(Pocket-lint) - If you're looking for a relatively affordable mid-level phone then Honor's unveiling of the Honor 9 may well have sparked your interest - and not just because of its spangly Sapphire Blue finish. For this £380 phone delivers plenty of bang for your buck.
Compared to last year's Honor 8
, the newer model delivers some nips and tucks on the design front, enhanced dual cameras, along with revamped innards for greater power - but without a significant price bump between the two generations.
Here's the skinny on how the Honor 9 differs from the Honor 8.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Design
- Honor 8: 145.5 x 71 x 7.5mm; 153g
- Honor 9: 147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45mm; 155g
- Honor 8: rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
- Honor 9: front-mounted ceramic fingerprint scanner
At first glance the two phones have a similar look - mainly because of that distinct blue finish (grey-white and black are also available in the Honor 9) and the way it catches light. In the Honor 9 the rear is a 15 layer build, with a three-dimensional curve for added depth.
The Honor 9 also does away with the rear-positioned fingerprint scanner of the Honor 8, instead placing a ceramic one to the front, much like a Home key as you'll find on an increasing number of devices these days.
Size-wise, it's great to see the Honor 9 sticking to a similar footprint to the earlier Honor 8. This isn't a giant phone - there's the Honor 8 Pro for that - which means it's easy to hold in the one hand. The Honor 9 has even trimmed a couple of millimetres in width compared to the Honor 8.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Display
- Honor 8: 5.2-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LCD
- Honor 9: 5.15-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LCD with 2.5D glass
By marginally condensing the size of the device, the Honor 9 also has an ever so slightly smaller screen than the Honor 8: it's 5.15-inches rather than 5.2-inches.
Resolution is one and the same for the two devices, however, at 1080p. No qHD resolution to be found here, but that's no surprise and, realistically, not a necessary spec requirement at this scale and price point.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Battery, hardware & software
- Honor 8: 3,000mAh; Honor 9: 3,200mAh battery capacity
- Honor 8: Kirin 950 (2.3GHz) chipset, 4GB RAM; Honor 9: Kirin 960 (2.4GHz) chipset, 4GB RAM
- Both: dual SIM / second slot acts as microSD card expansion
- Both: EMUI 5.1 software skin over Android 7.0
In addition to the updated design, the Honor 9 also ramps things up on the hardware front. With the latest Kirin 960 processor, paired with 4GB RAM, this device is every bit as powerful as the Huawei P10. That's a generational step-up compared to the Honor 8.
Both phones come with a microSD slot (it's the second SIM slot) to expand the on-board memory. And with 64GB as standard, the Honor 9 has plenty of storage on offer as standard (the Honor 8's starting capacity is 32GB).
On the software front, the Honor 9 delivers a similar experience to what you'll find in the mother brand Huawei P10. With Android 7.0 running in the background and EMUI 5.1 running over the top of that, it's a user experience that's rather heavy on alerts and battery-saving methods.
Speaking of battery, the Honor 9 ups the capacity to 3,200mAh - which is a 200mAh increase compared to the Honor 8. That's great news considering the smaller form factor of the new phone. Here's hoping for a proportional increase from life per charge.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Cameras
- Honor 8: Dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras
- Honor 9: 20-megapixel monochrome, 12-megapixel colour rear-facing dual cameras
Perhaps the biggest play of all is the Honor 9's upgraded cameras. To look at you might not think the two devices appear that different: they both have two optics arranged side-by-side peering out of the rear.
The Honor 9 goes down the Huawei route of opting for a 20MP monochrome and 12MP colour one, however, rather than using two colour sensors - the second with a mono filter via software - in a similar fashion to the Huawei P10. The main difference in the Honor 9 compared to Huawei is that there's no Leica affiliation and, thus, the software is slightly different, as are the optics.
Both Honor 8 and Honor 9 have the ability to use their two cameras to depth map scenes, providing the opportunity to create background blur in software after shooting. It's possible to see this in real-time with the Honor 9, even in video mode.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8: Conclusion
Overall the Honor 9 is a really interesting proposition - even more so in 2017 because so many manufacturers' products have risen in the price stakes. The Honor 9 is only £10 more than the Honor 8 was at launch but, crucially, it's £60 less than a OnePlus 5 and a massive £185-or-so less than the Huawei P10. Indeed, its only near competition is from the solid but ultimately less interesting Samsung Galaxy A5.
So while the Honor 9 may look like a minor tweak compared to last year's Honor 8, its progress in terms of design and features, plus stubborn price point positioning, make it one lucrative mid-level purchase indeed.
The Honor 9 is available now, priced £380. It will be available on contract in the UK exclusively with Three from 3 July 2017.