Honor are a company I have started to cover a lot more recently thanks to them making some great hardware at really affordable pricing.
The company reached out and offered me a review sample of their Honor 9X Lite smartphone and I jumped at the chance to get hands on with it and see what this £179 smartphone can do.
As always all thoughts are my own and I was given no payment or no device to keep as part of this review process, the device was on loan for 2 weeks and was then returned back to Honor.
No one from Honor had any visibility of this review before it went live so they are seeing the same time as everyone else.
The device I was sent had Honor 8X Lite on the box due to a late naming change but went through all the software updates before being used to get the latest experiance that customers will get buying the 9X Lite.
Honor certainly make some great looking phones and the 9X Lite keeps up with that tradition thanks to the stunning colour used on the back, the front of course is made all screen.
Looking straight on op to you have a small notch cutout which houses the front facing 8 megapixel camera which is decent enough for most situations, especially as a phone this price.
The notch is small compared to some of the competition, and whilst it’s not a pinhole camera we are starting to see more of to save space, it is smaller than others on the market and much smaller than the iPhone has.
This was handy when watching video content as I often find when using an iPhone, the notch on them is very large and interrupts the viewing experience at times, so a smaller notch was a welcome addition.
The screen is 6.5 inches in size and uses LCD technology at 1080p resolution which is good for a lot of situations but does lack the deep blacks an AMOLED offers but that costs more so was a compromise to keep the pricing down.
Looking over to the left you get the pin hole which when pressed in pushes out the sim card holder and in this device you get 3 slots to fill.
There is a space for a MicroSD card if you want to expand the memory, there are also 2 SIM card slots as this is a dial SIM phone, this allows both home and work or a personal and travel SIM at the same time which can be quite handy.
Over on the right you get the power button as well as the volume up and down keys for controlling system volume.
No real need to go into detail what these are for as it is the same on every phone, however, a handy trick is using the volume up button as a camera shutter when in camera mode, this may help some people who miss a physical button.
Looking up top you have the microphone used for noise cancellation and audio recording when in video mode to get balanced sound.
Pairing with the bottom microphone allows for voice calls to be clearer thanks to noise cancelation, it also means you get decent audio recording when in video mode.
Down bottom you have a 3.5mm headphone jack port for plugging in standard headphones which is a good move considering lots of phones have taken this away.
You then get the charging port which disappointingly takes a step back and is the older Micro USB type, with most phones now supporting USB C it is a shame the 9X Lite has gone backwards in this area.
Finally on the bottom is the speakerphone which lets you use for voice calls and for playing back any of your content, the volume is clear and crisp even at maximum volume.
Flipping to the back you get the really nice shiny back which shows off the device very well.
There is a fingerprint reader near the middle which allows for unlocking of the device as well as authorising payments on Google Pay as well as the camera in the corner.
The main camera is a 48 megapixel lens and has a secondary camera at 2 megapixel for capturing depth information to get some good quality portrait shots.
You also have a LED flash as most phones do, and this allows for boosting the lighting in poor conditions, but as well to act as a flashlight when you drop your keys or something in the dark and need to go hunting around.
When it comes to software there is a lot being talked about at present around Honor and Huawei and being not being able to use Google services (GMS) and what this will mean to the end users, the people who buy these phones.
Thankfully you won’t have any worry about this, as the 9X Lite comes fully Google compatible which with it brings access to all the traditional expected apps such as Play Store, Gmail, YouTube etc….
The Honor 9X Lite runs Android 9 out of the box with the normal skin on top bringing some enhancements and some Honor lick of paint they call EMUI.
Thankfully there was not a lot of bundled bloatware installed although there are some apps which end up getting duplicated such as having a Gallery and Google Photos etc…
Having used EMUI quite a lot in the past I knew what to expect from the software experience, and it is much better now than it ever was in older phones which gave EMUI a bit of a bad reputation.
One thing missing I found was any sort of setting to enable a Dark Mode, this was a shame as lots of phones now have one, and can be easier on the eyes and of course battery performance but this setting was no where to be seen.
With having all the Google services you get access to the Play Store which is where you will download most, if not all your apps you need and this is full of content including gamers as well as music, movies and books to browse.
It also means if you have an older android phone you are upgrading from all you need to do is login and your content can start transferring over including photos and contacts, this is more difficult on a non Google service device because of the way it works.
The Honor 9X Lite packs a mid range chipset in the Kirin 710 processor which is what is used in some of their middle tier smartphones and is made by parent company Huawei.
128GB storage comes built in for storage and is as mentioned expandable via Micro SD cards if you so wish, but with access to online storage such as Google Drive and Google Photos, you should find 128GB is plenty for most people.
You get 4GB of RAM to power everything and allow smooth multi tasking even with graphic heavy games, and I found playing the odd Pokémon Go or PUBG was never an issue on this device.
Battery performance was good too thanks to the built in 3750mAh battery and with using a custom made processor Honor were able to get the most out of the performance and easily last you a day with moderate use.
Network support comes in with CAT6 allowing speeds up to 300Mbps if your network support it, I was able to use a mix of three networks and found speeds decent enough for daily use and hotspot use if you need to tether.
Of course you also get the standard Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and NFC on board to connect to other devices and contact less payments with Google Pay.
Camera performance from the Honor 9X Lite is decent considering the asking price, you might not get the 3 or 4 lenses found in other phones out now, but you do get a decent 48 megapixel primary shooter paired with a 2 megapixel depth camera to allow good quality portrait photos in good lighting conditions.
Photos that are captured have a lot of detail and colour to them including close up macro shots which was pleasing to see.
On recording video you get a maximum of 1080p resolution at 30 frames a second which is decent enough for social media use as well as the odd video blogging use on the move, there are better options out there but cost more, and that is the theme of this device, what it does have it does very well as its current price when compared to others.
The interface is very similar to all the other phones which makes it very easy to just pick up and use without having to learn how to use it which is very handy.
The UI has the main subject in the middle with a large shutter button to the side with a slider selection of camera settings at the side you can swipe between.
Selfie samples come out clear in decent lighting although watch out for that beauty mode kicking in with skin smoothing that can look quite fake at times if too over the top.
Normally when I get excited to cover smartphones it is the top tier ones at around £1000, but this was different as I had heard good things from other reviewers about the 9X Lite.
There are some great points of this phone I loved using, but on the other hand some other areas which were a little frustrating.
Positive points first, having a dual SIM phone at this price is a real plus point, especially if you are someone who has two phones on the go, one for work and one for personal, this lets you run both off one phone which saves a lot of hassle.
Another plus point is the battery performance, the large 3750mAh fell easily lasted me a day with moderate use and I never really had to worry about running out before I got home.
On to the negatives, in 2020 having a Micro USB port just feels very wrong and outdated, apart from cheaper headphones, there should be no reason a phone goes back to Micro USB in a time USB C is so widely available now it would have surely been better to have the latest charging tech out of the box.
The other disappointment comes with the secondary camera being only a 2 megapixel depth lens, single cameras can use AI to get decent portrait photos so the second lens would have been better if possible as a super wide angle, or even a macro lens which is on some other devices right now for even better macro close ups.
When it comes down to it, you get a decent amount of phone for £179 considering the large battery, dual SIM support and the really nice design.
The biggest competition for the Honor 9X Lite will be the Moto G8 which costs the same, has a larger battery and quad camera setup, but only half the storage and a slightly smaller screen.
Either way there is a lot of competition in the mid range around £200 mark and this is great to see.
Huge thanks to Honor for sending over the 9X Lite for me to do this review, you can buy one now for £179 at time of writing here.