Visually, you would be hard-pressed to tell that the Honor 9i is a budget phone. On the front is the tall, slender frame covered entirely in black on our test model. Looking closer reveals the display that nearly goes all the way to the top and bottom of the device.
Huawei has tastefully chosen to not have any logos on the front, giving it a clean, monolithic appearance. The only things worth noting above the display are the notification LED, earpiece, and the dual front cameras from left to right.
On the right side are the power and volume control buttons that are easy to reach and work well. On the right is a SIM card tray that holds either two nano SIM or one nano SIM and one microSD card.
On the top is a single microphone and on the bottom is a headphone jack, another microphone, a microUSB connector and the single loudspeaker. Although we would have preferred stereo speakers, the single speaker does sound decent and gets adequately loud.
The back of the phone is one entire piece of aluminum, a rarity in this price range. Near the top is the dual camera system with an LED flash splitting the top antenna line.
Below the camera is a fingerprint sensor that falls within easy reach. It performed fast and reliable during our time with the phone.
Near the bottom are all the logos and markings, as well as another antenna line.
While the back does look nice, the black variant is impossibly difficult to keep free of smudges.
Overall, the look and feel of the Honor 9i is quite premium, with the phone looking and feeling several times more expensive than it is. Huawei/Honor just needs to get this phone in people's hands and for many, that alone will be enough to win them over.
The Honor 9i/Mate 10 Lite has a 5.9-inch, 2160x1080 resolution IPS LCD. The taller aspect ratio of the display is quite stunning at first look, even though we are now slowly starting to get used to it, and someone new to it will definitely be quite impressed.
Huawei has also cleverly kept the bezels at a minimum, which really gives the feeling of holding just the display in your hand. The 9i doesn't quite have the nice rounded edges of the more expensive phones but at this price that might be too much to ask.
The display does look quite nice indoors, with reasonably accurate, if not the most accurate, colors. The default color temperature is a bit cool but that can be adjusted from the settings.
We did find that the screen washes out a bit under sunlight, making it hard to see outdoors, especially while using the camera when we couldn't really see all that well what we were shooting. A higher peak brightness could have helped.
It's still a nice display though, overall, and one of the best in its price range.