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Honor Pad 9 review: Growing in an Apple-shaped shadow

Our Rating :
£299.99 from
Price when reviewed : £300
inc VAT

It’s priced too close to the 2021 iPad, but key improvements make the Honor Pad 9 one of Android’s strongest competitors


  • Exceptional CPU performance
  • Major display improvements
  • Stylish and robust design


  • Price increase
  • Battery life takes a minor hit
  • Half-baked software

The Honor Pad 9 gets its first big discount at Amazon

The review below notes that, while an impressive tablet, the Honor Pad 9 is priced a little too closely to the 9th Gen iPad. This discount handily does away with that issue, bringing the tablet down to £250. As the first discount on this new tablet, this price is the lowest on record by default.

Amazon Was £300 Now £250 View deal at Amazon

The Honor Pad 9 is pushing its luck. Its predecessor, the Pad 8, struck a solid balance of offering a competent Android alternative to the entry-level iPad, while also pricing itself far enough away to avoid direct competition with Apple.

Here, however, Honor has rolled the dice and pushed the price up, to a point where the 9th generation iPad becomes a real threat. The price increase doesn’t feel unjust, as it’s joined by several hardware advancements, but Android tablets have historically struggled to match Apple in value for money at this price point.

While the gamble doesn’t completely pay off, the Honor Pad 9 is enough of a step up from its predecessor to be worth consideration. If you want the best tablet in this price range, and you strongly prefer Android to Apple, this device should be high on your list.

Check price at Honor

Honor Pad 9 review: What you need to know

The Honor Pad 9 matches its price increase with several key improvements over the Pad 8. The processor is a newer Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset, and it’s paired with a bumped-up 8GB of RAM and twice the storage of its predecessor, at 256GB. The battery is an 8,300mAh unit, and charging speeds have jumped from 22.5W to 35W.

The display is once again a 12.1in IPS panel, but both resolution and refresh rate get a boost here, increasing to 2,560 x 1,600 and 120Hz, respectively. The selfie camera is slightly sharper than the Pad 8’s, now 8MP compared to 5MP, and its opposite number on the rear gets an even bigger jump, from a 5MP to 13MP sensor.

Not everything is changed, however. The display, while improved, still isn’t certified for HDR playback, there’s no LTE option, so you’re tethered to Wi-Fi and, unlike the nearest iPad competitor, the Honor Pad 9 has no optional peripherals that can transform it into a useful laptop replacement.

Honor Pad 9 review: Price and competition

At £300, the Honor Pad 9 is £30 more than the Honor Pad 8 was at launch. This nudges it dangerously close to the 9th generation Apple iPad 10.2in (£319), which is Apple’s most affordable iPad. With the latter, you’re getting superior performance and Apple’s excellent iPadOS software, but the display is smaller than the Pad 9’s, has a lower resolution and only refreshes at 60Hz.

On the Android side of things, there are a few more contenders. The Xiaomi Pad 5 launched for £369, but can now be picked up for around the £300 mark, and for that you’re getting terrific battery life and an HDR-rated display.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a little cheaper, at £275, and comes bundled with an S-Pen stylus. Finally, Amazon’s top-end offering, the Fire Max 11, is £250 and achieved fantastic battery life and performance scores in our tests, but disappointed on the software side of things.

READ NEXT: Best iPads

Honor Pad 9 review: Design and key features

Like the Honor Pad 8 before it, the Honor Pad 9 pairs its generous display with a sleek aluminium body and, once again, it looks far more stylish than you tend to see in this price range. The dimensions are marginally larger than the Honor Pad 8, measuring 278 x 180 x 7mm, and it’s a little heavier this time around, at 555g.

The edges are relatively clean, with the volume and power buttons along the top edge and the USB-C port sitting centrally on the right (viewing the tablet in landscape orientation). Flanking the latter are two speaker grilles, with another pair adorning the left edge and two smaller ones on the bottom edge. Behind these grilles are a total of eight speaker drivers and, between them, they kick out decently loud audio. I encountered the odd bit of distortion at peak volume, but reducing this to around 90% delivered a better balance between volume and quality.

