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Honor 9i first impressions: Huawei joins the full-screen bandwagon

The Honor 9i stands out with its four cameras and bezel-less Full HD+ display.
The Honor 9i stands out with its four cameras and bezel-less Full HD+ display. (HT Photo)

The Honor 9i comes with four cameras, 5.9-inch FullView display with full HD+ resolution and custom EMUI 5.1 based on Android 7.0 Nougat. The smartphone goes on sale in India today for 17,999.

Since the debut of Xiaomi Mi MIX last year, a number of smartphone players have launched their own version of edge-to-edge screen phones. This includes the latest iPhone X and Samsung's flagship smartphones, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8. The latest brand to join the bezel-less bandwagon is Huawei, which launched its first full-screen phone, the Honor 9i, in India on October 5.

With the Honor 9i, Huawei is not just offering a bezel-less phone, but also four cameras (two cameras each on the back and front) in order to woo the mobile photography enthusiasts and millennials who are obsessed with selfies. The smartphone went on sale in India on Saturday with a price tag of 17,999. Ahead of the launch, we briefly spent some time with the bezel-less Honor 9i, and here are our first impressions.

At the very first glance, the Honor 9i impresses with its ultra slim profile. Weighing 164 grams, the mobile phone feels featherweight. The design though feels reminiscent to the Xiaomi A1, the Android One smartphone which launched in India last month. But that's certainly not a negative. Corners are gently curved whereas the metal fluidly merges with the side panels to achieve a uniform look and feel.

The Honor 9i impresses with its light weight and slim profile.
The Honor 9i impresses with its light weight and slim profile. (HT Photo)

That being said, the Honor 9i does not really go for the kill when it comes to the edge-to-edge display, as you might have seen on the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2. Both on the top and bottom have relatively thicker bezels. And with a white front, the design uniformity feels lagging. The Honor 9i best comes closest to the LG Q6 or Micromax Canvas Infinity smartphones in terms of delivering a full-screen phone. Looking at the price point, we think this aspect can be overlooked.

The 5.9-inch screen with full HD+ resolution (1080 x 2160 pixels) seems quite decent in terms of outdoor and indoor legibility. The auto-brightness works pretty fast, for now. The Honor 9i also lets you view content on the device in full-screen mode (via Fit to Screen feature in Huawei's words).

While the likes of Lenovo and Nokia are moving onto the stock Android experience, Huawei has continued with the custom EMUI ROM (version 5.1) that is based on Android 7.0 Nougat. Ahead of the launch, a senior Huawei official told Hindustan Times that the EMUI has been refined keeping in mind preferences of users. With Linux at its core, Huawei said that the smartphone won't get slow after a few months of usage as other Android smartphones do. We will put that claim to test when we have thoroughly reviewed the smartphone.

A look at the Honor 9i's back panel.
A look at the Honor 9i's back panel. (HT Photo)

The Honor 9i comes with dual cameras on the back as well as the front. At the back, it has a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor for depth, along with LED flash. On the front, it has a 13-megapixel primary sensor and 2-megapixel secondary sensor to deliver Bokeh effect (DSLR-like shallow depth-of-field). During the brief time we spent with the device, the camera performance seemed pretty decent. The image processing was quite fast. We will need to spend more time with the phone to have a say on the performance.

Summing up, the Honor 9i looks like a promising smartphone with solid mid-range specifications (4GB of RAM, 64GB built-in storage and Kirin 659 2.36GHz octa-core processor) packed in a beautiful design. At 17,999, it is slightly more expensive than the LG Q6 but the four cameras are expected to give the smartphone an edge over the competition. Stay tuned to our detailed review for more on the Honor 9i.

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