HONOR X9b 5G Review – Unbelievably Tough, Yet Practical
1 free screen replacement
+ Built like a tank
+ Performance is practically good enough for most
+ Decent main camera performance
+ No need for a protective case
+ Great battery life
+ Excellent OLED display at this price point
+ Comes with an abundance of accessories inside the box
+ Solid value for money proposition
- Excruciatingly slow to charge to 100%
- Only IP53
- Ultrawide and macro cameras need improvements
- No wireless charging
Unboxing the HONOR X9b
Kicking off the HONOR X9b review with the unboxing, the box comes is pretty similar to its X9a sibling where it 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, we found the following items:
- User guide
- Warranty card
- SIM ejector tool
- Clear protective case
- USB-C cable
- 35W HONOR SuperCharge charger
- The HONOR X9b 5G itself
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
2 x 2.2 GHz Kryo 660 Gold + 6 x 1.7 GHz Kryo 660 Silver
|Display||6.78” 19:5:9 2652 x 1220 (431ppi) 120Hz
AMOLED, 1.07 billion colours,
1,200 nits peak brightness
Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1
1,920 PWM dimming
TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light
|Camera||108MP f/1.8 wide angle camera, PDAF
5MP f/2.2 ultrawide angle camera
2MP f/2.4 Macro camera
|Selfie camera||16MP f/2.5 Wide angle camera|
|Connectivity||IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
Bluetooth 5.1 (supports A2DP and LE)
35W fast charging
|Dimensions||163.6 x 75.5 x 8 mm|
|Colour||Sunrise Orange, Emerald Green, Midnight Black|
Starting off with Antutu v9, the HONOR X9b 5G managed to perform decently at best. It’s not bad and given the price, it’s what you’d expect. After all, it’s just a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, so it’s not surprise that it would be lagging behind even the upper midrange devices.
Its scores in Geekbench 6 surprised me a little as it managed to push ahead as if it was an upper midrange smartphone. Sure, it might be behind the Dimensity 7200 in terms of single core but from all over CPU performance standpoint, it’s within the same levels. It’s also a step up from the Snapdragon 695, a chip that’s still being used in the lower midrange segment.
Moving on to 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited, I’m surprised it managed to outperform its X9a sibling quite a bit by about twofold. It’s nowhere close to being a top performer but at this price range, you take what you can get and this is pretty good as is. You should be able to play most mobile games just fine but if it had a graphics option, you’d definitely stick to Low or Medium settings for a smoother experience.
Lastly on PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark, the HONOR X9b 5G managed to break the 10,000 mark and even came pretty close to a recent flagship. Sure, there are other midrange devices that did better but those same smartphones are at a higher price point. It’s still an impressive feat nonetheless.
In case you’re wondering about the battery life, the HONOR X9b 5G managed to last 11 hours and 46 minutes (706 minutes) in the PCMark Work 3.0 endurance test. Given the massive 5800mAh battery capacity, it shouldn’t be a surprise. In real world use, you can easily expect a a day and half worth’s of use for medium-level users, 2 days easily if you’re a light user. As for charging speed, here’s what we got with the included charger starting from 2% charge:
- 15 minutes = 25%
- 30 minutes = 46%
- 45 minutes = 53%
- 60 minutes = 60%
- 75 minutes = 69%
- 90 minutes = 77%
- 105 minutes = 92%
- 116 minutes = 100%
The cameras on the HONOR X9b 5G are a decent performer at best. The main camera is the most capable one as you can get good colours and decent details with some light. In low-light conditions, it’s far from great so I wouldn’t really use it in this scenario. Night mode is there but the drop in image quality makes it rather pointless to use. The sharpening feels rather excessive if you’re on the ultrawide and macro cameras. Selfies are okay at best but you definitely need good lighting for decent results, but even then, the softening effect is quite noticeable.
The first good thing about the HONOR X9b 5G is that it’s incredibly tough. During the launch event, this same device was smashed right into some wooden blocks and it escaped practically unscathed. Furthermore, we even took shots at it using paintball guns with projectiles up to 330km/h and it still didn’t break. HONOR is so confident about its durability that they are guaranteeing each customer a free screen replacement if you manage to break it, and that’s quite the reassurance to say the least.
Another major plus point for the HONOR X9b 5G is that the need for a protective case is practically non-existent. It’s not just because of its durability but also because of this vegan leather material used in this Sunrise Orange variant, where it gives off a more premium look and it’s not susceptible to fingerprint smudges. The only reason you’d want to have a protective case on here is if you don’t like how it looks, and that’s fine. At least in this case, it’s not necessary.
The OLED display, while tough, doesn’t lag behind in quality as it looks to be a step up for a smartphone of this price. After all, you get punchy colours, 120Hz dynamic refresh rate, more than adequate brightness with 1,920 PWM dimming and TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light emissions. Some of these features were typically limited to higher end devices, with this range typically having 60Hz or 90Hz at most.
Lastly, the HONOR X9b 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.
As good as the HONOR X9b sounds, it does have its fair share of drawbacks. For starters, I find it interesting that a phone this durable only has an IP rating of IP53. While it has some level of dust resistance and can take some water just fine, it should not be treated as a waterproof phone by any means. In other words, don’t bring swimming with you and try not to get caught in the middle of a heavy rain with it. I would have expected to come with at least an IP67 certification but it still beats having nothing.
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 X9b Verdict
The HONOR X9b 5G has plenty to offer with its affordable price of RM1,499. It provides solid value for the money you’re spending and it’s practically built like a tank while still being practical for daily usage. From a practical standpoint, you’d only want to look for something better if you need something that has better CPU / GPU performance or better overall camera system. Otherwise, this would definitely serve you well.
At the end of our HONOR X9b 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.