There is a segment of smartphones to which I treat with a special interest and sympathy – the phablets with a large screen diagonal. And although at the moment the ideal for me is a smartphone with a 5.2 inch display, I’m pleased to test 6-inch devices, which, in my opinion, are the most optimal in the ratio of “information display/usability” in its class. Today we will look at the flagship model of the phablet – Huawei Mate 9, in the best configuration – completed with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of permanent memory.
Huawei Mate 9
As for large smartphones from Huawei, I was one of the first in the CIS in 2013 to test the classic Ascend Mate (not even a serial device, but an engineering sample), used Mate 7 half a year, so I can objectively assess the progress of the line not from other people’s words, but based on From their own experience of use. And I can say that progress is really impressive. As in the case of Huawei P9, which I consider to be a landmark for the manufacturer (after it, the company began to be fully associated as an A-brand in my mind), Mate 9 marks a milestone in the development of the line of Huawei’s top phablets.
I used the word “top” above for a reason (not only because I have the most equipped device on my hands). Despite the fact that I love and know how to find faults in any device, I have to admit that there are no serious drawbacks in Huawei Mate 9 (for the first time in my practice). Moreover, I believe that this tablet is at the moment the steepest of all 6-inch devices that are on the market. I consider it my duty to warn every reader about this. Want to read a review of the perfect smartphone? Then you came to the right place.
The smartphone box deserves special attention. It seems to be preparing the buyer – inside is really a valuable thing. Packaging in black with a shagreen coating has a stylish design and contains a minimum of inscriptions on the front and sides – the name of the model, the logo of Leica Dual Camera and Huawei Design.
Inside we find the smartphone itself with a protective film pasted on the display and a few more boxes in which there are:
- 4.5V-5A Power Adapter with quick charge function Huawei Super Charge
- USB/USB Type-C cable
- miniature microUSB/USB Type-C, adapter which allows you to connect, for example, a third-party microUSB or OTG-cable to the smartphone
- wire headset with a remote in an aluminum case (the bases of the headphones are made of the same material) and three control buttons – terribly reminiscent of Apple Ear Pods (the quality of its sound will be evaluated later)
- a clip for removing the SIM tray and some papers
- A translucent plastic bumper with an imitation of a “carbon” pattern that protects the back and corners of the smartphone
All accessories (except the case) are white, although we have a black smartphone on the test. I should note that the equipment is rich, all the elements look good, at least outwardly.
Read also: Huawei GR5 2017 (Honor 6X) review
Design, materials, assembly, layout
Huawei Mate 9 has a classic design. Moreover, it is characteristic of the whole line, there is a continuity in this regard. I mean the slight curvature of the back and almost flat faces. The smooth contours of the body are complemented by the rounding of the front 2.5D-glass around the perimeter. The frames around the display are small on all sides. The screen occupies 78% of the area of the front of the device – one of the best indicators among the “classic” smartphones.
We have a completely black version of the Huawei Mate 9 in our test. The device looks just gorgeous in this appearance. Unlike Mate 7, the new smartphone got rid of plastic end parts above and below. The case of the Mate 9 is all-metal, from the top and from the bottom there are unobtrusive plastic inserts under which the antennas are placed. They are painted in the body color and are connected to the dielectric discontinuities side frames, which in our case, dark gray, and also almost invisible. All these factors give the smartphone a solid look. The design is also felt monolithic to the touch. Assembly is very high quality, it is simply impossible to make any scratches with the device. There are no crevices and gaps between the parts. The only thing (which, incidentally, is typical for almost all smartphones Huawei), the buttons have a small gap and emit slightly audible sound if strongly shake the device to the ear.
Let’s proceed to the layout of the elements. At front, as usual – the screen, above it the speaker grille, to the right – sensors, front camera and LED indicator. Under the screen there is a company logo.
Right – power button and volume button – they are metal, smooth. On the left is a tray for two SIMs in Nano format, the second slot is a hybrid slot and can accept a microSD memory card instead of a SIM card.
On the bottom USB Type-C Port and grills on either side of him are placed. As usual, one speaker (right), and under the left grille is the main microphone. From above we see an audio connector 3.5 mm on the left and an IR port on the right.
Behind the back there is a 12 + 20 Mp dual camera block enclosed by a protective glass in a metal frame. Cameras protrude slightly above the body. To the left of the cameras is a dual LED flash, to the right – a laser focusing unit. Below the cameras is a round fingerprint scanner.
