HONOR 9X Pro: Powerful camera smartphone for €250 ($300)

HONOR 9X Pro: Powerful camera smartphone for €250 ($300)

With the 9X Pro, HONOR proves that it is possible to own and use an Android-powered smartphone without the Google suite of apps! For only €250 ($300), Huawe's daughter brand, HONOR, has put together a powerful package consisting of a current high-end processor, a triple camera setup with 48 megapixels as the main shooter, and 6 gigabytes of memory. For those who are interested in mobile gaming or deal with a slew of WhatsApp conversations daily, HONOR relies on an innovative water cooling system to keep things running nice and cool. The question is, can mobile games and WhatsApp be used at all? After all, Huawei is no longer allowed to use the all-important Google services such as the Google Play Store due to the ongoing trade embargo. Huawei has come up with a workable alternative for all of your favourite apps.

HONOR 9X Pro with PC-level hardware?

Let us get all excited by taking a peek at the heart of the HONOR 9X Pro. For its processing firepower, the current Kirin 810 chipset will see action, which Huawei manufactures itself via a 7-nanometer process. Thus, the four Cortex-A76 cores are on par with current PC hardware in terms of production - although let us not kid ourselves, it will not be able to handle all the nuances of dedicated PC software when the going gets tough.

Thanks to the tiny transistors, Huawei claims to have achieved a power boost of 75 percent and reduced power consumption by up to 50 percent compared to the Kirin 710 chipset that is currently used in the Honor 8X, for instance. The powerful processor is fully capable of exploiting its strengths in the 9X Pro, as Honor has armed it well with the relevant components.

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A real beauty from behind too: The HONOR 9X Pro / © NextPit

The Kirin 810 processor is mated to 6 gigabytes of LPDDR4x RAM. The modern RAM used does not slow down the processor with its high write and read speeds. Huawei's GPU Turbo 3.0 technology and a speedy UFS 2.1 system memory ensures that mobile games run smoothly without any notable performance issues in addition to minimal loading times. Even with the pre-installed Android 9.0 operating system that is currently a generation behind, you can make the upgrade to Android 10, and the performance capability of this handset is commendable.

To make sure that it does not overheat due to the amount of computing power that lies within the 8.8-millimeter thin case, HONOR cools the internal hardware with a liquid cooling system. The liquid distributes the heat generated by the components throughout the entire housing, which allows the temperature to be dissipated to the environment across a large area.

92 percent screen in hand

Gaming and multimedia apps are a special experience on the HONOR 9X Pro because the 92 percent of the front comprises of the 6.59-inch Honor FullView display. The large LCD screen has a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 pixels and with its 19.5:9 aspect ratio, this is the perfect mix for watching movies and Netflix. Unlike many other smartphones, actors do not suddenly end up with a hole in their head due to the placement of the punch-hole camera.

This is because HONOR does rely on a punch-hole camera in the display in which manufacturers such as Apple and Google do, packing that area with front-facing cameras and sensors. The 16-megapixel front-facing camera is located in the housing of the HONOR 9X Pro, and is extended by a robust motorized movement when called upon. This works just as fast as the camera app is launched on the 9X Pro. If you accidentally drop the phone while snapping a selfie, the front camera will quickly retract itself into the housing. If you feel that this is rather dangerous in certain situations, you can opt to pick from one of the three smartphone cameras located on the back.

48-megapixel triple camera at the back

An array of three cameras consists of the main camera with 48-megapixels, a depth-assist camera with 2-megapixels and a super wide-angle camera with 8-megapixels. Together, the triple camera in the HONOR 9X Pro adapts to the conditions of your shot and your subject. If you're standing in front of a wide building when you're on a city trip, use the super wide-angle camera that boasts of a field of view of 120 degrees. If you want to take a picture of your partner in front of the building, then the 9X Pro will gain depth information from the depth-assist camera in order to blur the background when snapping that portrait (bokeh).

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The triple camera takes your photos at 48 megapixels resolution/ © NextPit

If you discover a detail high up in the building that you want to capture for posterity, why not settle for the ultra-high clarity mode found in the HONOR 9X Pro? In this mode, the integrated artificial intelligence system will combine several shots from the 48-megapixel camera in order to provide sharp and detailed images even at high zoom levels.

