HONOR X9b 5G Review: A Very Durable Mid-range ContenderJanuary 13, 2024
Amidst all the flagship devices and flagship killers being teased, unveiled, and lined up in January alone, HONOR Philippines kicked off its year by expanding its X series with the introduction of the HONOR X9b 5G. The device is the successor to the very sturdy HONOR X9a unveiled last year and the X9b carries over the durability.
While durability is definitely a big plus in any device, a smartphone’s performance in the real world is drastically more important than its durability. Thankfully, we were able to test the HONOR X9b 5G for ourselves, and here’s how our experience with the device went.
HONOR X9b 5G – Full Specifications
- Screen: 6.78” curved AMOLED
- Resolution: 2652×1200, 120Hz refresh rate
- Chipset: Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
- RAM: 12GB RAM (+8GB extended memory)
- Internal Storage: 256GB (No Card Slot)
- Rear cameras
- 108MP f/1.75 main
- 5MP f/2.2 ultrawide
- 2MP f/2.4 macro
- Front Camera: 16MP f/2.45
- OS: Android 13, MagicOS 7.2
- Battery: 5800mAh battery
- Charging: 35W wired SuperCharge
- Dimensions: 163.6 x 75.5 x 7.98mm
- Weight: 185g
- Colors: Midnight Black, Emerald Green, Sunrise Orange
- Price: PHP 16,999
What’s in the Box
The box of the HONOR X9b 5G is pretty standard with a white backdrop with the back panel in full display and the device name in light grey text.
Removing the lid exposes the phone itself which is nestled by a layer that has its documentation joined by the SIM ejector tool and a case. Lastly, in the third and last layer of the box, the HONOR X9b 5G comes with a charging adapter and a charging cable, making it a very complete set, albeit pretty standard.
It’s always good to see a device ship with charging adapters and a silicon case in this day and age.
Design and Build Quality
The HONOR X9b 5G definitely feels like a successor to the X9a and you can tell so from the design of the next-generation X-series device. However, you can tell that the company didn’t sit on its laurels after the success of the X9a. It instead built from what the predecessor did well and improved on it.
This is mostly apparent with the rear camera island, which retains the circular design but now has a texture to it as seen below. This coupled with the gold trim and accents on the Sunrise Orange colorway just gives the device a more premium finish.
Speaking of the gold finish, it coats the entire side of the device including the power button and volume rockers on the right-hand side.
The bottom of the device is the USB-C port and is flanked by a microphone, a SIM card tray, and a speaker grille.
I am grateful that we received the Sunrise Orange colorway, which is the only option of three color variants that has a vegan leather finish, giving it a good contrast to the glossy finish of the camera module. Moreover, the matte finish allows the camera accents to pop.
The HONOR X9b 5G has a pretty average size in this day and age built around a 6.78-inch curved panel which I’ll get to later. But what I like about the X9b is its slim build at just 7.98mm. It felt very easy to use even with one hand and even made it easy to carry in the pocket, despite its size.
The HONOR X9b features HONOR Ultra-Bounce Anti-Drop Display 360° Anti-Drop Protection which features a three-level protection and HONOR cushioning material. This is what gives the device its durability and I was witness to it with some accidental drops here and there while using the device.
I think you’re more likely to see nicks and dings on the device than it totally giving out from the drops. The few drops that happened for me though didn’t even scratch the sides of the device, thankfully although it could be different if you dropped it at a higher height with a more solid flooring like cement.
Display and Camera
The front of the device is a 6.78-inch 1.5K curved AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. This makes it slightly larger than its predecessor and offers a slightly better resolution (up from FHD+) while retaining the panel type and refresh rate.
I appreciate the improved resolution but you’ll probably find it hard to tell the difference between it and a FHD+ panel. So this will depend on your perception of display resolutions. Personally, though, I can hardly tell the difference but, again, it’s good to know there was some improvement in this regard after a year.
Now, for the cameras. It has a 108MP main camera coupled with a 5MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP sensor.
The main camera is by far the best performer among the trio of the rear snappers. But, this is pretty expected given how far the megapixels of the lenses are.
That said though, the main camera isn’t the best but it is still decent. It doesn’t blow the competition away but it’s good enough to at least capture your memories and even post the photos on social media while keeping the details intact.
As you can see from the samples above, it can still offer good contrast and details in your photos, especially in brighter settings. But the colors seem to vary from being close to oversaturated to being a bit washed. Keep in mind though, that these were all shot on full auto, and if you’re a stickler for that, you can still tweak things.