Read also: Huawei P8 Lite 2017 (Honor 8 Lite) review
Of course, this time will be different for every user – usability is highly dependent on the size of your hands. It should be understood that the format of the 6-inch phablet has its own characteristics and is not for everyone. For example, I can use the Huawei Mate 9 with one hand (on the verge of a possible, although I have a big hand), but does not guarantee that everybody would be able.
On the other hand, I suggest you remember about the iPhone 6-7 Plus – these are smartphones about the same size as the Mate 9, only with much smaller screens of 5.5″. I think you caught my idea. And if not, then here’s a visual illustration:
Also, when using the Huawei Mate 9 with one hand, EMUI features come in, for example, reducing the working area of the screen to a size 4.7″, via swyping the navigation keys, and fixing it to the right or left depending on which hand you are planning to use the device. Also in the smartphone there is a function to enable a special floating control button, which can be placed anywhere and it is convenient to use it to do the necessary actions
As for the location of the physical elements – the power button falls directly under the thumb of the right hand or the left index finger. The volume key is also positioned correctly, although for many users with small hands its placement may seem high.
The smartphone is quite slippery, if you hold it with a dry hand. Therefore, the use of cover or bumper for Huawei Mate 9 is highly recommended.
Honestly, before the test, I was afraid that the resolution of 1920×1080 in 2017 would not be enough for a 5.9″ screen. But Huawei Mate 9 was able to surprise me here. The density of pixels at 373 ppi is personally enough for me, and even if I decrease the resolution in the settings to 720p to save battery (there is such a function), then this change is hardly noticeable (except that the fonts become a little thicker) and it’s still nice to use the smartphone.
Describing the IPS-display of Huawei Mate 9, first of all it is worth noting its huge maximum brightness – more than 650 nits is one of the best indicators on the market. Therefore, the information from the screen is perfectly read even under direct sunlight. The minimum brightness is also comfortable when using the smartphone in complete darkness. Automatic brightness adjustment works correctly and quickly.
The contrast ratio (1500: 1) is also at a high level, like the color rendering, which seemed a little warm by default compared to Huawei P9. But you quickly get used to this feature, and if not, you can adjust the display temperature in the settings.
In general, I did not make any measurements and professional tests (as always, however), but, as for me, the display in Huawei Mate 9 is one of the best ones I’ve seen in smartphones (he even surpassed the display of Huawei P9, which I think it’s very cool). Its performance in real life is simply excellent – the display perfectly behaves in all situations and under any lighting conditions. In addition, the image miraculously floats on the surface of the glass, even though there is a film on top of my device. Viewing angles are also excellent. In short – the screen is super!
Hardware and performance
A little technical details. Huawei Mate 9 is equipped with the eight-core HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor, which contains 4 productive cores of the A73 architecture operating at a maximum frequency of 2.4 GHz and 4 economical A53 with a frequency of 1.8 GHz. In addition, the smartphone has an i6 coprocessor that provides the majority of background tasks, dramatically improving the system’s power consumption when the smartphone screen is turned off. The coprocessor is responsible for synchronizing application data and displaying notifications, processing information from the fingerprint scanner, and even providing the performance necessary to listen to music in sleep mode. But we’ll talk about battery life later.
It should be noted that the results of Mate 9 in complex synthetic tests like AnTuTu and other similar ones do not look record against the background of competitors. Most likely because benchmarks are strongly focused on Qualcomm processors and testing algorithms are optimized for them. But in the CPU tests we already see excellent results. Screenshots below.
But if you drop all this technical boredom and switch to a normal human language, then in practice, Huawei Mate 9 is a very powerful, you can even say extremely powerful smartphone that cope with any tasks. The instance that we are testing is equipped with 6 GB of RAM and as you understand, multitasking is provided here at the highest level. A storage capacity of 128 GB allows you not to worry about the fast filling of the permanent memory and safely refuse to use additional media. However, if this volume is not enough for you (for example, you regularly shoot 4K-video), then you can install a microSD card with a capacity of up to 256 GB. If to you, as well as to me, it seems that this is too much, then there are smartphone versions available for less demanding users – with 4 GB of operative and 32/64 GB of permanent memory.
The Mali-G71 MP8 GPU is responsible for playing games in Huawei Mate 9. And with its task, it copes excellently. Any games currently available for the Android platform run on the maximum graphics settings. “Good news” from the profile test 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme confirm my words:
In Huawei Mate 9 there is a dual camera Leica of the second generation, that is, not just Leica algorithms, but also optics from this well-known photo-brand. The 20 megapixel black and white sensor is responsible for detailing and makes sharp and sharp photos with a wide dynamic range, and color data is superimposed on the image with a 12 Mp sensor.
