HONOR X9b 5G Review: A Strong Follow-Up

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HONOR X9b 5G unit 91

Contents (maximize to view)

8.9Expert Score
Awesome

Place here Description for your reviewbox

Design and Build Quality
9
Performance
9
Camera (Stills)
8.5
Camera (Videos)
7
Software
8.5
Battery
10
Price
10
Positives
  • Premium design and feel
  • Can survive a beating
  • Decent overall performance
  • Simple and clutter-free software
  • Excellent battery life
Negatives
  • No expandable storage
  • Only has an IP53 rating
  • Color accuracy can be inconsistent
  • No night mode on the ultra-wide unit
  • Not for videos with a lot of movement

Launched early last year, the HONOR X9a 5G was literally a smash hit, thanks to its incredible ability to survive a beating. Now, the brand has brought in a successor -the HONOR X9b 5G. Armed with some notable improvements over its predecessor, will it be able to fill in the big shoes and a bit more?

Design and Build Quality

HONOR X9b 5G unit 54

Looks-wise, the HONOR X9b 5G shares a number of things with the HONOR X9a 5G, like the rounded camera module placed in the center, only that the outer ring is thicker, and the curved sides on the back panel with the HONOR branding at the bottom. What does stand out is the HONOR X9b 5G’s vegan leather back, which gives it a more premium feel plus better grip.

HONOR X9b 5G unit 46

As for the display specifications, the HONOR X9b 5G’s AMOLED display is larger at 6.78-inches, has more pixels, 1220 x 2652 vs 1080 x 2400 and can go brighter at 1,200 nits vs 800 nits. Like the X9a 5G, you still get a 120Hz refresh rate, as well as 1920Hz PWM Dimming for reduced eye strain.

HONOR X9b 5G unit 65

HONOR calls the screen on this new device the Ultra-Bounce Anti-Drop Display. It’s also the first device to get a 5-star overall drop resistance certification from Switzerland’s SGS.

HONOR X9b 5G unit 29

To simply put it, this phone was made to survive quite a beating. Did it survive our drop test? The simple answer is yes, but not without getting a dent on the lower right corner of the frame.Screen’s fine though. If you’ve been following the news, the device has also endured being a target practice, having been rolled over by a car’s tires, and being used as a tool for smashing tiles. 

HONOR X9b 5G unit 38

HONOR X9b 5G has an IP53 rating, which means it should be able to handle a bit of spray, but it’s not recommended to submerge it under water. I wish that it was higher, say IP68, for more assurance.

The device fares well for media consumption, thanks to the large display and higher resolution Things appear more detailed, and being an AMOLED panel, you also get deep blacks and rich colors that enhance the liveliness of any content you watch. There’s only a single speaker at the bottom, but it delivers decent volume, the clarity and bass, they’re okay. Not great, but not bad either.

Performance

HONOR X9b 5G unit 8
Left: HONOR X9a 5G, Right: HONOR X9b 5G

HONOR X9b 5G packs a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 processor, which, at least, based on benchmarks, offers a decent improvement over the Snapdragon 695 on the HONOR X9a 5G. In theory, it should also be more efficient being a 4nm chip compared to a 6nm chip.

You also get 12GB of RAM (vs 8GB), and 256GB of storage with no provisions for a microSD card. It’s unfortunate, but I guess not having expandable storage is really the new trend.

For daily use, the device runs very smooth and snappy for most of the time. Apps open fast and switching between running apps didn’t pose any serious issues.

Farlight 84

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

Honkai: Star Rail

Diablo Immortal

The HONOR X9b 5G also works well for gaming, delivering smooth gameplay plus generally stable and consistent fps in Farlight 84 and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. This consistency also carries over to Diablo Immortal, a more demanding game, though 60fps isn’t supported.

For Honkai: Star Rail, you will notice some jitters from time to time as the fps isn’t as stable, but the overall experience is still good at medium preset and 60fps enabled. You can probably even dial it down a bit more to get more stable performance.

As for thermals, the CPU can hit some spikes in some points, but I didn’t notice drastic dips in performance, and the phone didn’t feel uncomfortable to hold at any point.

Camera

The HONOR X9b 5G gets a bump to a 108MP main camera from the HONOR X9a 5G’s 64MP, and uses a similar setup with a 5MP ultra-wide unit, a 2MP macro unit, and a 16MP front snapper.

A higher MP count doesn’t immediately translate to better photos, these cameras can definitely capture good quality images with good amounts of detail and sharpness. 

There was an instance where a photo came out looking a lot bluer than necessary. Color accuracy can be a bit inconsistent. Sometimes, it would just slightly boost colors, and at times, it would be accurate. There is a noticeable difference in quality and colors between the main camera and the ultra-wide.

Night shots look good as well, as exposure is decently accurate. The phone doesn’t just turn the brightness up on everything to make the night look like day. I know some people prefer that but, that’s not what Night Shot should be for me.

On the flipside – Night Mode isn’t available on the ultra-wide unit, which is a letdown. The front camera does not support 4K, and video can be very shaky even with just simple movements like walking slowly.

Software

HONOR X9b 5G runs MagicOS 7.2 on top of Android 13. Apart from HONOR and Google’s own apps, there are only a few pre-loaded apps, all of which you can uninstall.

Features-wise, Magic UI offers some level of customization, but not as much when compared to say MIUI or ColorOS.

It’s a very simple take on Android that works well, but also could use some improvements, such as having quick access to the camera settings. Overall though, the UI runs very smooth and snappy.

Battery

HONOR X9b 5G Battery

Using PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark which simulates tasks like video and photo editing, web browsing and more, the HONOR X9b 5G managed to score almost 15 hours, which is a great result.

Using the charger that came with the box, recharging its 5,800mAh battery took around an hour and a half.

HONOR X9b 5G – Verdict

If HONOR wanted to get a message out that this phone is tough, then I think they already did, and I would agree. You also get a premium-looking design and decent software. Personally, if I were to prioritize things for preventing the phone from getting damaged, I’d choose better water and dust resistance first, even with a slightly less durable screen.

As for the chip, I agree that there are better options out there if you’re gunning for pure performance, but I also think that having a good balance is important, and this phone achieves that with good battery life.

Camera-wise, consistency needs improvement, and video, especially when moving needs work in terms of stabilization. All those being said, for its PHP 16,999 price tag, I think that the improvements outweigh the cons, and make it a worthy successor to the HONOR X9a 5G.

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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