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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review: are we THERE yet? (video)

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review Source: Pocketnow

This is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, and make no mistake, this product does NOT intend to be your tablet. I’ve always considered those to be more of a companion device that’s not trying to replace your computer. Most are easy to carry, creating that sort of notepad feel, which only gets augmented by stylus input. Sure, you can use it for some productivity, but usually they’re more consumption tools that can help you be creative.

This Tab S8 Ultra can be these things, but a lot of its design elements make it feel like it’s not trying to be.

So, let me clarify. When I say it’s NOT trying to be your tablet, it’s because just like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, there comes a point where a tablet is just too large to be a companion device. Think of it as the moment where you can no longer carry a computer and the tablet, without the bulk being unbearable. Yeah, this is one of those cases.

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Hardware

At a footprint of 326 mm by 208 mm, this product is just massive. Sure, you technically can use it bare as a tablet given how impossibly thin it is at 5.5 mm, but if we’re honest, most of its DNA is just yelling for a keyboard. For starters, at its 16:10 aspect ratio, it would be a pretty tall or wide tablet, which means holding it is most likely going to be a vertical endeavor, up until you realize the bezels are so tiny, that doing so, while possible, was not necessarily the plan.

Nope. When seen vertically, the left side has all the elements needed for it to dock, and the right has the cameras in just the right placement as if this was… you guessed it, a computer. And sure, there are contradictions to the premise, like the on-screen fingerprint scanner at the bottom of what would be a vertical UI, or the inclusion of a vibrating motor which I find funny, but for the most part, it’s designed as a computer… which means that if you didn’t get the backlit keyboard that was bundled in pre-orders, I suggest you consider that as part of the price.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Source: Pocketnow

My review unit came with all the bells and whistles, so I think the smartest way to review it is as it intends to be. We all know Samsung and Apple have spent years wanting to blur the lines between computer and tablet, and the question is (are we there yet?). The short answer is yes, but sort of.

To start, let’s address the elephant in the room: Yes, this is an Android tablet, which years ago would’ve been enough for me not to recommend it, except for the fact that times have changed. You have to admit tablet software has gotten a lot more capable, so I can’t even argue that I don’t have the tools to use this as my only product. I mean we even got the promise of Luma Fusion coming to the Galaxy Store to close that circle. Which is why I waited a little to make this review, and well, I’m still waiting. And sure, some of these solutions might not be enough for what I do, but keep in mind I don’t even represent a 10th of average consumers. If your needs are to have a more intimate creative tool that can also answer email, browse the web, watch content, communicate, play a few games, and you’ve stayed away from tablets because their screens are too small, then boy is this Ultra made for you.

AKG branding Source: Pocketnow

Display

And listen, this is not just any screen. Seriously, name one laptop with a 14.6-inch OLED display that provides this amount of resolution, plus 120Hz refresh rate, all surrounded by a meager 6.3mm in bezels. I mean it, name just one. As such the experience of using it is pretty fantastic as there’s enough pixel density to scale lots of content on the screen at once. If anything I find it funny that while I use this tablet to extend my Windows computer, this screen is doing a far better job at showing more stuff as it makes most standard laptop displays look really outdated at their usual Full HD. Switch from work to a movie, and few panels support this many certifications, and which only get augmented by these speakers.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review Source: Pocketnow

Software

And then there’s the fact that Samsung is one of the few companies that doesn’t just get tablets right, but that understands how to maximize the use of a larger display. One UI 4.1 on top of Android 12 is far better at multitasking than most other systems. For starters, the side menu for your quick app pairs is here, allowing you to have up to three windows active at a time, and which you can pre-program. That said, I can’t say I’m much of a fan of how gesture navigations get in the way of how this trackpad operates, so unless you’re planning to use it hand-held, my advice is that you switch to DeX while docked. If this intends to be a computer, this is more of a UI for that. As such, windows float around, and you can resize them, or snap them side-by-side to your heart’s content. I can’t tell you that the way the DeX is structured is my favorite, but you get used to it. If anything the only thing I feel is missing is multiple desktops like on macOS, Windows or even Chrome.

Tablet on the table Source: Pocketnow

Performance

Over the course of the two weeks I’ve been using it, I have to say it is pretty snappy. This is the first time that Samsung actually uses the latest chip when launching a tablet, and since you’ve got lots of RAM and expandable storage, plus a pretty massive battery and the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, about the only thing I wish it had was 5G to make the experience complete.

And then there’s the S Pen. It comes in the box, it snaps magnetically to the back, to the side, to the bottom. There’s nearly zero latency, it feels like a sharpy on this screen, there’s a ton of software to support it, and best of all, it even works in DeX, so you don’t have to be switching user interfaces to take advantage of it. If you’re an artist who wanted the largest canvas a tablet has to offer, again, it doesn’t get better than this.

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The not so goodBut alright, obviously there is no such thing as a perfect product, and there are things I wish this computer replacement did better. The first is that well, I’m scratching my head over why there is no power brick in the box. Like I understand the whole environmental thing, but I can’t think of a single computer or tablet that omits such an essential element, and especially when you kind of need more juice on this massive tablet than your standard phone charger. I mean battery life is great, but imagine charging this with a regular brick, cause it’s either that or you add even more money to the price.

