[REVIEW] Huawei Mate 9 : The Mate 8 That Went To The Gym

Huawei Mate 9

RM2699
Huawei Mate 9
8.8

Overall

8.8/10

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Excellent Camera
  • Amazing battery life
  • Fast Fingerprint Sensor
  • 4 microphones

Cons

  • Only full-HD resolution screen
  • Not a new design
  • No audio equaliser
  • More expensive than earlier model

Huawei Mate 9

If I were to describe the Huawei Mate 8, it's a big screen device packed with beastly power, a decent camera and a battery that can last longer than you can before you are able to end your day.

Now, the same phone went to the gym for a year, and it came back leveled up with even bigger guns than before. The Huawei Mate 9, the result of a year's progress that bore more than just improvements.

What's in the Box

1. Huawei Mate 9 with a pre-installed Screen Protective Film

2. Earphones

3. Huawei Fast-charging wall adapter

4. USC-C Cable

5. USB-C to Micro USB adapter

6. Sim-card ejector pink

7. Quick Start Guide

8. Matte Casing (For now)

Design

The first thing I did with my Mocha Brown Mate 9 was to put it next to my Mate 8 (also Mocha Brown). Presenting the phones side by side, I was able to fool my friends into believing that the Mate 9 they were looking at was the old model and vice versa. The identicality was only broken once we flipped the phones over to reveal the different camera lenses and USB ports.

Screen : 5.9 Inches
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 , 373 pixel per inch
Dimensions: 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm
Weight : 190 grams
Available Colors : Champagne Gold & Mocha Brown

We know, for a device that’s almost 6 inches, why isn’t it a 2K or 4K screen? Full HD is so 3 years ago. But you know what? It’s not needed unless you’re a total nomad that wants to watch really high-def movies on the go (which the Mate 9 can do anyway). Just like the Mate 8, it’s full metal body feels good to touch, along with a nice, balanced weight that makes the device feels sturdy and premium when held.
Then again, we’re not really here to talk about looks. The Mate 9 packs quite the hardware.

 

The Kirin 960 Powerhouse

Let’s not be naive to say that the Mate 9 is just a marginal improvement over the Mate 8 in terms of performance. It’s actually the biggest change (next to the camera) in the device. It uses the Kirin 960 chipset, an ARM - based Octa-core processor (4 x 2.4 GHz A73+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) with Mali’s latest G71 graphics on board. It only comes in 1 variant, which offers 64GB of internal memory and 4GB of RAM. It's also a hybrid Dual-Sim setup that features dual 4G standby, or you can use the second sim slot to fit a MicroSD card of up to 256GB. Compared to their previously successful Mate 8, we’re talking about nearly a 200% performance improvement in certain applications like games and benchmarking apps.

 

Gaming

So many games on Android are getting more graphically demanding, that even some of Snapdragon’s best processors are currently facing some heat (literally). And just like the Mate 8, the Mate 9 seems to run games well without feeling summer on your hands. I play a mix of games, such as Warhammer 40k: Freeblade, Hearthstone, Dead Trigger 2, and my favorite 2D games, Cookie Run and Disney Tsum Tsum. Frame rates were good and consistent, with the graphic settings always set to high.

 

Camera

Again, Huawei makes good of their relationship with Leica to produce a 2nd generation dual-lens sensor for the Mate 9 series.
Here’s a quick rundown on what the Mate 9's camera(s) feature:

    • Twin 27mm f/2.2 rear cameras
    • 12MP color and 20MP monochrome sensors
    • Optical image stabilization
    • 4K video (H.265 compression)
    • RAW format capturing
    • 8MP Front Camera with AF, f1.9

 

How do these dual lenses work?

It's really simple. Two of the Mate 9’s sensors serve different functions respectively (just the the P9's) . For color, it’s 12-megapixels, and monochrome, 20-megapixels. They’re twins at 27mm equivalent, with an aperture of f/2.2, featuring OIS (Optical image stabilization).

 

Photography

For those who intend to buy a device like this for photography purposes, it's hard not to consider the Mate 9 as one of your choices, for the following features:

BSI CMOS : A Backside illuminated CMOS sensor makes light reach the diodes of the photo on the sensor easily. In layman terms, it makes the sensors more sensitive to light, which helps in producing an adequate exposure with a lot less noise.

PDAF : Phase Detection Auto Focus is a present feature in top brand DSLRs, that's also apparently present in the Mate 9. When capturing an image, it splits into two, then it automatically adjusts the lens elements until they phase together. It's a fast way to lock on and focus on your subject.

CAF : Continuous Auto Focus lets you track moving subjects by automatically readjusting the focus, if you or the subject are moving.

