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HONOR X9a 5G review: Ultra-tough OLED curved display smartphone

This HONOR X9a 5G review was made possible because HONOR Malaysia was willing to ship the smartphone to me here in Kuching.

In case you are wondering, the ‘a’ in the name stands for ‘advance’, so that means this smartphone is ahead any other variant in the X9 series.

Now, there’s a lot of hype about this smartphone via HONOR themselves, but the question everyone perhaps wants to know is if it really lives up to all those hype and reputation that HONOR claims it to be.

This review therefore is done to tell you what I personally think about this newly released smartphone after using it for about a month.

Design: Design and body

I’m going to start this HONOR X9a 5G review by talking about the design and body. The X9a 5G is 7.9mm thin, and 161.6mm long.

The Midnight Black coloured model I received looks premium and feels great in the palm, but slight smudges are evident after handling the smartphone.

In the pocket, the 175g is very much light weight compared to most smartphones I’ve used before which makes it pleasing to carry around.

The front screen has a punch hole front camera and the under-screen fingerprint scanner works instantly when activated for an unlock.

On the rear end chin, there’s a down firing speaker, a SIM tray and a USB-C port for charging, while the power-up button (which doubles as Google Assistant activator), as well as the volume control buttons, are on the left side of the smartphone.

The rear of the smartphone houses the triple camera set-up in one huge Matrix Star Ring Camera Design which nobody can miss. HONOR justified the design by saying such design gives a beautiful meaning of harmony, and centred symmetry of Chinese philosophy.

I however do have reservations on the design, but I would not deny that the design gives the smartphone symmetry harmony.

Durability: The screen

The screen is perhaps the most highlighted part of the smartphone.

This 6.67 inch OLED display offers 800nits brightness which makes it simply stunning to look at regardless of condition.

It also comes with 120Hz refresh rate and 300Hz sampling rate which makes gaming pretty smooth.

For starters, the screen is made a special HONOR reinforced glass that’s thicker than industry standards by 0.1mm.  While the measurement seems rather little, the difference it brings to the glass strength is very significant.

Not only is the screen now stronger, but the glass which HONOR calls Super Reinforced Glass creates stronger resistance towards drops, and cracks.

In fact, the screen is so hard that I could use it to break nuts on purpose as seen in the durability test below.

I think the video justifies the strength of the screen well enough, but if just in case you aren’t, HONOR recognises the smartphone with their HONOR Gold Label warranty which means the screen gets a 180 day free screen replacement shall it crack or break.

Aside from being tougher, the X9a 5G screen is also curved, which to me is a nice touch as it provides a wider viewing area as compared to a flat designed screen.

HONOR had also addressed those annoying mistouch moments I tend to get on a curved screen by introducing the 45 degrees Golden Curvature AI Anti Mistouch.

This feature reduces mistouches when handling the smartphone from areas of the curved screen.

Audio system

The audio system is loud, but it is only a single down firing speaker which produces one side sound.

The quality of sound is good, but there’s no surround sound since only one side of the smartphone is able to produce sound.

This causes a problem when gaming as I tend to cover the speaker with my hand when I’m in a game.

Processor, RAM and storage

The X9a 5G comes with the Snapdragon 695 5G processor which supports the usual daily apps I use without much fuss.

The 13GB RAM which is a combination of 5GB virtual RAM and 8GB RAM through HONOR RAM Turbo Technology definitely does improve the performances of the smartphone which to me is pretty snappy.

When gaming, FIFA loaded well adequately fast, and the smartphone remained cool when I played the game.

For Call of Duty (COD), gaming was equally smooth and I also didn’t note any increase in temperature in the X9a 5G as well.

There’s ample storage space as well as this smartphone comes with 256GB ROM which HONOR claims can keep 43,800 photos without problem.

On top of that, HONOR also equipped the X9a 5G with the HONOR anti-aging engine which means the aging rate is only 1.3% after three years.

Software

As mentioned above, the screen does make gaming smoother at it can refresh at 120hz.

But above all the Magic UI 6.1which is based on Android 12, comes with Google in a very clean manner, which means I not only get better and faster Google system experience, but it also allows me to avoid having too much bloatware which could slow down the smartphone.

This smartphone is also the first under HONOR’s X Series to support Multiscreen Collaboration.

In addition to that, the smartphone also comes with Device Clone which makes phone swapping easy between HONOR and HUAWEI smartphones.

Camera

The camera is not the main strength of the X9a 5G, but it is able to capture decent photos as you can see below.

The first photo I took was on a rainy day as you can see below using the 5MP wide lens.

Then, at the same place I used the 64MP ultra-clear lens as you can see below.

I then tried to max out the zoom, which produced the photo below, which is very grainy, but still able to capture the distance.

I changed the setting to HDR, and it resulted in better a quality photo as you can see below.

To showcase how the camera works at night, the photo below was taken using night-mode. Personally, I thought it turned out quite nice.

However, taking photos of fireworks does leaves much to desire.

The macro shot below was also not bad because I could capture the ‘BNM 100’ in the RM100 note as you can see below.

In terms of selfies or portraits, the bokeh and beauty effect worked as it should.

For videography, I made a short video of my recent trip to Borneo Happy Farm as you can see below. Here you can see I use both the normal video setting and multi-video with success.

For content creators especially vloggers, the multi-video is very handy.

Battery performance

I am personally very impressed with the HONOR X9a 5G’s 5100mAh battery life. On standby, or without use, it can last a very very long time.

On light use, the smartphone could go on for two days without a problem and on standby, it could easily hit three days.

In fact, at 43 percent, I could still pull the battery life to work for another day!

HONOR claims that such impressive battery life is also assured for the next three years as well, able to be still keep 80% of it’s capacity after 1,000 charge-discharge cycles.

Durability

I think it’s proven that the X9a 5G screen is durable enough as seen in the video above, but above all, it is a durable smartphone overall.

The smartphone may suffer scratches and dents when it falls, but the screen, which is the most important part of a smartphone, would still be intact.

Several accidental scenarios I’ve tested also proved that I wouldn’t need to worry such incident happened as the smartphone proved to be more durable than the rest.

Verdict and availability

This HONOR X9a 5G review wouldn’t be complete without a verdict on the smartphone.

I think the HONOR X9a 5G is a smartphone for the working class or rather those who need long life battery and do not want to be worried their smartphone will get damaged when they are working.

It provides a decent camera set-up and can be used to support gaming although I wouldn’t say that it’s excellent for both task considering results from my test do yield rather average results.

Regardless, the smartphone does offer quite a lot for its price range and I think anyone can appreciate a smartphone that works well enough but has among the best battery life and durability.

You can watch my HONOR X9a 5G review by checking out the #RilReview video of the X9a 5G here.

The smartphone will be available from 6 January 2023 at RM1,499 at the stores below.