Madhav Sheth, CEO HTech, on the launch of the new HONOR X9B, “Trust, Reliability and Peace of Mind sums up the HONOR X9b”

Madhav Sheth, CEO HTech, on the launch of the new HONOR X9B, “Trust, Reliability and Peace of Mind sums up the HONOR X9b”

HTech has launched the HONOR X9b which is the second smartphone in the company’s portfolio since its return to India. The phone touts exceptional durability with a five-star certification from SGS (Switzerland) to back it up. I struck up a conversation with HTech CEO, Madhav Sheth, to learn more about HONOR’s latest smartphone in India and how it plans to set itself apart from its competition. We even talked about HTech’s entry into the AIOT space with the HONOR CHOICE Earbuds X5 (review) and the HONOR CHOICE Watch.

Digit: H-Tech seems to be gunning hard for the durability factor in its smartphones in India, first with the Honor 90 and now with the Honor X9b. So is this an area you find lacking in the Indian smartphone market that H-Tech can capture? 

Madhav Sheth: We need to understand two things. The value of the market in India is below ₹25,000, which means that 90 per cent of phones sold in India would be below ₹30,000. So if that is the data, roughly. And we launched Honor 90 (review), which was between ₹30,000 and ₹40,000. So the segment where we were trying to create the niche, but we wanted to showcase the technology that Honor can bring to the table. This time we want to make sure that probably we hit the belly of the market and bring the technology at a more affordable price for the masses. 

Digit: So do you find this area lacking in other companies in India that they don’t give so much attention to durability? 

Madhav Sheth: Definitely yes, I would not say probably but definitely yes because what they are focusing on is all the marketing gimmicks. They are just changing the back panel but all the specs are almost the same. They are focusing on fast charging where fast charging is one of the aspects to reduce your anxiety but not completely take it away. 

Honor X9b launched in India for ₹25,999: What’s so great about it?

The other thing which people get anxious about is when the screen can get damaged by objects. The other thing which people are worried about is eye safety. Because people are spending too much time on the screen. So what is more important for your health? What is more important for your day-to-day well-being? Is it having no anxiety about charging? 

With the HONOR X9b, I’m giving you almost a 6,000 mAh battery with a slimminess of 7.9 and 8 mm. If you look in the industry, every other 5,000 mAh battery would have a minimum size of around 8.5 or 8.7 mm. This is a 6,000 mAh battery with 7.9 and 8 mm thickness. which is good to hold, lighter in weight, which is 185 grams, and very easy to carry. That’s what we are focusing on. 

Digit: So the Honor X9b uses something dubbed as the Honor cushioning material to increase the drop resistance. Can you give us some insight into some of the materials you used or how it’s been fused? 

Madhav Sheth: Honor has a 3-layer protection in terms of display. And this 3-layer protection is extremely important. This is called sealant injection technology. It pushes the cushion around the corner, in the centre and as well as the top, all on the three sides. And the most important thing, it gives you a water resistance of IPX5 and IPX8. IPX8 on the sides, IPX5 in the centre. This phone has been tested by SGS and certified as one of the best phones during the drop test by SGS from all 10 sides. And that’s something that makes it extremely viable for Indian consumers who are always on the go. 

Honor X9b

Digit: Have you all done any kind of outlandish tests on the Honor X9b within Honor itself? And what is probably the most extreme test that has survived? I remember you all did the walnut challenge last time with the Honor 90. Have you all done something similar with this? 

Madhav Sheth: We have done the Thar (SUV car) test. This time, I did the Thar test where we ran over the screen and it survived. I have shown this. So, a lot of people have trust issues that it probably isn’t a real video or it’s a gimmick. But I have never believed in any gimmicks and such. I have always tried to be as real as to the consumers. So, we did the test. 

But to make sure that the people trust our X9B more, we have come up with three different plans. One is, if you do not like the phone within 90 days, no questions asked, you get 90 per cent of the refund back again. This is the first thing. So it’s a buyback guarantee of 90 per cent of your refund in 30 days. So if you don’t like the phone, take 90 per cent back and return the phone. That’s point number one. Point number two, we are giving an extended warranty for another six months – so it is a standard of 12 months extended to another six months, which makes it a total of 18 months. Third thing, what we are giving is a one-time free screen replacement. Even if your screen breaks for whatever reason, you will get a screen replacement in the first six months for free. 

