Update: after Google suspended Huawei's future access to Android Play Store and security updates, there are serious question marks over the future of Huawei and Honor phones.
While Google and Huawei have promised to support phones currently on the market, it's not clear how long they'll receive Android updates or access to the Google Play Store, which would severely curtail their usefulness compared to the competition.
It may be the brand’s latest handset, but the Honor 9 is a familiar phone in many ways. It’s much the same as what both Honor and Huawei have been making for the last few years, and the updates here are minimal – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great phone.
Honor has slowly but surely been improving its design, spec and the way everything works together in its phones over the last couple of years, and it feels like the Honor 9 is the culmination of that effort.
There isn’t a big headline feature here. The phone doesn’t obliterate the competition when it comes to photography, it doesn’t have an entirely different looking screen like the Galaxy S8 or the Xperia XZ Premium, and it doesn’t have squeezy edges like the HTC U11.
Rather, the Honor 9 is a reliable device that offers most of what the flagship competition does, and performs everything just as well, but costs a good bit less.
Honor 9 price and release date
- The Honor 9 isn't coming to the US or Australia - instead it's just in the UK
- Launched at £379.99 (around $485 / AU$640) SIM-free
- Deals in the UK start at £20 a month, plus the SIM free price has dropped
Dimensions: 147.3 x 70.9 x 7.5mm
OS: Android 7 Nougat
Screen size: 5.15-inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 960
RAM: 4GB or 6GB of RAM
Rear camera: 20MP + 20MP dual lens
Front camera: 8MP
Price is one of the main reasons you should take a look at the Honor 9 over other flagship phones. Unlike parent company Huawei with its latest phone, the Huawei P10, Honor has managed to keep the price low on its newest device – in fact it’s up to half the price of flagships from the likes of Samsung and Apple.
If you live in the UK you’ll be able to buy the Honor 9 for £379.99 (around $485 / AU$640) SIM-free. There’s no US or Australia release date for the phone yet, and it’s not clear if or when the company will be bringing the Honor 9 to either market.
If you like in the UK, we've seen the price drop down a little further too with it sometimes costing around £340 rather than the full £379.99. You can also buy it on Three's network too with deals costing around £20 a month with 1GB of data.
If you're looking to buy the phone, we'd recommend checking out our guide on the best Honor 9 deals here.
The Huawei P10 didn’t release in the US either, and that was a major disappointment for fans of the brand there, but it did eventually come to Australia, so the Honor 9 may one day follow suit. If you do live in the US or Australia you may be able to import the device, but we’d recommend checking to ensure it’ll be compatible with your network.
In a rush? Watch our video review of the Honor 9 just below...
- Attractive shiny glass design that stands out
- Fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone, below the screen
- Four color choices available with blue, grey, silver and black on offer
From the rear the Honor 9 looks different to any other phone on the market, and during our time with it we found a lot of people getting excited about the way it looks.
The Honor 9 has a glass body with a shiny finish. It’s reflective, but not like a mirror; instead it diffracts light at various angles to create a great effect that catches the eye immediately.
At a time when many phones struggle to stand out, this is a major selling point.
The front of the phone is much less thrilling, but there’s a fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the display which works particularly well. That’s a major change for the Honor brand, as it usually includes the sensor on the back, but it’s generally easier to use when it’s below the screen, and we found it comfortable to reach with a thumb when holding the phone.
Built into the body of the phone on either side of the fingerprint sensor are the back and multitasking keys, but you can also turn these off and use swipe gestures across the fingerprint sensor for those functions.
We found both options to work well, though once you’ve gotten used to the swipe gestures that’s much more fun to play around with than tapping the buttons.
This is an easy-to-hold phone; it’s not a large device, and it has curved edges on the back that allow it to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. It’s similar to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge on the rear, as it feels like it’s moulded to the shape of your hand.
The Honor 9 comes in at 147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45mm and only weighs 155g, which means it’s easy to slip into your pocket and not worry about feeling weighed down by your phone, as you might with a phablet.
The camera sensors on the rear of the phone sit flush with the body, so there’s no camera protrusion, which is something many people really dislike on a lot of modern smartphones.
Color choices are limited to Glacier Grey or Sapphire Blue in the UK and the latter is the version we had for this review. We prefer the blue version, as it’s a bold color without harking back the primary colors of the Nokia Windows Phone devices, although you may want to go for something a little more restrained.
Different markets have other colors available though as there's also a gold and black option available in some locations too.
There's also a version of the phone called Robin Egg Blue (you can see it in the gallery above) and this limited edition version of the phone comes with 128GB of internal storage, but it can be very difficult to find.
All in all, the design of the Honor 9 feels more premium than the brand’s previous flagships. It’s not a metal unibody device, though, so you won’t get that level of premium feel, but it does offer something no other device on the market does right now – a bold design that you might just love.
- 5.15-inch screen means the phone sits easily in the hand
- Full HD panel, but better optimized than the screen on the Honor 8
Another way in which the Honor 9 differs from the flagship competition is that it features a smaller screen. When most rivals are upping the screen size to just below six inches, the Honor 9 features a 5.15-inch display with a 1080p resolution.
That’s one of the ways Honor has made this a phone that sits easily in your hand, and it’s a Full HD panel that offers a sharp display. Some will be disappointed it doesn’t have a QHD resolution, but sticking with Full HD contributes to better battery life.
The screen is much brighter than the panel that was included on the Honor 8. It’s also much better at reproducing colors, and you’ll really notice that if you ever get the chance to compare the two phones side by side. The screen on the Honor 9 looks much warmer and much more natural than the blue hue of the older device.
If you appreciate a smaller display, and you’re not on the hunt for a super-high-resolution screen, the Honor 9 should be perfectly suitable.