“We put the best dual camera-toting smartphones under Rs 20,000 against each other”
As 2017 comes to an end, we cannot help but look back and wonder how revolutionary it has been in terms of smartphone technologies. From dual cameras to 18:9 displays, many of these features have now become a mainstay in the industry. We saw both Motorola and Xiaomi jump on to the dual-camera bandwagon with the Moto G5s Plus and Xiaomi Mi A1 respectively. Honor on the other hand, continued doubling down (quite literally) on its smartphones offering a pair of cameras. While it kicked off the year with the 6X, its latest budget offering, the Honor 9i, sports dual cameras at the front as well as the back. Since these were some of the key launches this year in the affordable segment, we decided to pit them against each other and see how they fare. Let’s begin.
Design and display
When it comes to design, all three handsets flaunt a metal unibody design. However, the Honor 9i supersedes the rest owing to its futuristic design with minimal bezels on top and bottom with next to none on sides. This has also allowed the brand to pack a larger display in the same footprint as that of a 5.5-incher. Motorola and Xiaomi in contrast, stick to the usual design with wide bezels on the front, which is fine but does seem odd in today’s bezel-less era. While there is next to no change in the aesthetics of the Mi A1 from earlier launches by the brand, Motorola did make certain changes with the circular dual-camera module at the rear. The Lenovo-owned brand has also thrown in the nano-coating on the device to make it splash-proof, which is a plus. While all three handsets weight almost the same, the Mi A1 is the slimmest at 7.3mm, whereas Honor 9i and Moto G5s Plus measure 7.5mm and 8mm, respectively.
Coming to displays, once again, the Honor 9i shines through as it flaunts the largest 5.9-inch FHD+ display, however, it is missing any kind of protective layer. In comparison, the G5s Plus and Mi A1 both ship with a 5.5-inch display bearing a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Another common denominator in both devices is the layer of Corning Gorilla Glass protecting the displays.
Hardware and software
Speaking of software, all three smartphones are quite different. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the company’s first device under the Android One initiative, which means it has the Android 7.1.1 Nougat, in its unadulterated avatar. The Moto G5s Plus also ships with near-stock Android 7.1 Nougat with added enhancements from the brand. The Honor 9i too boots the same iteration of Android but is layered with the proprietary EMUI on top, which brings several useful features such as app cloning and support for various gestures. The devices will also get a promised upgrade to the latest Android 8.0 Oreo.
Moving on to the spec sheet, the Honor 9i is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 659 octa-core processor clocked at 2.36GHz, which is marginally better than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC fuelling the Moto G5s Plus and Mi A1. The chipsets on all three devices have been mated to 4GB RAM and 64GB onboard storage. The trio also comes with support for microSD card of up to 128GB.
Camera and battery
As far as the USP of these smartphones is concerned, the Honor 9i beats the other two as it comes with not two, not three, but four cameras. The smartphone features 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel snappers on the rear and 13MP + 2MP camera array on the front. Both shooters are accompanied by an LED flash for providing illumination in low light. The dual-camera implementation at both ends helps in shooting excellent bokeh shots, which is usually available in DSLRs.
The Moto G5S Plus gets a pair of 13MP sensors on the back in RGB + Monochrome setup and an 8MP front camera, with LED flash on both sides. In comparison, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is the only device under Rs 15k which offers optical zoom-like capability, thanks to a pair of 12MP cameras on the back. The front camera on the Xiaomi’s phone is a 5MP unit, which misses out on the LED flash. The duo can also capture photos with depth-of-field effects.
In the battery department, the Honor 9i has the biggest of the lot with a 3,340mAh capacity. The Moto G5s Plus and Xiaomi Mi A1 are powered by a 3,000mAh and 3,080mAh cells, respectively. The G5s Plus also supports fast charging functionality.
If you have been following the comparison, then it’s safe to say that all three are more or less at par with each other. However, the Honor 9i does have an edge over the other two in the imaging department, thanks to quad-camera setup and a bigger display in the same footprint as other two also make for an immersive viewing experience for gamers and multimedia lovers.