Second is that well, this display while gorgeous is not the brightest. I don’t think it goes beyond 400 nits and as a result, it’s not a tablet you want to use outside. And yes you knew I had to mention the notch. I totally understand how engineering wise it was hard to fit these two 12 megapixel 4K cameras in the bezel, but I think we would’ve been fine with the Ultra-wide for video calls that supports a 1080p on that auto framing and call it a day. Just saying… Also, don’t ask me about photo samples. I will not be caught in the wild taking photos with a tablet.

Tablet with S Pen attached Source: Pocketnow

Third is that well, Android isn’t Windows or macOS. It’s more like ChromeOS. As such, even if you do get a full Microsoft Office Suite, those apps aren’t as complete or powerful as their desktop counterparts. Sure they’re pretty close, but not quite. This also means that if your work flow demands apps that have limitations on Android or its version of Chrome, well, you’re out of luck.

Fourth is well, Android again. Little things like the cursor sometimes showing up in odd areas while you type, or the virtual keyboard bothering you in tablet mode even when docked, or apps like Instagram going vertical while docked, or the hurdles you have to do with the file system to share a file from here to there, yeah, all that is what you’d expect from a phone or basic tablet, which I really wish this computer replacement did better.

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And fifth, well, like a Microsoft Surface or pretty much any other tablet, don’t expect this to play as good in your lap as a traditional laptop will, even if those don’t have the versatility of being good tablets even when you flip them around.

Conclusion

To conclude, what can I say? I think the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is an amazing feat of engineering. It’s gorgeous, powerful, so well designed, and mostly a joy to use in your typical basic scenarios. Anyone looking for a massive Android tablet that pulls no punches in offering the best you can buy should seriously consider one.

I also feel it CAN be a computer replacement for the typical average consumer as well. My problem honestly is the price, but not for what you think. Seriously if you were to stack up the cost of this display alone, I seriously feel the markup of this tablet is more than justified. Any computer with anything close to this panel is crazy expensive.

S Pen Source: Pocketnow

The problem is when you have products like a MacBook Air, or even Samsung’s Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 which are priced at a similar range, and offering full blown computer operating systems for less money. I could tell you there’s an S Pen here, but the same is offered on the Book2 Pro 360. That’s when you have to ask yourself how much you care about the display alone. If anything I’d say it’s great to have a choice, and that’s precisely what I think this product is. Another option to consider for anyone looking for lots of power in a package that’s maybe less conventional, but at the same time, more creative. I think it’s finally a time when Android tablets can compete with an iPad Pro, with this being the most extravagant.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

With a gorgeous display, great performance and battery life, this Android tablet can finally take on the iPad Pro. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.

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I worked in many technical fields, but I always resort to blogging which has become an addiction to me

PC

HUAWEI Super Device: the one modular virtual device to rule them all

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HUAWEI Super Device
HUAWEI MateView, MateBook 14s, MatePad 11, P50 Pro
Source: Pocketnow

Let’s be honest, whether you’re a one or a 10 on the scale for being tech savvy, there’s one thing we all have in common: we love it when things just work. Depending on how long your relationship with mobile tech has been you might remember (or you might have heard about) the days when a new device needed a lot of tinkering as part of the setup process.

Companies throughout the past quinquennial or so have really spoiled us, in delivering top notch products that simply just work, and boy, it’s a real pleasure quickly setting them up.

The device we’re looking at today is not a device per se. You’ll understand soon why we say that. However, regardless if you work or play, if you’re invested in the HUAWEI ecosystem, you’ll absolutely love it. This is a deep dive into HUAWEI Super Device, and hopefully by the time you’ve read through it, you’ll see exactly how seamlessly it would fit in your day to day life.

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HUAWEI Super Device
MateBook 14s using MatePad 11 as secondary display
Source: Pocketnow

What is HUAWEI Super Device?

A “smart office” buzzword has been thrown around in the past years. Companies like Apple and Samsung, to name a couple, have all been working hard at making devices talk to each other. Whether it’s Sidecar and Universal Control, or DeX, devices in the system work together to make you become more productive.

HUAWEI Super Device is not a device per se

HUAWEI Super Device is not a device per se, but it’s a collection of devices. A monitor, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, or a wireless speaker are single devices if you take them individually, but when you gather them under one Super Device umbrella, they become one.

As a concept, Super Device is a combination and natural evolution of the previous concepts of HUAWEI Share and Multi Screen Collaboration. It not only makes it easier to achieve the same results and do the same tasks (like for instance on a bigger screen) but at the same time enables you to do things that would have otherwise been impossible with a singular device.

HUAWEI Super Device
P50 Pro connected to MateBook 14s, mirrored home screen
Source: Pocketnow

Our Super Device setup

In testing out Super Device, we’ve used the following products: HUAWEI MateView monitor, MateBook 14s laptop, P50 Pro smartphone, MatePad 11 tablet, HUAWEI Bluetooth Mouse, FreeBuds Pro earbuds, and the Sound Joy Bluetooth speakers (two of them paired for spatial stereo).

