We’ve had a quick hands-on with the Huawei Mate 9 earlier this month in Las Vegas during CES. This week, the Mate 9 is officially in the Philippines and we’ve been using one for several days now. Before we give you our full review of the device, we’d like to share some more details about this flagship smartphone and how the Mate series has evolved.
- The Mate 9 has certainly improved in terms of design and build quality. Since the Ascend Mate 6 in 2013, the Mate series has slowly shaved off a few millimeters off its original size of 6.1-inches. The successor, the Ascend Mate 7 continued to improve on the offering and hardware configuration while trimming the size down to 6.0-inches. It’s not a huge cut but an indication that size-vs-usability is an area that they closely study. Just before another cycle, Huawei surprisingly released the Mate S, a small 5.5-inch version. It was during the Mate 8 launch that Huawei dropped the “Ascend” branding across the entire series (initially with the P8) but kept the 6.0-inch display size. With a smaller 5.9-inch display, the Mate 9 has become less of a phablet but more of a big-sized phone. It’s usable with one hand and no longer the same old bulky phone that it used to be. This was the same path that the Note7 went thru from the original Galaxy Note.
- The Mate series usually carries the might of Huawei. It is during the announcement of the Mate series that we see how strong is the company’s offering in terms of hardware. Their latest homegrown processors are revealed here and in the case of the Mate 9, the Kirin 960 with the first chip to be based on the ARM Cortex A73 architecture with large memory and storage options (6GB RAM and 256GB storage). The only exception this time around is the dual-camera with Leica optics that was first introduced in the P9. The Kirin 960 is a very good chip and when pushed to its limits, can score as good as a Snapdragon 820. In our Antutu Benchmark, it scored a high 140,627.
- Huawei popularized the dual-SIM with dedicated microSD card slot in the Mate series and this has become an almost standard feature in many other competing flagship phones. The Mate 9, however, uses a hybrid nano-SIM and micro-SIM slot that might not be as flexible as the original setup but still as useful for people who actively uses two SIM cards at the same time.
- The Mate 9 Pro and the Mate 9 Porsche Design are for bragging rights but these two models certainly has what it takes. The Mate 9 Pro is somewhat a repeat of the Mate S, although we find it confusing that a Pro variant is actually smaller in size (5.5-inches but in QHD). Here we see that Huawei’s decision to keep the Mate 9 at 1080p is not because they can’t but because they are putting a premium on battery life rather than pixel density. And we agree. The Mate 9 Pro with its quad HD display is proof they’re able to compete with other flagship devices, its just that battery life will be compromised.
- One of the strongest suits of the Mate series is the very long battery life. Huawei kept it at 4,000mAh but it can still last two straight days without recharge. Of all the smartphones that we often use as a mobile hotspot, the Mate series performs the best. They’ve certainly used what they learned from making all those WiFi hotspots they popularized many years ago. In our PCMark Battery Test, the Mate 9 got a score of 11 hours and 6 minutes. That’s around 10% better than the 10 hours, 4 minutes the Mate 8 got in the same test. In our video loop test, it lasted 16 hours and 50 minutes. This time, Huawei also included its own SuperCharge that claims to give 58% battery life in just 30 minutes of charging.
- With the 2nd-generation Leica optics, the Mate 9 gets much better in imaging. We’ve seen it work on the P9 and the Mate 9 can do a few more tricks better. More on this in our full review.
Huawei Mate 9 specs:
5.9-inch Full HD display @ 1920 x 1080 resolution
HiSilicon Kirin 960 2.4GHz octa-core processor
64GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD
Dual Leica rear cameras
12MP RGB sensor with F2.2 aperture, OIS
8MP front camera with F1.9 aperture
GPS w/ A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BDS
Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.0
The Huawei Mate 9 is now in stores for a retail price of Php31,990 but you can get it from Globe postpaid on Plan 1499 with Php4,800 cash-out or completely free on Plan 1999.