Honor 9N Review

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Honor has launched its budget midrange smartphone to offer a notch at the top starting at Rs 11,999. The Honor 9N is a midranger with a glass design, dual cameras, and a notch on its display and it’s the first notch-enabled phone in this segment. Honor has a number of smartphones, Honor 7X, Honor 9i, and Honor 9 Lite, and now the Honor 9N is also added to their portfolio. We have reviewed the device after spending time with it. Check out the full review of the Honor 9N below.

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What’s in the box

  • Honor 9N with built-in battery
  • Micro USB cable
  • Charger (5V, 2A)
  • Transparent Hard Case
  • User Manuals & Warranty Information
  • SIM tray ejector pin

Honor 9N Specifications

  • Model: LLD-AL20
  • Display: 5.84-inch Full-HD+ (2280 x 1080 pixels) 19:9 IPS display with 2.5D curved glass
  • Software: EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, at the back, gesture-based
  • Face Unlock: Yes
  • CPU: Up to 2.36 GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 64-bit processor, 16nm Kirin 659 SoC
  • GPU: Mali-T830 MP2
  • Memory: 3 GB OR 4 GB RAM, LPDDR3
  • Storage: 32 GB (with 3 GB RAM), 64 GB (with 4 GB RAM), 128 GB (with 4 GB RAM), expands up to 256 GB via microSD card (SIM2 Slot)
  • Main Camera: 13 MP + 2 MP with f/2.2 aperture, 5P Lens, PDAF, Portrait Mode, AR Lens, LED flash
  • Front Camera: 16 MP with f/2.0 aperture, Portrait Mode, AR Lens, 3D Facial Detection, 4-in-1 Light Fusion Technology and Screen Flash
  • Connectivity: 4G VoLTE, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3.5 mm headphone jack, micro USB
  • Other: Fingerprint Scanner, Face Unlock, GPU Turbo (rolled out later through OTA update), Ride Mode, Paytm Quick Payments, Game Suite
  • Cellular: 4G LTE network, 2x nano SIM, microSD on the SIM2 slot, VoLTE-enabled
  • Colors: Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue, Lavender Purple, Robin Egg Blue
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • Price: Rs 11,999 (3 GB RAM & 32 GB storage)
    Rs 13,999 (4 GB RAM & 64 GB storage)
    Rs 17,999 (4 GB RAM & 128 GB storage)
  • Availability: Exclusively on Flipkart, also on Honor India’s website from 31st July
  • Offers: Cashback of ₹2,200 from Reliance Jio in the form on 44 vouchers worth ₹50 each, 100 GB additional data from Reliance Jio, Voucher worth ₹1,200 from Myntra

Design, Build & Ergonomics

Design-wise, this is perhaps the Honor 9 Lite with a notch, the back has a glass design featuring dual cameras, a slim body, and light in weight. The build is all plastic, there’s no metallic frame on it. It uses a 12-layered nano-glass coating to get a mirror-like effect.

The Honor 9N does look premium, however, you won’t get that metal body feel on it. Phones like Nokia 6.1 Plus have a better glass design with metallic frames. Nevertheless, the Honor 9N looks far better than the metallic phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 if you fancy the glass design.

The top has a tiny notch holding the 16 MP selfie camera and an earpiece. Most phones offer a bigger notch, but Honor 9N adopts a smaller one. The bottom has Honor branding and on-screen navigation, the fingerprint scanner is at the backside along with dual 13 MP + 2 MP rear cameras.

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Minimalist Notch

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Display

A major highlight is its display, the Honor 9N comes with a notch at the top of its display. Like the other Androids, the Honor 9N also comes with a notch and it’s the cheapest notched smartphone from Honor.

The display is very much similar to the Honor 9 Lite and the HUAWEI P20 Lite, it is sized at 5.84-inch and comes in Full HD+ resolution (2280 x 1080 pixels) with 19:9 aspect ratio. The display is covered with a 2.5D curved scratch resistant glass.

You get the same display options on the phone, you can hide the notch, change the apps to full-screen mode and a few other things like eye protection, changing screen resolution, and color tone.

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Software & User Interface

The Honor 9N runs on Android 8.0 Oreo with a customized interface from HUAWEI. The EMUI 5.0 is based on the Oreo update with security patch dated 1st June 2018 and additional features like App Twin, Motion control, One-handed UI, and Navigation Dock.

The software is perhaps the same as you find it on the Honor 9 Lite with options like hiding the notch and AR Lens in the camera. You will also find ride mode in it which is a bike riding safety feature.

About the EMUI, it is quite simple to use, there’s no app drawer on the homescreen (but can be brought back from the settings), the interface is user-friendly, and you get a number of options that stock Android can’t offer. Know more about the EMUI features in our past Honor reviews.

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Hardware, Performance, & Gaming

Being a midranger, the specs remains the same as we have seen on the other Honor smartphones. The Honor 9 Lite, Honor 7X, Honor 9i, and Honor 9N all offer the same Kirin 659 octa-core SoC. The SoC consists of eight Cortex-A53 cores clocked at a maximum speed of 2.36 GHz.

Furthermore, it includes up to 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage that can be stretched with a microSD card as well. On the graphics side, the Honor 9N comes with Mali-T830 MP2 GPU for gaming.