That’s a lot of devices and chances are you might not have all of them, but Super Device works with as few as two (a phone and a tablet, for instance, or a laptop and a monitor, the combinations are endless).

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But, however, if you have an office or a home office, chances are that you will, at one point in time, get to have multiple devices as they all answer different needs.

HUAWEI MateView

HUAWEI MateView

HUAWEI MateView is the premium wireless monitor from the company. It comes with a 28.2-inch LCD panel with 4K resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio. It’s easy to set up and integrates seamlessly into the Super Device ecosystem. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.

How to set up HUAWEI Super Device?

Super Device is available on most modern (last gen) phones, tablets and laptops. If you have an older laptop, make sure your PC Manager on the computer is up to date, as everything goes through and is being handled by the app.

The entire experience starts with the HUAWEI Control Panel app that comes preinstalled on HUAWEI laptops (just make sure it’s up to date). The tiny window will then be populated with compatible devices nearby, irrespective of whether it’s a smart monitor, smartphone, tablet, or speaker.

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From here it’s as easy as dragging the devices into the “Super Device” to connect/pair them and start working right away.

For full disclosure, we were not able to get the MateView monitor to show up in the control panel initially, but strangely Windows recognized it and we were able to mirror the laptop’s display to the monitor that way. Might have something to do with the fact that our MateView is a pre-production sample running probably outdated firmware. A couple of firmware updates and software updates later, this has now been fixed, and, as you will see in the images, the MateView is now showing up in the Super Device control panel.

HUAWEI Super Device Source: Pocketnow

Super Device for the Smart Office

…or, as I would personally phrase it, for work (we’ll tackle play in our next segment below). In the two months that I’ve been using Super Device, I encountered different situations which prompted different usage scenarios, with several combinations of devices added to the Super Device umbrella. I’ll describe some of these scenarios, and, while there were a lot more, I’m going to narrow it down to three, as I think you’ll likely find yourselves in one, two, or all of the below.

The mobile office

Whether at a coffee shop or in the park, you might be among the lucky few that can work from anywhere, including being mobile. There’s levels of being mobile, however, but In my case it involved the P50 Pro and the MateBook 14s.

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You can add the smartphone and the laptop to a Super Device, which will automatically turn your phone into an external drive for the laptop. This enables you to transfer and edit files to and from the phone, making it basically seamless to drag a picture from the phone and place it into a document or presentation.

Not only that, but as soon as you add the phone to the Super Device, the phone moves on to your laptop’s screen. Before we explain that, we must emphasize that the laptop or PC will always be at the core of the Super Device, at its center, since it has the most computing power. When adding other devices, like a phone in this case, and maybe a Bluetooth speaker, the Super Device created will be built around your PC or laptop.

HUAWEI Super Device
MateBook 14s using MateView monitor as secondary display
Source: Pocketnow

Back to the phone being mirrored on your computer: your home screen will pop up in a window on your computer, giving you access to it, its Android system, and all files on it. The system will also allow you to run three apps on your phone simultaneously while on your laptop. This can be a gallery, a browser, and maps or WhatsApp, or any other combination you find useful for your day to day operations.

Should you have to take or place a call, whether that’s audio or video, you can do so while on your laptop, as your phone lives on the screen thanks to Super Device.

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In my particular case, I am writing this review on Word on the laptop, while the phone is being connected to the Super Device so I can keep in touch with my colleagues via WhatsApp or Telegram, while dragging images from the Gallery to accompany this post.

HUAWEI P50 Pro

HUAWEI P50 Pro

HUAWEI P50 Pro is the latest flagship device from the brand. It comes with a curved 6.6-inch 120Hz OLED display, a quad-camera setup with a 50MP primary sensor, 4,360 mAh battery with support for 66W charging, Android 12, and more. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.

If you choose to Super Device a MatePad tablet and your MateBook laptop, you can opt to mirror your PC’s display onto the tablet, with Mirror Mode. There’s also an Extend Mode which adds a second screen to your laptop (the tablet) for more real estate for your apps. This is pretty much similar to Sidecar on Apple devices.

A third, Collaborate Mode is available, where the tablet behaves like the phone did above, allowing access from your laptop to files, images, text on the tablet so you can easily drag and drop content from one place to the other. In this mode you can use the keyboard and mouse/trackpad from the laptop to control how the tablet behaves. It just works!

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Office or Home Office

…and then, when you finish your coffee or had enough fresh air, you get to the office. Whether that’s a legit office, or a home office, as the pandemic opened that door, this is when the real magic happens.

The center of your setup in terms of computing power is your PC

The center of your setup in terms of computing power and brains is still your laptop, but the center of your office setup is the MateView smart monitor. Yes, you can hook up your laptop to the monitor via a cable of some sort, but you can also wirelessly cast Windows to the monitor. Whether it’s a mirror or an extension, it depends on your usage scenario. I am personally a mirror kind of guy, I just love the big screen that makes everything look better due to the size, contrast, and colors.

