The Malaysian launch of the HONOR 9X happened today and while it may have seemed like a launch event for the 9X on paper, it was anything but. Why? Well, for starters, HONOR tried ever so subtly to turn peoples attention away from the phone. The whole thing was kind of like throwing your kid a birthday party but cutting in with a speech right as the birthday song is over to announce that SURPRISE, you’re pregnant with twins.
OK maybe that’s a bad analogy, but bear with me here.
We’ve known for a while now that HONOR would be taking a modified Huawei Y9 Prime, giving it a facelift and marketing it as the all new 9X. I guess such extremes just have to be taken if the company is going to get their latest device to ship with GMS. But the Huawei sub brand’s approach of trying to keep it on the down low was just downright sad.
First off, it was weird to see a phone launch go by with barely any mention of what’s under the hood. Of course the spec sheets are all there but HONOR did their absolute best not to mention anything about the chipset.
You see, the Kirin 710F that our version of the 9X comes with was released about a year ago— Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with it, it’s just that one year is a long time in the tech industry. HONOR’s omission of all this only further emphasizes the differences between the 9X we got, and the 9X we’re supposed to get.
The phone isn’t all bad however. It’s key selling point is most definitely the 48MP triple camera setup and it’s 6.59″ FullView display, which for a phone that’s light on the pocket, offers excellent value for money. And HONOR did a good job of keeping the spotlight on just that.
The company then pulled out all the stops to make this phone launch become about anything but the phone. A collaboration with local streetwear brand Stoned and Co was announced, the company officially introduced its new 1+8+N strategy and seemingly out of nowhere, surprised all of us with a laptop release as well.
Again, it’s not that there is anything particularly wrong with a streewear collaboration and announcing a new strategy. Heck, HONOR even announced the Magicbook Pro (yes it’s really called the Magicbook Pro) here in Malaysia before it launched in China, which is pretty big but big is exactly what the company was going to have to go for to turn eyeballs away from the 9X.
If anyone asks you what the real world implications of Trump’s trade ban is, it’s this. Companies having to bend over backwards to pull magic tricks out of their asses. It’s sad because at one point, HONOR had a real chance of becoming a brand to be reckoned with. Can HONOR survive as a smartphone company beyond this release? It looks bleak, but time will tell.