Thunder and Lightning. Salt and Pepper. Ant and Dec. Some pairings appear destined to be collectively ceaselessly. But can you actually have Android with out Google?

Huawei was compelled to seek out out final 12 months when a sure orange-faced US President threw his toys out the pram and determined the Chinese firm was a safety threat. One commerce blacklist later and Google’s software program was all of the sudden forbidden fruit, for each Huawei and its youthful, hipper Honor division.

The 9X Pro is the primary Honor telephone to reach following the dispute, and does so with Huawei’s model of the Play Store. It additionally sees just a few {hardware} upgrades over the vanilla 9X we reviewed late final 12 months, and the identify suggests it is a greater handset all spherical – however is that this one case the place you would be higher off not going for Pro?


The 9X Pro, on the very least, hits all the suitable {hardware} notes. Little has modified by way of styling from the unique 9X – however then why wouldn’t it? Honor had crafted a strong mid-range telephone that was simple on the attention, with a pop-up selfie digital camera that freed up the entire entrance of the handset for a sizeable display screen.

The largest change is the change from plastic to glass on the again panel, and the 9X Pro is all the higher for it. The 9X felt like a funds telephone, however that is not the case right here. The shiny end would possibly nonetheless be a fingerprint magnet, but it surely now has the heft of one thing that prices considerably extra.

A bumped-up three lens digital camera setup makes a return on the rear, sticking up simply sufficient to not catch in your denims pocket each time you go to drag it out.

You get an trustworthy to goodness 3.5mm headphone socket on the backside of the telephone, together with USB-C charging – nonetheless not a assured inclusion for reasonably priced handsets.

Neither is a fingerprint sensor, however Honor has delivered a doozy: the 9X Pro has a side-mounted scanner, similar to a top-end Sony Xperia or Samsung Galaxy S10e. It’s fast, doubles as an influence button, and sensibly positioned so your thumb finds it each time. Shame it is not fairly so easy for southpaws, although.


At 6.6in, the 9X Pro’s LCD display screen is not any shrinking violet, and with the front-facing digital camera now hiding beneath till referred to as upon, there’s not lots of bezel to get in your means. It’s a palm-filling show, with a 2340×1080 decision that is a small step up from Full HD to account for the prolonged facet ratio.

As far as LCD panels go, picture high quality is respectable, with ample brightness and first rate distinction, although colors aren’t practically as vibrant as costlier OLED telephones. The color temperature is totally customisable, although, so you’ll be able to set issues how you want very simply.

Little has modified from the 9X on the sound entrance, with a mono speaker on the backside of the telephone nonetheless accountable for all audio duties. It’s simple to by accident muffle it along with your palm, and it is somewhat tinny whenever you crank up the amount. Aside from catching up on TikTok clips (nearly the one video/social media app obtainable to obtain on this telephone) you may wish to put money into some earphones.


We weren’t all that impressed with the 9X and its triple-camera association, and with it being similar right here, it might largely fall to software program processing tweaks to assist the 9X Pro chalk up a win right here.

Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. The 48MP essential snapper, which makes use of pixel-binning to take 12MP images, nonetheless struggles with erratically lit scenes, usually overexposing the skies and making scenes appear brighter than they’re in actuality. HDR remains to be buried in a menu, somewhat than being an onscreen toggle, however does not do all that a lot to rescue your images.

Colours are extra pleasing with Honor’s AI scene recognition switched on, though this additionally provides lots of postprocessing and oversharpening, which will not be to all tastes. Low-light photographs get a serving to hand from the Night mode, which is healthier than most entry-level telephones, however a severe step again from the Pixel 3a’s Night Sight. Portraits get bokeh blur courtesy of a 2MP depth sensor, however the outcomes are not any higher than telephones that completely use software program to defocus.

The wide-angle digital camera is a noticeable step down in high quality, with much more publicity points and clear lens distortion and an actual lack of element. It matches extra within the body, however the outcomes aren’t all that nice.

Up entrance, the 16MP pop-up digital camera is not all that fast to point out itself, however feels sturdy sufficient and retracts routinely if the telephone takes a tumble. In good gentle it does a ok job, however defaults to a robust magnificence filter that eliminates each line and wrinkle out of your face.

Honor 9X Pro image samples


This the place issues get ugly for Honor. Without Google Play, the 9X Pro is severely held again in what you are able to do with it.

Want to look at a YouTube video? Better open the net browser, as there is not any devoted app any extra. Want to scroll by your social media channels? That’ll be the net browser once more, as there is not any official Twitter, Facebook or Instagram app. Need to kind out some on-line banking? Open the net browser. Need instructions? Web browser.

I’m being a little bit unfair, as there are third get together alternate options to lots of these apps. So many, in actual fact, it is practically not possible to work out which of them are literally any good. The Huawei app gallery is filled with knock-offs and confusingly-named, loosely-related software program. It’s like a throwback to 2012 and Windows Phone 8, which suffered the identical calamitous third get together software program assist.

No Google assist means no Android Auto for whenever you hook the telephone as much as your automotive, after all. Oh, and remember that wearable in your wrist: its companion app nearly actually will not be obtainable.

With no simple workaround to get the Google Play Store (and subsequently all of the apps you’d really wish to use) put in, the 9X Pro feels utterly hobbled proper out of the field.

Maybe third get together app makers will finally get on board – however that is not a wager price making when there are many different handsets on the market for comparable cash. The vanilla Honor 9X included.


The vanilla Honor 9X was a bit weedy when it got here to CPU grunt, so it is nice to see this Pro mannequin arrive with some totally different silicon. The Kirin 810 is not going to hassle flagship telephones within the benchmark tables, but it surely’s in a position to run Android pretty easily – even whether it is Android 9, a model behind the present newest and best.

Find just a few demanding apps and you may stretch the 6GB of RAM, forcing the telephone to droop and reload when rapidly switching between open apps, however in any other case it manages to keep away from a lot lag or stutter when specializing in one or two issues at a time.

The barely quicker CPU helps enhance body charges in video games, too. This is one space the place the Huawei storefront is pretty effectively stocked, so there’s a variety of titles to select from. Asphalt Legends can run at excessive element settings with out an excessive amount of slowdown, so players ought to be joyful sufficient.


With so few apps to provide it an excellent exercise, it is a real problem to run down the 9X Pro’s 4000mAh battery.

It’s sufficiently big to comfortably final all day, and even in the event you do handle to seek out just a few video games price enjoying within the Huawei storefront you must nonetheless make it from morning to nighttime while not having to high up in between.

Naturally there is not any wi-fi charging at this worth, and it is not particularly fast to high up over a cable, both. Expect a few hours tethered to a mains socket to get from empty to full.


It’s reasonably priced, appears to be like the half and has first rate {hardware} for the cash – however the 9X Pro is critically flawed with out Google Play Services onboard.

It’s arduous to think about anybody that genuinely would not want a single certainly one of Google’s apps, by no means has the will to scroll by social media, stream video or keep up a correspondence with family and friends by ubiquitous chat apps like WhatsApp. They are basically all off-limits right here, with Huawei’s different storefront wanting completely barren.

Perhaps third get together builders will present up and begin supporting it, however proper now, it appears unlikely. This is likely to be one handset that was higher off staying in China than making the journey to Europe, the place we’re merely not prepared to surrender on the software program we take with no consideration daily.