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Home News The Honor 9X looks great, but small frustrations will make you cross

The Honor 9X looks great, but small frustrations will make you cross

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I’ve always liked Honor’s phones, especially the Honor View 20 and, more recently, the Honor 20 Pro too. The Honor “X” series is the brand’s mid-range category, and the newest member is the Honor 9X. An eye-catching rear panel grabs your attention, the presence of Google services — despite Huawei’s troubles in this area — is a win, and a technically-impressive camera made me hope for another winner.

But the Honor 9X struggles to keep up with the competition. Honor needed to do just a little more to make it stand out. Let me explain.

Body compromises

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The Honor 9X is the first Honor X phone with an identity, granted by the attractive rear panel with a pixel-art style X design. It’s surprisingly subtle and only really shows up in bright light. When it does, the 9X is impossible to mistake it for anything else and I really like the look. When Honor added the V shape to the back of the View 20, it became recognizable and individual, and it’s excellent to see the company do the same for its other devices.

But what Honor giveth, Honor also taketh away. The back of the 8.8mm thick Honor 9X feels like plastic, and not a nice plastic either. It makes a hollow sound when you tap it or set it down on the table, and it does not feel as high quality and pleasant as a glass phone. Perhaps understandable when the Honor 9X is expected to cost around 300 British pounds, or about $380, but a disappointment after the glass-backed Honor 8X. It does win some points for durability, though.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Set in the back is a fingerprint sensor. It works very well, is suitably fast, and is easy to locate with your finger. But it feels rather old. A bit 2018. I have lost count of the number of times I pressed the Honor 9X’s screen expecting to unlock the phone before I remembered the sensor is on the back. Sure, this will be a problem unique to someone who uses a lot of phones, but it’s also evidence of how fast companies are moving away from the traditional rear fingerprint sensor.

If it sounds like I’m being quite harsh, it’s because I expect Honor to deliver strong devices at all price points, and because the Honor 9X doesn’t feel fantastic in the hand, initial impressions aren’t strong. The Motorola One Vision is considerably more pleasant to hold and makes the rear fingerprint sensor on that phone less of an issue; the same rings true with the Nokia 7.2. Honor hasn’t quite managed to do the same with the 9X.

Screen compromises

There’s no notch on the 6.59-inch LCD FullView screen, making the Honor 9X the first Honor phone to come with a motorized, 16-megapixel pop-up selfie camera. This nets a 91% screen-to-body ratio, and genuinely gives the 9X a large display. But there’s a compromise, and that’s the speed with which the selfie camera rises out of the body.

Obviously it doesn’t take hours, weeks, or months, but it takes longer than I expect, certainly in comparison to other pop-up cameras on phones like the OnePlus 7T. I believe that if it’s noticeable, then it’s a problem, and it’s probably a good thing the 9X does not have a face unlock option. To get the notch-less screen, there had to be a trade-off, but here I’d have settled for the notch instead of a slow pop-up camera.

Otherwise, the screen is pretty, with a Full HD resolution, strong colors and decent contrast levels. I’ve enjoyed watching video on the Honor 9X, apart from one other thing, and that’s the number of fingerprint smudges the front attracts. The flat screen has a factory-fitted screen protector over the top, and this may be the cause. Regardless, the Honor 9X’s screen quickly gets messy.

Software and battery

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There’s good news on the software side, as the Honor 9X comes with Google services installed, unlike the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. According to Honor, the 9X has been in development for a while and it squeezed through before Google’s apps could be kept out of the phone. This is great news, and although it’s Android 9 and EMUI 9.1 onboard, Android 10 with EMUI 10 will also arrive in the future.

Key specs

  • Screen: 6.59 inches, LCD
  • Resolution: 2,340 x 1,080
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • MicroSD Card Slot: Yes
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • OS: Android 9 Pie with EMUI 9.1

Take a look at the bottom of the phone and the good news continues, as the MicroUSB charging port from the Honor 8X has been replaced by a more modern USB Type-C connector. This charges a 4,000mAh battery which has easily lasted me for two days with moderate use. There’s plenty of storage space too, with 128GB in the phone and an additional 512GB possible with a MicroSD card. That’s excellent for the price, and many will be pleased with a 3.5mm headphone socket on the bottom of the phone too.

