TP-Link Neffos X9 review: A surprising budget phone

A budget phone with premium features?

It’s not every day a router manufacturer decides to launch a smartphone. On the other hand, the Neffos X9 from TP-Link, a feature-filled budget smartphone, did take me by surprise. Of late, budget smartphones have been acing at their game, bringing top-level quality without breaking the bank. Will the Neffos X9 join that list?

Design

I like simplicity, and I’m not a fan of unnecessary gimmicks. The Neffos X9 packs a very simple build with an elongated display and a 2.5D glass. On the front, the bezels seem pretty standard and there are no buttons. Flipping the device over, its actually the rear that caught my eye. The camera module, which houses the dual lens, is housed under a glass case with a black finish that stood out on our white review unit. The fingerprint sensor is housed right below it.

Around the edges the Neffos X9 seems pretty standard, with the right side housing the power and volume buttons and the left housing the combination dual-SIM port. Along the bottom edge we can find the microUSB port, speakers and mic, and the top edge houses a 3.5mm audio jack.

In terms of design elements, TP-Link keeps it quite simple on the Neffos X9. While some may this as a negative, I have come to like simpler devices, so I’m not really complaining.

Features

The Neffos X9 comes with a decently sized 5.99-inch HD+ display. Colours looked quite good on the phone, and viewing angles were pretty impressive. If we have to nitpick, there are certain areas where the resolution can get a little fuzzy, but that’s only if the display is closely observed. On the other hand, considering the price, the display is better than expected.

Authentication factors are pretty surprising on the Neffos X9. Apart from the standard pin, password and pattern security locks, the Neffos X9 houses a fingerprint sensor and a face scanner.

The fingerprint sensor by itself is pretty impressive. It’s quick and easy to use. The fingerprint sensor also works as an easy scroll to bring down the notification bar, while even controlling the camera descent. However, it is the face scan that surprised me. For starters, I was intrigued to see how a premium feature such as face scanning would work on a budget phone. After an initial setup, the face scan worked well. For a while. In a matter of a day or two, the phone seemingly forgot what I looked like, leading me to resort back to the fingerprint scanner.

The Neffox X9 houses a dual camera setup of 13MP and 5MP at the back. While these camera are quite impressive on their own, minor flaws can be an issue. Thanks to the dual lens setup, you can also take bokeh-effect photos. Simply put, bokeh effect works, but not to the levels we have seen in modern devices. Here are some images as an example.

Performance

In terms of performance, it’s safe to say the Neffos X9 was quite surprising, especially factoring in value for money. The Neffos X9 is quite smooth with no visible jitter or lag. Apps open and close fast, and only a few crashed when pushed to the limits. However, excessive use does result in heating, but we have to consider the budget then.

Battery life is also well optimised, giving me a day and more with a full charge. The phone charges up pretty fast as well, but that does come down to usage levels.

Verdict

The TP-Link Neffos X9 is actually quite surprising, considering its price. For Dh649, you are getting premium features and stellar performance levels, making it worth the money. If you are looking at a premium-grade phone but don’t want to break the bank, this is the best option for you.