The Honor 9X Pro has the same triple camera on its back as the Huawei P30 Lite and Honor 9X. The primary is a 48MP PDAF f/1.8 snapper, joined by an 8MP fixed-focus with f/2.4 ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP, fixed-focus, f/2.4 depth sensor. There is also a single LED flash around.
The main camera uses a Sony IMX582 48MP sensor that has a Quad-Bayer array for pixel binning and the resulting image is 12MP in resolution. You can shoot in 48MP though, and under the right circumstances (good light), you will get a native 48MP photo - this is achieved through demosaicing (reconstructing by interpolation) the missing color information.
But demosaicing is something a lot of phones can do and probably that's why Honor is trying to one-up those with the 48MP AI Ultra Clarity option, which improves the photo quality through supersampling. It takes six seconds to snap a single photo and you must keep the phone steady, but it will be worth it. The 48MP AIUC samples have much more detail than the regular 48MP images and if you downscale these to 12MP - those are superior in detail to the regular 12MP shots, especially in high intricacy areas such as foliage. Samples coming up in a bit!
Honor's AI mode is available, and it can be turned quickly on or off via a toggle on the viewfinder. It will recognize a variety of scenes and adjust image parameters accordingly, though the real-life effect, as a general rule, is the pumped-up contrast and boosted colors.
There is also Honor's Night mode - it will produce very good night-time pictures (with some limitations). It creates pseudo long exposures by stacking multiple frames gathering light along the way. We're talking four-second-long hand-held exposures, which would otherwise result in a blurry mess.
Other than that, the camera app would be familiar to anyone who's picked up a recent Huawei smartphone, which means options are a bit scattered.
Pro mode is available via the mode selector, and there you can adjust the parameters yourself - ISO (50 to 102,400), shutter speed (1/4000s to 30s), exposure compensation (-4 to +4EV in 1/3 stop increments), and white balance (presets and light temperature).
Ever since artificially defocused backgrounds became all the rage, Huawei phones have been offering both a Portrait mode and an Aperture mode. In Aperture, you can choose the simulated aperture in the range from f/0.95 to f/16. Post shot, you can change the aperture and the focus point within the Gallery.
In Portrait mode you can enable and disable the background blur, you can change the simulated lighting, and you can also add some beautification on a scale from 0 to 10.
The default 12MP photos from the main camera are sharp and detailed. We observed accurate (if a bit subdued) colors and the dynamic range was always great and we never used HDR. Areas of high complexity such as foliage and building blinds are not as nicely presented and what appears to be overly aggressive noise-reduction process smears some fine detail. There are noticeable oil-painting-like areas here and there.
Shooting in 48MP AI Ultra Clarity takes about six seconds and each photo eats up about 20MB, but if you want superior quality - this is the way. This 48MP AI mode works only with abundant light and you must switch to it manually from settings.
The 48MP AI photos are with exceptional quality and excellent detail. If you downscale these to 12MP - they are far superior in detail to the regular 12MP snaps. Indeed, if per-pixel quality is of great importance, then you should try this 48MP AI UC mode.
There is a toggle for 2x magnification on the viewfinder. The Honor 9X Pro has no camera with telephoto lens, so the only explanation is digital zoom. It takes about a second for a zoomed photo to be saved (in 12MP) and surprisingly - it's one of excellent quality. Apparently, there is some multi-stacking and/or debayering happening in the background as the zoomed images look a lot like the real deal.
The 8MP ultrawide photos are okay, but nothing special. The resolved detail is modest at best, the corners are pretty soft because of automatic lens correction and the dynamic range is rather low. Still, those are presentable enough for the social networks.
The third snapper on the Honor 9X Pro is for depth information when shooting portraits, so here are a few. The portraits aren't that impressive, but the separation is mostly good and the blur is convincing. You can choose between different background effects if that's your thing.
The low-light photos are satisfying with good color saturation, balanced exposure, and gentle noise reduction. There is enough detail, though we've seen Huawei and Honor phones do a bit better.
Honor's Night Mode is available, and shots take a couple of seconds and a steady hand. It does improve the overall exposure and pops some detail in the background and the sky. But the images turned out to be plenty soft and most of them looked like oil paintings.
Ultra-wide photography at nighttime is possible, but that's the best thing we can say. The images are smudgy, noisy and lacking in detail big time.
Now that you're done with the real world samples, head over to our Photo compare tool to see how the Honor 9X Pro stacks up against other smartphones.
The Honor 9X Pro, just like the 9X, has a 16MP f/2.2 camera on its pop-up module. The focus is fixed, as usual.
If you get the distance right, and if there's plenty of light - you can get some good shots even if lacking in detail. Colors are very accurate here, and the contrast is nice.
Portrait mode is available. You can turn the blur on and off; there's also beautification (a 0-10 setting). The subject separation is mostly hit and miss though, and we can't recommend using this mode.
The Honor 9X Pro can record in 1080p resolution with its main and ultra-wide-angle snappers though 60fps mode is available only with the primary camera. There is electronic stabilization and it is always-on.
Both the main and ultra-wide camera deliver good dynamic range, nice contrast, no visible noise, and punchy colors. The picture is quite soft though and the resolved detail is average at best.
The 2x digitally zoomed videos are soft, but not that bad.
The 60fps footage from the main camera is richer in detail and that's probably because there is no EIS involved like on the 30fps clips.
Finally, the electronic stabilization is always-on and does a very good job. We would appreciate an option to turn it off though.
Here's a glimpse of how the Honor 9X Pro compares to rivals in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete comparison.