I’m throwing two Sound Joy speakers into the mix, to each side of the monitor in order to get the benefits of stereo effect and I continue where I left off at the coffee shop.

HUAWEI Super Device Source: Pocketnow

As I mentioned earlier, for whatever reason the MateView didn’t show up in the HUAWEI Control Panel app, but Windows allowed me to wirelessly mirror the MateBook to it. This issue was later solved by a couple of firmware and software updates.

I still have access to the files on my phone, as it’s tied to the laptop, with the benefit of checking out those pictures I snapped on the big screen, and edit away as needed.

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Super Device for play and entertainment

When it’s time for a break, or, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like listening to music from YouTube, on the MateView monitor, while blasting sound from the two Sound Joy speakers. You can also immerse yourself in a movie from your favorite content provider, or play a non-demanding game.

I say “non demanding” because your laptop might not be powerful enough to carry demanding titles on one hand, and, on the other, as with any wireless connection, there’s a particular latency that will most likely get in the way of playing games. That’s not the case with productivity or other tasks.

HUAWEI MatePad 11

HUAWEI MatePad 11

HUAWEI MatePad 11 features a big 10.95-inch 120Hz display. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and comes with a huge 7250 mAh battery. It supports HUAWEI’s 2nd generation M-Pencil and can be easily integrated into the Super Device ecosystem. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the purpose of Super Device is to enable you, the user, to do more, to be more productive. Think of it as a Swiss Army Knife. You have all these devices (tools) that work together to unlock your creativity and productivity, to make your life easier.

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With Super Device, HUAWEI has graduated…

With Super Device, HUAWEI has graduated from a hardware manufacturer of individual products to offering an in-sync solution where everything works as one. You have the computing power of your PC, the beauty of your display, the convenience of your smartphone, and the sound of your speakers. They’re all individual products, but, with Super Device, they work seamlessly, as one.

And, to end it on the same note as we started off on, it puts a smile on your face when things just work. And when they work for you, you’re winning!

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Phones

HONOR X9 5G Review: Great smartphone, but it fails to impress

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The HONOR X9 5G is nearly identical to the HONOR Magic 4 Lite and HONOR X30 devices, and they all feature almost identical specifications. They all have the same 6.81-inch IPS LCD 120Hz display, Snapdragon 695 5G, and 8GB memory with 128GB storage configurations. They all feature the same camera setup, the same battery capacity, and even the same charging speeds.

I still can’t quite get my head around why this is necessary, but marketing probably knows best, but this is at the cost of confusing their customers and even us, reviewers. Releasing the same device with slight modifications doesn’t add up, especially since the only difference between the three devices are the CPU speeds, and screen-to-body ratios.

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HONOR is only making it even more confusing to understand its devices. If an average user goes on the internet to find the information about one of these devices, there will likely be another paragraph explaining that they’re all basically the same, but slightly different, adding to the confusion. With that small rant out of the way, this review is about the HONOR X9 5G smartphone.

HONOR X9 5G

HONOR X9 5G

It fails to impress

The HONOR X9 5G has a beautiful design, 5G, and respectable specifications for the price. It packs an excellent two-day battery, and it also comes with a super-fast 66W fast charger. However, that’s just about where all the good things end as it fails to impress with the display, camera, and speaker quality.

Rating: 3/5

Pros

  • 6.8-inch high refresh rate 120Hz display
  • Thin, light, and great build quality
  • Excellent two-day battery life
  • 66W fast charging
  • Great performance

Cons

  • LCD display is not color accurate and bright enough
  • Camera is unimpressive
  • Disappointing speaker performance
  • Still ships with Android 11

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HONOR X9 Price & Availability

HONOR X9 5G back Source: Pocketnow

The HONOR X9 5G retails for around €240, or 1,099 RM. It’s also available in other regions, but it’s often sold as the HONOR Magic 4 Lite. The HONOR X9 5G is currently available in two regions.

It’s available in the following Asia Pacific countries:

Europe:

  • Bulgaria
  • Czech
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain

What’s in the box

HONOR X9 5G box contents Source: Pocketnow

The HONOR X9 5G comes with standard packaging. The front of the box houses a picture of the device itself, although the color is different from the physical device – this may be because it’s a review unit. Aside from that, the rest of the box contents are fairly minimal and straightforward, like most other smartphones.

Opening the box reveals the phone and another package that contains the included transparent silicone phone case. Given that the device costs less than €300, it’s certainly great to see an accessory included by default, especially in a world where chargers are no longer bundled.

Speaking of the charger, digging deeper in the box, we find a USB-C to USB-A cable and a 66W fast charger. HONOR not only includes a transparent case but a fast wall adapter with a device that costs a third of thousand-dollar flagship devices. Color me impressed and satisfied.

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HONOR X9: Design

  • Looks premium
  • No camera wobble
  • Slim and lightweight

The HONOR X9 5G is reminiscent of the HONOR Magic 4 series and the HUAWEI Mate 40 lineup due to its rear circular camera setup. The device looks premium, and I’m happy to tell you that the device doesn’t wobble on a table with the large camera island on the back.