Camera

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Honor has upgraded the camera on the 9X over the 8X, adding an additional lens and increasing the main lens to 48-megapixels. It’s the same sensor as found on the Honor 20 Pro and the Honor View 20 too, and it’s joined by an 8-megapixel super wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel depth assist lens. Features include the same artificial intelligence-enhanced night mode, plus a portrait and aperture mode for bokeh shots.

How does it do? It’s good, although the one common complaint about some Honor cameras remains: The artificial intelligence will over saturate photos, but turn this off (it’s easy to do) and the final image takes on a more natural tone. Aperture shots are excellent, with decent edge recognition and strong background blur and foreground detail. Use night mode and the results do suffer from noise and a distinct lack of detail. Overall though, it’s great performance from a mid-range camera phone.


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You have a wide-angle camera mode to enjoy, but the photos it takes have a heavier blue tint than photos taken with the standard lens. Sadly there is no optical or hybrid zoom function, which lessens the creative fun you can have with the camera. Like all Huawei and Honor phones, the editing suite in the Gallery app is comprehensive and easy to use, and remains one of the best you can get as standard on a phone.

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    Honor 9X without Night mode
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    Honor 9X with Night mode

The selfie camera, despite the high megapixel count, isn’t so great. Use some of the AI portrait modes and edge recognition is really bad, for example. The beauty mode is turned off by default, as is the AI scene enhancement. Activate the AI and the phone does adjust settings quickly and efficiently, but this doesn’t make up for the drab and sometimes noisy selfies it takes.

Price and availability

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor 9X will make its debut in Russia and other parts of Europe on October 24, followed by a release in the U.K. later on. No U.S. release date is set, and it likely will never make it. The price has yet to be confirmed, but approximately 300 British pounds is what we’re expecting. The price will be confirmed during the launch event and we will update here when we know more.

The Honor 9X isn’t representative of what Honor can do when it’s at the top of its game, and it’s further hampered by the range of tempting, reasonably priced phones that are out there this year. The Nokia 7.2, the Google Pixel 3a, the Oppo Reno 2 and Reno 2Z, the Motorola Vision, and the Moto G7, and many more are all vying for your attention. That’s before considering the Honor 20, or even the Honor 20 Lite. Sadly, the pretty X design, the decent camera, and strong battery life aren’t enough to compensate for the frustrations and make the Honor 9X the pick of the bunch.

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Sennheiser GSP 670 headset review: premium price, subpar performance

