Huawei Mate 9 Review

Huawei Mate 9 Review Darryl Linington
Lasting Appeal
Call Quality
User Rating: 9 (1 votes)

As social media machines, mobile phones have come a bloody long way over the years. Being less phone and more omnitool of late, I can’t help but feel like I’m part of a great public beta we pay for annually to test what will eventually be implanted within us. If anything I hope it’s accessible and on my arm as opposed to built into my face – I can barely shave daily, charging my face is pushing it.

To accomplish much of the above, high-tier mobile devices are required, which has us moving into “power user” territory and the inevitable phablets, featuring the latest and greatest in tech that the manufacturer can provide with monstrous, pocket-tearing screens and phenomenal cameras!

Huawei’s Mate 9 is their latest flagship entry to the high-range category of mobile phones, competing with the likes of Samsung and Apple.

Huawei Mate 9 Review

Coming in at almost exactly the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus (156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9 mm), the Mate 9 does pull one over by flaunting a 5.9-inch screen over the 7 Plus’ 5.5-inch offering. The similarities don’t end there, though, with it weighing in at mere 2 grams heavier than the 7 Plus. This keeps the Mate 9 in well standing on the comfort scale, especially over prolonged periods of use, which is key with phablets. As are deep pockets – pun intended.

The Mate 9 features the token Huawei brushed metal rim around a smooth metal back plate theme, which houses the characteristic fingerprint scanner, to the top of the Mate’s back. Not skipping a beat, it’s located where your index finger will naturally default to when holding a phone of this size. The scanner itself is very capable and only ever misread my finger prints twice during a week of avid use. A quick retry unlocked the phone lightning fast as has become expected from the Huawei phones. Once again, I can only fault Huawei on the fingerprint scanner placement when my phone is resting on a flat surface, forcing me to take it in hand before I can access it – You could possibly just not use the fingerprint scanner… But that’s no fun. Right above the scanner you’ll find the dual-lens Leica camera, which apart from being amazing is a good way to find the scanner if you have bigger fingers.

The bottom edge houses the USB-C charging slot, also used for data transfer and has two speakers on either side. The speakers I want to get out of the way already, they’re phone speakers. If you want to twerk to Missy Elliot, get a Bluetooth speaker. Nobody wants to see you grinding to bad quality music, even less when it’s coming from a phone speaker. The only other edge features are the respective volume buttons and the power button found on the right edge, Sim and SD card slot on the left and audio jack to the top.

Formalities out of the way, let’s get to the sweet nectar of the Mate 9 – its features!

  • Day Dream VR ready
  • Usage Pattern Learning Algorithm
  • 20MP Dual-Lens Camera
  • Massive Battery
  • Kirin 960 CPU with 4GB of RAM
  • 9 Inch 1080p Screen

Right, so the screen isn’t quite winning the race here. Yeah the 5.9-inch display is large, no doubt, but when even lesser phones are rocking QHD resolutions it’s not much of a leg up. However, it is when done right. An AMOLED panel pushes deep, inky blacks and lush colours across the RGB scale. Rich and natural best describes the visual fidelity and the viewing angles are just fantastic. Supported by solid brightness easing use in brighter environments and the smoothest auto-brightness leveller I’ve seen to date makes it a display to reckon with. The one place it could fall short though is when used with a Google Day Dream VR headset, since 1080p isn’t quite enough on paper – but this is yet to be confirmed.

Shipping with Nougat (Android 7.0) overlaid with the lovely Huawei EMUI 5.0 Skin, the Mate 9 does introduce a new contender to the pantheon of MediaTek and Qualcomm processors… Introducing the Hisilicon Kinir 960 Processor, this in-house developed Octa-core 2.4GHz beast also has 4GB of RAM to play with. Supplying good performance and great navigation speeds, the Kinir might not be an Exynos, which you’ll find in a Note 7, but it performs beautifully and fluidly, I didn’t experience any issues or app crashes at all during use. It also has a Mali G71 MP8 GPU, offering better gaming performance and graphics thanks to clocking in at an 180% performance increase over the Mali-T880. This really helps push the 1080p screen to great heights and overall gaming on the Mate 9 was fantastic.

Another great feature of the Mate 9, likely it’s most popular feature is its 20MP Leica Optics dual-lens camera. Provided by the popular German Leica optics specialists, a 12MP colour sensor is accompanied by a 20MP monochrome sensor, which improves contrast and adds detail to low-light condition photography.

Creating beautiful 12MP photos in union, emulating a convincing yet lacklustre optical zoom, pictures have great depth and spot-on colours. It is no doubt impressive, but suffers a similar flaw which is seemingly becoming a Huawei attribute – bad focus especially in low-light environments. Auto-HDR does help at times, but for the most part there is evidently too much software processing going on resulting in poor images in any less-than perfect settings.

An undeniable strength of the Mate 9 is its battery life. Housing a 4,000mAh battery, allows for a solid 2 days of average use between charges, which is almost unheard of. Moulded to phone, meaning it’s not removable, the battery did get a little hot for me at times. Easy to ignore when you stream music for a few hours and only eat into about 10% of battery. Featuring a much needed quick charging function when using the supplied Huawei charging brick can easily fill your battery up to 100% from dead flat in just over an hour – splendid as it is, when you need to resort to any other generic charger, it sadly still takes around 4 and a half hours for a proper full charge.

Huawei Mate 9 Review

Overall the Huawei Mate 9 is a majestic sum of its parts and a heavyweight contender in its range. With the best Huawei software package yet, brilliant battery life and pulling in as the fastest and most powerful Huawei performer, it’s a no-brainer for the power user with something different in mind. Supporting up to an additional 256GB in storage via a MicroSD card, the initial 64GB standard makes for a great plus as well.

This all contained in a quality build phone with many future-proofing features would make the Mate 9 a phone I can very easily recommend. Check out our review of the Huawei Nova here.

The Huawei Mate 9 was reviewed by Jacques Du Plooy.

Editor of Tech IT Out. Former radio host of Former Editor of IT News Africa and ITF Gaming. All round techie, gamer and entrepreneur. For Editorial Enquiries Contact: or via +27788021400.