It’s a large device by all means, but I found it easy to manage and reach the sides without any significant problem, even while I was using the included transparent phone case. Speaking of the case, you’ll likely want to use it as I managed to scratch the slippery back panel in the first few days of using the phone. HONOR shipped us the Midnight Black variant, which is prone to fingerprints, so if you’re like me, and your OCD gets easily triggered, I’d strongly recommend using the provided case. Once I installed the case, I never looked back, and it never wanted to slip out of my hands again.

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The button placement was a little inconvenient at first, especially the fingerprint sensor. The side-mounted sensor didn’t require the power button to be pressed, which caused the sensor to scan even while I put my hands in my pocket. This often locked up the phone, forcing me to enter my pin. The volume rocker is placed just above the fingerprint sensor, and it took more than a week to get used to it. I still find it too high to easily and comfortably reach it while using the phone.

HONOR X9: Specifications

The HONOR X9 5G comes with the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset. Our review unit packs 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The device supports 5G, and the chip is built on the 6nm process, making it more efficient than other chips in the same category.

The specifications are nothing to brag about, but it demonstrates that you can get really good hardware at very affordable prices that seemingly packs everything an average user would ask for and need.

Category HONOR X9 5G
Operating System Magic UI 4.2, based on Android 11
Display 6.8″, 2,388 x 1,080 (385 ppi), 120Hz refresh rate, LCD
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 (6nm)
Octa-core 2xA78 2.2GHz, 6xA55 1.8GHz
Adreno 619
Memory 6/8GB
Storage 128/256GB
Expandable Storage No
Rear Primary Camera 48MP, ƒ/1.8
Rear Macro Camera 2MP, ƒ/2.4
Rear Portrait Camera 2MP, ƒ/2.4
Front Camera 1 16MP, ƒ/2.45
Security Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Connectivity 5G, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC
Ports USB-C 2.0
Battery 4,800 mAh, 66W fast wired charging
Water Resistance N/A
Materials Plastic
Dimensions 6.54 x 2.98 x 0.32 inches (166.1 x 75.8 x 8.1 mm)
Weight 6.67 oz (189 g)
Colors Titanium Silver, Midnight Black, Ocean Blue
Release Date 29 March 2022
Price €240 (~$250)

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HONOR X9: Display

HONOR X9 5G front Source: Pocketnow
  • 6.8-inch display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Colors aren’t accurate
  • Display could be brighter in direct sunlight

When it comes to the resolution and refresh rate, the display was spot on and enjoyable to use throughout the day. The 120Hz refresh rate was nice to see at this price point, and although I would’ve preferred an AMOLED panel, the IPS LCD display was acceptable. Given the price, I lowered my expectations, but videos on YouTube and movies on Disney were still more than enjoyable. It’s worth noting that a lot of budget devices in this price category now come with AMOLED panels, and that would’ve been welcome here.

However, my main concern wasn’t the display quality and the deep blacks, but the colors. The display caused a little bit of headache due to its inaccurate colors. The Normal mode felt pleasant most of the time, but turned the whites into a pink-ish tone color, that felt unusable when watching videos on YouTube or playing games. Changing the color temperature in settings didn’t ease my pain, and I switched to the Vivid mode for the rest of the review period, which was oversaturated and too much to my liking.

The brightness was also not the brightest, and I found it challenging to use it in direct sunlight on a lovely sunny day. I often had to find some shades to hide from the sun just to be able to look at the contents on the screen. Even when I used this method, the contents would often be hard to see. Reading content also appeared to be a difficult task in direct sunlight, but it gets plenty dark in low-light conditions.

HONOR X9: Cameras

HONOR X9 5G back and camera Source: Pocketnow
  • Unimpressive camera quality
  • Selfie camera is great in well-lit environments
  • Low-light photography should be avoided

HUAWEI is regarded as one of the best manufacturers with some of the best camera smartphones, so it’s fair to assume that I expected the HONOR X9’s camera to be somewhat impressive. After all, HONOR hasn’t been on the solo mission for that long.

The images during the daytime were unimpressive, and the colors were washed out. The pictures have plenty of detail, but they lack dynamic range, and the edges are too soft. I also noticed some weird vignette effects on some images, even though they were shot on a bright, sunny day.

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I tried enabling the AI toggle that lives on the top of the camera layout, but it did not affect how the image looks. The feature showed the scenes and objects it could detect, but it didn’t improve, nor did it worsen the image quality based on the environment.

The selfie images turned out to be more than usable, but this requires you to be in well-lit environments; otherwise, it will result in poor photos. The image looks a bit too soft to my liking, but some tweaking can make this social media ready in just a few minutes.

The macro shots were just as unimpressive as the primary camera. It lacks detail due to the 2MP sensor; the colors are washed out, the highlights are blown out, the contrast is low, and there’s also a lot of noise.

The low-light shots ended up blurry and washed out. There is a lot of noise in dim environments. The story changes once you enable the dedicated night mode. The feature improves the camera performance by a lot, and it results in decent nighttime images with plenty of detail and sharpness.

