Huawei Mate 9 Review

A phone that gets nearly everything right

Huawei has proven they can make great phones with various devices like the Nexus 6P. So with the Mate 9 out in the US, people are expecting something great. Has Huawei lived up to the challenge?

There are a ton of things to love about the Mate 9. The Chinese manufacturer has definitely done well in creating a cheaper alternative to Google’s Pixel that actually comes close in performance. One of the most important parts of the phone is the hardware. The Mate 9 is just beautiful. The all-metal build looks and feels solid. The finish on all sides of the device is just all around gorgeous. The top of the phone houses an audio jack, which obviously isn’t anything special, but a comfort to see, nonetheless. The bottom houses a USB Type-C port and a bottom facing speaker, which isn’t what most people want, so Huawei did something interesting. They made the earpiece into a speaker, as well — just like Apple’s iPhone 7. Moving on, the volume rockers are on the right side along with the power button. Both are nice and tactile.

The fingerprint sensor is something special. It’s on the back, much like with Huawei’s other phones, and it’s fast. It’s surprisingly fast. So fast that you barely have to touch the sensor at all for it to be read successfully. More than 90% of the time, the sensor will read your finger successfully and accurately. This is, in my opinion, one of the best fingerprint sensors to date.

The display comes in at 5.9 inches, which seems unbearably big, but with the side bezels beings so thin, using the huge screen the Mate 9 packs is pretty easy. Now, the Mate 9 isn’t QHD like most current phones, but it is 1080p. Having a 1080p display isn’t bad at all, really, because it helps boost battery life, which is fantastic on the Mate 9. You’ll never really notice that the display is 1080p unless you’re reading text where everything isn’t as crisp as it would be on a QHD display. Overall, the color and quality of the display is still quite beautiful.

Software is pretty heavy on the Mate 9. You can change things up a bit, though, by downloading a launcher like Action Launcher 3 or Google Launcher, just to get it to feel like an Android device. Since I changed everything a bit, I enjoy using the Mate 9 a lot more because it lets me focus on the performance this thing can get. Even if you don’t add a launcher, EMUI 2.0 is still a decent skin; much better than previous versions of Huawei’s take on Android.

The Mate 9 has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. With 4GB of RAM, you can get a lot done, especially with the Mate 9. Over time, the Mate 9 learns how you use your phone and then makes small adjustments so performance can best suit you. Not to mention, this is all controlled by Huawei’s own Kirin 960. Storage is also expandable via MicroSD card, which is a good thing to keep in mind.

Over my time using the phone, I’ve noticed no slowdown at all, although I didn’t notice any speeding up either. Overall, the Mate 9 runs really well and I haven’t had any big issues to date. It’s probably safe to say that the Mate 9 is a beast when it comes to performance.

Speaking of, the camera’s performance is pretty good as well. The rear facing camera is the one I’ve tested the most and really relied on. I’d go so far as to say that if I had the option, I would choose the Mate 9 camera over the LG V20 camera if I had both with me. There’s just a certain crispness to the Leica-branded dual-camera on the Mate 9. The dual-cameras work like this: one takes a monochrome photo, while the other takes a full-color photo. These combine to enhance detail in the one picture. Overall, I’d say it worked out nicely. Interestingly enough, I think that where the Mate 9 is the strongest is in video mode. Once I found out the stabilization was really good, I kept taking videos. The detail in videos was also very much on point, as well.

The last thing to mention is battery life. Huawei nailed the battery. It lasts for at least a day ending with no less than 30% or 40%. I used the Mate 9 heavily during CES 2017 and it didn’t get close to dying once. The 4,000 mAh battery did an amazing job and I fell in love with it. Huawei also includes a charging brick that supports “SuperCharging”, which they claim can get you 60% of your battery capacity in only 30 minutes. Giving the Mate 9 an incredible battery definitely makes it a great phone to look into.

With everything considered, the Mate 9 is an amazing phone. While it’s not top-tier, it holds it’s own against some other giants. The Mate 9 will run you $599, which isn’t the cheapest by any means, but it is something to consider. Since you can change the software experience to your liking, the Mate 9 is one of the best phones I’ve played around with this year. That is, considering it’s only February. What do you think of the Mate 9 if you already have one? Care to share in the comments below?

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