The Honor 9i has a dual camera system on the front as well as on the back, which is how Huawei got the 'World's first phone with four cameras' rhetoric. The thing is, though, only two of those actually take pictures and the other two are depth sensors for the background blur effect.
The background defocusing feature on the rear camera left us a bit disappointed contrary to our experience with more expensive Huawei phones. The camera made a shoddy border around the subject and heavily blurred out the surrounding area, making the person look like a cardboard cutout.
The camera app has another mode where you can adjust the "aperture" of the camera, which worked a bit better but was still unreliable.
We continued taking regular pictures and fortunately, the phone does better in that regard. The images we took in bright daylight look decent but there are some issues. The colors aren't quite right, and simply calling them oversaturated wouldn't be correct as some colors simply looked different. For example, the bunch of flowers in one of the images are bright red but look like a deep shade of pink here. The mustard yellow surfboard looks light yellow.
Also, the dynamic range isn't impressive. It's fine if the scene is mostly flat, but in a high contrast scenarios, the sensor will either blow the highlights or throw the shadows under the bus. The HDR mode just makes the image brighter but does nothing for saving the highlights from clipping.
There is also not a lot of noise reduction applied. This means there is more fine detail retained in the images, but also a lot of noise too.
In the time we spent with the Honor 9i/Mate 10 Lite, we did come to appreciate many things about it. The design is really quite impressive and makes the device stand out in its segment. The so-called FullView display is also quite nice and apart from the novelty is actually useful since it shows a lot more content. The software experience and general performance was also quite good.
Where the device lacks is in some graphical horsepower to power some of those more demanding games, particularly due to its higher-than-usual screen resolution.
The quad-camera is also a gimmick, and although the image camera from the primary cameras is decent for the price, the background defocusing effect is not the best implementation we've seen from Huawei. The phone also lacks some niceties, such as fast charging and USB-C that you find on its rivals.
Still, for INR 17,999 ($278), the Honor 9i is good value and a suitable step up from some of the cheaper phones in the segment.