Honor 9N review: Impressive design and camera but not a Redmi Note 5 killer

Honor 9N is an upgrade over the 9 Lite with a major change being the notch display with 19:9 ratio. 

| Updated on: Aug 20 2022, 09:59 IST
The first flash sale for Honor 9N begins on July 31 exclusively via Flipkart and the company’s e-store.
The first flash sale for Honor 9N begins on July 31 exclusively via Flipkart and the company’s e-store. (HT Photo)
The first flash sale for Honor 9N begins on July 31 exclusively via Flipkart and the company’s e-store.
The first flash sale for Honor 9N begins on July 31 exclusively via Flipkart and the company’s e-store. (HT Photo)

Product name: Honor 9N
Key specifications:
5.8-inch Full HD+ display, Kirin 659 octa-core processor, 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel dual-camera, Android Oreo-based EMUI 8.0, 3,000mAh battery
11,999 - 17,999

Honor earlier this year introduced the 'premium design' to the budget segment with Honor 9 Lite, a phone with quad-cameras, FullView display and 2.5D glass on the back and front. Almost six months later, Honor has launched a newer variant of the model - Honor 9N.

Just like the predecessor, the new Honor phone bets big on the design and includes the trending notch display. The Honor 9N isn't a very big upgrade over the Honor 9 Lite in terms of specifications but there are a few subtle changes. For instance, Honor 9N comes with Kirin 659 SoC which is the same processor that powers the older Honor 7X and Honor 9i.

Honor 9 Lite came with an impressive design but the overall performance wasn't up to the mark to take on the likes of then top-selling Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. We have been using the newer Honor 9N as our primary smartphone for quite some time. Let's find out how the Honor 9N fares.

The very first thing you will notice about Honor phones is the uniqueness in the design department. The good thing is that the company is leveraging its design expertise for its budget portfolio. Honor 9N is no exception. Rendering a premium look and feel, the phone has reflective glass rear panel and comes in more colour options than the predecessor.

In addition to midnight black and sapphire blue, the smartphone also comes in two pretty colours of lavender purple and robin egg blue. The front of Honor 9N looks quite like the Honor 10 with its notch cutout and 19:9 aspect ratio.

Structurally, the smartphone is pretty light and easy to hold. The fingerprint sensor and controls like volume and power keys are within reach even for someone with a small hand like mine.

A closer look at the new Honor 9N.
A closer look at the new Honor 9N. (HT Photo)
image caption
A closer look at the new Honor 9N. (HT Photo)

Honor 9 Lite was and still is one of the few phones to offer dual-cameras on the front and back. But as we mentioned in our review, the camera quality on the Honor 9 Lite was a mixed bag. For the new Honor 9N, the company has done away with the quad-camera setup and has a single camera up front which is a 16-megapixel sensor.

The smartphone delivers pretty selfies thanks to its beautification meter. There's an iPhone-inspired moving picture which 'moves' when tapped on the photo. It also comes with an LED light for low-light selfies which works quite fine. It is better with the beautification level turned down as the artificial light already gives an added glow.

A wide-angle selfie from Honor 9N
A wide-angle selfie from Honor 9N (HT Photo/Marcia Sekhose)
image caption
A wide-angle selfie from Honor 9N (HT Photo/Marcia Sekhose)

Honor 9N has the same dual-camera setup on the back as the Honor 9 Lite which is a 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel combination. Photos captured in bright light and indoors were quite impressive with good colour reproduction and details intact. Low-light photography is a hard feat to achieve, and the Honor 9N doesn't excel in this department either. The depth effect, however, works better than it did on Honor 9 Lite.

Picture quality dips in low-light conditions
Picture quality dips in low-light conditions (HT Photo)
image caption
Picture quality dips in low-light conditions (HT Photo)

In terms of performance the experience was much better than the Honor 9 Lite. The phone handles daily and regular tasks like calls, chatting, video streaming and social apps with ease. There was one issue with the software though with the Android Oreo feature like smart reply which didn't work properly.

Honor 9N handles graphic-intensive games with ease. We faced no issues while playing games like PUBG. There were some heating issues faced after a few minutes of video recording and gaming. Fortunately, the phone doesn't overheat to an uncomfortable level.

The battery backup on Honor 9N is pretty much the same as the Honor 9 Lite. And that's not a positive. On medium to high usage, the phone will require you to charge twice in a day. We've seen a better battery performance on phones like Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1.

With price starting at 11,999, Honor 9N competes with Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. The phone doesn't really outclass Redmi Note 5 in terms of overall performance and battery backup, but does have its own USPs - camera and premium design. If you're looking for a phone that's better looking, Honor 9N is worth considering. But performance and battery life are something you cannot compromise on, Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro continues to be our top recommendation.

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First Published Date: 29 Jul, 14:07 IST