Interface and reliability
- Running Android 7 software with Emotion UI 5.1 on top
- Lots of customization options available throughout Honor's software
- Does come with quite a bit of bloatware though
The Honor 9 is running Android 7 Nougat software, with Huawei’s own Emotion UI 5.1 running on top of it. Android Oreo has been confirmed for the phone - coming in the form of Emotion UI 8 - but the exact release date isn't clear.
Emotion UI 5.1 iss not the most attractive-looking overlay on Android – the icons look a little dated, although you can always dive into the Themes app to try a different look – but it offers some useful features that a lot of other Android phones don’t come with, and you may find you prefer it to stock Android.
For example, Honor has included a detailed Settings list to give you a lot of options for customizing your phone. The drop-down on the home screen displays a variety of options, and you can even switch out the ones you don’t want.
There’s Eye Comfort mode, which dims the blue light emitted by your display for a more comfortable reading experience. It should help with eye strain, and having this as an easy-to-reach option makes it easy to turn on and off as needed.
Honor still has a problem with bloatware on its devices though, as there’s a variety of apps you may not want on your phone already installed here – there’s TripAdvisor, Booking.com and eBay among others, as well as seven games.
Those games are all from Gameloft, and we didn’t find ourselves gripped with the urge to play any of them during our time using the phone. You can delete them, but it’s irritating that such things are taking up much-needed space on your phone.
Music, movies and gaming
- Honor has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack and single speaker
- Well calibrated screen is great for video, but may be a little small for some
- Gaming is a smooth experience with a top-of-the-range processor
Huzzah! Honor has kept the headphone jack for its latest release, despite a lot of rumors suggesting the 3.5mm legacy tech would be dropped for the Honor 9.
That means you can listen to wired headsets by plugging in on the bottom edge of the device. You can also use Bluetooth headsets, and we found both those and wired options to sound good with the phone.
The Honor 9 doesn’t offer the best audio on an Android phone, but it does just enough, and you won’t be disappointed if you use this device for listening to music or podcasts.
Honor has included only one speaker driver on the phone, and this also sits on the bottom edge, so you may find it a little too easy to cover the speaker when you’re holding the phone to watch video or a movie.
When it comes to watching video, you may also find the phone’s screen is a little too small for your tastes. If you’ve owned a larger phone in the past you won’t like this experience and if you spend a lot of time watching movies and other video you may want to consider spending extra - in fact, a lot extra - for the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus, which pack beautiful displays.
If you’re just going to be watching the odd clip though you won’t be too disappointed with the 5.15-inch display here.
You can happily fill the phone with videos and films, as there’s either 64GB or 128GB of storage onboard, depending on which version of the phone you purchase.
There’s a dedicated Videos app that will play your clips easily too, or you can download another service such as Netflix or use the pre-installed Google Play Movies or YouTube. Audio as well is pretty good, – although as mentioned it can be easy to cover the speaker.
Gaming on the Honor 9 is a great experience thanks to this being one of the most powerful phones on the market right now. Graphically, games look fantastic with smooth gameplay throughout our testing.
It’s also easy to hold this device in two hands, so you’ll be able to use it comfortably for gaming, and easily use your thumb on the screen while being able to read any instructions. We found gaming to be a reliable experience across the board.
Benchmarks and performance
- Packs Huawei's latest HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset
- Comes with 4GB of RAM and scored fantastic benchmark results
- Manages to keep pace with the OnePlus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S8
Performance on the Honor 9 is at the top end of the range, with the only competition coming from the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus and the OnePlus 5.
We didn’t find the phone stuttered or slowed down at any stage, and that’s likely thanks to the new and improved HiSilicon Kirin 960 system-on-a-chip that’s made by Huawei.
That chip was included on both the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, but the Honor 9 is beating those phones in benchmarking tests, and that may be down to the 6GB of RAM onboard – there is a 4GB of RAM version of the phone available in the UK, but we’ve yet to test that device.
The Honor 9 achieved an average result of 6633 in our Geekbench 4 testing, which puts it just behind the OnePlus 5, which scored 6716, and effectively tied with the Exynos chip-powered Galaxy S8, which managed an average score of 6630.
That’s an impressive jump in performance, considering the Honor 8 only scored 5207, and shows how much the new chipset from Huawei is capable of achieving.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-range powerhouse of a phone, the Honor may not be it, but it manages to keep pace with the very best, and won’t disappoint you when gaming or doing intensive tasks on your phone.