The modern AI ISP engine, as Honor calls the internal image processor of the HONOR 9X Pro, also works reliably at night or in low-light conditions. Together with the 0.5-inch sensor of the main camera, you can take night shots via AIS Super Night Mode. Colour information and finer details are pick up in the midst of darkness without having to blind your subject with the LED flash installed underneath the camera.

Battery that lasts the day (and night)

The HONOR 9X Pro will be able to last for more than a day of average use with the included battery. With a 4,000 mAh capacity, you can stream up to 10 hours of video, play on the go or stream up to 100 hours of music. The included AC adapter recharges the battery with 10 watts of power.

Among the numerous hardware highlights, features such as the embedded fingerprint sensor in the power button, the USB-C port, and the practical 3.5-millimeter headphone jack seem almost irrelevant. Many Huawei customers feared a similar fate for all of the devices introduced by the Chinese manufacturer after Huawei was banned from using Google services.

How to get your favorite apps on the device

Huawei and HONOR had to rethink their approach to ensure the future of their new smartphones. The company has developed four methods for getting all of your favourite apps onto devices like the HONOR 9X Pro.

Import by PhoneClone

The easiest way to do this, assuming your previous smartphone is still functional. If you buy the HONOR 9X Pro or any other smartphone from Honor, it comes with an app called "Phone Clone" pre-installed. During the setup process of the new device, the two smartphones can be easily linked via a QR code. Settings, data, and apps are automatically transferred over to the new device.

New Apps from the Huawei AppGallery

If you are missing an app from your old phone or want to try out the new possibilities of the HONOR 9X Pro with additional software, you can find new applications in the Huawei AppGallery. The extensive app library is pre-installed on every new Honor phone and offers a very intuitive interface. You can search for new apps using a search term or orientate yourself with the numerous top category lists. Tapping "Install" would be sufficient to install the app on your Honor smartphone.

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With Huawei's AppGallery you can find all your favourite apps on the HONOR 9X Pro / © NextPit

Petal Search scours for countless apps

Honor has also included the extensive AppGallery in the integrated search function. You can find new apps a little bit faster with the Petal Search widget, which can be found on the home page of the smartphone operating system. If you enter a search term here, suitable suggestions are displayed directly. The fact that not only applications from your own AppGallery are found, but also unique searches from third party sources. Petal Search currently looks for up to 10 sources, including Amazon's App-Store, APK Pure, Aptoide, Appmonk, and others for the app you are looking for.

Download via the Huawei Browser

If you can't find what you're looking for in the extensive AppGallery, apps on Android can also be installed from third-party sources. The procedure is similar to the installation of new programs under Windows and macOS. You perform a search for the required installation files for your smartphone with terms like "WhatsApp APK for Android" in the Huawei browser.

The term "APK" stands for the file format "Android Package" and these packages behave in the same way just like how EXE files do under Windows. After the download, the Huawei browser will automatically recognise the APK file and ask you if you would like to install the new app. When clicking on "Open", you can then use the app. If an update function is not integrated into the app, you should check here regularly for new versions.

Conclusion

With the alternatives that Huawei and HONOR have developed to the Google Play Store, the HONOR 9X Pro is a real bargain for only €250 ($300). Powerful hardware ensures smooth performance and offers enough processing muscle to handle future apps and mobile games satisfactorily. The Chinese company demonstrates that powerful mid-range smartphones can not only be inexpensive, but also function just fine without Google.

Huawei and HONOR are returning to the strengths of its Linux-based roots and its open-source mobile operating system, Android. This can actually be adapted in a far more extensive manner to your own needs as opposed to Google Play Store alone. In its Play Store, Google works with partly strict guidelines, which means that many practical apps do not even end up in the application directory. With the Huawei AppGallery and installations via APK, you can break free from these guidelines and gain access to completely new apps. Since Huawei also takes care of the security of its customers in AppGallery, you don't have to worry about your private data being compromised or malware.

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