The 8-megapixel front-facing camera took decent pictures under natural lighting, and just like most other front-facing cameras, it tends to get grainy and discolored in lowlight conditions.

 

Selfie Sample

 

Useful Fact: The monochrome details from the 20-megapixel lens is utilized by the color camera to further improve the details of your images, producing an optimized detailed 20-megapixel image.

Video Capture

The Mate 9 is capable of UHD 4K video capture along with stereo. Videos are sharp and highly detailed. Recorded audio is stereo, which certainly beats the iPhone 7's video recording as it only records in 4k with mono. The Mate 9 has a directional audio capturing feature, meaning the microphones only captures sound from precisely where the lens is pointing. You can also record in FHD 1080p in 60 fps, 30 fps, and HD 720p if you don't want to fatten up your storage with huge video files.

Battery

Huawei was confident in their Mate 8’s 4000mAh battery and decided to go with the same cell for the Mate 9, with some added features of course. This time around, power and data are transferred using USB-C , along with Huawei’s improved version of their fast-charging, called SuperCharge. Another interesting feature that Mate 9 has is a dynamic charging mechanism, with which the device determines how fast or slow it charges based on the adapter and cable you’re using.

A five-gate protection system maintains the charge to prevent overheating issues, since there’s high current going through.

Battery life based on our usage profiles, from 100% to 1%

Light Usage: WhatsApp, Facebook, camera, voice calls, emails (reading, writing), light browsing - 32 hours

Normal Usage: All social medias, camera, voice calls, emails, 2D gaming, internet browsing, YouTube - 20 hours

Firing all cylinders: All social medias, heavy web browsing, camera, video recording, 3D/2D gaming, YouTube, Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, YouTube, streaming Netflix, Bluetooth headset, NFC - 9 hours

Fact: SuperCharge works by having a lowered voltage of 4.5V, while having an increased 5A current, which results in the battery charging faster than the earlier model. Since there's a high current going through, a five-gate protection system maintains a steady charge to prevent overheating and other forms of battery damage.

If you liked the Mate 8’s Fast Charging, you’ll definitely sit well knowing that the Mate 9 can charge roughly twice as fast. In short, it’s faster fast charging. We charged from 1% and came back after an episode of Silicon Valley (roughly 25 minutes), and it was already 62%.

 

Software

Following the Huawei tradition, the Mate 9 comes with Emotion UI (EMUI) 5.0 that's based on Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. Fans and new adopters would be pleased with the return of the App Drawer.  App Twin is a new feature that allows you to use 2 account-locked applications, meaning you can log in to 2 of your accounts simultaneously without logging out or having to switch. It's smart since it's a dual-sim device. In short, we're talking about having two Facebook and WhatsApp accounts logged in seamlessly and functioning in real time. The overall experience of the UI is fast and snappy, with almost no delays or slow downs during our day-to-day use.

Audio

Audio playback is decently loud and clear, with bass sometimes running off. There's headphone DTS to help in attaining a decent audio experience, but sadly there's no equaliser to adjust to your preferences. The only way to get an equaliser is to simply install an equaliser app from the Playstore.

Huawei has added some bells and whistles in the audio recording department.

The first cool thing to mention is that the Mate 9 comes with 4 microphones. The receiver and microphones are equipped with noise cancellation technology that claims to eliminate background noise and improve call quality.

 

Some extra useful apps are also included however, their usefulness will always vary between users.

[Left to right]

HiCare, an after-sales service app that helps you learn more about your device and how to maintain it. Their most useful features include: being able to check your warranty status within the app itself, and even checking the price for spare parts in case you're out of warranty coverage or you've damaged something that's not covered by the warranty policy.

Huawei Health, an app that helps you track your daily steps and exercises using their built-in sensors.

HiCloud, a cloud-based backup system that lets you manage data like your pictures and contacts if you ever needed to transfer your data between Huawei phones. It also provides a security feature that lets you find your phone (just like Apple's Find Your iPhone).

Finally, the last notable feature would be Knock-knock, a gesture-based feature that lets you set knuckle knocks to do things like screenshots, launch apps and even record audio.

Verdict

With a price tag of RM2699, you'll get a 5.9 inch device with a great processor and GPU combo that performs in games and daily tasks. 64gb internal memory with 4gb of RAM is pretty standard, but it's nice to know that you can choose between expanding your memory with a memory card or use it for your second sim-card. You'll also be getting yourself a great camera that takes good photos and videos with good audio recording. Lastly, a battery life that can carry you through a full-day that charges faster than fast. If you were in the market for a flagship Android experience, this is worth considering.

 

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Just your friendly neighborhood I.T guy. Roguishly handsome and devilishly charming. Also loves camels.

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