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HONOR X9: Camera samples

Daytime

Selfie

Portrait & Macro

HONOR X9: Software

  • Outdated software
  • Excellent performance while multitasking and gaming

The HONOR X9 is running Magic UI 4.2, based on Android 11. It’s May when publishing this review, and the phone comes with February 1 security patch, which is at least three months outdated. It’s worrying to see a phone launch with Android 11 in 2022, especially since Android 13 is expected to be officially announced sometime in August or September.Android version and support aside, the phone is lightning fast and smooth. I’ve only ever experienced throttling and sluggish behavior when I attempted to update multiple apps on the Google Play Store. It doesn’t handle downloading multiple items well, but once you give it a few minutes to do its thing, it’ll come back and be snappy again.

I used Chrome to browse the web, a few social media apps, and even did some light gaming, and I never once had any interruption by choppy behavior. The device’s gaming and multitasking performance was excellent, and I never once experienced any delay or unresponsiveness. The 120Hz refresh rate dramatically improved the responsiveness, especially when browsing the web, or endlessly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram.


I drastically lowered my expectations at the beginning of this review, given that it costs a fraction of my flagship devices that I use daily, but it managed to surprise me. The animations were smooth, and I’m seriously impressed with how well it managed to perform and meet my forever-increasing demands. I’m not the most demanding phone user in the world, but I like to use multiple apps simultaneously and pass the time with some graphics-intensive games, and this HONOR X9 5G gets the job done.

Magic UI 4.2 has some cartoon-ish looks, but it doesn’t feel too bad, and it doesn’t try to push its design language on you, unlike some other OEMs. The rest of the user interface feels and works like stock Android.

I also want to point out that while HONOR is excellent at optimizing its devices, it’s way too aggressive at turning off unnecessary applications that attempt to run in the background. The phone barely drained at night, and it has an excellent standby time, but I sometimes received notifications and emails a few minutes later than on my other devices. On more than one occasion, I wished I could turn this feature off, but there are no options to customize the sensitivity of the power-saving modes.

Haptics

Phones at this price point usually don’t have a great haptics engine, and this is also the case for the HONOR X9 5G. It’s good enough to provide feedback while navigating the device, or typing on the on-screen keyboard, but it can easily go unnoticed when receiving a call.

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Speakers

There’s a single bottom-firing speaker on the device. There aren’t many devices at this price tag with a stereo speaker setup, so I won’t complain too much about the single loudspeaker. On the other hand, the speaker quality lacks bass, the highs aren’t enjoyable, and it’s not loud enough. The speakers are enough to hear media, but I recommend using headphones and earbuds to play games, watch movies, and listen to music.

HONOR X9: Battery life

HONOR X9 5G charging Source: Pocketnow
  • You can easily go for two days on a single charge
  • 66W fast charging is convenient and fast
  • Going from 0-80% takes only 30 minutes

The HONOR X9 5G’s 4,800 mAh battery is fairly large for its size, and it proved to be large enough to provide a comfortable two days’ worth of battery life, that is, if you use it for social media and some light multi-tasking. You can certainly kill it in a single day if you increase the brightness to 80% or more, play some games, and use it more than a regular user to browse the web, keep up with friends, and talk to your colleagues.

The battery life, in my case, lasted a good day, and I never managed to drain it below 25%. Even when I did manage to go below that level, I was able to quickly juice it back up using the included 66W fast charger. HONOR promises that a quick 15-minute charge can provide up to 50% of charge, and I found that it can go from flat to about 80% in just 30 minutes. A full charge takes about an hour to prevent fast battery degradation. The X9 changed my habit of charging only in the morning.

I wish the X9 had wireless charging, even if it was a measly 5W basic one. It would’ve made it more convenient to keep it charged during working hours and while traveling in the car, but given the excellent battery life and price tag, it’s something that I can live without.

HONOR X9: Should I buy it?

HONOR X9 5G back Source: Pocketnow

Buy it if…

  • You want a slim, and lightweight device with a large 6.81-inch display with 120Hz
  • Long battery life and fast charging are what you’re looking for
  • Performance and gaming are important, and you want to multitask

Don’t buy it if…

  • You want to take a lot of photos/videos, and the ultrawide sensor is important to you
  • A bright and color-accurate display is a priority
  • You want to consume a lot of media, as the loudspeaker quality is disappointing

The bottom line is this. If you’re looking for a budget smartphone between $250 and $350, the HONOR X9 5G nails the fundamentals with a large and high refresh rate display, excellent overall performance, and a long battery life with fast charging. However, the disappointing camera quality, lackluster speaker, and old software make us question whether this is worth choosing over other devices.

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The Samsung Galaxy A53 costs $350, and although it doesn’t support 66W fast charging, it has a Super AMOLED display, great camera performance, and a similarly excellent battery life. Samsung has also been one of the best OEMs in the past few years when it gets to software updates and support, and it may be a better option.