However, in dimmer environments, you get a bit more noise and fewer details but again, pretty decent.
The 5MP ultrawide sensor, on the other hand, is a welcome addition. However, like the main sensor, it is quite inconsistent with the color reproduction and struggles with the dynamic range. But then again, it is a 5MP sensor and it still delivers.
Meanwhile, on the front is a 16MP snapper. This, like the main sensor, is pretty decent. It offers good crisp photos but could better. I liked the detail and level of crispness especially for my selfies while giving up some detail in my background, however, the indoors, some noise is apparent.
Performance and Battery
The HONOR X9b 5G is powered by the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, a mid-range chipset from Qualcomm unveiled in 2022. It may not be the latest nor the most powerful chipset from the chipset manufacturer, but it can still perform pretty well from everyday use to even gaming. Although, the performance varied depending on the game I was playing.
Before we get to the experience, here are the results of the benchmarks which are pretty much as expected of a mid-range SoC.
Geekbench 6 – a benchmark to test the CPU of a device
3DMark – a benchmark for the GPU
AnTuTu – an overall benchmark (we tested this multiple times and each time it is listed as the HONOR X50. It’s good to note as well that this benchmark isn’t available via the Google Play Store)
The chipset coupled with the 120Hz display was a good combination for a smooth-as-butter experience, especially with your pretty typical use like browsing social media pages, watching YouTube videos, checking emails, and catching up on the latest news.
As far as being a gaming device though, it will depend on which games you play. The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 can easily handle Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and Call of Duty Mobile even on the highest settings.
It can also run Diablo Immortal and Honkai Star Rail but you may want to tone down the settings to the level right below the highest. Meanwhile, if you’re into Farlight 84 and/or Genshin Impact, they can be played at Medium to High graphic settings but I suggest settling for Medium settings for a good balance of graphics and performance.
But what about the 5800mAh battery though? Well, we ran it through the PCMark Battery Test through its different refresh rates – Standard, adaptive, and high.
The PCMark Battery Test puts the device through a continuous cycle of various tasks like scrolling through websites, photo editing, video editing, and watching videos. It will continuously do this until the device drains to 20%. We tested the device from 100% until the Battery test ended.
Here are the results:
That said though, how did it fare in the real world? I mostly used the HONOR X9b on the Dynamic display setting which adjusts the refresh rate according to the content on your screen and it offered roughly 20 hours in my medium-to-light usage. The mileage may differ depending on the refresh rate you’re running with and if you squeeze in longer gaming sessions. This is still, overall, pretty respectable. We imagine this to be even longer if you hardly use your device, albeit for some occasional scrolling or talking pictures.
The device supports 35W wired SuperCharge which isn’t the fastest in the market today but it’s still capable of giving you some juice in a brief charge. A full charge from zero to full though will take roughly an hour, but again not the best when up against its competitors. However, it is quite an extreme case when you drain your battery to 0%. I, personally, prefer not to do so, so this observation may not apply to you but I’d still prefer to put it out there.
What We Think of the HONOR X9b
Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, there’s still the question of whether the HONOR X9b is worth it or not. Moreover, there’s still the question of whether there’s more to the device than its durability.
The HONOR X9b 5G has a PHP 16,999 price tag, which makes it pretty competitive. Its overall performance is pretty good and among my favorite features are its durability and its design. It doesn’t feel like a sub-PHP 20,000 smartphone thanks to the design and that just speaks of how far the industry, especially HONOR has gone to offer such a device.
I think the camera system is my biggest downside with the HONOR X9b 5G. There are more capable camera smartphones at this price point out there but if you’re alright with a decent camera, then this is worth checking out. I’d like to point out as well that MagicOS will take some getting used to. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the split-type notification panel that separates your notifications and settings like WiFi, Bluetooth, Torch, etc., but that’s something that you can easily get used to over time.
But again, there’s the question at the beginning, is there more to the HONOR X9b than its durability? I think there is but it is the durability that allows the device to stand out in quite a congested mid-range market.
If you’re interested in checking out the HONOR X9b for yourself, you can add to cart via Shopee (https://bit.ly/Shop_X9b_UrbanTechnoobs), Lazada (https://bit.ly/Laz_X9b_UrbanTechnoobs), and TikTok Shop (https://bit.ly/TikTok_X9b_UrbanTechnoobs). If you decide to pre-order it from January 12 to 19, 2024, you get a free HONOR Gift Box and HONOR Choice X5 Earbuds worth PHP 4,000.