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Huawei is launching its large-display flagship Mate 9 phone before many expected it. Its Mate 8 predecessor was announced at CES 2016, and it’s coming to the U.S. The Mate 9 is mostly an incremental upgrade to the Mate 8, and keeps everything that made the success of its predecessor, but improves on points that customers care about: performance, camera, battery life, user interface. Let’s take a closer look at how the phone performs.

Quickspecs

Note: Before you read the rest of this review, please note that we have a pre-release unit, which means that the firmware will change to some extent by the time this product hits the shelves. It should, however, be representative of the final product in general, and we will update the review if there are significant changes.

  • 4000 mAh battery
  • 5.9” FHD display
  • USB-C
  • Kirin 960 Processor, 64GB / 4GB

Here’s how Huawei’s is pitching this new phone:

Industrial design

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At first glance, the new Huawei Mate 9 look very much like last year’s Mate 8 smartphone (don’t miss our Mate 8 review), but there are some design differences, along with internal and software changes of course. From the front, the phone is slightly smaller due to the change in display size from 6.0 inches (Mate 8) to 5.9” inches (Mate 9). Although the visual difference is minimal, the size change can be felt immediately upon holding the phone. Despite featuring the same thickness (7.9mm), the overall volume is obviously down and it feels better in hand.

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The camera module in the back is the most visible change. The Mate 8 now uses a dual-camera system based on the same idea as what the Huawei P9 introduced: increase the image sensing capability, without increasing depth (we explain it all in our Huawei P9 review). More on the camera module later, as for now we’ll point out the visible differences such as the Dual-LED, and what seems to be another sensor, probably an IR sensor for white-balance controls.

The fingerprint sensor has seen some changes as well: it’s not as deep and large as it used to be, but the finish is better, while mostly maintaining the sensing surface. It’s not immediately clear if it’s the same sensor (level 4) as the Huawei P9, but it works well enough, so we may enquire for more data later.

Huawei Mate 9 has a very different, more comfortable, feel when compared the to Mate 8. To some users, especially those with small hands, the Mate 9 will be a vast improvement. If you have the opportunity to pick both in your hands, try it, and you’ll see for yourself.

Still, the Mate 9 remains a hefty phone, and it will benefit from the disappearance of the Galaxy Note 7 (5.7”) as the leading large-display smartphone, even if the design isn’t as nice in my opinion, but “existence is always superior to perfection” as one might say.

Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design

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If you have followed the Ubergizmo Mate 9 news coverage, Huawei has also been working with Porsche to have a limited edition of the Mate 9 that features a 5.5” Quad HD display with curved edges. That phone also has 256GB of storage and 6GB of memory. At 1395 Euros, we don’t expect most of you ever to get your hands on it, but if you’re curious, it’s the same phone, except for the differences listed above.

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about Android, Android 7.0, Huawei, Huawei Reviews, Mate 9 and Smartphone Reviews.

Display
5.9"
1920x1080
IPS LCD
373 PPI
Price
~$550 - Amazon
Camera
20 MP
F2.2 Aperture F-Stop
OIS
Weight
190 g
Battery
4000 mAh
Non-Removable
No Wireless Charg.
Launched in
2016-11-01
System
4GB RAM
Hisilicon Kirin 960 + MicroSD
Storage (GB)
64
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