Bezel-less devices are the go-to option these days for smartphone buyers. That's why device makers are trying hard to offer great devices with notable features. One such device comes from the house of Huawei — Honor 9i.
This mid-range Android smartphone comes as a value-for-money proposition and offers some impressive features as well.
Now, I have been using this smartphone for quite sometime. While there are somethings really great about it, there are some loose ends as well. Here I will be talking about my experience after using it as my primary phone for over 90 days.
Now, before we move forward, I'd like to tell you that, in this long-term review, I'll be talking specifically about observations and not just hardware specifications. So, here is the long-term review of Huawei's Honor 9i.
A Brilliant Design
The look and feel of a device are one of the very basic and the first thing that seizes the attention of any buyer. Kudos to the brand for making a brilliant-looking device. I personally love the black variant and the matte finish that comes with it.
The front of the device looks nice and clean with the 2.5D Gorilla Glass on guard. The device has a very high screen-to-body ratio with 75.6% of it being covered by the display alone. This has been made possible with the use of very slim bezels.
Its metallic body definitely adds a lot of durability to the phone while the well-rounded corners make it very comfortable to use.
It's one of the many devices available today that feature an 18:9 aspect ratio. This makes it taller and narrower than most conventional phones with a similar screen size.
The placement of the keys and the fingerprint sensor is spot on. However, the use of an older micro-USB port on a new-generation device is seriously not welcome.
The placement of the keys and the fingerprint sensor is spot on.
Despite having a metallic body and a high-capacity battery, designers have managed to maintain the overall weight to a minimum, 164 grams to be precise. All that really matters when you are using this device.
Not too Bright a Display
The Honor 9i features a 5.9-inch display in a body well-suited for a 5.5-inch device. The use of very slim bezels is a delightful addition and surely adds to better handling of this device. I have average-sized hands and using it with one hand is not a problem.
The sharpness levels are great and the refresh rate is also high that reduces ghosting or blurred visuals while playing high-speed games.
In terms of color reproduction and sharpness, the display is spot on. Since the display has a non-standard aspect ratio, it also gets a non-standard resolution at 2160 x 1080 pixels, which is slightly higher than a full HD display.
The sharpness levels are great and a higher refresh rate reduces ghosting or blurred visuals while playing high-speed games or high-res videos. By default, the color temperature of the display is a bit cool. Not to worry, as you can tune it from Settings. If you consider extremely warmer displays, the customization option is also available.
Honor has used a clever little innovation in the display. It can help reduce battery consumption when you are running low on juice. It allows users to reduce the resolution so that vital battery life can be preserved for that one more important call.
Sadly, most applications available today are not optimized for this new aspect ratio, therefore, the device comes with a fit to screen option. Using this, any and all applications can be forced to fit the display. But personally, I like the applications when they are running in the standard mode. They seem distorted otherwise.
The indoor display performance is good, however, the brightness level for outdoor usage is a bit low.
Impressive Performance Though not for Gamers
While the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is the king of the hill currently, Honor has made use of its very own HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor to power the 9i.
While I was a bit skeptical in the beginning, it did surprise me with its performance, considering the price range.
Playing games, even the high-definition ones is a breeze. Multitasking, opening and closing of several applications, all is done in a jiffy. I personally use several apps on my phone at a time and this one sailed through everything seamlessly.
Phones with 4GB of RAM for this price point are common these days, but having all that memory really makes a difference. Application load time minimum and, even if you are using multiple apps at a time, there is hardly any lag.
While the overall performance is competent, I feel that this phone can really do with a better graphics processing unit or GPU. Although, there are no noticeable problems while playing games, it does encounter occasional hiccups with minor stutter here and there. That should not be a problem for most users and, honestly, many users would not notice that either.
This Android phone does get warmer while gaming and doing processor-intensive work such as multitasking. But nothing to worry about here, the metal body acts as a passive radiator to dissipate heat and keeps the temps within the suitable range.
Software That Won't Let You Down
The Honor 9i runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with the EMUI 5.1 custom UI layered on top of it. Over the years, Huawei has really worked hard on its software and I'm very happy to see this. All the necessary features are included in the latest build.
There are a ton of customization options and the EMUI 5.1 is definitely feature-rich. During the entire course of my review, I hardly felt the need to go to Google Play Store to download any of the utilities for this device.
Nevertheless, there's a bit of a downside here as well. The software alone eats up a whopping 12.51GB of storage space. That's a lot even if you have 64GB on-board storage. If you use many applications or if you record many full HD videos you will soon run out of storage. Don't worry, you can always sacrifice the secondary SIM to accommodate a 128 GB micro SD card for some extra storage.
A Good Camera for Occasions
Technically, this is the world's first 4-camera smartphone, however, that is more of a gimmick than the reality. At the back, you get a 16-megapixel camera along with a 2-megapixel depth-sensing camera. While at the front, there is a 13-megapixel camera assisted by a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
The depth sensor really comes in handy while capturing images and creating that bokeh effect. The company has added a ton of functionalities to the camera and has also created a dedicated store from where you can download new functions or features for the camera.
Overall, the image quality is satisfactory in both low light and brightly lit conditions. However, if you are capturing a moving object, the camera struggles to give a sharp focus. I tried capturing a picture of this puppy here, but everything except the pup is in focus.
The camera struggled to give me a sharp focus for this image.
There is a tracking focus mode for the camera but it needs some more fine-tuning. Overall, I feel that the camera software really needs a little more love to make it perfect.
Above-average Battery Life
Featuring a 3,340 mAh battery unit, this smartphone easily manages a day's worth of heavy or 2 days’ worth of moderate to light usage.
But don't start applauding just now. Despite a bigger battery, this phone misses out on two critical things. First, it does not feature quick charge and, secondly, it's still uses an age-old USB port.
Some Final Thoughts ...
Huawei Honor 9i comes with a comfortable Rs 17,999 price tag. At this price, this phone offers a brilliant build, good display, decent performance, and an average camera.
However, there are phones that are better than this in one or many aspects.
In my opinion, the Honor 9i is great for the features and the functionalities it offers. However, there are phones that are better than this in one or many aspects.