Honor is a brand that falls under the umbrella of Huawei, which means that these smartphones also have to do without Google services. On paper, the smartphones are impressive, as is this new Honor 9X Pro, which offers a lot for the price tag of 249 euros. But is the Honor 9X Pro still worth recommending without Play Store and other Google apps?
Honor 9X Pro
price € 249, –
OS Android 9 (EMUI)
Screen 6.6 inch LCD (2340 x 1080)
Processor 2.7 Ghz octacore (Kirin 810)
Storage 256GB (expandable with memory card)
Battery 4,000 mAh
Camera 48, 8.2 megapixel (rear), 16 megapixel pop-up (front)
Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC, 3.5 mm jack
Format 16.3 x 7.7 x 0.9 cm
Weight 206 grams
4 Score 40
- Versatile camera
- Battery life
- Great specs for price range
- Confusion surrounding brand
- No Google services
- EMUI with Android 9
- Dependency AppGallery
Earlier I wrote that the Honor brand causes confusion. Communication is done hard as if it were an isolated brand. In practice, only the brand stamp on the smartphone is different. Because Honor smartphones have parts from Huawei factories and just run the software shell of Huawei. You will see the name Huawei everywhere on the device. Now that thanks to the US trade ban on Huawei smartphones (and therefore also on Honor smartphones) no longer allowed to run Google services, the confusion seems complete. Because there is no doubt about it: Honor cannot offer Google services. No Play Store, no Google Maps, no Google Assistant. Only your Gmail, if you wish, can be downloaded via the built-in mail app.
This means that for your apps you depend on another application store: AppGallery. Honor doesn’t even bother pretending to be another brand. The icon shows the Huawei logo on the screen. In addition, the AppGallery offers an undersized experience. Many apps are missing, many apps that are included are qualitatively substandard and for essential apps, such as WhatsApp, you are only referred to a website. Here you have to manually download an apk installation file to install the app. Sideloading is called this, which is not uncommon, but recommended for advanced users. Malware distribution mainly takes place by installing apps from unknown sources.
Just to get straight to the point: a good application store such as the Play Store is essential. The AppGallery can by far not eliminate this lack. With that, enough has already been said about the final verdict, because due to this situation the Honor 9X Pro cannot be recommended to anyone. Even if you are an advanced user, who likes to sideload apps. Moreover, the EMUI software difference that Honor and Huawei roll out on Android is perhaps far too far-reaching; background processes such as VPN apps and fitness apps are truncated to spare the battery without intervention. Also the Honor 9X Pro with Android 9. An Android version from 2018. That is really not possible in 2020.
In short: in the software field, the Honor 9X is missing in so many ways that we advise against this smartphone. The same conclusion that colleague Rens Blom already drew while testing the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro.
WhatsApp cannot be found in the AppGallery, you will be redirected to the site.
A good deal on paper
And advise against that because of the software flaws, which is a shame. Because for the price tag of 249 euros you get a smartphone back that has a lot to offer in terms of features: a large Full HD LCD screen, which occupies the entire front of the device thanks to thin screen edges and a pop-up selfie camera. There are three cameras on the back, a fingerprint scanner in the power button on the side and the smartphone feels luxurious through its glass and metal housing.
There is also little to complain about internally. The Kirin810 chipset from Huawei (a great midrange processor), with 6GB of RAM ensures that the Honor 9X Pro runs flawlessly and the battery life is also good. The 4,000 mAh battery lasts almost a day and a half on a full charge. Although that of course depends on your use. You also just get a 3.5mm audio connection and the amount of storage capacity with 256GB is more than enough, but if desired, you can expand this with a memory card.
Three cameras are placed on the back: a 48-megapixel main lens, a 2-megapixel zoom lens and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens. That makes the camera setup quite versatile. Also because Huawei automatically adjusts the settings to what you photograph and offers functions such as portrait mode and night mode.
When taking the photo you will of course notice that you are not dealing with the best smartphone. Photos are a bit dull and lacking detail. But are not disappointing for a device in this price range. You will notice a difference, especially with the macro and wide-angle lenses. Nevertheless, there is something to be said about the versatility of the three cameras in a 249 euro smartphone.
The three zoom levels of the Honor 9X Pro.
Alternatives to the Honor 9X Pro
If you are in the market for an affordable smartphone, devices from Honor and Huawei will fall out because of the software problems that are too big, especially due to the lack of a good application store. Nor does it seem that these problems have been resolved in the short term. That is a shame, because these two brands were always good choices in this price segment.
When you have around 250 euros to spend on a smartphone, it is therefore better to switch to, for example, a Nokia 7.2 or a Motorola G8 Plus. These devices do come with Google services and Play Store. In addition, the Nokia 7.2 has Android One, and therefore the most recent Android version (Android 10).
It already shimmered in the review. Without Google services and Play Store, this unit cannot be recommended to both novice and advanced users. That’s too bad. Because the smartphone itself has enough potential, thanks to its chipset, cameras and other specifications.