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Compared to the competition, the Kirin 659 competes the Snapdragon 625/626, it is by far a tad powerful than the latter. Qualcomm’s new additions like the Snapdragon 636 and Snapdragon 660 (found on the Nokia 6.1 Plus and Xiaomi Mi A2) can lead to a better performance than the Kirin 659. Take a look at the benchmarks below.

AnTuTu Benchmark

  • 89,774 points

Geekbench 4

  • 939 points (single-core CPU)
  • 3,748 points (multi-core CPU)
  • 3,120 points (GPU)

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Gaming on the phone is just like the Honor 7X, Honor 9i, and the Honor 9 Lite. You can no wonder play moderate games smoothly, but not the ones that require heavy graphics processing. We played PUBG on it and the gameplay experience turned out to be playable on low settings.

Storage & Memory Performance

Moving to its storage, you can see a total of three variants, the Honor 9N comes in 32 GB, 64 GB, and even 128 GB of internal storage with an option to expand it further with a microSD card up to 256 GB. In total, the phone can go up to 384 GB of storage (128 GB + 256 GB) which is very good in my opinion.

Note that there is a 3 GB RAM variant of the phone that comes with the 32 GB storage variant while you get the 4 GB RAM for the other two storage variants.

The performance of the storage is good, as you can see the benchmarks, the read and write speeds are decent and stay up to the competition. We tested it with the A1 SD Bench and PC Mark storage benchmark, see the results below.

A1 SD Bench

  • 189.48 MB/s (Read)
  • 138.11 MB/s (Write)
  • 5,978.84 MB/s (RAM Copy)

PC Mark Storage Benchmark (Internal) – 9,015 Points

  • 200.35 MB/s (Sequential Read)
  • 124.39 MB/s (Sequential Write)
  • 20.77 MB/s (Random Read)
  • 24.19 MB/s (Random Write)

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Cameras

In terms of cameras, the Honor 9N offers dual cameras at the back, you will find one 13 MP camera which is the main camera with LED flash and a 2 MP camera that’s used for depth capturing for bokeh style photos. The front side has a 16 MP selfie camera with no LED flash provided, you will have to rely on the screen flash.

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Honor 9N Camera Specifications

  • Camera: Dual cameras (13 MP + 2 MP)
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): N/A
  • Rear Flash: Single LED
  • Features: Portrait Mode, Depth-Mode, Live Photos, AR Lens, Geo-tagging, Tap to Focus, HDR, Pro Photo, Panorama, Splash Effect, Good Food, Light Painting, Time-lapse, Beauty Photo, Beauty Video, Pro Video, Watermark, Color Filters, Burst Shot
  • Video Recording: Up to 1080p video @30fps
  • Front Camera: 16 MP
  • Video Recording: 1080p video @30fps
  • Front Flash: Screen Flash

The main highlight of the phone is, of course, the bokeh mode or the portrait mode that captures photographs with blur effects in the background. You also have the Aperture mode on the rear cameras that can be used to focus on the object later and adjust the blur amount after snapping up the pictures.

In addition to the camera features, the AR lens is now added to the camera interface which lets you capture photos with different effects. This is the same feature we saw on the HUAWEI P20 Pro, Honor 10, Honor View10, and HUAWEI Nova 3.

The camera quality of the phone is good for its price, the bokeh mode works just like the other Honor phones, the camera quality is similar to that of the Honor 9 Lite. Daylight shots turn out to be fairly good, and the low light shots are not that bad, at least better than the Xiaomi phones like the Redmi Note 5. Honor has a good software optimization for the cameras and it comes with a host of camera features.

The 16 MP selfie camera uses the 4-in-1 Fusion Technology that converts 4 small pixels into 1 large 2.0 μm pixel delivering brighter photos in low light. The selfies taken are bright and crisp, works well in the daylight conditions.

Take a look at the camera shots we took from the Honor 9N.

Honor 9N Camera Specifications

Battery Runtime & Charging

On the battery side, the Honor 9N packs a 3,000 mAh and runs throughout the day without any issues. The performance remains to be similar to the Honor 9 Lite, you can rely on the battery power, it has a decent battery life.

Usually, the moderate usage led us running the phone a day and a little more the next day, and below moderate use can keep the phone running up to 2 days. Honor’s battery saving modes can come handy if you want more out of it.

When it comes to the charging, you won’t be surprised with it, the Honor 9N comes with a regular 5V, 2A charging that charges the phone in about 2.5 hours.

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Verdict

Wrapping things up, the Honor 9N offers a glass design, dual cameras, a notched display, a great selfie camera, and a featured EMUI 8.0 software. For the price of Rs 11,999, the Honor 9N has all that it got for a phone to offer.

However, considering the competition, there are a few options you should look if you are looking for more performance. The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1, Xiaomi Mi A2, Nokia 6.1 Plus, are some of the recommendations. Alternately, the Honor 9 Lite is a steal if you don’t fancy the notch, it’s available for lesser price.

Rivals

  • Nokia 6.1 Plus (64 GB) – Rs 15,999
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 (64 GB) – Rs 16,999
  • Honor Play (6 GB RAM & 128 GB Storage) – Rs 19,999

Strength

  • Glass Body | Sleek & Light Weight Design | Flashy Looks
  • FullView 18:9 Notch Display
  • Decent Cameras | Portrait Mode | AR Lens
  • Stunning Selfies
  • Great Battery Life
  • Gesture-Based Fingerprint Scanner
  • Value For Money

Weakness

  • Charging Takes Time
  • No 4K Video & Slow Motion Recording