Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Battle of the great-value flagship phones

We compare the new Honor 9 and OnePlus 5 smartphones to see which great-value and premium-specced mobile might be best for you.

June is a pretty big month for phone launches, with two massive rivals officially hitting the UK: Huawei’s Honor 9 and the much-anticipated OnePlus 5.

Both the Honor and the OnePlus boast top-end performance, capable dual-lens cameras and premium features, for a price of under £500. In this way they undercut other killer flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 and iPhone 7 by quite some margin, while still offering a fantastic all-round user experience.

As natural successors to the OnePlus 3T and the Honor 8 Pro, you really can expect the best.

So which flagship handset is best for you, the OnePlus 5 or Huawei’s Honor 9? Here’s our full comparison review to help you decide.

Read next: How does the OnePlus 5 compare with the Galaxy S8, LG G6 and the best of Android?

Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Specs

Phone Honor 9 OnePlus 5
Screen size 5.15-inch 5.5-inch
Screen resolution 1920×1080 1920×1080
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
OS Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.1 Android 7.1 + OxygenOS
Processor Kirin 960 Snapdragon 835
Memory 6GB 6/8GB
Storage 64/128GB 64/128GB
microSD Yes No
Rear camera 12+20MP Dual-lens 16+20MP Dual-lens
Battery 3200mAh 3300mAh
UK Price TBC From £449

Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Design

The Honor 9 is relatively compact, when compared with a lot of modern mobiles at least. The 5.15-inch screen is certainly smaller than the OnePlus 5’s 5.5-inch panel and overall should prove slightly more dinky, although not much easier to use one-handed. Thankfully both phones offer a form of help when it comes to operation with one hand, to make things a little easier.

OnePlus has once again opted for a metallic frame for its latest flagship, just like the OnePlus 3T’s full metal jacket. Meanwhile Huawei has stuck with a glossy finish for the new Honor. That means the Honor 9 will no doubt show scuffs and greasy prints, while the OnePlus 5 remains blemish-free.

Sadly neither phone is water resistant, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for a bath companion.

Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Screen and media

If you’re after a blower for enjoying Netflix on the move, either of these handsets will do the job.

Both the 5.5-inch OnePlus 5 display and the 5-inch Honor 9 screen offer a Full HD resolution, for crisp image reproduction. Not quite a match for the Quad HD visuals of most rival phones, but still well up to the task of enjoying Netflix on the road.

Both of these mobiles will of course put out crisp, colourful images, although the OnePlus should enjoy slightly more punchy visuals compared with the Honor handset. Combined with the more spacious viewing area, this will be a brilliant media device for sure.

Of course, the Honor 9 has one serious advantage over the OnePlus 5: expandable storage. You can’t boost the OnePlus 5’s available space via microSD, unlike the Honor 9, which supports memory cards up to 256GB in size. Luckily the OnePlus 5 ships with a minimum of 64GB of storage again, just like the OnePlus 3T. There’s a 128GB Midnight Black model on offer also.

If you’d rather stream your videos and music instead, the OnePlus 5 will support up to 1Gbps peak download speeds thanks to its Snapdragon 835 chipset. More on this later.

Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Features and OS

Both of these handsets run Android Nougat, Google’s mobile OS which is getting better with every passing update. Not only is Android now impressively energy-efficient, you also get all of the features we’d been demanding for ages, including split-screen multitasking.

Of course, Huawei and OnePlus have added their own unique features and tweaks to Android, to give the Honor 9 and OnePlus 5 their own distinct look and feel.

With the Honor 9 you have Huawei’s Emotion UI overlay, EMUI 5.1, which adds all manner of helpful features. Dive behind the fresh lick of paint and you’ll discover some useful one-handed modes, gesture controls, the ability to log into Facebook etc with more than one account and plenty more besides. Check out our EMUI review for all you need to know.

The OnePlus 5 packs a few cool custom features of its own too, mostly gesture support as well as a new Reading Mode and Gaming Mode. Check out our OnePlus 5 best features guide for more info.

Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Performance and battery life

Like pretty much every premium Huawei phone of recent months, the Honor 9 once again sports the Kirin 960 processor, backed by 6GB of RAM. This chipset still offers smooth performance no matter what you’re up to, helped along by that generous memory.

However, the OnePlus 5 is a step beyond, thanks to its Snapdragon 835 chipset. This is Qualcomm’s latest premium mobile processor, found in the likes of the HTC U11 and Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium. We’ve done a full breakdown on why it’s the best chipset available in 2017, so go check that out for all you need to know. And in the OnePlus 5, it’s backed by a beefy 6 to 8GB of RAM. In other words, you shouldn’t see a single stutter or pause, for some time to come.

The Snapdragon 835 not only delivers incredible performance, but also strong energy efficiency. That’s why we’re hopeful that the 3300mAh cell packed into the OnePlus 5 will offer well over a day of life per charge. In comparison, the Honor 9 will also likely deliver a full day of use from its 3200mAh battery.

Both handsets here offer a form of quick charge tech. OnePlus’ Dash Charge is of course one of the best around, speedily refilling the phone’s battery while keeping the device nice and cool.

Honor 9 vs OnePlus 5: Camera tech

OnePlus has slapped a fresh new dual-lens camera into the OnePlus 5 handset. The dual-lens approach has been long adopted by Huawei for its own-brand and Honor smartphones, so it’ll be interesting to see how picture quality compares between these two mobiles.

The Honor 9 appears to offer pretty much the same camera tech as the full-priced Huawei P10, which is pretty good considering the lower asking price of this blower. In decent light you can expect stunning photos, complete with realistic colour reproduction and the kind of sharp finish you only experience with two lenses. That said, low light snaps are Huawei’s weakness, with more grain and less detail compared with rival handsets.

The Honor 9 snapper was produced in collaboration with camera expert Leica, and OnePlus has wisely decided to make a similar move for its new flagship. The OnePlus 5’s camera was crafted with help from DxO Labs, a French optics company. DxO is known for its mobile camera testing, which gives all of the major handsets a thorough going over. So if anyone knows a good smartphone shooter when it sees one, it’s DxO Labs.

You can expect solid bokeh-filled snaps from both handsets using the Portrait Mode, which focuses on a subject and blurs out the background to help them stand out.

Both of these phones can record up to 4K resolution video, ideal for those future-proofed home movies.

You can grab the OnePlus 5 exclusively from O2 here in the UK, from £34 per month (or £36 for the Midnight Black version). Pre-order now and you will receive the phone from June 22.