Huawei Mate 9: User Review

I was given the Huawei Mate 9 by my dad as a gift earlier this year. He originally bought it in April 2017 for PKR 58000, which was the equivalent of $500 at that time. This was a huge upgrade for me considering I had a cheap Chinese phone at that time, consequently bringing bundles of joy to my otherwise tech-less life. My first impressions, precisely, were: Wow! Despite having a plastic back, the phone felt great in my palm and the golden color amazed me beyond words. Anyhow, let’s start the review by getting into the details, shall we?

Performance

The main utility of my phone is the usage of social media apps and boy oh boy, this phone does not disappoint! Apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook etc. are known to be memory-intensive, which equates to the phone hanging on several occasions; but not in this case. The Mate 9 smoothly sails through each challenge I throw at it: No hanging, no slowing down. This includes constantly sending friends snaps of what I’m doing paired with chatting with friends on Facebook Messenger’s chat heads – all at the same time!

The Best Features

Camera

Oh God, putting my feelings into words is really hard! The Mate 9’s camera has hardly ever disappointed me. There is a dual camera setup on the back, the primary and secondary camera having a resolution of 20 MP and 12 MP respectively. Similar to other Huawei models, the Mate 9 also boasts a camera developed in collaboration with Leica, the German camera manufacturer. However, the back cameras have an aperture of f/2.2, which makes night photography nearly impossible.

The front camera has a resolution of 8 MP and has an aperture of f/1.9, which is slightly lower than its back counterpart. This enables the front camera to perform relatively well in dim-light conditions.

Functioning of the Fingerprint Sensor

The Mate 9’s fingerprint sensor is placed on the back, right beneath the back camera. It is really swift and it hardly takes a quarter of a second for the phone to unlock. The sensor hardly ever fails to read my fingerprint, even when my fingers are oily! The thing I love the most about it is its ability to unlock the phone without having to turn the display on.

Operational Speed

There is a negative stereotype attached to Android smartphones about being “too slow” and “sloppy”. Well, I’ve hardly ever had an issue with that on the Mate 9. The phone is powered by Huawei’s Hisilicon Kirin 960 chipset running on an octa-core setup, with four cores clocking in at 2.4 GHz with the remaining cores capable of attaining speeds of up to 1.8 GHz. Additionally, the Mate 9 is currently on Android Oreo 8.0 paired with EMUI 8.0, which serves as icing on the cake and ensures that the device’s functioning is consistenly smooth no matter how strenuous the ongoing processes are.

The Battery and Fast Charging

The Mate 9 has a battery capacity of 4000 mAh. This enables the phone to go up to 18-20 hours on each charge with HEAVY usage! This one time, a relative took my charging cable. My phone was at 91% when she took it. Now, I couldn’t use a normal Android micro-USB cable since the Mate 9’s charging port supports a type-C connector exclusively. Miraculously though, I was able to use my phone for the entire day without any significant hassle, which amazed me beyond words. To be precise, the 91% charge was reduced to 3% after a period of 25 hours and 20 minutes.

Furthermore, the fast charging is something I absolutely adore. Being an outgoing person, I hardly ever get time to charge my phone and the fact that I don’t own a power bank means the only place I get to charge my phone is my house. Well, the phone’s original charger, Huawei’s Super Charger gets the phone from 60% to 100% within half an hour.

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The Worst Features

The positioning of the fingerprint sensor

While I love the functioning of the sensor itself, I would give anything for it to be placed somewhere else. The fact that it lies right beneath the back camera means my lens is smudged up almost every time I use the fingerprint sensor, which obviously has an adverse effect on picture quality.

The delays in software updates

The Mate 9 came with Android Nougat 7.0 out of the box and the update to Oreo 8.0 wasn’t available until late February/early March. Oreo released on August 23rd worldwide, meaning there was an approximate gap of 6 months till the Mate 9 came up to par with the ongoing software technology. Pity, no?

The display

First things first. The Mate 9’s display is of 5.9 inches, which is uncomfortably large for me. Using it is quite a hassle sometimes while keeping it in my pocket is an entire challenge in itself on most occasions.

Second, the display, despite having a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, doesn’t really fulfill my criteria for a good display. Viewing 1080p videos on YouTube doesn’t give the “HD” feel as it should and that disappoints me a lot.

The speakers

This is probably the worst feature of the phone. It is nearly impossible to listen to music on the phone’s speakers because of how low their output is. Additionally, using the loudspeaker during a call is a huge no too, thanks to, once again, the low output. Huawei has failed greatly in placing some good quality speakers and well, that just cuts down the phone’s charm by half.

Verdict

The Mate 9 has its pros and its cons. Features like the fast charge and the amazing quality of the camera makes the phone a perfect companion for the average user. Furthermore, the inconvenience caused by the awkward positioning of the fingerprint sensor is made up for by the speed of the sensor itself. On the other hand, while the poor display output reduces the Mate 9’s attractiveness, the processing speed ensures the user experience is at its peak at all times, making it a win-win situation for everyone. Conclusively, I would highly recommend this phone to everyone who’s in the search for a budget-friendly Android phone.

Final rating: 8/10

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