The 8MP selfie camera set in one of the long bezels offers face unlocking, which proved to be accurate and efficient during testing. Interestingly, the 13MP rear camera near enough mirrors the selfie lens’ position, sitting centrally near the top edge. That’s a slightly odd decision, as it locks the Pad 9 more into a landscape orientation, whereas the Pad 8’s corner-set camera gives more versatility. Still, both cameras are sharp enough for the price, and will serve perfectly well for video calls and the occasional snapshot.

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Honor Pad 9 review: Display

The display was already pretty swish on the Pad 8, but the Honor Pad 9 makes several key improvements. First of all, the 12.1in panel has a bumped up resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, and to go with that the refresh rate has been doubled to a smooth 120Hz. Brightness is also notably better here, hitting peaks of around 526cd/m2 whether in auto-brightness mode or not.

There’s only one colour profile available and this achieved solid accuracy in testing. I recorded sRGB coverage of 97.9%, with a volume of 105.5%, and the average Delta E colour variance score came back at 1.37.

That’s better than the Honor Pad 8 managed and is about as good as you can get in this price range. Not everything has improved – the contrast and black levels are slightly weaker this time around, at 1,636:1 and 0.32cd/m2, respectively – but, all things considered, this is still a terrific display for the price.

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Honor Pad 9 review: Performance and battery life

The chipset used on the Honor Pad 8 was middling, so the upgrade here to the newer Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 platform yields an outstanding leap in performance. It still can’t beat the 9th generation iPad, but the Honor Pad 9 handily outperforms its predecessor in both single-core and multicore benchmarks, while also drawing even with the (originally) pricier Xiaomi Pad 5.

Geekbench 5 chart comparing the CPU performance of the Honor Pad 9 and similarly priced rivals

The fact that the Honor Pad 9 delivered higher frame rates than its predecessor in the GPU test, despite also bumping up the display resolution, is impressive, too, but even taking the resolution disparity into consideration it’s still not a patch on the three-year-old iPad.

Even still, the Honor Pad 9 does reasonably well with graphics-intensive games. Genshin Impact ran with few stutters and very little lag – although I had to keep the graphics on the low setting, as anything higher came with an overheating warning.

GFXBench chart comparing the GPU performance of the Honor Pad 9 and similarly priced rivals

If there is a weakness, it’s battery life. Despite having a larger 8,300mAh battery inside, the Honor Pad 9 didn’t quite match the Pad 8 for stamina, although that’s not surprising given it has more pixels to light up.

If stamina is massively important to you, the Amazon Fire Max 11 is leagues ahead of the competition; just be aware that the software is frustratingly outdated and the app store doesn’t offer Google applications.

Battery life chart comparing the stamina of the Honor Pad 9 and similarly priced rivals

Honor Pad 9 review: Software

The Honor Pad 9 runs Android 13 with Honor’s MagicOS 7.2 skin layered on top. This launcher tends towards bright, slightly gaudy icons but otherwise it’s easy enough to get on with.

There isn’t much in the way of pre-installed apps either, with only a couple of unwelcome outliers such as WPS Office and cluttering up the homescreen. The productivity features are the same as the Honor Pad 8, but still work well enough: App Extender allows you to view two pages of the same app, which is useful for comparisons, and Multi-window supports up to four apps open at once, with two in split-screen and two floating windows on top.

While all this seems to set up the Honor Pad 9 as a solid laptop replacement, it feels undercooked. Apps are just super-sized versions of the phone variants, so they’re slightly clunky on the screen, and there’s no dedicated stylus on offer to complete the transformation.

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Honor Pad 9 review: Verdict

If you’re open to using Apple products, it’s difficult to recommend the Honor Pad 9 when the 9th generation iPad can be picked up for just £19 more. The iPad’s performance is stronger across the board, and it makes for a better laptop replacement, with Apple’s superior tablet software and accessories offering a level of flexibility that Honor can’t match here.

As far as big-screened Android tablets go, however, the Honor Pad 9 is near enough without equal. The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset delivers strong improvements to performance, the display is crisp and colour-accurate, and battery life, while a slight step down, isn’t bad enough to knock the Honor Pad 9 out of the running. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, the Honor Pad 9 is a terrific affordable alternative.

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