- Too big for one-handed operation
- Emotion UI
- Proprietary fast charging
- Screen resolution not suited for VR
The Mate series has been known for its massive screen sizes and quality components. With their latest model, Huawei is taking aim at the top of the phablet market in both pricing and specs. But does this big phone justify its big price tag?
Reviews are rolling out and we’ve scoured the best of them to bring you this phone summary.
Let’s dig in!
With their previous releases, Huawei has proven that buying Chinese phone doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. Reviewers were pleased with the metal and glass design of the Mate 9. While reviews were quick to note that the phone felt great in the hand, they also pointed out the sheer size of the phone. PhoneScoop said, “The curved rear panel and smoothed-over side edges help hand-feel somewhat, but the Mate 9 is a huge phone that constantly requires two hands to use effectively.”
The phone includes a fingerprint scanner on the rear panel which you can program to perform a variety of common actions. Reviewers loved the responsiveness and pointed out that the slight indentation made it easy to find with your finger.
Flipping around front, you’ll find a 5.9-inch 1080p display. Although the resolution is lower than competing flagships, reviewers found little to complain about with the screen. SlashGear stated, “The Huawei Mate 9’s screen can be best described as being decent and tolerable. Just OK, but nothing exceptional.” Reviews indicate that unless you’re looking to use it with a VR headset, the resolution is ample for daily use, gaming and media consumption.
To push those pixels, Huawei went with their own 2.4Ghz 8-core Kirin processor and 4GB of RAM. Benchmarks from reviewers indicate it keeps up with and even outperforms the Snapdragon chips common with other 2016 flagships for basic daily use. The Guardian noted, “It actually felt faster than any other Android smartphone I have used to date, which is an achievement.”
With an internal storage capacity of 64GB, you should have no problem fitting your favorite apps or media on the phone. There’s a tray on the side for microSD cards up to 256GB should you need more space. However, this is the same slot used for a second SIM card. So you must choose between extra storage or an extra line.
As with previous Huawei devices, there's much debate about the phone's interface. While it runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, Huawei’s Emotion UI changes the look of the software significantly. Though many reviews were quick to point out that this latest version is an improvement over past Emotion UI releases, ArsTechnica UK noted, “It still feels like a jumbled mess of too many iOS-like features on an Android system.”
Battery life is equally debatable. With the 4,000mAh battery was enough to get most reviewers through the day, Huawei’s use of their own SuperCharge quick charging technology means you won’t find many options for third-party charging accessories. However, when paired with the Huawei charger, it offers a full charge in under 2 hours. SlashGear summed up experiences well, saying, “The battery won’t last you days under high screen usage time but the 4,000 mAh battery will last you until very late night before you have to recharge it – very impressive battery life.”
If you’re looking for a phone with a powerful camera, reviews show the Mate 9 can keep up with the best phones available. Huawei claims the 20+ megapixel dual-lens rear camera offers improved color accuracy, finer details and great low light performance. Reviews agreed. PhoneScoop said, “The Mate 9 may not replace a dSLR, but it's certainly enough camera for most occasions.” Reviews were equally positive for the front-facing 8MP lens.
Overall, the biggest complaint about the Mate 9 from reviewers is it’s price. With a suggested retail price above even the major manufacturers' flagships, some reviewers felt the value didn’t add up. Mashable said, “While the Mate 9 is a very good phone, it will only be the best for some users: those who care deeply about battery life, fast charging and some niche features like black and white photography.”
Alphr summed up overall opinions well with their final verdict, saying, “If you want a big phone in 2016 then, with the death of the Note 7, the Mate 9 stands virtually alone. You’ll be very happy with Huawei, but you need to really want that extra inch to make the Mate 9 a must-buy.”