Now, should you spend $100 more for the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G? It depends on your requirements, but if you don’t plan to take many photos, and listening to music isn’t a priority, the HONOR X9 5G will serve you well. It has plenty of power for all of your gaming and multitasking needs, and it will easily last you a full day of charge, or two days, depending on how heavily you use it.

HONOR X9 5G

HONOR X9 5G

It fails to impress

The HONOR X9 5G has a beautiful design, 5G, and respectable specifications for the price. It packs an excellent two-day battery, and it also comes with a super-fast 66W fast charger. However, that’s just about where all the good things end as it fails to impress with the display, camera, and speaker quality.

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OnePlus 10 Pro review: they FINALLY got it? (video)

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OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

This is the OnePlus 10 Pro, and it’s got more than a few slogans to match: “A device that Captures Every Horizon”. “The Second-Generation Hasselblad Camera”. “A design that rewrites the rules”.

Notice how catch phrases like Never Settle and Flagship Killer are gone, and actually, I think the idea of holding on to that past is more of our problem than that of OnePlus. For at least four generations, they’ve wanted this Pro lineup to represent the best they can do, and they’ve even thrown crazy money at fancy partnerships to prove it.

What’s interesting is that this is the first year we have yet to see their non-pro variant. That knight in shining armor that would continue to cater to their core, at a time when even the flagship makers have their own flagship killers. Unless you go Nord, 2022 sees the company lay all its eggs in one basket, and dare I say, a very competitive one.

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So, if this singular launch of the OnePlus 10 Pro is a statement to the death of the old, the only question now is if this phone is bold enough to justify a means to an end.

I’m going to start by saying that I didn’t walk into this review too optimistic. Last year the 9 Pro launched in the US with a single variant that was priced like a Pro-Max, and didn’t even come close. It’s as if the base OnePlus 9 was just there to save face and help us believe that the company we knew was not entirely lost.

Now whether there were lessons learned or not, I’m really happy this OnePlus 10 Pro is nothing like that. Instead, it borrows from some of the philosophy that came before its predecessor. The price is now in a far more logical territory, even if we do see some corners cut to achieve it, this again is part of the OnePlus we knew.

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OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

DESIGN

So no, there is no Gorilla Glass Victus+, but the front is Victus, and the Gorilla Glass 5 on the back remains well regarded against drops and scratches. There’s no IP rating unless you go T-Mobile, but it’s not like these are technically different in build for us to worry about enough splash resistance. Again, all things that are part of the OnePlus philosophy we knew, and that never stood in the way of what made it popular.

That said, this is a pretty good looking phone. I’d say it’s even dethroned the OnePlus 6 as my all-time favorite. The matte back is now complemented by a ceramic contour that holds a camera module that’s pretty unique, even if drawn from obvious inspirations that at this point are inevitable in such a saturated market. As expected, it is large, but weight distribution was pretty well thought out, and essentials like the three-way mute slider remain as part of the aluminum borders. Yes, we don’t need an extra reminder that some antenna cut outs made it prone to a shelf of shame, but since I’m not in the habit of bending phones as a common practice, I can’t subtract points for that.

OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

DISPLAY

I also like that they didn’t cheap out on the display. Surely I’m not a fan of curves up front, but that becomes secondary when the panel is this good. So, 6.7-inches, QuadHD+ resolution at 10-bit, meaning a billion colors, 1,300 nits of peak brightness, HDR10+ certification and yes, LTPO2, which means a smooth 120Hz variable refresh rate. All the bells and whistles of a flagship are here in a very well executed panel that brings fantastic color and viewing angles. The optical fingerprint scanner was raised for better ergonomics, and there is an always-on mode for the basics. Also, yes these are dual firing speakers, but like in the case of the Pixel 6, the bottom module is far stronger than the ear piece.

OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

HARDWARE

Oddly though, where things didn’t go the previous OnePlus route is internally, but have you noticed this has become a trend in 2022? If you want more RAM on your S22, you have to go for the higher tier? Well, same here. Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 8GB / 128GB in RAM and Storage, which at least in the US is currently the only option. All flavors of 5G, the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but then aside from a massive battery, this is the only phone in this price range that doesn’t just bring a charger in the box, but that 65W Super VOOC will get you topped in around 40 minutes, with the optional 50W wireless charger being almost as fast. That’s right, a major value proposition is that going Pixel, Galaxy or iPhone won’t even give you a slow charger for the same money.

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OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

SOFTWARE

Now one of the most controversial moves with this phone is OxygenOS 12, and it’s mainly because many argue that it doesn’t remain true to its legacy, which is sort of accurate. Yes, even the unlock sound is ColorOS, but honestly, the rest is actually more Pixel than ever, and that’s both good and bad. So yes, it’s pretty smooth. Yes, you can swipe left for the Google feed, and don’t worry, the app tray is still here. I even feel it improves over every other Android OEM in not letting me see notifications on the lock screen unless my face is detected.

It then keeps sprinkling some OnePlus mojo with a shelf of widgets you can download from the top right, but which you can disable just as much as even the swipe to the bottom gesture in calling the notification shade or Google Search. See this is what I like most about OnePlus phones; having all this granularity of features you can enable or disable at your heart’s content. If anything, what I don’t like is the inflexibility the launcher brought from Google, like widgets having unnecessary wasted space for no logical reason, which only reduce your ability to maximize a screen to all your needs. Also, what happened to Reading Mode, my all-time favorite?

