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All the tablet you need… on a budget


The HONOR Pad 9 was originally announced back in December last year. It first launched in China, and HONOR decided to bring it to global markets during MWC 2024. Having said that, I’ve been using the HONOR Pad 9 for a while now, and this is our review of the device. I’ve used it for over a month at this point, and I have to say… it’s a really nice tablet. Considering that there are considerably fewer tablets out there these days, this one may be able to stick out.

Before we dive in, let me just say that this is a mid-range tablet. Don’t expect high-end specifications or anything like that. Still, it definitely didn’t feel like I was using a mid-range tablet, which is a good thing. With that being said, let’s jump straight in, starting with the device’s design.

Table of contents

HONOR Pad 9 Review: Hardware / Design

The HONOR Pad 9 features a metal unibody design. That design is more common in tablets these days than in phones, but it’s nice to see, to be quite honest. I’m quite fed up with glass backs on devices. The HONOR Pad 9 is extremely thin too, which only improves the overall feel. It measures 278.27 x 180.11 x 6.9mm, while it weighs 555 grams. The device comes in Space Gray and Cyan Lake colors. As you can see in the provided images, I’ve had the chance to check out the Space Gray model.

This is a 12.1-inch tablet, by the way. That’s why the dimensions may seem a bit bigger to you than usual. That size makes all the sense in the world considering how large smartphones are these days. I’ve actually enjoyed the size, to be quite honest. The HONOR Pad 9 feels quite sturdy in the hand, though it is quite slippery. I’ve tried holding it with one hand on a number of occasions, but this is a two-hand device. That is perfectly logical considering its size and build materials, though, of course.

AH HONOR Pad 9 image 7

The HONOR Pad 9 includes eight speakers

There are eight speakers included on the HONOR Pad 9, they’re looking at three different sides of the device. There is a single camera on the back, though the camera island design is quite different. HONOR’s logo is in the usual place on the back. There is no audio jack included on the HONOR Pad 9, unfortunately. Overall, the build quality seems to be really good, and I don’t have any complaints in regards to it. This is a budget tablet that actually feels like a flagship tablet to use.

The metal unibody design both looks and feels great. One complaint that I do have has to do with the camera placement. If you’re a rightie, the camera will be on the right side of the backplate when you’re holding it in portrait orientation. That’s the proper way to hold it as the buttons are in the right place that way. I did notice that I touched that camera island on the back way to often because of its placement. That’s just a small complaint, but there you go. HONOR did a great job here, build-wise.

A fingerprint scanner is not included

One thing to note, though, is that there is no fingerprint scanner included. It’s not in the power/lock button, on the back, or under the display. HONOR opted not to offer it for whatever reason. I did miss it, to be quite honest. I hate leaving my devices unprotected, and typing in a PIN every time or using a pattern is not an ideal solution.

Accessories

When it comes to accessories, do note that the case is not included in the box. In some of the provided images in the article you will see a keyboard case, but it doesn’t come with the device. It’s a separate purchase, even though you may find it as part of a bundle as part of a sale or something. I highly recommend getting that case, however. It not only protects the tablet when you’re not using it, but it’s also giving you a very useful keyboard to use. The key travel is actually good enough considering how thin this case is, HONOR did a very good job here. The case itself has a rubbery plastic feel, which is not a bad thing at all.

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HONOR Pad 9 Review: Display

The HONOR Pad 9 includes a 12.1-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) display. This is an LCD display, and the tablet has a screen-to-body ratio of 88%. That’s not bad at all considering this is a tablet, in fact, it’s excellent. HONOR also refers to this display as the ‘Eye Protection Display’. It’s an Anti-glare display, and it offers a 120Hz refresh rate. This panel can also project up to 1 billion colors. It does get bright enough. HONOR laid a claim of a 500 nits typical brightness, while we were able to push it past the 600 nits level. Considering the anti-glare screen, visibility outdoors is not really an issue. Don’t expect this display to compete with flagship smartphone displays in terms of brightness, though.