The search for a new headset can really get frustrating. Sure, there are a million options on Amazon for under $50, but when you want something premium, where do you start? If you’re looking for the best possible audio quality, you start with the Sennheiser GSP 670 and hope you can find it on sale because these things don’t come cheap.The GSP 670 is a premium headset with sound quality and a price tag to match. Launching at $350, you’re paying for the Sennheiser name and quality. We’ve tested multiple Sennheiser headsets throughout the years and have almost always come away impressed. That’s the same story here.The first thing you may notice about this headset is just how big it is. It looks big before you pick it up and it feels big once you put it on. Coming in at just shy of 400g, it has the weight to make those extremely long gaming sessions taxing, but luckily Sennheiser included one of the best headbands I’ve seen in a headset yet. It’s big and comfortable without looking too ridiculous.The earcups are equally nice with large plus fabric cups that will keep your ears away from the driver covers. If you prefer leatherette cups you’ll want to find another option, but I did find these to be one of the most comfortable headsets to just sit and listen to music on. The clamping force is just right (although uneven; more on that later) and the earcups provide a wonderful seal to keep the noise of the world away from your ears.One the outside of the headset, there’s a small tactile wheel to adjust chat volume if you’re using a gaming console, a large volume knob, and a multifunction button that will provide audio prompts for battery level and put you into pairing mode when you hold it down. The only thing we’re missing here is a physical switch to move between Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards, and we’ll tell you why that matters in a bit.The microphone is on the left side of the headset and provides a nice tactile click when you flip it all the way up. This is how you mute your microphone and comes in handy when you need to have a quick conversation and get back to whatever you were doing before.I wish I could report that the microphone provided better audio quality but I was pretty disappointed. It’s been a struggle to find a wireless headset that really gives great performance in this area (I’m guessing there’s a bandwidth issue) and the Sennheisers fall disappointingly short. I think they sound much the same as every other headset released in the last decade, which isn’t saying a lot.Both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards are here. Plugging the USB dongle into my computer, the headset paired almost instantly and opened up a world of opportunity to tune through the Sennheiser app. There are options to tune your EQ, how the microphone sounds, and even provide a noise gate in case you have a noisy background. I didn’t find much difference in how the microphone sounded using these options so hopefully, they continue to be tuned in future updates.The sound that comes through these headphones is a completely different story. This has been one of the best audio experiences I’ve had in my time reviewing tech. I’d put it up there with the Sony WH-1000xm3 in terms of enjoyment. Where Sony offers amazing noise cancelation, the Sennheiser GSP 670 takes the crown in terms of audio quality.I found music pleasingly bass-y without feeling like I’m slogging through the mud just to listen. Mids are very clear while highs are crisp without being piercing.I just wish I enjoyed wearing these more. I can’t overstate how heavy these things are. At just under 400g, they’re one of the heavier headsets I’ve tested and it can be exhausting during long sessions. With 16 hours of battery life, those sessions can last all night, but you’ll need breaks.Additionally, I don’t like wearing these because of how the cups sit on my head. While the cups themselves are large enough that my ear doesn’t touch anything, the clamping is uneven and annoying. You can use the sliders in the headband to adjust your clamp, but I always end up with more pressure on the bottom of the cups than at the top.Frankly, these don’t look great and certainly don’t look like something I’d pay over $300 for. They’re big and bulky with muted colors and an … aggressive? design. I’m not entirely sure what to call this design language but there are definitely better-looking options on the market. This won’t matter to some, but for those who do care, it’s a bit of a killer and makes the cost harder to justify.ConclusionThere are always trade-offs when you’re using a wireless headset. Sennheiser smartly did not skimp on the audio quality and if you’re looking for a wireless headset that sounds great, this is definitely where you want to start. I put it at the top of the list in that respect.But, where it falls apart is pretty much everywhere else. Tradeoffs become pretty obvious when you use these for more than a few hours.Yep, they’re built solidly and the plastic design means they’ll hold up to some abuse. But, these look cheaper than competing options like the Astro A50s and Arctis Pro Wireless. Plus, as I’ve said a few times, they’re heavy.It’s awesome that they have both 2.4ghz and Bluetooth standards. But there’s no way to manually switch between them and the second that your computer plays audio via the USB dongle, the Bluetooth cuts out completely. If you’re using these to take a phone call or listen to music on your phone and you accidentally click on a YouTube link on your computer, say goodbye to your audio. This would be an easy fix with a manual switch and we hope to see that in a future revision.Best over-ear headphones (spring 2020)I can’t state enough how crappy the audio from the mic is. Maybe I’m spoiled by streamers who invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into their audio equipment, but this sounds like every headset I’ve heard the last decade of gaming and that’s pretty disappointing.If your voice quality matters to you at all, I’d suggest getting a standalone mic. But you have to ask yourself if you’re grabbing something like a Blue Yeti, is there a justification for the GSP 670 when you can buy a wireless headset for far cheaper?I know it probably looks like I hate the Sennheiser GSP 670 but I don’t. In true dad fashion, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. While they’re best in class in terms of audio quality, the things they miss on are a killer and make them harder to recommend over other competitors.After a bit of searching, I’ve found the Sennheiser GSP 670 around $300 and sometimes cheaper on sale. I think if you can find these cheaper than that, go for it. Your ears will thank you. At full price, they’re a tough sell.Buy the Sennheiser GSP 670 at Amazon

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