Earlier this year, HONOR launched the HONOR 9A, which was poised as an entry-level phone with a massive battery of 5,000mAh. Priced at just RM549, the HONOR 9A offers an array of perks for those on a tight budget, or those looking for a secondary phone for simple tasks.
First up is the 9A's exterior. For this price point, it's no surprise that we're looking at an all-plastic body. It still possesses a decent heft, and the pixellated holographic texture of the back panel looks surprisingly attractive. I'm not sure if this finish is present on the Midnight Black version of the 9A, but I'd highly recommend getting the Phantom Blue if you like a pop of colour in your life.
Do note that you'll definitely need a protective case for this though, as it is a fingerprint and dust magnet, and plastic does scratch far more easily than glass. It comes with a pre-applied screen protector though, which is a nice touch.
The sides have a matte metallic finish that almost looks pearlescent, and we're extremely pleased to find that there is barely a camera bump, which means your phone can sit nicely on a flat surface.
On the left you'll find the SIM card slot, while on the right you'll find the lock button and volume rocker, both of which are positioned comfortably within reach.
Below lies the 3.5mm jack, speaker grille, and *gasp* Micro-USB port. While I'm really not a fan of phones stuck in the era of Micro-USB, I'm willing to overlook it simply because the phone is cheap. However, do note that you won't benefit from fast charging - coupled with the phone's hefty 5,000mAh battery capacity, you're looking at roughly 3 hours to fill it up from zero.
Behind is the aforementioned camera array and a fingerprint sensor. The latter is positioned slightly too high for my taste, and I need to stretch a little to reach it using my usual grip. However, the sensor is pretty responsive and it takes barely half a second to wake the phone from sleep.
Display and sound
The HONOR 9A's 6.3" LCD display caps out at 1600x720, which doesn't sound promising on paper, but in real life it does looks pretty decent in terms of clarity and contrast. The colours are vibrant and text is clear.
Audio-wise, the 9A is understandably average. It can go pretty loud, but gets pretty sharp at high volumes. One important thing to note is that it's a mono speaker setup, with the only grille located on the bottom of the phone. This doesn't pose an issue during regular portrait mode browsing, but is quite noticeable when you're watching videos in landscape mode.
Packing an entry-level Mediatek MT6762R chip, 3GB RAM, and 64GB storage, don't expect the 9A to be your main driver for farming chicken dinners in PUBG Mobile. It's more suited as a secondary driver for casual browsing and simple tasks - though like its entire family, the HONOR 9A does not have Google Mobile Services. Apps will have to be acquired through the ever-growing HUAWEI AppGallery or the Petal Search function, which makes finding legit APKs much easier.
Connectivity-wise, it only supports 2.4GHz internet. The only issue I encountered while testing out the phone was that it simply could not playback YouTube videos at any speed above 1x without stuttering (I like watching videos at 2x speed). I do suspect that this is a hardware limitation rather than connectivity issue though, as my other devices did not face the same problem. However, unless you have the same weird habit as I do, it's unlikely to affect your user experience.
On the back is a 13MP + 5MP + 2MP triple camera array, while the front houses an 8MP teardrop selfie cam.
The back camera works decently on normal mode, considering it is a budget device - details are relatively sharp and colours are vibrant, albeit a bit artificial. The photos tend to come out rather dim even in well-lit environments,
Ultra-wide shots are honestly not the best. The edges are extremely distorted, and details are muddy - even brightness takes a hit, and the result looks over-processed.
Close-up shots did fairly well in terms of clarity and sharpness, but turned out similarly dim even when the environment is well-lit.
Aperture priority mode allows you to play a little with the depth of field, and although it wasn't amazing, it was satisfactory.
In dim lighting, pictures turned out extremely grainy and lose a lot of detail.
Battery life is undoubtedly the HONOR 9A's forte. Equipped with a 5,000mAh battery capacity, the device can last up to 2-3 days of casual usage, largely negating the downside of how long it takes the charge the phone, as you'll only need to hook it up to a charger once every few days.
It's also definitely a great option to carry out battery-demanding tasks like using it as a dedicated hotspot.
The HONOR 9A isn't designed to be your main daily driver for heavy tasks or gaming, but it excels at being what it is - a great secondary phone that's large yet light enough to not weigh you down, and caters to light users like the older generation who will mainly use it for messaging and watching videos.
At RM549, the HONOR 9A is a pretty-looking phone that's extremely affordable.
Excellent battery life
If you want to purchase one, you can head over to Hihonor.com.