HONOR X9a Review – Looks Premium, But Affordable
The HONOR X9a is designed to bring what's important in a smartphone in a more affordable package, complete with 5G support. Is it worth your money? Let's find out.
24-months with additional RM99
180 days screen crack protection
+ Good CPU performance
+ Battery life is satisfactory
+ Good OLED display with toughness to boot
+ Dynamic 120Hz refresh rate
+ Eye-catching design
+ Comes with an abundance of accessories in the box
- Mediocre camera performance
- Subpar GPU performance
- No water and dust resistance
- No wireless charging
- Thick rear camera array
Unboxing the HONOR X9a
Kicking off the HONOR X9a review with the unboxing, the box comes in a white box with a picture of smartphone on the front. You can find some details around it but there’s nothing much. Inside the box, you can find quite an assortment of items:
- User guide
- Warranty card
- SIM ejector tool
- Clear protective case
- USB-C cable
- 40W HONOR SuperCharge charger
- Handsfree kit
- 3.5mm to USB-C adapter
- The HONOR X9a 5G itself
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
2 x 2.2 GHz Kryo 660 Gold + 6 x 1.7 GHz Kryo 660 Silver
|Display||6.67” 20:9 2400 x 1080 (395ppi) 120Hz
AMOLED, 1.07 billion colours, 100% DCI-P3
1920Hz PWM Dimming, 300Hz touch sampling rate
800 nits peak brightness
Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1
TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification
|Camera||64MP f/1.8 Ultra-clear camera
5MP f/2.2 Wide angle camera
2MP f/2.4 Macro camera
|Selfie camera||16MP f/2.45 Wide angle camera|
|Connectivity||IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
Bluetooth 5.1 (supports BLE , SBC, AAC, and LDAC)
40W fast charging
|Dimensions||161.6 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm|
|Colour||Titanium Silver, Emerald Green, Midnight Black|
Starting off with Antutu v9, the HONOR X9a 5G managed to perform decently well. The Snapdragon 695 isn’t close to being a top performer but it packs more than enough power than puts it leagues above your typical entry-level device.
You can get a clearer idea of its performance in Geekbench 5, as the single core performance is pretty good but it certainly is lacking when it comes to multi-core performance. In the case of the latter, a flagship chip from years ago can still beat it with ease.
Moving on to 3DMark, you can see that it struggles a bit when it comes to 3D graphics but it’s still pretty okay. If you’re planning to play mobile games with the best graphics, it will be a grueling experience for the HONOR X9a 5G, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play games on it. There are still plenty out there that can run on this smartphone just fine.
Lastly on PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark, I’m genuinely surprised the HONOR X9a 5G managed to break the 10,000 mark. It’s actually not far off from last year’s refreshed flagship chip, which is pretty solid. This shows that it can function as a daily driver pretty well.
In case you’re wondering about the battery life, the HONOR X9a 5G managed to last 10 hours and 29 minutes (629 minutes) in the PCMark Work 3.0 endurance test. It’s a good figure, especially given the healthy 5100mAh capacity, and you can easily expect a full day’s worth of use. The 2 days claim is somewhat stretching it unless you’re a light user.
The test was done using the smartphone’s dynamic refresh rate setting, which dynamically adjust the refresh rate up to 120Hz depending on what’s being displayed. This is the more efficient refresh rate setting and therefore, we only went with this instead of a constant 60Hz / 120Hz.
The cameras on the HONOR X9a 5G isn’t half bad but it certainly is lacking. The main camera is the most capable one as you can get good colours and decent details with some light. In low-light conditions, noise is apparent but the AI does try compensate for it to some degree. Night mode is there but the drop in image quality makes it rather pointless to use. The sharpening does feel particularly odd if you’re on the ultra-wide and macro cameras.
Selfies are okay at best but you definitely good lighting for decent results, but even then, the softening effect is quite noticeable. Overall, I’d say the cameras are mediocre but still usable as long as you stick to the main one.
The first good thing about the HONOR X9a 5G has to be the first thing you see, which is its look. Let’s be real here, it’s nowhere close to being a flagship but it certainly does look the part. The colour makes it look stunning, the slim profile makes it seem premium and the curved display adds a dash of elegance. If you gave this to someone who isn’t too familiar with smartphones, they might think you got them something really expensive.
It is built to have one of the toughest OLED displays around but while I can’t exactly put that to the test, I can at least say that it looks pretty good for a smartphone of this price. After all, you get punchy colours and 120Hz dynamic refresh rate in a display that is adequately bright. Some of these features were typically limited to higher end devices, with this range typically having 60Hz or 90Hz at most.
If it wasn’t obvious before, then I will emphasize it here; the HONOR X9a 5G has an abundance of accessories included in the box. It’s actually pretty easy to make use of it right out of the box without needing to buy anything extra. At most, I foresee people finding a different protective case for it but that’s just a matter of personal taste.
While the camera performance is decent at best, the camera array in the rear is a little large for my liking. Admittedly, it makes the HONOR X9a 5G look more premium than it actually is but on its own, it doesn’t sit flat on the surface its being placed on. This also means if you’re gonna buy a case for it, do take this into account to ensure adequate protection of the camera array.
Unlike plenty of other smartphones around, there is no water and dust resistance here. Sure, it won’t die just from touching a drop of water but it’s not one that you should wash under the sink or let it catch the rain for long. Given its price point, it’s still forgivable.
Lastly, there’s no wireless charging here. Sure, it might be tough to include that in order to keep costs and its pricing low but it would have been a nice touch to a device that already has a solid value proposition.
HONOR X9a Verdict
The HONOR X9a 5G may seem a little lacking at first but when you take into account its affordable price of RM1,499, it’s easy to dismiss a number of its drawbacks. It provides solid value for the money you’re spending so if you’re not looking to spend much on a smartphone, this will definitely serve you well. You just have to get used to Magic UI if you’re not familiar with it, or opt for a different launcher.
At the end of our HONOR X9a review, I award this smartphone with our Silver Pokdeward.
Big thanks to HONOR Malaysia for sending us this smartphone for the purpose of this review.