Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/2/2016 8:22:00 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Camera | premium build quality | massive battery
Could be too big for some | Emotion UI
Huawei have a new flagship and it is everything they promise it will be.
Resolutely metal with a sand blasted finish, Huawei have not veered off their design ethos with the Mate 9. Same thickness as its predecessor Mate 8, the Mate 9 it has the same handsome squarish size with the fingerprint sensor at the back and power and volume buttons down the side. As with all Huawei and Honor devices, the phone comes with a clear plastic cover which can help stave off those pesky prints.
The thing with Huawei’s top of the line Mate range is that they are considerably wider than others on the market, even phablets.
I recently reviewed the Moto Z and at 75.3mm wide, it was probably a little too wide so with a width of 78.9mm, the Mate 9 is probably one for two-handed use.
Weight-wise, they have stayed with the same and the Mate 9 clocks in at around 190grams.
A 2.5D curved glass covers the 5.9-inch FHD display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution which translates to a pixel density of 373ppi. Although Huawei have scaled back the size of the display from the Mate 8 to the Mate 9 - from 6-inch to 5.9-inch, the resolution has stayed the same.
When I reviewed the Mate 8, I had thought it was the perfect media guzzling device given its size and quality of screen and Huawei have just amped up those features on its latest flagship.
As always, the Huawei Mate flagship has the biggest battery possible. 4000mAH is not to be sniffed at and is enough to take even the most heavy duty user though days of work and play. Add to that the different modes you can run the phone on, and you have a winner on your hands.
On the Mate 8, Huawei had the Kirin 950 processor which worked really well but on the Mate 9, they have gone for their brand-new Kirin 960. Not only is this at par and probably even a bit better than the Snapdragon 820 but it is an oct-core one and is backed up with 4GB of RAM to power it through. Mate 9 comes with Android 7 onboard and their own Emotion UI 5.
Huawei have tweaked their bespoke Android layer a lot so it now includes an app drawer making it look less messy. Bloatware has also been kept to a minimum and this is a powerhouse performer.
There is 64GB ROM and this can be further ramped up to 256GB by using the second SIM slot for the microSD card. Also, if you think 64GB is enough, then you can use this phone as a dual SIM one.
So Huawei have gone one up on the P9 and added the 2nd generation of Leica's famed sensors on this phone. So, there is a 20-MO monochrome sensor and a 12-MP RGB sensor onboard. The results are, incredible. This is probably the only phone that does a lens blur really well.
Huawei's usual camera smarts are onboard including the ability to shoot 4K video and there is optical image stabilisation to boot. The aperture is f1.9 so you can expect pretty amazing low light photography and the selfie camera is a 8-MP jobber so the results arent too shabby either.
The Mate 9 is a fantastic phone with all the right components to elevate it above the competition. Huawei have amped up the processor, camera and the RAM, so concentrated on all the right areas to make sure that the Mate 9 is one of the best value-for-money propositions around. Slated to go on sale in December, and to be stocked by Three on the UK high-street, it will be interesting to see what consumers make of this enormous slab of a phone.
We will bring you our in-depth review in a few days, but until then, know that this phone has one of the best cameras right now and could be the answer to the Note 7 sized void in your life.
Operating System: Android™ 7.0 (Nougat) Emotion UI EMUI 5.0
Dimensions: 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm
Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 373ppi
Display: 5.9” FHD display 2.5D glass 1080p
Processor: Kirin 960; Octa-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73 + 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) + i6 co-processor GPU Mali-G71 MP8
Camera: 20-MP Monochrome + 12-MP RGB, F2.2 OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) 4K video; 8-MP selfie camera AF, F1.9
Memory: 64GB ROM 4GB RAM microSD card slot, support up to 256GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
Battery: 4000mAh lithium-ion battery
Fingerprint sensor: Yes
Misc: Dual SIM NFC; USB Type C (High Speed USB); Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Wi-Fi Direct support BT4.2, support BLE Colours: Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White