AH HONOR Pad 9 image 17AH HONOR Pad 9 image 17

The display is quite good, especially for the price

During my usage, I did not really have any complaints on this display. The visibility was good, the colors were vivid, and the touch response was not an issue either. The fact it has a 120Hz refresh rate definitely helped it feel extra smooth. You can, of course, push down the refresh rate to 60Hz if you choose to do so, though there’s really no benefit to that. I’ve tried it on a specific day, and it didn’t really make any difference battery-wise, at least not that I was able to notice. Holding the tablet was not an issue either, despite the fact its bezels are not that thick. I don’t really like it when tablets have thinner bezels than this, as it really can be a chore to hold them without touching the display. That especially goes for larger tablets like this one.

HONOR Pad 9 Review: Performance

The HONOR Pad 9 is not the most powerful device out there, not at all. It’s not supposed to be, this is a mid-range tablet, or a budget one, whatever you want to call it. The HONOR Pad 9 is fueled by the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 SoC. It’s a chip from 2022, so it’s not the most powerful nor the most current one. You can check out some benchmarking results at the very end of this chapter, but it’s pretty much what we expected. Benchmarks aside, however, let’s talk about what I experienced when it comes to actual performance.

The HONOR Pad 9 is very well-optimized

HONOR is well-known for its ability to optimize its devices. That’s not really a secret. I’ve had great experiences with budget HONOR smartphones for quite some time now. The same was the case with the HONOR Pad 9, actually. This tablet did everything I needed it to do, and I never actually felt like I needed anything more powerful / expensive. Well, aside from gaming, as I’m a stickler when it comes to gaming, even though I’m not much of a gamer. We’ll talk more about that soon. Let’s first touch upon regular, everyday performance.

The device handles multitasking really well

Everything from firing up apps, using them, to jumping between them felt really smooth. Even when I tried to put some pressure on the HONOR Pad 9, by using split screen etc., it did a great job. I really have no complaints in that regard. The animations are also smooth as butter, everything ran great. The same actually goes for gaming, but only if you won’t play truly graphically-demanding games. Which brings me to Genshin Impact.

HONOR Pad 9 Genshin Impact thermals (F)HONOR Pad 9 Genshin Impact thermals (F)

Genshin Impact is our go-to game to push devices when we review them. The same was the case with the HONOR Pad 9. This tablet can run the game, but you won’t be able to enjoy it as you would on a more powerful setup. Genshin Impact is resource-heavy, and especially if you want to play on better settings, this tablet will show its spec weaknesses. The vast majority of games, however, work perfectly. So, in regards to performance, as long as you don’t play the most graphically intensive games out there, you should be good to go.

Benchmarks

With every one of our reviews, we’re running a set of benchmarks. When it comes to performance-focused benchmarks, well, we have two. Geekbench 6 and 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test. The former basically tells you how powerful is the hardware on the inside, as it shows both single-core and multi-core performance, in addition to benchmark results for the GPU. The 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test puts a huge strain on the device, pushing it through 20 cycles of intense performance. That test is very stressful for higher-end devices, while mid-range ones don’t really bother all that much, as they’re not made for such scenarios, but the results are still interesting to see. You can see both of those tests below, in addition to a video export test via Capcut.

Geekbench 6

HONOR Pad 9 Geekbench 6HONOR Pad 9 Geekbench 6

3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test

HONOR Pad 9 3D Mark Extreme Stress Test temperature (F)HONOR Pad 9 3D Mark Extreme Stress Test temperature (F)

Video export test

HONOR Pad 9 Capcut video export (seconds)HONOR Pad 9 Capcut video export (seconds)

HONOR Pad 9 Review: Battery

HONOR included an 8,300mAh battery here, which may seem large, but keep in mind the size of this tablet’s display. If you add its rather sharp display to the equation, things do balance out. With that being said, the battery life is not great, but it’s good enough. Compared to a smartphone, it is, but we’ve seen better battery life on tablets, considerably better. Still, that’s not something that should deter you from getting this tablet. Why? Well, because the battery life is good enough, and it got us through 2 days of use, around 3 hours of use per day, on most days. I tried using it as a productivity device on a couple of occasions, and it didn’t really last throughout the day. The point is, if you’re using it sparingly, for a TV show here and there, or something like that, you’ll be just fine. If you’ll actually push it harder with productivity, use it for longer, or play games… don’t expect great battery life. Also, MagicOS 8.0 could end up improving things in that regard. I’ve also noticed that after two weeks of use the battery life was better than it was at first, so… it’s good.

