Huawei Mate 9


TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ STEPHEN LAMBRECHTS ]

Over the last few years, Chi­nese phone-maker Huawei has gone from be­ing an am­bi­tious new­comer in the smart­phone arena to a full-fledged player, steadily im­prov­ing upon each hand­set and edg­ing closer to­wards its pres­tige ri­vals, Ap­ple and Sam­sung.

A vast im­prove­ment over last year’s Mate 8, the new Mate 9 ex­pands upon the ad­vance­ments made by the com­pany’s last flag­ship, the well-re­ceived Huawei P9, to pro­duce its most im­pres­sive hand­set to date.

Huawei’s Mate 9 is a pres­tige An­droid ph­ablet that’s equal parts Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 7 (mi­nus the fire) and iPhone 7 Plus, mixed in with the brand’s own in­creas­ingly-stylish de­sign sen­si­bil­i­ties both in­side and out. Sim­ply put, ev­ery­thing about the Mate 9 screams so­phis­ti­ca­tion.


With the Mate 9’s de­sign, it’s clear that Huawei is aim­ing for a sense of lux­ury, and we’re happy to say that it’s mostly suc­ceeded. It’s got a full metal uni­body de­sign with brushed-metal styling on its edges and a matte fin­ish on its rear, giv­ing it a very pre­mium feel. Slightly curved edges on the front and back of the phone also help it sit in the hand more com­fort­ably than last year’s Mate 8 did.

This is still one of the larger ph­ablets on the mar­ket though, so if you find big de­vices to be un­wieldy, this may not be the best choice for you. At 157 x 79 x 7.9mm, it’s sim­i­lar in size to the iPhone 7 Plus. How­ever, you get more screen on the Mate 9 com­pared to Ap­ple’s ph­ablet, as the bezels aren’t as thick. Though it lacks a 1440p (aka QHD) dis­play like its up­per tier An­droid ri­vals, the Mate 9’s 5.9-inch screen still looks crisp, vi­brant and in­cred­i­bly bright. When viewed from a reg­u­lar dis­tance, it’d be tough for any­one to spot it as ‘just’ a 1080p Full HD screen. VR might be the one ex­cep­tion; while the Mate 9 fully sup­ports Google’s Day­dream View VR head­set, that 1080p res­o­lu­tion might not cut the mus­tard when placed right against your peep­ers.

The phone’s power but­ton and vol­ume rocker sit to the right of the dis­play, and on the rear, you’ll find a fin­ger­print sen­sor un­der­neath its Le­ica-branded dual lens cam­era setup. A USB Type-C port can be found on the bot­tom of the hand­set be­tween its two speaker grilles, and while Huawei has thank­fully in­cluded a 3.5mm head­phone jack, it’s awk­wardly sit­u­ated at the top of the hand­set.


With its new EMUI 5.0 OS — a slightly cus­tomised ver­sion of the lat­est An­droid 7.0 — the Mate 9 has suc­cess­fully bridged the gap be­tween iOS and An­droid, let­ting users place their apps in an App Drawer (in a lay­out that’s rem­i­nis­cent of the Google Now Launcher) or spread all of them across nu­mer­ous home-screen pages, iPhone-style. Also ap­pre­ci­ated is the abil­ity to set the icons in the on-screen nav­i­ga­tion bar in any or­der you see fit — a fea­ture that’s cu­ri­ously lack­ing in many An­droid hand­sets.

And as it’s based on An­droid Nougat, all the fea­tures from Google’s lat­est soft­ware up­date are present — for ex­am­ple, you can

now run two apps side-by-side in mul­ti­task­ing mode.

There are how­ever a num­ber of bloat­ware apps in­stalled on the Mate 9 which you’ll likely want to unin­stall at your ear­li­est con­ve­nience, though you’ll find a num­ber of help­ful tools within Huawei’s own suite of apps.

If you’re like us, you may find your­self ad­dicted to the Phone Man­age­ment app, which lets you keep tabs on the Mate 9’s per­for­mance. It also lets you eas­ily re­move junk files, clear mem­ory, run virus scans and op­ti­mise your bat­tery at the tap of a but­ton. Noth­ing is more sat­is­fy­ing than see­ing your phone achieve a per­fect per­for­mance score of 100.


Like the Huawei P9, the Mate 9’s cam­era is Le­ica-branded and, with a bit of tinker­ing, users can pro­duce pho­tos with pro­fes­sion­al­look­ing depth of field ef­fects and in­cred­i­ble de­tail. One ben­e­fit of hav­ing a dual-lens cam­era is the wide aper­ture mode. If you take a photo in this mode you’ll then be able to ad­just the point of focus post-shoot, even days or months af­ter tak­ing the orig­i­nal photo — you can even choose to switch a pic­ture’s focus from the fore­ground to the back­ground. Ad­vanced edge-en­hanc­ing tech­nol­ogy means that the Mate 9’s cam­era can ac­cu­rately sense where to cease its blur ef­fect to make sure there are no jagged ar­eas sur­round­ing your fo­cused ob­jects.

Swip­ing from the left within the cam­era app re­veals a full suite of pho­tog­ra­phy op­tions, in­clud­ing a proper monochrome mode with ded­i­cated im­age sen­sor, beauty modes for both photo and video, a ‘good food’ mode, time-lapse, as well as doc­u­ment-scan­ning and night-shoot­ing modes.

4K video cap­ture is avail­able, along with a wealth of op­tions that let you tweak ex­po­sure, hue, white bal­ance and di­rec­tional au­dio set­tings, and if you’re af­ter a nos­tal­gic feel, you can even record video us­ing In­sta­gram­style fil­ters, though this is lim­ited to shoot­ing at 1080p/30fps or be­low.


While most hand­sets on the mar­ket start to feel slug­gish half­way through your 2-year con­tract, Huawei claims the Mate 9 has been de­signed to en­sure your hand­set gets faster over time. It aims to do this with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a new ma­chine learn­ing al­go­rithm that pri­ori­tises CPU, RAM and ROM re­sources based on your phone habits. And while we’ll have to wait to see how that pans out over the long term, we can say that af­ter weeks of us­age for this re­view, the Mate 9 has re­mained as fast it was on day one, with not a sin­gle in­stance of slow­down to date.

That al­go­rithm is backed up by solid specs in any case, with 4GB of RAM and the Huawei-made Kirin 960 octa-core chipset. With a Geek­Bench 4 sin­gle/multi-core score of 1,944/6,279, it’s slightly be­hind cur­rent champ the Sam­sung Gal­axy S7 Edge’s score of 2,133/6,379, though it’s safe to say that the Huawei Mate 9 is still one of the fastest flag­ship ph­ablets cur­rently avail­able.

The Mate 9’s also got an as­ton­ish­ing bat­tery life to go along with its magnificent per­for­mance. A whop­ping 4,000 mAh bat­tery pro­vides enough juice for 12 hours and 14 min­utes worth of reg­u­lar smart­phone us­age — that’s roughly an hour and a half longer than its pre­de­ces­sor, the Mate 8. The phone also sup­ports fast charg­ing, which Huawei claims can get you to a full day’s worth of bat­tery in just 20 min­utes.

This is a gor­geous hand­set that com­bines so­phis­ti­ca­tion with per­for­mance — it’s im­pres­sive enough that, in our minds, it’s earned Huawei a place along­side smart­phone heavy-hit­ters like Sam­sung and LG. This is the Huawei flag­ship you’ve been wait­ing for.

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