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As Android tabs evolve quickly, Honor Pad 9’s refinements hold it in good stead

Android tablets are getting better. Samsung still sells the most tablets in India, but it’s market share is shrinking. Not sure if you have already, but look closely, and it is easy to notice a positive momentum towards perception of Android in tablets, being driven by brands that are largely new to this product space. Across the pricing spectrum. Xiaomi early last year with the Pad 6 that has since received a significant renewal with a redone HyperOS update. OnePlus soon after with OnePlus Pad, and Pad Go followed-up a few months later. But we must consider if Honor, a brand that’s begun carving a space for itself in the Indian market over the past few months, can deliver a competent computing experience with the Honor Pad 9.

The Honor Pad 9 tablet. (Vishal Mathur / HT Photo)

For most, the price tag reading 22,999 puts this directly as an alternative to the OnePlus Pad Go (around 23,999) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+ (that’s around 21,999 with 5G as an option too). Even the Xiaomi Pad 6, now around 26,999 onwards. That sort of affordability lends it relevance among a broader set of potential buyers, including some who may otherwise still be on the fence about the utility of a tablet in their daily work and entertainment routines. The keyboard accessory, if this is intended to double up as a work machine at some point, will have to be purchased separately. The pricing with the keyboard is around 24,990, and the bundling pattern is similar to the method also deployed by Xiaomi and OnePlus, to keep costs down.

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Also read:OnePlus Pad Go is all about refined versatility, rare in budget Android tablets

Even though Honor is still comparatively finding its feet in the Indian market, there are some elements to the Honor Pad 9’s foundation which will hold it in good stead. The 12.1-inch display, more than generous real estate it offers for multitasking, makes use of the dynamic dimming and circadian night display tech to reduce eye strain in the daytime and the night. This 2560 x 1600-pixel display impresses in terms of colours, and just the requisite sharpness to complement the resolution.

The IPS type display is also used by the OnePlus Pad Go, albeit with marginally higher pixel density. By default, this is in the Dynamic mode for refresh rate, that switches between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on the content, but there’s the choice to manually lock-in either. There are detailed settings to tweak exactly how colours should look, for example, but long-term advantage (and comfort) will draw on dynamic dimming technology that should reduce screen flicker (it isn’t always noticeable immediately, but strains the eyes nonetheless). For those of you who have the habit of reading late into the night, perhaps with the lights turned down, the night display mode shines through as close to the perfect screen for reading on.

You may find it a little perplexing that Honor has launched a tablet, here and now, with a generational older Android 13. Mind you, Android 14 has been available on tablets since October last year, and any specificities on the roadmap remain unclear. The ball is in your court, about the weightage of software that runs beneath the outer layers. That brings us to the Honor Pad 9 running the March security patch at the time of writing this, and MagicOS 7.2 does do its bit to soothe things over.

Also read:Xiaomi Pad 6 brings us a step closer to Android tabs as productivity hubs

That’s Honor’s own customisations to Android, much like any other tablet (or phone) maker. There is a pleasantness to the interface and visual elements, with enough customisation options for finer control such as icon sizes. However, I do step away with the feeling that the interface at times feels too busy, something that isn’t the case with Xiaomi’s HyperOS and OnePlus’ overlay on their tablets. Beyond those observations, there is genuine utility to be found with multitasking (you will get used to the flexibility of smart windows soon enough) and pairing with the phone.

I, unfortunately, do not have an Honor phone for testing alongside the Honor Pad 9, and therefore unable to give you an actual summarisation of Network Sharing (that’s using your phone’s 5G on the tablet) running, as well as notes, Connected call and notification functionality. But if you intend to get that ecosystem in place, you may find utility.

Keeping costs down is likely the biggest reason, but the Honor Pad 9’s power coming from a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chip does put in perspective what this can or cannot do. In my experience, most of your everyday apps and medium usage with multi-tasking absolutely sail through in terms of responsiveness and switching urgency. But the more apps you open and leave them open, the load begins to become apparent. This is at par with the OnePlus Pad’s MediaTek Helio G99 chip in app management and responsiveness behaviour. There is some headroom for gaming too, but performance will vary with titles.

The very fact that an Honor Pad 9 with everything that it can offer, is now an option for Android tablets around the 20,000 price point, illustrates how far along we have come. A battery with stamina of more than 12 hours when used for a mix of tasks you’d otherwise share between your smartphone and laptop, quite light at 555 grams for a large screen tablet, build quality that leaves little room for any complaint and a screen that’s equally comfortable for reading or gaming, adds to the fairly high headroom for performance and the flexibility of Android. The Honor Pad 9 is the tablet all-rounder you wouldn’t always expect at an affordable price point.

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