The Honor 9X will be released for global markets very soon and the biggest concern is whether or not it will ship with Google apps and services. As a sub-brand under Huawei, Honor is expected to face the same challenges as the Huawei Mate 30 series. The latest Huawei flagship was recently launched in Malaysia without Google Mobile Services pre-installed.
Ahead of its release in Europe, several tech media have received their review units and surprisingly, it comes with all your usual Google apps including the Play Store. So, how did Honor overcome the US restrictions?
According to The Verge, they were told by Honor that the devices were certified by Google before the licence was revoked. But if you look at the specs, you’ll notice that the European unit is very different from the one that was launched in China.
Although it shares a similar 6.59″ Full HD+ display and a pop-up 16MP camera, the European model is running on a lower Kirin 710F instead of a newer Kirin 810 processor. Another glaring difference is the fingerprint sensor which is now a rear-mounted unit instead of a side-mounted version.
For taking pictures, the device gets a triple-camera setup with a 48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide-angle and a 2MP depth sensor. There’s also a 4,000mAh battery which charges via USB-C.
According to serial leakster Roland Quandt, the international Honor 9X is actually a slightly updated Huawei P Smart Z. This same model was launched locally as the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019.
If you compare the spec-sheet, it looks like Honor has taken the Huawei device and swapped the 16MP main camera for a better 48MP sensor. Instead of a dual-tone look, Honor went for a holographic X pattern design for the rear which looks as fancy as the Honor View 20.
Overall, it is a creative way to circumvent the US ban but that also means that international consumers are just getting rehashed versions of existing models that are marketed as “new”. The Chinese Honor 9X sets are definitely superior in hardware but it is pointless to push them globally if the software experience is compromised.