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Honor X9a balances battery and display

The new midrange handset offers great aesthetics, display and battery life, which makes up for an underwhelming camera, writes JASON BANNIER.

What is it?

Users of high-end flagship phones have resigned themselves to phones lasting less than a full day. Down in the mid-range, however, a battery life revolution has occurred. It is exemplified by the new Honor X9a, launched this month in South Africa.

The handset has a visually pleasing AMOLED curved display with a 6.7-inch screen, boasting 1080×2400 full HD resolution and 120 Hz screen refresh rate – the new standard for mobile gaming. This also makes heavy demands on the battery, which brings up a key strength of the device.

It has a 5100 mAh battery that uses Honor’s smart power-saving technology, which promises to provide continuous power for two days of use or 12.5 hours of watching videos. We didn’t test the latter claim, but it comfortably delivered regular performance for two days.

The charger accompanying the handset is the high-speed 40W Honor SuperCharge, which charges the handset from 0%-80% in 53 minutes and 80%-100% in 30 minutes, according to

The handset is durable in terms of protection against physical damage with its showcase quality: super reinforced glass. The 0.65mm super reinforced glass with enhanced stress of over 900MPa2 aims to protect the handset. Despite the defensive features, the handset maintains a lightweight design. However, there is no water proofing or dust resistance.

The handset is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G processor which may limit performance for demanding mobile games, like Apex Legends Mobile or Genshin Impact. These games are still playable, but hardcore gamers wishing to play on the highest settings and framerate may be dissatisfied with the performance.

Games that are less demanding of the handset’s processor run smoothly and do not put heavy strain on the handset’s powerful battery. For those, it is a great mobile gaming handset.

The handset’s main (rear) camera array is a triple-lens camera consisting of a 64MP main camera, 5MP wide angle camera and 2MP macro camera. Video can be captured at 1080p@30fps. The selfie camera has a 16 MP lens. In terms of specifications, the camera array is decent, but may leave some people displeased if they are looking to capture higher quality images. It has an internal storage size of 256GB, but does not have a memory card slot for an external SD card.

The handset does not have a 3,5mm jack input, but does come with an adapter to allow for a 3,5mm jack to be connected to a USB type-C (which is found where the charger would plug into this handset). The handset’s speaker is satisfactory, despite not having stereo audio. Some stores may include the Honor Earbuds X3 Lite (Bluetooth earbuds) in their product offers.

Overall, it is a good average mid-range handset with an emphasis on durability and with a visually pleasing curved display.

Why does it matter?

The Honor X9a should not be underestimated in its capabilities. Although limited by some specifications to being a midrange handset, it will satisfy a wide range of customers in terms of preferences and needs. Its long-lasting battery life, reinforced glass and curved display are particularly enticing.

What does it cost?

The Honor X9a is available at a recommended retail price of R12,000.

What are the biggest negatives?

  • Average cameras.
  • No removeable SD card.
  • Low performance for demanding mobile games.
  • No water or dust proofing/resistance.

What are the biggest positivises?

  • Long lasting battery life.
  • Built to be durable and strong.
  • Sleek, lightweight design.
  • Great visual display.
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