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Charging

AH HONOR Pad 9 image 4AH HONOR Pad 9 image 4

The good news is that HONOR included a charger in the box here. You do get both a charging brick and a charging cable here. That’s a Type-A to Type-C cable, and the included charger is rated at 35W. That’s the maximum charge speed this tablet can handle. That charger utilizes HONOR’s SuperCharge tech, and it’s not particularly fast. That is to be expected as you’re charging an 8,300mAh battery here. It’ll take you almost two hours to fully charge this tablet. It charged fully in an hour and 57 minutes when we tested it. It can, however, cross the 30% charge mark in half an hour. Wireless charging is not supported, of course.

HONOR Pad 9 Charging test 0 100%HONOR Pad 9 Charging test 0 100%

HONOR Pad 9 Review: Camera

The HONOR Pad 9 has two cameras overall. It has a 13-megapixel snapper on the back, with an f/2.0 aperture. On the front, you’ll find an 8-megapixel shooter with an f/2.2 aperture lens. When it comes to cameras on tablets, my expectations are always quite low, for a good reason. I always say that people shouldn’t take pictures with tablets. Not only because the cameras are usually bad, but because it both looks and feels weird. Whenever I see it I can’t not cringe. There’s a reason why companies don’t really care about rear-facing cameras on tablets. There are a couple of exceptions where the cameras are actually passable, but those are rare. Those are also usually higher-end tablets, and the cameras are okay at best.

The cameras are mediocre, but usable in good lighting

The rear-facing camera on the HONOR Pad 9 is not particularly good. It’s below both high-end and mid-range smartphone cameras. That is not surprising at all, this is a budget tablet after all. It may even be best not to include cameras on the back of tablets at all, especially cheaper ones. Sure, it can take an image if you need it to, but you shouldn’t do that. Chances are that your phone can take a better image in both daylight and nighttime conditions. The lack of detail from the main camera is immediately apparent, and the colors are also lackluster. Even images that were purposely taken for their colors tend to look washed out. Things look even worse in low light, where a lot of noise creeps into images, and if you’re taking images with a lot of light sources, things completely fall apart. The camera performance is about on par with other tablets in this price bracket, though. It is to be expected.

AH HONOR Pad 9 image 22AH HONOR Pad 9 image 22

The front-facing camera is nothing to write home about either. Yes, it’ll do the job for video calls and an occasional selfie if you really need to take pictures with it, but that’s it. This is also per course, nothing odd here, or wrong with it. Keep in mind the price here, and keep in mind it’s a tablet, not a phone. The selfie camera quality is more than enough for video calls, that’s for sure, unless you’re a stickler for details.

Camera samples:

HONOR Pad 9 Video recording temperature 5min & 10min (F)HONOR Pad 9 Video recording temperature 5min & 10min (F)

HONOR Pad 9 Review: Software

The HONOR Pad 9 comes with Android 13 out of the box and HONOR’s MagicOS 7.2 on top of it. It doesn’t ship with Android 14 and MagicOS 8.0, unfortunately. We realized that MagicOS 8.0 brought a number of likable improvements to the HONOR Magic6 Pro, so it would be nice to see what will HONOR do with it in a tablet format. As things stand, the software is good, but not great. From the performance standpoint, everything is outstanding. it runs very smoothly, even on this hardware. The animations are also spot on, and based on the performance itself, you would have probably guessed this tablet costs a lot more than it does. HONOR usually does a fantastic job with the overall feel while you’re using their devices, even with cheaper models.

