Huawei Mate 9 is the latest flagship smartphone of Huawei under the Mate series. It comes in the phablet and high-end smartphone category. We were trying on Huawei Mate 9 since last few weeks and in this article we are going to share a detailed hands-on review of Huawei Mate 9 with all readers of Geeky Stuffs.

This review is divided in various section to cover each aspect of the device separately and talk about the pros and cons of each part.

Retail Box and Unboxing


Huawei Mate 9 comes in a nice black retail box. Inside the retail box you will find the device, USB cable, charger, earphones, some booklets and user manual. There is a plastic bumper case provided as well to protect minor damage and scratches to the device.

You can watch our Huawei Mate 9 unboxing video below.



Design


Huawei Mate 9 sports a premium full metal unibody design. It looks very similar to the Huawei Mate S with slight changes in the design. On the front side, there is a huge 5.9-inch screen with impressive 77.5% screen-to-body ratio. There is a Huawei branding, 8MP front camera and a set of sensors provided as well.

AT the bottom, there is the type-C USB port and two speaker grills along with some visible screws. Out of two grills, only speaker works and the other one is just for the show. The SIM card slot is provided on the left. The SIM 2 slot can be used for microSD card as well. On the right, there are volume rockers and power keys. They are well placed and easy to access.

At the top, there are 3.5mm audio port and an IR blaster. On the back, there is a perfectly placed fingerprint sensor. The dual-camera setup is right above the fingerprint sensor along with the flash, laser autofocus module and Leica branding.

The design of the device is beautiful and it looks premium from every angle. The bezel on the sides are pretty thin. The built quality is nice and the device looks sturdy. Overall the design of Huawei Mate 9 is really good and there is nothing really negative you would like to point out.

Hardware Specs


Huawei Mate 9 is powered by Huawei’s Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor. It consists of a 2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 quad-core and a 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 quad-core processor. It is Huawei most powerful SoC till now and you will feel it in the performance.

The GPU used in Huawei Mate 9 is Mali-G71 MP8. It is the most powerful and the best Mali GPU currently available and performs brilliantly. The amount of RAM is 4GB and internal storage is 64 GB, out of which user available memory is around 51 GB.

The processor and GPU combination of Huawei Mate 9 is top notch when it comes to performance. It received the highest score ever in GeekBench 4. We performed various benchmarking tests on our Huawei Mate 9 and the performance of the device was brilliant and flagship in each of them. You can watch he Huawrei Mate 9 benchmarking and various speed tests videos below.













The SIM 2 slot can be used as the microSD card slot too. So if you run out of storage then, you can use a memory card to expand the memory on the cost of the second SIM. Though it is a trend of having hybrid dual-SIM slots, I would personally love if Huawei start providing the dedicate memory card slot along with the dual-SIM slots. It will surely make a difference to consumers and will attract more of them.

The fingerprint sensor is a multi-purpose tool like previous Huawei smartphones. It is one of the fastest and most accurate fingerprint scanner among smartphones. It can be used to unlock the device, unlock the apps, capture the images and browse files in the gallery. The placement of the fingerprint sensor is right below the camera module and in the beginning, you will end up touching the lens most of the time while trying to use the fingerprint scanner. Performance of all other sensors are really good.

The hardware used in Huawei Mate 9 is of top quality and performs brilliantly in everything. The only thing Huawei Mate 9 lacks is the water resistance as nearly every flagship device comes with it.

Software and OS


Huawei Mate 9 runs on the Android 7.0 Nougat OS and Huawei’s EMUI 5.0 is used on top of it. This brings best of both world to the device. EMUI is a very feature rich, productive and user friendly UI.

The speed of EMUI 5.0 is very nice and you will rarely feel any lag on it. You can select the UI with or without App Drawer depending on your choice. There is option to quickly search anything right from any screen with one swipe.

The quick toggle screen comes with lots of options. There are six different methods provided to capture screenshots. EMUI’s popular Knuckle Gestures are there to perform some specific tasks quickly. Settings part is reorganized well and few common settings are moved to a new section called Advance that can cause a bit confusion to users in the beginning.





There is a screen recorder provided that works well but includes the duration counter that looks bad in the recorded video. User can apply themes from the Huawei Theme Store to give new look to their device

There are two method of dual screen or split screen provided, one is the regular Android way and another one is EMUI’s Knuckle Gesture based and a bit difficult than the original Android method. Also, a screen recorder provided that works well but includes the duration counter that looks bad in the recorded video.



