The Honor 9X Pro is a phone of two halves. On the one hand it’s a super slick, powerhouse of a device with some of the most useful innovations we’ve seen in a good long while. On the other hand, it’s lacking the Google Apps suite that makes Android phones so enticing. The question you’re probably asking is which of these two sides wins out? Read on to find out.

Phone Feel

The first thing you notice when holding the Honor 9X Pro is just how good it feels in your hand. It’s weighty without being heavy, slim without feeling fragile and everything is within easy reach of even the stumpiest thumbs.

Along the side you’ll find a thumbprint reader, which lets you unlock the phone with ease. Having used an iPhone X Max for the past year, the speed with which this phone unlocks really is wonderful. Once you’re in everything is slick and smooth – moving from the iPhone to the Honor doesn’t feel like a downgrade in any way.

Considering the price difference between the two, that’s definitely something to take into consideration. You’re really sacrificing very little in terms of performance with the less expensive phone.

Camera and Screen

The same goes for the camera and screen. The 2340×1080 display is gorgeous, and really pops. Blacks are deep, colours are sharp and bright, and the absence of a front-facing camera notch means you’ve got a huge amount of screen to look at.

The selfie camera pops up from the top of the device. One of the first things you do when you get the phone is play around with it – it feels super modern and sturdy, and you can’t help but grin a little as it whirrs out of the body.

Both the front and rear cameras are super sharp, and the photo app the phone comes with has more than enough settings to play around with. Snaps are quick, and the portrait mode is just as good as anything Apple has to offer.

Gaming

But here’s where things start to get a bit rocky. If you’re looking for a handheld gaming machine, the Honor 9X Pro definitely has the power to deliver. Playing Asphalt 9 on it is fast and smooth, and the extra screen space really lets you sink into the experience.

The problem is, without the Google Play Store, it’s hard to find that many games to actually play. Fortnite doesn’t work on the 9X Pro either, which is a real problem in today’s day and age. There are a few titles on the Honor Store, but the choice pales in comparison to what you can get on the App Store or Google Play Store.

And this is Gamezebo, not Phonezebo. It’s a real shame, because we’d love to be able to recommend the 9X Pro. It’s a really, really good phone, and some of the innovations and iterations it throws into the mix are likely to become industry standard in the coming months and years.

Overall

Like it says at the start of this review, the Honor 9X Pro is a phone of two halves. If you’re looking for a powerful smartphone with a great camera and some really smart ideas, and a really attractive price-point, then it’s definitely worth consideration.

But if you want something to play the latest games on as well, then we’re afraid you’re out of luck. For normal users this is a great phone that’s slightly hamstrung by the lack of Google Apps, for gamers it’s just too much of a compromise to make it worthwhile.