HONOR’s MagicOS 7.2 is obviously inspired by iOS

From the design standpoint, however, MagicOS 7.2 could use some work. A number of its aspects are influenced by iOS, while others are inspired by Android. The thing is, those aspects do not align visually, that’s something that MagicOS 8.0 improved. Some UI sections do seem a bit cartoonish still, while others look really nice. HONOR also insists on separate notification shade and quick toggles sections, which makes even less sense on a tablet, but there you go. You’ll also get that semi-transparent background on UI elements from iOS, whether you like it or not. The notification shade could also be more functional, and it could look a bit better in all honesty. You don’t get separate titles for emails, for example, while the font choice and that semi-transparent look are not all that flattering. Some of you may like it, though, of course.

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There are a number of customizations at your disposal

There are some customization options available here. If you’ve used this version of MagicOS on one of the company’s smartphones, or one of the previous versions in the last couple of years, you’ll be right at home here. It does feel like a phone UI ported to a tablet. You do have some home and lock screen options on offer, and the same goes for themes. There’s no double tap to lock option, but you do get Magazine Unlock for the lock screen. The phone can shift wallpapers on your lock screen on its own. You can alter the icons a bit, though third-party icon support is not on offer.

You do get access to a smart sidebar, split-screen & more features

A split screen feature is on offer too, of course, and it works really well. You do also get access to a three-finger swipe gesture, which works well, and HONOR’s well-known knuckle gestures for partial screenshots, and so on. MagicOS 7.2 also comes with a sidebar which you can call upon by swiping from the right and waiting a second before lifting your finger. That will launch a customizable sidebar, from which you can launch apps in mini windows, and jump into a split screen. That’s a very useful feature that I found myself using far more on this tablet than I did on the company’s smartphones, to be quite honest.

MagicOS 8.0 will likely improve things even more

The bottom line is, MagicOS 7.2 works well, but the tablet will become even better once MagicOS 8.0 lands on it. MagicOS 7.2 may not look like many other Android UIs, but it has proven to be immensely reliable to me, time and time again. It has been that way for years, so I really don’t think many people will have issues with it… as long as you like its design.

HONOR Pad 9 Review: Audio

The HONOR Pad 9 comes with eight speakers. They are more than loud enough, and they do provide a rather pleasant sound. We have our own audio samples for testing the audio of devices, and I really enjoyed these speakers in every way except one. I’ve noticed the lack of bass. That may be an issue for some of you. I mean, there is some bass, but I’ve expected a bit more in that regard. We have to keep in mind that this is not a flagship product. Every other aspect was quite good. The audio was good across the spectrum. The speakers provided clear audio, and the distortion was barely noticeable at the highest of volumes.

AH HONOR Pad 9 image 20AH HONOR Pad 9 image 20

There is no audio jack here

What I found a bit disappointing considering the size of this device is the lack of an audio jack. That’s something we usually see far more often on tablets than on phones, at least nowadays. Still, if you want to connect your headphones via a wired, you can do that, all you have to do is get a dongle and utilize a Type-C port on the tablet. The HONOR Pad 9 is also equipped with Bluetooth, of course, just not the most modern version. Bluetooth 5.1 comes included here when Bluetooth 5.4 is used on flagship-grade devices these days. That Bluetooth version will serve you just fine, though. It worked great for us.

HONOR Pad 9: Should you buy it?

Should you get the HONOR Pad 9? In all honesty, if you want to get a tablet for multimedia consumption and general tablet use, and you don’t have the budget for a flagship, or don’t feel the need for it… this is a great option. Why? Well, even at its original price tag of €349.90 I’d argue it’s worth it, but at the time of writing this article, it’s available for €314, plus you get a keyboard case I mentioned for free. That’s the promo that HONOR runs through its official HiHONOR website in parts of Europe. That’s a great deal, to say the least. At that price tag, with the accessory, this tablet is very easy to recommend.

AH HONOR Pad 9 image 14AH HONOR Pad 9 image 14

You should buy the HONOR Pad 9 if you:

…want a large tablet without breaking the bank
…need a reliable tablet for basic use
…appreciate good build quality
…want to get a keyboard accessory too (some markets only)
…don’t want to buy a charger separately

You shouldn’t buy the HONOR Pad 9 if you:

…prefer using a fingerprint scanner
…play graphically-intensive games
…like stock Android



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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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