Review: SuperCharged Huawei Mate 9 Android flagship phablet

The Mate 9 is Huawei’s flagship phablet boasting the fabulous camera from P9 that was co-developed with Leica and now improved, a fast Kirin 960 processor and Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.0 user interface. Price in Singapore: S$898.

A photo posted by John Tan (@tech4tea) on

My take: The Huawei Mate 9 is another winner from Huawei. The Android 7 flagship phablet works swiftly as a smartphone and has a fabulous camera that churns out wonderfully toned black and white snapshots. Fantastic for monochrome shooters that want Leica-like photos without any post-editing.

The 5.9-inch smartphone has dual SIM slots capable of supporting 4G and 3G networks.

The Huawei Mate 9 ships with 4GB RAM and 64GB memory, and you can use the secondary SIM card slot to add up to 256GB from a microSD card.

Have been trying out the Huawei Mate 9 since its launch & availability in Singapore last month. Was curious to see whether the camera performance of the Mate 9 had improved over the P9, which had impressed me when I tried it (see the P9 photos here).

With the demise of Samsung’s Galaxy Note7, the Huawei Mate 9 is a strong candidate to take up the mettle left by the Korean flagship phablet.

The phone sports a Type-C USB socket – an adaptor to convert into a regular mini-USB is included in the box – and has a 4000mAh battery that can be SuperCharged for a day’s usage within 20 minutes.

I brought along the Mate 9 when I went on vacation in Taiwan to put it through the grind of daily usage, and to take some photos with its fabulous camera (see the Mate 9 photos here).

The highlights

  • Android 7 Nougat.
  • EMUI 5.0 user interface.
  • Latest Kirin 960 CPU for faster performance.
  • SuperCharge technology (full day’s charge in 20min).
  • 2nd gen Leica dual-lens camera with 12MP RGB sensor, and now with 20MP monochrome sensor and Hybrid Zoom, enabling 2x digital zoom.

Other specs below
  • Size: 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm.
  • Weight: 190g.
  • Display: 5.9″ FHD, 1080p (1920 x 1080), 373ppi, 16.7m colours.
  • CPU: #Huawei Kirin 960, Octa-core (4 x 2.4GHz A73 + 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) + i6 co-processor.
  • GPU: Mali G71 Octa-core.
  • Dual SIM.
  • microSD card slot (up to 256GB) using secondary SIM slot.
  • NFC support.
  • USB Type-C (adaptor to micro-USB included).
  • Camera: Front (8MP, AF, F1.9), Main (Dual: 20MP Monochrome + 12MP RGB, F2.2), OIS.
  • Video: 4K
  • Battery: 4000mAh

What I liked was the dual SIM. In Taiwan, I popped in a 2nd local SIM for affordable data and remained contactable on my usual number. I didn’t need to use the second SIM card stray for a microSD card because the phone came with 64GB memory – more than enough for me.

Speed-wise, the phone remained fast and responsive after a month of usage and having loads of apps installed. This must be due to the new Huawei Kirin 960 CPU with octa-core processors.

The Android 7 Nougat OS and EMUI 5.0 user interface was also easy to get the hang of. Apparently, the EMUI 5.0 learns from the usage pattern and adapts accordingly in terms of resource allocation.

The earphones that came with the Huawei Mate 9. And an adaptor to convert from the Type-C USB to the regular mini-USB socket.

My daughter tried out the Mate 9 for two weeks and the following are her thoughts.

“One of the things I liked best about the Huawei Mate 9 was its SuperCharge function. I tend to use my phone throughout the day to check social media and whatnot, and with my previous phone, the battery would drain very quickly, lasting only half a day.

However, with the Mate 9, not only did the phone’s 4000mAh battery manage to keep me chugging along for a full day, the phone’s SuperCharge function allowed charging to be completed in 20-30 minutes.

It is a good choice for people who use their smartphone constantly and need both high performance and long battery life,” said Erin Tan – a teenager’s perspective.

The thing that I’d buy the Huawei Mate 9 for – the camera. The photos were as good if not better than the P9 (see P9 photos here). Will be posting more photos taken with the Mate 9 (see Mate 9 photos here).

I was already sold after using the P9, so I let my daughter try out the camera during our vacation in Taiwan. Here’s what she feels about it.

“I found the pictures taken with the phone to be very clear and sharp, even at night, where the camera adjusted to the difference in light intensity and was still able to take high-quality photos.

The camera is also capable of autofocusing, which came in useful when I visited the zoo – there was no need to tap on the screen and wait for the camera to finish focusing before taking a picture of a gorilla playing around with a blanket, which would have caused me to miss out on that precious shot.

The videos taken also have clear sound and were able to capture details even when zoomed to the maximum,” shared Erin Tan.

The Mate 9 can now shoot 4K and has a uni-directional audio recording feature to remove background noise to enhance audio from the subject.

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