Pack­ing a dual-lens cam­era and a bat­tery big­ger than your house, Huawei’s lat­est ph­ablet has the Ap­ple iPhone 7s and Google Pixel in its sights. We put it to the T3 test.


Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

Huawei’s per­formed a magic trick with its lat­est ph­ablet. The 5.9-inch de­vice looks glossy and clean- cut with its uni­body de­sign, and the screen is sharper than a samu­rai blade. You’d swear its Quad HD, but peer closer and you’ll see it’s a 1080p unit. Cause for con­cern? Hardly. Keep­ing the pixel count (rel­a­tively) low means less strain on your bat­tery as it pow­ers the dis­play. Get ready for the next abra­cadabra mo­ment, as the bat­tery life is best in class. On a day of heavy us­age we had power to spare un­til we were ready to shut down for the night, and if you don’t pun­ish it you can eas­ily ex­pect to pull two days out of a sin­gle charge. If you do need to top up, plug the Mate 9 into the wall socket via the USB-C port and 20 min­utes later you’ll have a full day’s charge at hand.

Nor is it likely to slow down in the fu­ture. The Kirin 960 chipset is a 2.4GHz quad core, and in day-to-day us­age it feels like it edges ahead of Google’s Pixel. Huawei has in­cluded its own Ma­chine Learn­ing Al­go­rithm in the Mate 9, which is de­signed to en­sure your phone gets faster over time. It adapts to the way you use your de­vice, and will use this in­for­ma­tion to pri­ori­tise the per­for­mance of fea­tures you use most of­ten over apps and ser­vices you don’t use as much. This is a long-term prom­ise, not some­thing that we can test in a short space of time. At the mo­ment, we can com­pre­hen­sively say that the phone is fast, and should feel just as snappy in 12 to 24 months’ time.

Huawei has made its in­ten­tions clear in that its go­ing for Ap­ple’s jugu­lar. Dual Le­ica-branded lenses grace the rear on the Mate 9, and while they don’t have op­ti­cal zoom, they do of­fer a spec­tac­u­lar amount of depth of field. This is an ac­tual trick, rather than brute force power, as the soft­ware that pro­cesses the im­ages takes an out­line of your sub­ject and ap­plies blur to the back­ground ob­jects. The re­sults can vary, but def­i­nitely edge more to­wards fab­u­lous than phoney, and we took plenty of pleas­ing por­trait shots. Like many smart­phones, how­ever, low-light sit­u­a­tions re­veal the cam­era’s lim­i­ta­tions. There’s ac­tu­ally a 12MP colour sen­sor and a 20MP mono­chrome (black and white) one. Com­bined, these de­liver what Huawei be­lieves is a more de­tailed im­age than you’d get from a sin­gle sen­sor, and the mono­chrome im­ages look spec­tac­u­lar.

If you’ve been look­ing for a ph­ablet to fill the Note 7 hole in your life, or crave a big, pow­er­ful phone that will last you well and truly from sun­rise to sun­set, the Mate 9 should be right at the top of your short­list. In the right sit­u­a­tions, the cam­era is as­tound­ing, and we were left im­pressed by how zippy Huawei’s ver­sion of An­droid 7.0 feels. In fact, it feels like a lit­tle bit of magic.

The Mate 9 is Day­dream VR com­pat­i­ble, though the screen’s only Full HD rather than Quad HD. Day to day you won’t care. ABOVE

There’s 64GB of on­board stor­age, and you can ex­pand it to 256GB via a mi­cro SD card – handy, as you’ll want to take plenty of space­hun­gry pho­tos.

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