Huawei Mate 9 vs Huawei P9: Battle of the camera giants

Huawei today unveiled the Mate 9, its latest flagship phone featuring a number of top specs which made us wonder how much of an upgrade the phablet is compared to the P9 which launched earlier this year.

Compared to the P9, the Mate 9 is a much larger beast but their internal features and specifications are quite comparable.

Those of us who've tried out the P9 before know too well that despite all its bells and whistles, it stands out basically for its two rear cameras. The RGB and monochrome rear cameras offer advanced colour capturing and detailed pictures and offer premium image quality in all light conditions. Not surprisingly, the rear camera setup in the Mate 9, developed with Leica again, is very much like the one in the P9 except that the resolution in the former is more than in the latter.

When we performed a hands-on with the Huawei P9, we discovered that the two 12-MP rear cameras worked pretty much as a tag team. The RGB and Monochrome cameras specialize in bright colour and black and white imaging respectively, bringing in clarity, detail and crispness to images, especially low light ones. Thanks to their individual attributes, the resulting images are a mixture of vivid colours and lovely shades, saving you the effort of searching for photo-editing apps to beautify your raw pictures. You can even takes pictures using each of these cameras as standalones and choose between Standard, Vivid Colours and Smooth Colours modes.

As for the Mate 9, the RGB camera sensor is still a 12-MP one but the Monochrome camera sensor is set to break all those shackles thanks to its 20-MP resolution. If you use it as a standalone one, thanks to Huawei who have made it possible to do so, your resulting black and white images are going to be absolute delights with crispness and sharpness seldom seen before in smartphone camera images. The reason why the P9 cameras drew so much attention because they managed to bring together the best of bright colours as well as deep blacks. As such, we can't wait to find out how good the resulting images of the Mate 9 will be if both cameras are used together.

Aside from the cameras, the obvious difference between the two phones is that the Mate 9 is almost a full inch taller than the P9, which obviates the fact that it needs a more powerful engine and a larger battery to demonstrate similar performance and efficiency in real-time usage. The Kirin 960 processor is a slight upgrade over the octa-core Kirin 955 in the P9 but its better power efficiency, more modern cores and a new co-processor should do the trick for the Mate 9. At the same time, there's a larger 4GB RAM and a powerful 4,000 mAh battery to let the phone chug along while you fill it up with your favourite games, HD content and streaming apps.

Asking phone batteries to fill up space within smartphones to offer more power to the engines can sometimes prove disastrous, something which Samsung recently learnt the hard way. The battery in the Mate 9 is larger than the one in the Galaxy Note 7 and it will be interesting to see if Huawei's suite of battery saving features, quick charging and cooling technologies will keep the battery sober both during charging and under heavy usage. Interestingly, the Huawei P9 didn't feature a fast charge and during our review, it took almost 4 hours to charge it from 0 to 100% even with a Type-C cable. It also showed an ability to heat up, but not as much as the Xperia Z5, while charging, streaming videos and downloading apps which is worrying so it will be interesting to see if Huawei have actually done something about it, especially given that the Mate 9 features a much larger battery.

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