If you’re looking for a relatively affordable mid-level phone then Honor’s unveiling of the Honor 9 may well have sparked your interest – and not just because of its spangly Sapphire Blue finish. For this £380 phone delivers plenty of bang for your buck.
Compared to last year’s Honor 8, the newer model delivers some nips and tucks on the design front, enhanced dual cameras, along with revamped innards for greater power – but without a significant price bump between the two generations.
Here’s the skinny on how the Honor 9 differs from the Honor 8.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Design
- Honor 8: 145.5 x 71 x 7.5mm; 153g
- Honor 9: 147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45mm; 155g
- Honor 8: rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
- Honor 9: front-mounted ceramic fingerprint scanner
At first glance the two phones have a similar look – mainly because of that distinct blue finish (grey-white and black are also available in the Honor 9) and the way it catches light. In the Honor 9 the rear is a 15 layer build, with a three-dimensional curve for added depth.
The Honor 9 also does away with the rear-positioned fingerprint scanner of the Honor 8, instead placing a ceramic one to the front, much like a Home key as you’ll find on an increasing number of devices these days.
Size-wise, it’s great to see the Honor 9 sticking to a similar footprint to the earlier Honor 8. This isn’t a giant phone – there’s the Honor 8 Pro for that – which means it’s easy to hold in the one hand. The Honor 9 has even trimmed a couple of millimetres in width compared to the Honor 8.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Display
- Honor 8: 5.2-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LCD
- Honor 9: 5.15-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LCD with 2.5D glass
By marginally condensing the size of the device, the Honor 9 also has an ever so slightly smaller screen than the Honor 8: it’s 5.15-inches rather than 5.2-inches.
Resolution is one and the same for the two devices, however, at 1080p. No qHD resolution to be found here, but that’s no surprise and, realistically, not a necessary spec requirement at this scale and price point.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Battery, hardware & software
- Honor 8: 3,000mAh; Honor 9: 3,200mAh battery capacity
- Honor 8: Kirin 950 (2.3GHz) chipset, 4GB RAM; Honor 9: Kirin 960 (2.4GHz) chipset, 4GB RAM
- Both: dual SIM / second slot acts as microSD card expansion
- Both: EMUI 5.1 software skin over Android 7.0
In addition to the updated design, the Honor 9 also ramps things up on the hardware front. With the latest Kirin 960 processor, paired with 4GB RAM, this device is every bit as powerful as the Huawei P10. That’s a generational step-up compared to the Honor 8.
Both phones come with a microSD slot (it’s the second SIM slot) to expand the on-board memory. And with 64GB as standard, the Honor 9 has plenty of storage on offer as standard (the Honor 8’s starting capacity is 32GB).
On the software front, the Honor 9 delivers a similar experience to what you’ll find in the mother brand Huawei P10. With Android 7.0 running in the background and EMUI 5.1 running over the top of that, it’s a user experience that’s rather heavy on alerts and battery-saving methods.
Speaking of battery, the Honor 9 ups the capacity to 3,200mAh – which is a 200mAh increase compared to the Honor 8. That’s great news considering the smaller form factor of the new phone. Here’s hoping for a proportional increase from life per charge.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Cameras
- Honor 8: Dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras
- Honor 9: 20-megapixel monochrome, 12-megapixel colour rear-facing dual cameras
Perhaps the biggest play of all is the Honor 9’s upgraded cameras. To look at you might not think the two devices appear that different: they both have two optics arranged side-by-side peering out of the rear.
The Honor 9 goes down the Huawei route of opting for a 20MP monochrome and 12MP colour one, however, rather than using two colour sensors – the second with a mono filter via software – in a similar fashion to the Huawei P10. The main difference in the Honor 9 compared to Huawei is that there’s no Leica affiliation and, thus, the software is slightly different, as are the optics.
Both Honor 8 and Honor 9 have the ability to use their two cameras to depth map scenes, providing the opportunity to create background blur in software after shooting. It’s possible to see this in real-time with the Honor 9, even in video mode.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Conclusion
Overall the Honor 9 is a really interesting proposition – even more so in 2017 because so many manufacturers’ products have risen in the price stakes. The Honor 9 is only £10 more than the Honor 8 was at launch but, crucially, it’s £60 less than a OnePlus 5 and a massive £185-or-so less than the Huawei P10. Indeed, its only near competition is from the solid but ultimately less interesting Samsung Galaxy A5.
So while the Honor 9 may look like a minor tweak compared to last year’s Honor 8, its progress in terms of design and features, plus stubborn price point positioning, make it one lucrative mid-level purchase indeed.