Honor 9 comes inside a Huawei box, tucked in sideways. The accessory box contains an 18W charger, a regular USB Type-C cable, and a transparent plastic case. There are no headphones inside, but we sure appreciate the protective case.
Though beautiful, the Honor 9's glass-sandwich design is hardly innovative. Two pieces of glass and a metal frame were very cool seven years ago on the iPhone 4, but those are just not enough for a premium feel or look nowadays. Luckily the Honor 9 puts a twist on the familiar shape for a unique design once again.
Glacier Grey, Sapphire Blue, or Midnight Black - the Honor 9 is seamlessly painted in the respective hue, with the paint layer sitting under the glass panels.
The front glass is business as usual - a 2.5D-shaped piece, reportedly Gorilla Glass 3, shielding the 5.15" display from scratches.
The metal frame is sandblasted and has a matte finish. It ends with a chamfer on both the front and back where it meets the glass. The chamfers are glossy and serve as a great visual transition from the metal frame to the glass panels.
The 3D curved glass on the back is one of the Honor 9's key design features and perhaps even the highlight here. The fingerprint-like texture carved into the glass via a photo etching process is what makes the Honor 9 a standout from the rest of the glass-sandwich group of phones.
The frame sort of helps the grip, but it's not enough. The Honor 9 is slippery in hand, and you have to be careful. Sure, it's feels premium, high-end, well-crafted, and with a solid build - props for those. But the Honor 9 is one of the most slippery devices we have ever handled - it will slide and fall from any surface that's not perfectly flat (this has happened twice already). We suggest snapping the provided case to avoid falls from places (yes, even desks!) where any other phone would stay still.
The earpiece, the 8MP selfie snapper and a couple of sensors are all above the 5.15" IPS display. There is a tiny notification light underneath the earpiece's grille.
The touch-sensitive Home key is below the screen and it doubles as an always-on fingerprint scanner. The sensor is one of the fastest and most accurate we've worked with, and that's what we have always liked in Huawei's smartphones.
There are two unmarked capacitive keys flanking the Home one - they light up only when touched. You can assign the Back and Tasks function to those however you see fit, or you can disable them for a multi-function Home key - tap for Back, hold for Home, and swipe for tasks.
The only thing of interest on the left is the hybrid SIM slot, while the volume rocker and the power key are on the right.
The secondary mic and the IR blaster are on the top of the Honor 9. The bottom side has the USB port, the audio jack, and a grille covering the loudspeaker and the mouthpiece.
The dual-camera is on the back - each lens highlighted by a tiny glossy rim. The dual-tone flash is there, too.