price and availability in the Philippines
The HONOR X9a has a price of Php16,990 in the Philippines. If you want to see other HONOR products, check them out here.
- Ultra-durable OLED display
- Sleek design
- Good performance
- Long battery life
- Fast charging
- Still ships with Android 12
- Cameras could be better
- No stereo speakers