So yeah, when it comes to OxygenOS, some of it is the same, some of it, for better or for worse, is not. In its defense I have to admit that it doesn’t get in the way of a good user experience. This is not just a pretty snappy phone to use, regardless if you need it for basic needs or gaming. I did struggle a bit at the beginning with its connectivity, so I’m glad I held this review for the software updates as that’s pretty much solved. From remaining connected to phone calls, this phone is pretty consistent. Best of all, I’m going to call this the battery life king. It is so good at sipping power that even if you were to forget to charge it at night, the battery meter won’t take a hit.

OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

CAMERAS

But fine, let’s talk about cameras. Sadly generation two of this Hasselblad camera system did not bring new hardware, and in cases like the telephoto, I can’t say the spec sheet really impresses me at all. What’s interesting is that I feel the whole collaboration for color tuning has gone from inconsistent to pretty good, because if there’s one thing these photos have, it’s character.

Like Leica is to Huawei and Panasonic, we finally see Hasselblad bring uniqueness to OnePlus. Think of S Cinetone for Sony cameras where colors are warmer and toned down. It’s like a permanent filter that manages to preserve the intensity of the reds, and doesn’t affect dynamic range in the process. Zoom in and even notice how the lens switch handles the darkness of a loss in aperture really well. Even if these aren’t massive sensors, separation and depth of field are great. No need for focus mode. Even detail is well preserved, regardless of the loss of megapixels. Guys, I know it took eight years, but we finally get great photos from a OnePlus phone.

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Even at night, the processing is quick, and this phone holds its weight really well at all focal lengths, making each shot perfectly usable. The added tuning makes you want to play around with street signs and get results you’d need to filter from other phones.

Selfies are probably the ones that benefit most from these colors. Skin tones look natural, portraits handle separation and light with added personality, even when the sun is harsh on your face. Maybe the only thing I don’t like is the play of sharpness around the eyes, but they keep getting better with every software update.

Yes you’ll find lots of tricks like a Fish-eye option. Macros are pretty well handled, and you can choose to go fully pro as well, aside from even long exposure modes once you dig into settings.

OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

Sadly my only problem is video. In defense to OnePlus, yes, most Android OEMs fumble with this, but sadly the 10 Pro brings extra layers of things that just don’t make sense. I mean sure, colors, detail and stabilization is pretty good. I love to see even 4K 120 and 8K here, even if each with its own set of focal length or time restrictions, but then the feeling lasts so long as you keep the footage in the phone. Once you try to use it on social media apps or bring to a computer, you realize it’s all filmed in the Rec 2020 color space. Yes, I read the Pro in the name, but let’s be real, any real Pro that understands how to tune it won’t be using a phone. I don’t see myself moving away from REC 709 any time soon. No video editor or even YouTube handles it well. Like what’s the point?

And then there’s the problem that while the primary cameras exaggerate, the selfie camera underwhelms at 1080p. There is no phone in this price range that goes this low. Heck even the first generation OnePlus Nord has 4K selfie video. It’s hard to understand the thinking here as well.

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OnePlus 10 Pro review Source: Pocketnow

CONCLUSION

To conclude, I think it’s interesting to see this as both an evolution, and a return to its roots for OnePlus. I do feel it’s a good strategy to not cheap out in the things that matter, and to leave the secondary things aside in order to help a product stand out with the price, all while dramatically improving the execution.

I personally like the OnePlus 10 Pro. I do believe this is the best phone the company has ever made, and I do feel that for any OnePlus fan looking for an upgrade, this is definitely the right time to do so. Even if video is still a mixed bag, it’s hard to deny that even the usual camera pain point finally got resolved.

Now where things get interesting is once you consider it’s not sold in a vacuum, and especially when it’s priced to go toe to toe with the Pixel 6 Pro. That’s where I feel OnePlus has cornered itself as ignoring basics like selfie 4K video are enough of a reason to put this phone at an unfair disadvantage. If anything the only reason it’s not really a problem is because the Pixel is sold in less regions overall. That said, don’t worry, I’ll have a comparison soon to help you decide between them, but to even have this feature in a cheaper iPhone 13 is proof that this is not the time to settle on excuses.

If OnePlus wants this to be considered the best flagship, it has to either nail all the bullet points, or do what it did best before, which was to make its competitors look really bad in features for the price. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good phone I have no problem recommending. I just feel it falls short of certain essentials in this price bracket, but which shouldn’t hold you back if they are not things you care about.

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OnePlus 10 Pro Volcanic Black Product Image

OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro ships with a 6.7-inch QHD+ display that uses a 2nd generation LTPO panel. It also features the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and aims to deliver a unique camera experience with a 150-degree Ultrawide camera and implementations from the second year of the Hasselblad partnership. For $899, it offers capable hardware that can hold its own in the sea of flagship smartphones.

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