When a smartphone briefing takes place at a paintball arena with the phone in question liberally used as a backstop for high velocity paintball rounds and to split wooden blocks in two, you know you’re in for something special.
Honor’s X9b is a midrange phone that aims to take the concept of durability to new heights and they’ve liberally proved it in all manner of outlandish scenarios. We managed to get a sample for field testing ahead of its launch and after putting it through its paces, here’s our Honor X9b first look where we check out what it has in the box and share our first impressions of their latest tough phone.
Honor X9b First Look – Enhanced toughness
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The successor to the earlier Honor X9a and the X9, the third generation Honor X9b is a proven design that blends aspects of an affordable midrange phone with the sort of durability you’d expect in better armoured, specialised designs.
The Honor X9b on paper also incorporates a series of durability and performance improvements over its predecessor on top of the obligatory upgrades to performance and camera quality. The phone is also rated a respectable IP53 for dust and water resistance. While it won’t survive immersion in water just yet, it’s easily able to shrug off rain and a bit of dust.
According to Honor, the X9b has improved drop resistance all the way to 1.5 metres so that it can survive a drop at roughly chest height. To ensure this happens, the chassis itself has been engineered with cushioning material and tiny flexible gaps within the internal frame itself to act like shock absorbers by dispersing the force from an impact while the display itself is also reinforced to shrug off direct hits.
To wit, the Honor X9b is the world’s first phone to get a five-star Overall Drop Resistance certification rating from the SGS certification authority in Switzerland. In fact, the Honor X9b is tough enough that it has an unprecedented 365 day front and back crack replacement policy in the unlikely event that an owner can even manage to prang it which is double the duration of what its predecessor, the X9a’s repair policy covered.
While we didn’t subject our Honor X9b first look sample to destructive testing seeing as we only have a single unit for review, Honor Malaysia liberally demonstrated its durability in live field tests with witnesses.
Thus far, it’s managed to shrug off being used as an axe of sorts to split over a hundred wooden planks and survive multiple direct hits from paintballs. It has also seen use as an ad hoc hammer to smash open crabs and hammer nails into wood too.
Honor X9b first look – Build and Design
In terms of build and design, the Honor X9b looks surprisingly premium, belying its modest price tag with gently rounded corners and a curved AMOLED display that gently slopes down on the sides and corners.
The backplate is made of polycarbonate with our Honor X9b review sample coming in an iridescent shade of Titanium Silver that has shades of blue and purple when held up to the light. A more premium version with a faux leather orange finish is also available that offers an even more premium look to the phone.
Taking centerstage on the Honor X9b’s backplate is a rounded camera housing that houses an LED flash and a triple camera array. The rear camera setup is built around a 108MP camera, a wide angle 5MP ultra wide angle camera and a 2MP macro camera.
The camera housing itself pays homage to the Huawei Mate series phones with its circular camera housing though the Honor X9b differs slightly with a raised housing embellished with a guilloché pattern akin to a watch bezel though it’s purely for aesthetic purposes.
The right side of our Honor X9b first look sample hosts a volume rocker and power button while the left and top of the phone are otherwise unremarkable. Emplaced at the base of the phone is a USB-C port for charging and docking duties, a grille for the mono speaker along with a dual nano SIM card tray.
Up front, our Honor X9b first look unit has a luscious 6.78-inch curved AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, 1,920Hz PWM dimming as well as a TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification to make it easier on the eyes. Up top in a punch hole is a 16MP fixed focus selfie camera as well as a tiny slit for the earpiece.
Under the hood, the Honor X9b comes with a midrange Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 processor, 12GB LPDDR4X RAM paired with 8GB of virtual RAM Turbo for a grand total of 20GB RAM, 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. The phone itself runs the latest Android 13 with their own MagicOS 7.2 firmware.
The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is of recent vintage circa late 2022 and is a midrange processor with AI capabilities built on a 4nm process that succeeds the prior Snapdragon 695 chipset.
Compared to the older Snapdragon 695, it offers about 40% faster CPU and 35% better GPU performance, integrates a triple ISP to properly manage a triple camera setup like that used in the Honor X9b and supports up to 108MP camera sensors while also featuring a 7th Gen Qualcomm AI engine for AI work. This lends it a performance profile that’s ideally suited as a general purpose workhorse.
Honor X9b first look – What’s in the box and price
In terms of accessories, Honor has kitted the phone out with the works. You get a free soft TPU casing, a SuperCharge 35W fast charger with USB-C cable, a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle and a 3.5mm pair of headphones to go with it too.
This amount of free kit with a phone is becoming vanishingly rare these days, which further adds to the value of the Honor X9b. Oddly enough, they’ve also pre-applied a screen protector on the phone itself which is somewhat amusing seeing how tough the Honor X9b is.
Unfortunately we have no indication how much the Honor X9b costs in Malaysia just yet but if it’s around the price of its predecessor the X9a, it’s already set to be a winner. Stay tuned for its upcoming launch this 1st November 2023 where Huawei will reveal the price and where we can share our full review!
Honor X9b first look sample courtesy of Honor Malaysia. For more details please visit their official website at https://bit.ly/HONORX9bHitechCentury