Huawei Mate 9 Review: A Whole New Nuanced Experience

Mate 9 Front and Back

We have been using the Huawei Mate 9 for a while now. The device is in the phablet class of phones as it has an ample screen and hence is sized accordingly. Once in a while there are phones that redefine the user experience, We consider the Mate 9 one such device.  Let us see why

Mate 9 Front and Back

Full product specs of the Huawei Mate 9 can be found below.

Model  Huawei Mate 9
 Size Height  156,9 mm
 Size Width  78,9 mm
 Weight  190 gram
 Color Space Gray/Moonlight Silver/Champagne Gold/Mocha Brown/Ceramic White
 Display 5.9″ FHD Display

1080p (1920 x 1080), 373ppi

16.7M colors, Color saturation(NTSC) 96%

High contrast 1500:1 (typical)

 CPU HUAWEI Kirin 960, Octa-core CPU (4 x 2.4 GHz A73+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) + i6 co-  processor, Mali-G71 MP8
 Operation system Android™ 7.0
 Memory MHA-L29:
Micro SD card slot, support up to 256GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
Micro SD card slot, support up to 256GB

4G TDD LTE: Band38/39/40/41(100MHz)
Band 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
3G TD-SCDMA: Band34/39
CDMA EV-DO Rev. A: BC0(800MHz), only for China Telecom
2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G UMTS(WCDMA): Band 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
CDMA: BC0(800MHz),only for China Telecom
2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
4G TDD LTE: Band38/39/40
Band 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
3G TD-SCDMA: Band34/39
2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz


 GPS GPS/Glonass/Galileo/BDS
 Connectivity Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Wi-Fi Direct support

BT4.2, support BLE

USB Type C (High Speed USB)

 Sensors Fingerprint Sensor, G-Sensor, Gyroscope sensor, Compass, Ambient Light Sensor,  Proximity sensor, Hall sensor, Barometer, IR

Main camera

20MP Monochrome+12MP RGB, F2.2
OIS (Optical image stablization)
Dual-tone flash
PDAF+CAF+Laser+Depth auto focus
2x Hybrid zoom
4K video recording

Front camera
8MP AF, F1.9



Audio decoding formats

Audio file formats


 Video Video decoding formats
4K video, H.265, H.264, H.263, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, RV7-10, Xvid, VP8, WMV9
Video file formats
3GP, MP4, WMV, RM, RMVB, and ASF
 Emotion UI EMUI 5.0
 Battery 4000mAh (Typical Value)
 NFC Yes
 Dual SIM MHA-L29: Dual SIM
MHA-L09: Single SIM
 Press Touch No

When you look at the phone and hold it in your hands for the first time, you feel like you are holding something important. A lot of attention has been given to the crafting and materials. The look and feel are top notch. What I particularly loved was the fact that the design language has changed considerably since the Mate 8 and it shows. The curves on the edges of the device are very comfortable to hold. The ample screen has been fit into a very manageable frame. The rear side of the phone has a matte finish that is polished and clear. It does not smudge all that easily. The frame of the device is really very thin. Given all the firepower it has, we were expecting it to be heavier, but it is pleasantly light and nifty. In summary, the look and feel screams premium all over.

Mate 9 Flat

The rear side of the device houses a fingerprint sensor, which responds very fast to the touch and very accurately reads prints. The charging point is a USB-C connector at the bottom of the phone and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The device has a very practical 64GB of storage as standard, which you can expand further with a microSD card.

The phone runs on Huawei’s latest octa-core Kirin 960 processor, ably supported by 4GB of RAM. It’s a powerful processor that just breezes through any performance benchmark tests that you throw at it. There is more than just specs to this powerhouse though. We will get to that in a bit. Let us talk more about the phone now.

Mate 9 Dual Camera

That brings us to one of the heroes of the device – the dual camera on the rear. Huawei’s partnership with Leica made the P9 a cut above the rest and with the Mate 9, it has gone a step further. The 12 MP + 20 MP combination that takes color and black and white photos respectively works brilliantly as a team to give very impressive photos even under testing light conditions. We particularly enjoyed the various preset modes that one can use readily with the camera interface. We had hours of joy with the pictures. The Pro mode is pretty nifty too. The front camera is no slouch either. The Huawei Smart Selfie mode is built into this one too.

Mate 9 Battery

And then there’s the other hero of the phone – the  4000 mAH battery. On a single charge, we put the phone through above average load with a healthy mix of WiFi and 4G usage thrown in with some videos and heavy social media usage. The phone was easily able to run through a good 15 hours on a single charge. The support for quick charge is an added bonus. On busy days when you need to be up and running in a short time, it stands you in good stead. Nice feature to have.

And we are saving the best bit for the end. The phone comes with machine learning built-in. The device actually studies your pattern of usage and takes that into account to intelligently manage background tasks and to guess what task you will be opening up next. When put in context, it means that the phone is never short of memory or stuttering at any time. Initially it may be too tough to spot this, but with time we were able to see clearly that the algorithm was working very well indeed.

In summary, the Huawei Mate 9 is a good productivity enhancer, decent photographer and an impressive performer. The form factor makes it an ideal replacement for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 that seems to be bursting with energy quite literally. Huawei has made a device that takes the user experience to a nuanced high level that will make the phone an extension of you. A very clear trendsetter by Huawei that others will  now follow no doubt. Exciting times ahead!


About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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