Honor 9N vs Redmi Note 5 Pro camera comparison: the battle for the best budget cameras

In 2018, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro has established itself as Mr. Phone’s go-to smartphone camera under Rs 20,000. While the Moto G6 and the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1(6GB) managed to match the performance of Xiaomi’s budget beast in certain areas, the phones still fell short in many other shooting scenarios. Now, we have another contender for the title of the best camera phone under Rs 20,000. Yes, we are talking about the newly-launched Honor 9N. 

Let’s jump right into the comparison and find out if Honor’s new phone can beat our current reigning champion. 

Specs compared

Before we jump into the actual comparison, lets take a look at the camera specs of the two phones. Below is an easy-to-read infographic for you to see the differences.

Please note: Click on the thumbnail for full size images.

Wide

Let’s start by discussing our wide landscape test first. This test helps us identify if the sensor has enough to actually capture details across the canvas, the exposure, the dynamic range, and accurate colours. 

Honor 9N

When you look at both the samples first, you will find very few differences. But, the moment you look at the 100 percent crop that’s when you realise how good the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s camera actually is. I mean, the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s sensor manages to maintain details from the center to the edges of the image. Take a look at the Big Bazaar logo or the bushes in the center of the image to judge for yourself. 

The Honor 9N struggles in this regard. What I like about the 9N’s shot is definitely the dynamic range, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro is equally good. Also, the colour reproduction is better on the Redmi’s shot. The Redmi Note 5 Pro wins our first round of testing. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Close up

In our first close up shot, you will see that the Honor has a tendency to make the colours pop. The yellow colour flower looks like a nice bright sunflower yellow in the Honor 9N’s sample. On the other hand, the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s image has a far more subdued colour reproduction. But, you know that the Redmi Note 5 Pro offers a far better colour reproduction when you look at how it handles the reds. Just take a look at this red flower. 

Honor 9N

Moreover, the detail reproduction and dynamic range in close up shots is better on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. I shall go for the Redmi Note 5 Pro in this round. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

HDR

As usual, the Redmi Note 5 Pro applies subtle changes to the regular shot when you switch on the HDR mode. The Honor 9N’s HDR mode is slightly more aggressive and therefore the resulting image looks good. 

Honor 9N non-HDR

Honor 9N HDR

Moreover, the colour accuracy is also better on the 9N’s shot. I think I will go with the Honor 9N in this test. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro non-HDR

Redmi Note 5 Pro HDR

Portrait

Coming to the portrait mode test, the Redmi Note 5 Pro continues to be in the top spot. I mean, this is the phone that managed to give a tough fight to the iPhone X and the Pixel 2. So, I am not really surprised.

Honor 9N

In our test samples, you will notice that the Redmi Note 5 Pro has managed to keep Ashish’s watch in focus. And moreover, even the whole cutout and depth effect looks far more natural. I don’t even need to talk about the details because the Redmi Note 5 Pro is obviously better. Once again, the Redmi Note 5 Pro takes the cake. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Selfies

Compared to the Honor 9 Lite, Honor has upped the megapixel count on the 9N this time, and it is using pixel binning to increase the sensor size to 2 microns. The resulting selfies look crisp and detailed. However, the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s 20MP selfie camera still manages to impress with its 20MP front camera.

Honor 9N

Because unlike the Honor 9N which tends to over sharpen the details to make it look attractive, the Redmi Note 5 Pro keeps the software algorithm grounded. In fact, at 100% crop you will see that Ashish’s beard is far more detailed in the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s shot. The Redmi Note 5 Pro wins this round. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Selfie portrait

In our selfie portrait test, the Redmi Note 5 Pro does a better job of edge detection compared the Honor 9N. And, the details are definitely better on the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s shot. 

Honor 9N

Also, invoking the portrait mode on the Honor 9N is a pain and a half. You have to first hit the portrait mode then you have to enable bokeh effect by clicking an icon at the bottom. The Redmi Note 5 Pro takes the cake in this round.

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Video – rear camera

Both the phones can capture 1080p 30fps footage with EIS. But, the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s EIS is a lot more effective. Moreover, the sound quality from the Redmi’s footage is better too. The Redmi Note 5 Pro also shoots at a higher bitrate compared to the Honor 9. You get slightly more details as a result. 

That said, the Redmi Note 5 Pro keeps hunting for focus on and off, and it can get really annoying. Since that is an important parameter for video recording, I am really not going to pick a winner in this round. 

Video – front camera

The front cameras on both the phones can also shoot 1080p 30fps footage. From our samples one this is evident – the Honor 9N shoots far better details and has got the exposure right as well. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has overexposed my face as you can see. As far as the image stabilisation is concerned, the two phones are on par. 

The Redmi Note 5 Pro has the upper hand offers a much clearer sound recording. All things considered, I am going with the Honor 9N in this round. 

Low light

Time to stress test the cameras. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is leagues ahead of the Honor 9N. No contest here, really. The Redmi Note 5 Pro sample offers far better – exposure, detail retention, and noise control. 

Honor 9N

No points for guessing which phone wins this round. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Low light with flash

In our flash test, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has better throw and it manages to light up our subject evenly. Also, the detail retention is higher in the Redmi’s shot. Moreover, the colour temperature of the flash module on the Note 5 Pro looks pretty warm and pleasing to the eye. 

Honor 9N

The Honor 9N tends to create a very cold image with a sharp exposure. I am not a fan. I am tired of saying this but the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes out on top once again. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Low light selfie

What I noticed in my low light selfie testing is that it is a case of two diametrically opposite software algorithms. The Honor tends to kill details with aggressive noise reduction and the Redmi Note 5 Pro keeps the details but doesn’t do much to control the noise. 

Honor 9N

If you ask me honestly, I wouldn’t shoot selfies without the flash using budget phones. So, I am not picking a winner here. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Low light selfie with flash

The Honor 9N has an in-built screen flash compared to the dedicated flash on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. These selfies shot with the flash on look better than the ones with flash off. But, once again the software compression is a little too aggressive on the 9N’s sample. Take a look at the area around my eyes. 

Honor 9N

However, the 9N has a far better control over facial tones because it isn’t throwing an LED light at you. I will overlook the noise compression algorithm of the Honor 9N in this round purely because it offers better facial tones. 

Redmi Note 5 Pro

Conclusion

Our rigorous testing once again proves that the Redmi Note 5 Pro continues to stay on top. The Honor 9N tries hard but struggles to keep up with the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s stellar sensor and lens setup, on the front and on the rear. The Redmi Note 5 Pro continues to be your best bet if you want the best cameras on a budget. 

So, what did you think of this comparison? Do let us know in the comments section below. 

Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?