We compare the freshly-launched Honor 9 phone to the Honor 8 and Honor 8 Pro, Huawei’s most recent affordable Honor mobiles which still pack an impressive punch. Should existing Honor owners consider an upgrade and which handset is best for you?
Huawei has finally brought its new Honor 9 flagship handset to Europe, to replace last year’s Honor 8. From the specs alone the Honor 9 is impressive stuff, offering similar features and performance to much more expensive mobiles like the Huawei P10, at a more affordable price. In fact, at £389 this phone even undercuts the mighty OnePlus 5.
Of course, Huawei has already launched the Honor 8 Pro this year, which boosts the previous flagship’s specs – not to mention its size – to near Mate 9 levels. So how does the new Honor 9 compare with both of these older Honor handsets and should existing owners consider an upgrade?
Read next: Best Huawei and Honor phones in 2017
Honor 9 vs Honor 8 Pro vs Honor 8: Specs
|Phone||Honor 8||Honor 8 Pro||Honor 9|
|OS||Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.0||Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.1||Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.1|
|Processor||Kirin 950||Kirin 960||Kirin 960|
Honor 9 vs Honor 8 Pro vs Honor 8: Design
First off, the Honor 8 Pro is the odd-one-out when it comes to the design, offering a very different user experience to the Honor 8 and 9. This mighty mobile sports a 5.7-inch screen, which means the phone towers over its Honor siblings (which are closer to 5.2-inches in size).
The Pro is noticeably heavier too at 185g, compared with the smaller handsets which weigh closer to 155g.
Of course, that means the Honor 8 and Honor 9 are easier to operate one-handed. Huawei does at least help out in this area though, with some nifty features thrown into the Emotion UI overlay. For instance, you can shrink your desktops and apps towards the bottom of the screen with a quick gesture, so you don’t need to stretch so far with your thumb.
The Honor 8 Pro also sets itself apart with the brushed finish on the back. That looks smarter than the glossy finish of the other two phones here, which attract fingerprints and scuffs rather easily. Although generally rugged, none of these phones are water resistant.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8 Pro vs Honor 8: Screen and media
The Honor 8 Pro not only sports the largest screen in this comparison review, but also the sharpest.
That Quad HD resolution (2560×1440 pixels) is a step up from the Full HD resolution of the Honor 9 and Honor 8’s panels. This increased density makes for even crisper visuals, perfect for enjoying movies on the move.
All three handsets including the new Honor 9 sport an IPS LCD panel, capable of outputting 16 million colours. No matter your choice, you can expect reasonably punchy colours – Honor’s displays are more or less a match for the AMOLED panels on some rival handsets. In all three cases you also get the Eye Comfort mode, for filtering blue light and providing a more comfortable late night viewing experience.
If you prefer to carry your media collection around, rather than streaming from the likes of Spotify and Netflix, then any of these Honor handsets will do the job. The Honor 8 Pro and Honor 9 come with a minimum of 64GB of storage space, while the Honor 8 isn’t far behind with a choice of either 32GB or 64GB. You can even pay a bit more for a massive 128GB of space on the latest flagship.
However, any of these phones can be expanded using a microSD memory card.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8 Pro vs Honor 8: Features and OS
Android Nougat comes packed onto all three of these phones, overlaid with Huawei’s own Emotion UI interface (EMUI 5 on the Honor 8, and 5.1 on the 8 Pro and 9). This offers plenty of expanded functionality, including strong resource management and helpful shortcuts.
The user experience is essentially the same on all three Honor handsets, including the all-new Honor 9. Check out our EMUI 5.1 review for all you need to know, as well as our EMUI 5 tips and tricks guide.
All three boast a fingerprint sensor for quickly and effortlessly unlocking to your desktops. However, while the older Honor 8 and 8 Pro sport this on the rear end, the newest member of the Honor family has it wedged in beneath the display. That’s so you can use Huawei’s gesture control, in place of the back and recent apps buttons.
A quick tap of that sensor acts as a back command, while long-pressing takes you back to your home screen. Lastly, a swipe left or right across the scanner brings up the recent apps menu. It’s a different way of doing things and quick to adjust to, although not necessarily any better than simple touch buttons.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8 Pro vs Honor 8: Performance and battery life
The new Honor 9 boasts no real advantage over the Honor 8 Pro when it comes to performance. You once again get a Kirin 960 chipset of Huawei’s own design stuffed inside, which thankfully still offers strong performance in 2017. At least 4GB of RAM keeps your apps running smoothly.
Of course, this is a jump over the older Kirin 950 found in last year’s Honor 8. However, even a year after its launch, the Honor 8 is still a solid performer. Check out our long-term Honor 8 review for more info. In other words, performance alone isn’t a reason to upgrade to the Honor 9 from last year’s flagship phone.
So what about battery life? Well, the Honor 8 Pro sports the biggest battery here (4000mAh) – unsurprising given that it’s the largest handset in this comparison. You can expect two full days of regular use between charges. Meanwhile the Honor 8 gives just over a day of life, with its 3000mAh cell.
The new Honor 9 packs a 3200mAh battery and we’re hopeful that we’ll get over a day of use per charge again, especially given EMUI and Android’s clever resource management. All three phones here also offer Huawei’s fast charging tech, which is designed to prevent long-term cell damage.
Honor 9 vs Honor 8 Pro vs Honor 8: Cameras
When it comes to the camera tech, the Honor 8 and Honor 8 Pro are pretty much identical.
You get a dual-lens 12-megapixel snapper on both of the older Honors, with an f/2.2 aperture and phase detection/laser autofocus. You can expect gorgeous, detail-packed photos with realistic colour reproduction in good light, although low light proves a bit of a struggle.
There’s no Optical Image Stabilisation either, so video is hampered by a bit of judder when moving around. Still, the Digital Image Stabilisation does a respectable job and you can shoot up to 4K resolution footage.
In both cases you also get an 8-megapixel front-facing snapper, for selfies. This can shoot up to Full HD video also.
Check out our full Honor 8 Pro camera review for full samples and analysis.
We’re yet to test the Honor 9 camera, although it appears to be very similar to the Huawei P10’s shooter. You get a dual-lens Leica camera once again, this time with a 20-megapixel and a 12-megapixel lens in place. That f/2.2 aperture means that low light shots are likely to suffer from grain and motion blur like before, although we’re expecting snaps taken in good light to be stunning as usual. You can shoot up to 4K resolution video like before, for Ultra HD clips of your dog wiping its arse on the carpet.
Rounding off the camera specs is an 8-megapixel snapper around the front, although the aperture has been widened for improved low light functionality.
Check back soon for our full Honor 9 camera review and of course our in-depth Honor 9 review.