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Honor re-enters crowded market

The launch of the Honor X9a coincides with the arrival of new flagships from Samsung and Huawei, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Honor has released what it calls “the pinnacle of innovations and advanced features in its grade at a pocket-friendly price” on a day of maximum noise from South Africa’s two market leaders. 

Huawei’s new flagship, the Mate50 Pro, arrived in stores on 1 February, as Samsung unveiled its new flagship range, the Galaxy S23. Honor has not released a smartphone in South Africa for more than 6 months, with its last outing being its flagship Magic4 Pro. 

The 256GB version of the new Honor X9a went on sale in South Africa on the same day via Telkom, with Vodacom starting to sell it a week later,

The handset is positioned at the top of the mid-range of phones, with a price tag of R11,999. As is customary with new phone launches nowadays, early buyers also get free earbuds, in this case the Honor Choice Earbuds X3 Lite, usually priced at R1,499.

What do you get for the price? Pretty much the standard offering of decent mid-range phones. Honor says: “From the toughest glass display in the market, a long-lasting battery, smooth user experience, to the extremely compact and premium design.” In short, it claims much the same as any other mid-range handset on the market.

Its most direct competitors are handsets like the Huawei nova 9 at around R12,000 and the Xiaomi 12T at about R14,000. Both devices, released in 2021 and last year, respectively, outshine the X9a.

Let’s look at the specs:

The Honor X9a has a 6.67-inch OLED curved display with a refresh rate of 120Hz, making it great for browsing, video or gaming, web or gaming with less input lag. A resolution of 2400×1080 pixels means its good for video viewing too. It comes with eye comfort solutions, like 1920Hz PWM Dimming technology, and Eye Comfort Mode.

Honor claims its large 5100mAh battery makes the X9a the thinnest and lightest smartphone to feature a battery larger than 5000mAh so far – and promises two days use on a single charge.

It uses 40W SuperCharge, which is a little dated, bearing in mind that the flagship Honor Magic range was using the same fast charging power as much as 5 years ago. The magic4 Pro arrived with a huge 100W fast charger. Nevertheless, it means that, with 30 minutes of charging, the X9a can deliver up to 12.5 hours of use.

Storage is good at 256GB on board, expandable to 1TB via microSD.

The rear camera array included 64 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 5 MP, f/2.2, (ultrawide) and 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro), allowing 1080p video at 30fps. The front or selfie camera comes in at 16MP, with the same video resolution.

All in all, a good average phone.

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