The Honor 9 is a well-executed project, which in spite of the lack of a massive PR campaign, has everything needed to succeed and prevail on the market. We can't really figure out Huawei's strategy for the Honor brand yet again, but we don't mind having such a thoughtful allrounder once in a while.
The Honor 9 is mostly sold online via the vMall eShop run by Huawei. Its official price at launch is €429/£379, and thus the Honor 9 falls right in the upper mid-range class. But don't let the low price fool you - it's a flagship smartphone by the book, which steps on a lot of headliners' toes.
The latest Honor has one of the best chipsets currently available - the Kirin 960 - and Huawei didn't skimp on RAM either - there are a good 6 gigabytes at your disposal. But the chip is not only powerful, but also energy-efficient; coupled with top-notch software optimizations, the Honor 9 scored excellently on battery endurance.
Huawei is the company to make the dual-camera setups the next big thing on the smartphones, so the expectations were sky-high for the Honor 9. Even though there are no Leica filters to be found, the Honor 9 offers even more features than the widely advertised P10. In addition to the great color and monochrome shots, you also get improved portraits, variable aperture, and even video recording with the option for bokeh effects. The selfies turned out great even though the selfie portrait mode is disappointing.
The Honor 9 may be supposed to boost Huawei's online presence, but it's much more than that. Flagship killer comes in mind - an allrounder that OnePlus invented, but lately failed to deliver. The Honor 9 may have its ups and its downs, but the latter are easily forgiven by the low price tag.
We mentioned the OnePlus 5 a couple of times already so it's only natural to kick off our competition section with it. The 5 offers a bigger and arguably better AMOLED screen, as well as somewhat faster Snapdragon 835 chip, but it also costs about €80 more. The OnePlus take on the dual-camera is the Apple's and not Huawei's, so you will lose the B&W shots for better portraits. Deal or no deal?
The Huawei P10 has already lost quite a few euros from its launch price down to €500. It has a more stylish design and Leica filters, so you may want to consider it. Plus, it's the opposite of slippery, especially the "dazzling" models.
The Oppo R11 can't match the wide availability or the flagship performance of the Honor 9, but its dual-camera setup turned out to be one of the best we've seen in terms of quality and features. It was designed after the Apple's wide+tele combo, but the results are nothing short of impressive. The thin metal design is another feature to give it an edge over the Honor 9. If camera experience is of the biggest importance above all other features, look no further.
The LG G6 is a great alternative to the Honor 9, and P10 if you will. It has a higher-res screen, water resistance, and a slightly better chipset. The secondary wide-angle camera is a real treat too. Both the regular and wide-angle snappers produce top-notch images and videos, and while less creative-friendly, they are better suited for various occasions, including vacations.
Xiaomi's Mi 6, even with its limited availability, is a great match for the Honor 9 as both cost the same. The Mi 6 not only offers the wide+tele dual-camera like the rest of the competitors, but also class-leading Snapdragon 835 chip with 6GB RAM, a bigger battery with faster charging, and lightweight MIUI 8. The Mi 6 design employs similar technics to the Honor 9's, but its curves are better and prettier, while its panels are splash resistant. The hassle of importing the Mi 6 might be worth it after all.
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) has an AMOLED display, awesome battery life and water-resistance over the Honor 9, while it makes cuts on the camera and processor. It's €100 cheaper though and is among the better mid-rangers available out there.
At the end of the day, the Honor 9 can certainly feel a bit rough around the edges, but that's strictly figuratively speaking. It's one of the most slippery phones out there but this is offset by the stunning looks. We noticed some performance throttling, but in real life it will probably go unnoticed thanks to the snappy chipset, which has plenty of reserves. The camera has a few gimmicky sides, but it delivers right where it's important.
The Honor 9 is probably not a flagship killer, but it's certainly flagship-grade. So though it may not be getting the attention it deserves, it is a solid recommendation in our books.