Just like any other thing, EMUI 5.0 is not 100% perfect and comes with very minor bugs that you will hopefully never encounter until you are a tech geek who loves to play around with the device. But the features and ease of access it brings to user, make it one of the best and most productive UI for sure.

Screen and Display


Huawei Mate 9 comes with a huge 5.9-inch screen and goes right into the phablet category of smartphones. But even though the screen size is massive, the 77.5% screen-to-body ratio makes it pretty easy in hands. It sports a beautiful 1080p full HD screen with 2.5D glass, 16.7M colors reproduction and 96% NTSC color saturation.

With 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution, you will get 373 PPI. Though it does not sound much with respect to other flagship smartphones, you will not notice any pixels on the screen and will enjoy the crisp display. It comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Though a bit old version of the Gorilla Glass, it still serves the purpose well and avoid minor damages to the screen.

For people not comfortable with big screens, there is one-hand UI provided too. As mentioned earlier, there is Split Screen option as well for better productivity. Screen brightness is good enough to use the device outdoors in bright sunlight without any issue. The viewing angles are nice as well. Response to touches are quick and accurate all the time.

There is night mode provided that let user reduce the blue light being emitted from the screen and so provide an easy viewing experience in low light condition. User is also having the option to customize the color pattern according to their need.

Overall the device sports a very nice display in all aspects. It is big, bright, responsive and comes with one-hand UI along with Gorilla Glass protection.

Camera and Imaging


Huawei Mate 9 comes with a dual rear camera setup. One of them is a 20 MP monochrome lens for black and white photography and another one comes with RGB sensor and 12 MP resolution for color photography. Other specification of rear camera are f/2.2, 27mm, Optical Image Stabilization, 2x hybrid zoom, Leica optics, phase detection and laser autofocus. There is dual tone dual-LED flash provided too. There is 4-in-1 Hybrid Auto-Focus feature in Huawei Mate that is the combination of laser, phase detection, depth and contrast focus.

The UI is easy to use. Swiping right brings all photography modes and swiping left brings the settings and option. On the viewfinder, user can switch between rear and front camera, image and video mode. At the top, there are options provided to change aperture, turn on/off flash, change color saturation, apply filter and switch between rear and front cameras. The option to switch between rear and front camera is provided at the top right corner and needs precise touch to work properly.

There are lots of nice photography mode provided like HDR, Audio Note, Good Food, Document Scan etc. Panorama mode works only horizontally and performs nicely. Time Lapse in Huawei Mate 9 is limited to 720p resolution but produces great quality video. One major drawback of Time Lapse mode in Huawei Mate 9 is that it does not offer the option to adjust the playback speed of the video. By default, it is set to 30X.



Slow Motion video recording works good and editing of the videos recorded in these modes is easy. User can record slow motion videos in either 720p@240 fps or 1080p@120 fps and the output quality is really nice. But the Slow Motion mode records audio as well. So when you slow down the video, audio slows down as well and it sounds really dramatic and funny.

Light Painting mode is very easy to use and produces great result without any pro-level photography skills. It includes four different modes ( Tail Light Trails, Light Graffiti, Silky Water and Star Track) in itself to provide the accurate result. Below are few of the picture samples captured on my Huawei Mate 9.

Huawei Mate 9 : Detailed Hands-on Review, Features and Specs

Huawei Mate 9 : Detailed Hands-on Review, Features and Specs

Huawei Mate 9 : Detailed Hands-on Review, Features and Specs

Pro mode is accessible from the viewfinder itself for both color and monochrome photo mode and video mode. There is dedicated Night Shot mode is available as well where user can select the shutter speed and ISO as high as 32 seconds and 1600, respectively.

Talking about the performance of the camera, Huawei Mate 9 does a brilliant job. The monochrome mode captures great amount of details. Color image is captured natively in 12 MP but can also be captured in 20 MP in which monochrome and RGB sensor outputs are overlapped on each other.

Wide aperture mode works nicely but a bit more shallow depth of field would be really great to make the object stand out better. The hybrid zoom provides lossless zoom up to 2X and goes digitally as high as 6X.