Honor X9b

So, I think we have gone to that extent to ensure that people get complete peace of mind and they trust the device more. It’s not just about any marketing gimmick.

Digit: The HONOR X9b comes with 1920 Hz PWM dimming. Is it one of the highest PWM dimming rates at this price point? 

Madhav Sheth: It is not one of the highest I would say, but it’s one of the industry standards at this point. Maybe one or two devices would have around 2000 PWM dimming at this particular price point. But yes, the Honor 90 had the highest PWM dimming and it is rated as one of the safest display phones in the industry. This also has the PWM dimming facility, but I think probably it’s not one of the best in the price segment, I would say it is at par with the price segment. 

Digit: Magic OS 7.2 will make its way onto the new X9B. Can you outline some of its best new features? 

Madhav Sheth: See, AI has been over-abused, but Magic OS is one of the smoothest, bloatware-free operating systems right now. At the same point in time, it has a lot of AI capabilities which we will be showcasing during the launch. For instance, if you see the AI VLOG feature, there’s an AI integration which automatically recognises the scenes and optimises the scenes accordingly.

So, you don’t need a content-creating team or an editing team. You can auto edit, you can auto type, you can auto get your captions done, lot of things can be automatically done over on the phone itself. So things are getting simplified. What is AI for? It’s to make your life much more simpler and easier. That’s something we should be focusing on rather than over, you know, over-abusing the word of AI. How can it help me in my day-to-day life?

Digit: The Honor X9b has one of the largest battery capacities in this price segment. So do you think this is more important for your target audience over maybe a more powerful processor and what prompted this decision? 

Madhav Sheth: See, it’s one thing. You have a smaller battery and keep a charger with you. It’s a fast charger or a slow charger. Keep a charger with you. You have a bigger battery and you don’t need to always carry one. What is more comfortable is now what the customer has to decide upon. But this Honor X9b is nothing different from the global variant but we are trying to first start bringing the technologies that Honor has globally.

Honor X9b is one of the highest-selling phones from the Honor portfolio which has sold more than 10 or 12 million units globally. So it’s one of the most well-acknowledged phones by consumers outside of India and this is the reason I wanted to make sure to bring it to Indian audiences.

Q. So Honor is also entering the AIOT with the segment with a smartwatch and pair of earphones which I’m very excited about. Can you tell us a little bit about these two products?

Madhav Sheth: See AIOT ecosystem or the connected devices ecosystem is extremely important for consumers because it’s a trust factor when they buy a device, they know that there is an interconnectivity to it. For a brand, it’s a complementary product strategy. For us, it is like we are adding a product portfolio under our category by creating a hub out of it. When you connect a hub with a device, the most important aspect is the software. How do you communicate with each other? The software connectivity becomes one of the core factors rather than any of the hardware features on any of these devices. 


Hardware features can be replicated, but what cannot be replicated by any of the brands is the software connectivity between the device and the TWS or the watch. Like say for example, with Honor AI Space you have an app in which you can customize your touch controls, even at this particular price point, you can customize your touch controls as per your comfort. At the same time for the watch, we pay membership for the color plates. But with this Honor Watch, there are workouts wherein you will get a free 100 hours of free credit workouts. without paying any charge. 

Digit: What has the reception been like for the Honor 90 in India?

Madhav Sheth: Let me be very honest with you. I think it’s at par with my expectations. I cannot say it has exceeded my expectations. Being the brand custodian, I would not say something which is not standing true to what exactly has happened. There were a lot of learnings. We collected it over the course of time. Post that, we built up with the community and started gathering feedback in terms of optimization of the software and hardware. So there were a few learnings out of it, which we learned over the last three months.

Digit: Last question, so if you had to use three words to describe the new Honor X9b, what would they be? 

Madhav Sheth: Trust, Reliability and Peace of Mind.

Dhriti Datta

Dhriti Datta

Perpetually sporting a death stare, this one can be seen tinkering around with her smartphone which she holds more dear than life itself and stuffing her face with copious amounts of bacon. View Full Profile