Honor X9a Review – Mid-range smartphones continue to please

Honor X9a Review – Mid-Range Smartphones Continue to Please

The smartphone industry is constantly evolving. Flagship smartphones continue to push the boundaries of what's possible with a handheld. However, another important aspect of technology continuing to advance is that it is becoming slightly cheaper to produce technologies that have been around for a while. This is what makes mid-range smartphones so attractive. Honor is a brand that meets the criteria for entry-level and mid-range smartphones. With its new Honor X9a smartphone, it offers fairly advanced hardware for a reasonable price.

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For those who follow technology news, Honor was previously a brand from the Huawei stable. In 2020, Honor officially separated from the group and launched its first non-Huawei smartphones in early 2021. This had a positive effect overall, having formed its nascent concepts under the Huawei umbrella, producing great products for the low end of the market, as well as allowing it to continue using Google Play Services, as it does not fall under the same ban in the United States.

Conception and design

Almost immediately after taking the device out of its packaging, you will appreciate its design. The finesse of its finish goes hand in hand with the lightness of its construction. The aesthetics of the Honor X9a are very similar to those of the Samsung Galaxy S6, with its edged screen and back cover. However, there is a definite improvement, as it feels much more premium and robust. Not bad for a mid-range smartphone.

The most interesting point of the Honor X9a's design is undoubtedly the large circular island which accommodates the camera lenses on the back. The three-lens camera is positioned symmetrically at 12, 3, 6 and 9 if you think of a clock face. The fourth slot is for the flashlight, which completes the symmetrical finish.

The smartphone is available in three colors. These are Titanium Silver, Emerald Green and Midnight Black. These are pretty standard color choices among modern smartphones, so nothing really stands out in this regard. That said, the finishes are still very neat, with a shine on the back intended to make sparks.

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Screen and display

The screen adds to the design of the Honor X9a. On the outside, it looks great with its glossy finish. It also uses glass protection similar to Huawei's new Kunlun finish, so you know it's as good as some of the best smartphones in the industry. This is an extremely important aspect considering the curved edge screen. Users will have peace of mind knowing that it will not easily crack if dropped on the ground, especially on its side.

Coming to the specifications, the device has a decent AMOLED display. It may not be the best performing of modern smartphones, but with a decent brightness of 800 nits, it doesn't embarrass itself.

In addition, it has a screen with a resolution of 1080×2400 px. Combined with its 6.67-inch screen, this gives it a pixel density of 395 ppi. Anything above the 400ppi mark would be great, and so the Honor X9a isn't far from that.

The 120Hz screen is another plus. The high refresh rate is comparable to top-performing smartphones and improves the overall usability and gaming experience.

Finally, the screen-to-body ratio is 89.9%. This ratio is also comparable to that of flagship smartphones. Reducing the edges of the screen reduces the size of the device, making it more pleasant to hold in the hand.

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Performance and battery

The Honor X9a is equipped with the Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 5G processor. The SoC also features the Adreno 619. This mid-range chipset was launched around 18 months ago, so has been around for a while. It still offers 5G support, which is great, but it's not the most powerful. It does the job quite well with little to no lag, even with multitasking.

One of the talking points about the Honor which could put it two iterations behind, with Android 14 OS planned for the second half of the year. That said, its Magic UI 6.1 is not a bad interface. It is elegant and relatively light for ease of use. And access to Google Play services is not negligible.

As for the battery, it is a non-removable 5100 mAh Li-Po unit. As with most modern phones, depending on how you use it, you can get up to 40 hours of battery life from a single charge. Even if you are a heavy user, you can go an entire day without worrying about picking up your charger.

Honor X9a camera

The Honor X9a’s camera features a triple-lens approach. It includes the following elements:

  • 64MP, f/1.8, (wide), PDAF
  • 5MP, f/2.2, (ultra-wide)
  • 2MP, f/2.4, (macro)

Most of the time, you'll be forced to use the 64-megapixel main camera. There's not a lot of flexibility when switching between lenses unless you're using the macro photo option or ultra-wide photos. Unlike many other modern cameras, there is no mixing or blending between lenses to create better images overall. This is a basic setup, but it works well enough in bright light.

Switching to night mode poses some problems. The first of these is that it takes quite a long time to render, meaning you'll need to hold the device steady to capture the best image. This does result in a few grainy images from time to time, but most of the time it's pretty decent.

Things get worse when you upgrade to the ultra-wide lens, which offers a less powerful 5MP option. Again, things are relatively okay in good lighting conditions, but they degrade considerably in low light conditions when trying to take ultra-wide photos. It's not really the best.

Macro photography is also a nice feature. That said, the device only has a 2-megapixel lens. Overall, the images taken are quite nice. However, the device is not ideal for creating prints or other artwork and is primarily intended for personal use.

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Is the Honor X9a worth it?

The Honor X9a is an excellent mid-range smartphone. It has features that can easily compete with some of the flagship smartphones in the market today. However, in some ways it opts for mid-range hardware to keep overall costs low.

That said, with a mix of high-level specs and cost-cutting in other aspects, it holds its own against other devices in its class. It's a beautifully designed chassis, like the smartphones of yesterday, but much sleeker.

Prices vary between retailers and device models. However, with prices starting at R7,999, this is a completely affordable option for any potential buyer.


Honor X9a


  • Good design and construction
  • 120Hz screen
  • Long battery life
  • Competitive price


  • Poor camera
  • Old version of Android


  • Ease of learning

  • Ease of use

  • Design

  • Performance

  • Pleasure

  • Value for money