In addition to the usual photos, the use of two cameras allows you to make pictures with a beautiful bokeh with the help of Mate 9 – for this purpose there is a special shooting mode with an adjustable aperture in the camera. There is postfocusing of the pictures already made.
As expected, the quality of the images taken by the camera of the smartphone is at a high flagship level. And in any modes and in any lighting. Especially good at the camera are the photo at the near and middle distance. And if something does not suit you in the automation of the camera, then in the application there is an advanced professional mode with manual settings.
The front module of Huawei Mate 9 has a sensor of 8 megapixels and optics with a wide viewing angle and aperture f / 1,9. For pictures in the dark, you can use the backlight instead of the flash. There is an automatic face and smile detection, face improvement and other effects, you can shoot using a fingerprint scanner. The quality of Selfie made on this camera is also excellent.
Huawei Mate 9 shoots video in the maximum resolution of 4K, although there is also shooting in Full HD 60 and 30 frames per second, as well as slow-motion shooting. The camera is equipped with an optical stabilization system, which works in all modes of video shooting. Another important feature when shooting video – the ability to record sound from a specific point in the frame. In this way, you can cut off background sounds and leave only what you really need.
Huawei Mate 9 is equipped with a 4000 mAh battery. In combination with energy-efficient iron, this gives a full two light days of work and about 8 hours of active screen in the intensive use mode without games with constant connection to the network (mail, social network, browser, reading, music, photos). If you try to uncharge the battery in one day, you have to spend 9-10 hours in front of the screen. And with sparing use, you can count on 3 days of autonomy of the phabet. In general, in this respect, the smartphone only pleases.
I also tested the fast charging from Huawei and got the following results:
- Start of charging – 10% battery
- 20 minutes – 47%
- 40 minutes – 76%
- 60 minutes – 90%
- 80 minutes – 100%
Another point where the Mate 9 shows itself at its best is its sound capabilities. The main speaker of the smartphone is so loud that at the maximum the vibration in the hand begins to be felt. The sound is very saturated, there are basses and high frequencies. In addition, in the settings you can activate the full stereo mode – when turning the device into a landscape orientation, the sound starts to also come from the speaker dynamics. In games and when watching a video, it’s just invaluable!
The sound in the headphones is also excellent, especially with the activated DTS mode. Of course, as expected, the headset, which was included in the package, is not bad, but it does not strike with sound quality. But paired with normal third-party headphones listening to music on the Mate 9 just kicks!
Wireless comunications, fingerprint scanner, IR-port
With these moments, the smartphone is all super. Two Sims work fine, the device keeps communication confidently, which is traditional for Huawei smartphones. Wi-Fi clings to the network to the last and provides an acceptable speed even for three reinforced concrete walls from the router. Location (and in addition to the traditional GPS module there is still support for GLONASS, Galileo, BDS) is determined quickly and accurately.
The scanner also works instantly (in large part thanks to the coprocessor, which ensures constant reading of data from the sensor in the background) and 99.9% exact.
The infrared port just works and does it well. With the built-in software, you can configure the control panels for any compatible equipment. I checked its functionality on several TVs and an air conditioner – there were no problems.
Firmware and software
The smartphone is running the latest branded shell EMUI 5.0, based on Android 7.0. In short – the interface looks stylish, the firmware functionality at the height, there are all the applications that are necessary for the modern user. And for everything else, there’s the Google Play store.
The capabilities of EMUI are the same on all Huawei smartphones and we have covered the shell so repeatedly that I do not see the point again about talking about it again. We have a detailed EMUI 5 review on the site – I recommend that you read this if you are interested in this issue.
Read also: EMUI 5.0 review
Judge for yourself – great design, metal body, perfect assembly, the screen with good performance, a performance that will satisfy the most demanding users, the camera – one of the best on the market, USB Type-C, a huge battery and even with fast-charging, super sound, the presence of all conceivable modules with support for the latest Wi-Fi standards, Bluetooth, NFC, plus an infrared port. The Huawei Mate 9 packs all the best that the modern smartphone market can offer.
The only conditional negative – Mate 9, of course, is huge, and is suitable not for everyone. But this is not the fault of the smartphone. If the format of a 6-inch fablet is to your liking – I recommend paying attention to this device.