In Auto mode, the popular Leica Effect is clearly visible. It is the matter of choice whether you like it or not. Many people who are just casual photographers usually like more color saturation and that is why Huawei is smart enough to provide the color saturation level where Standard provides the Leica effect and then there is Vivid for more saturation and Smooth option as well.

Even though HDR mode works great, there is no auto-HDR option provided and HDR is categorized as a shooting mode itself. It would be great if Huawei would provide HDR and Monochrome modes on the viewfinder itself and the button to switch between front and rear camera was bigger instead of providing the nearly useless Filter option on viewfinder. This point is even more important for Monochrome mode as it is one of the most highlighted feature of Huawei Mate 9.



Huawei Mate 9 records videos from 4K to as low as 144p MMS resolution. The video quality is great and it captures lots of details. The directional sound feature records video with 192Kbps audio for better experience. Pro mode, color saturation , filters and aperture settings are available for video recording as well and work perfectly.

One drawback of Huawei Mate 9 camera is that it records 4K videos in H.265 codec. Due to this videos captured in 4K on Huawei Mate 9 can’t be uploaded in YouTube. But good thing is that this codec compresses the file size. Also, another drawback is that the object tracking and digital stabilization is not available for 1080p@60fps and 4K video recording.

Update : YouTube now supports the H.265 codec. So it is one of the good thing about Huawei Mate 9 camera as user will be able to record and upload great quality 4K videos in smaller size.



Huawei Mate 9 comes with an 8MP front camera with f/1.9 aperture that works perfectly. In bright light, front cam images come very good. The 1080p video recording works great as well with lots of details. There is Beauty mode provided that make you look better but if you choose the higher settings, it gives the person a bit unnatural look.

Gaming and Entertainment


When it comes to gaming, Huawei Mate 9 performs brilliantly and the credit goes to the powerful processor and the best Mali GPU ever exist. The 3D graphics rendering is smooth and graphics come with lots of details. You will not feel any lag or frame drops while playing the most high-end games on it.

Even though Huawei Mate 9 comes with a full metal body, it does not get much hot if you play high-end games for longer duration. The big six-inch full HD screen and stereo speakers contribute too in enhancing the gaming experience of user.



Along with the Google’s Play Music, there is also a music app by Huawei provided and it comes with some nice features. The audio output from the speakers is loud and clear. Also, the sound quality from provided earphones is great. While holding the device horizontally, the earpiece converts into a speaker to provide better audio experience in stereo mode.

The big screen is good to watch the videos and play games. The included Video app does not do much than compiling all videos in the device at one place. But it supports nearly every video codec and format available and you will enjoy watching videos on it for sure.

Productivity


As already mentioned, EMUI is full of productive features. The Email app is good and easy to use. The included file manager called Files is useful and comes with extra features like Safe where user can hide their files.

There is a Phone Manager app provided as well that let user lock their apps for privacy, boost the device performance by clearing RAM and let user get rid of junk files. The gallery app is feature rich and comes with one of the most powerful image editor in it. The fingerprint sensor performs multiple tasks instead of just unlocking the device.





There are also many more nice and productive features provided in Huawei Mate 9 like One Hand UI, screen recorders, and you will surely find it useful as your main smartphone and daily driver.

Battery


Huawei Mate 9 comes with 4000 mAh Li-Po non-removable battery. The battery is huge but so is the screen size and processor is very resource hungry too, still battery of Huawei Mate 9 performs really good. With moderate usage, battery survives nearly one hand half days easily and can be managed by tweaking the options to make it last for two days.

Even with heavy usage, you will get one day of battery life easily. There are few power saving modes provided as well that reduces the device performance and restricts many hardware functionality to increase the battery life.

Conclusion


Huawei Mate 9 is one of the best and most powerful smartphone currently available in the market. It comes with a big and beautiful screen, great camera with additional features like dedicated monochrome sensor, top quality fingerprint sensor, feature-rich and productive EMUI along with a moderate battery life.

Among last year’s flagship smartphones, Huawei Mate 9 is definitely at a very good and strong position and can give tough competition to every smartphone in all aspects. Also, if you are not looking for the second-generation Leica camera of Huawei P10 Plus then , Huawei Mate 9 is the better choice for you as the price is slightly reduced and rest of the hardware specs are pretty much.

Overall, Huawei Mate 9 is a great phone and score brilliantly in every aspect. If you are planning to buy a phablet with great performance, camera and features, Huawei Mate 9 is obviously a nice option for you.

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