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Honor 9X Pro Review: Some Great Upgrades But Now It No Longer Has Google Apps

A couple of months ago, we reviewed the Honor 9X. And despite the whole US-China trade war, the Honor 9X managed to make it out of production before US-based apps were called off from the company’s newer models. Unfortunately for its successor the Honor 9X Pro, it is one of those that rolled out without the ability to access US-based apps. In that sense, without the inherent capability of accessing PlayStore, The Honor 9X Pro won’t be able to utilise any Google apps. It also gets slightly technical in order to download apps such as Facebook and Whatsapp. But is that entirely a bad thing? Well read up on this review to find out what the “Pro” is actually bringing to the table as the successor of the famed Honor 9X series.

But before you read up on this review, do read up on our Honor 9X review first to understand the general specifications about the phone. This is due to having little hardware differences between the two smartphones and as such, stuff like camera performance is practically the same too – so we don’t wish to repeat ourselves twice. Anyway, we will cover the things that are obviously missing on the 9X since the 9X Pro is practically the upgraded successor.

Design and Hardware Differences

The Honor 9X Pro and the Honor 9X bear only minute differences. That is, the 9X Pro now has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the home button itself. Aside from this, the 9X Pro has an updated rear panel motif, which is still glossy but the X pattern seems less “compressed” compared to the 9X – while the luster has a smoother gradient finish and not as edgy in terms of design. Design differences alone, you might not be able to tell them apart actually. We like the Honor 9X design and for the 9X Pro to look similar, that’s fine to us.

Running through them both in terms of internal hardware, they are really the same phones save for the chipset (HiSilicon Kirin 810), a slightly heavier body (about 9.2grams extra) and a maximum configuration of 256GB 8GB RAM as compared to the 9X’s maximum at 128GB 6GB RAM.  Aside from these, everything else is a 1-to-1 copy.

Even the cameras and the performance levels are tested with similar sentiments. For the camera performance, you can refer to our Honor 9X review back on Stuff Malaysia here.

General Performance

We don’t run detailed tests unlike other websites but we do honour the device we’re reviewing by staying true to our feelings every time we are using or experiencing it. In the case of the Honor 9X Pro, we do find that its performance is slightly better overall. This is in terms of loading speeds and graphical performance. But that is given, because the chipset is supposedly newer and better compared to the 9X’s Kirin 710F.

But if you’re purchasing the 9X Pro hoping for a huge leap in its performance, that’s definitely a no. And that comes to our next point regarding the 9X Pro’s greatest handicap, which is the inability to download Google Apps.

Losing Google Apps and Some

Let us be completely honest, having no Google Apps on an Android smartphone is a huge deal breaker. It doesn’t matter anymore whether the phone is technologically superior, has a better camera or the other amazing bells and whistles. The thing about a smartphone in 2020’s standards is all about making life easier and more accessible. Google apps are such a slew of software that really made using Androids a productive and accessible thing. But that’s not all, it’s not just about Google, but not having highly popular apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp readily available for download makes it worse.

Of course, more tech-savvy users can access the internet or YouTube for tutorials on installing these apps onto the phone but we believe that end-user or consumer level products should be easy-to-use and operate without the need for overly technical skills.

What’s the value of the Honor 9X Pro?

So the question is, for a better chipset, and higher storage capacity (including a side-mounted fingerprint sensor), is the Honor 9X Pro a better buy compared to the Honor 9X at the same price?

Our answer is sadly no.

It’s because we were indeed hoping for some huge leap in the 9X Pro in terms of hardware. Perhaps a better rear and front camera setup would turn the tides – or a better chipset and a better screen combo would swoop in to really make the notion of “Pro” mark a significant upgrade. Unfortunately, none of those were materialised.

The Honor 9X Pro is a good phone for having the same qualities as the Honor 9X but it doesn’t live up as a “Pro” successor to the series for the same reason – having almost the same qualities. Not having Google Apps is certainly a huge breaker to a significant amount of smartphone users already and the almost static hardware changes are not particularly impressive for users to yearn for an upgrade.

At the end of the day, do we really recommend purchasing this? Well, if you’re a very light user and moderately tech-savvy and have a budget of around RM1000, and maybe you could backdoor your way with the inaccessible apps, then purchasing this phone should be an okay endeavour. It’s still a smartphone after all.

However, if you have a budget of RM1000 and is an average Android smartphone user without much technical knowledge, then it’s no. We already mentioned that it is not a better buy compared to the previous 9X. But if you’re keen despite the phone’s shortcomings, there’s no stopping you. It still works and that’s ultimately what a smartphone should do.

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