For the last three weeks I have been using the Huawei Mate 9 full time. The verdict is easy: a great smartphone.
I was sent the Huawei Mate 9 ahead of its New Zealand launch, scheduled for the 15th December. It arrived just in time to be taken with me on a trip that would see me flying 24 hours around the globe, so what better opportunity to try a large screen smartphone?
First impressions count a lot and the colour available in New Zealand - mocha brown - looks really nice. With a satin finish and slightly rounded glass borders, this is one good looking phone (and it feels nice to touch).
Once the Huawei Mate 9 is setup you know Huawei is putting a lot of effort into it. With Android 7 powered by an octa-core 2.4GHz Kirin 960 chipset and 4GB RAM, this handset feels super-fast. Pair this with a 4000mAh battery and smart power management and we are talking about a handset that can go on for hours. I had it fully charged in the morning before leaving the hotel and back from the full conference day - including photos, messaging, email checks, Twitter posts, all wireless options (WiFi, mobile and Bluetooth) turned on and it still showed 50% battery left. With Huawei SuperCharge you can quickly charge up the battery for some more time, if needed.
Huawei's documentation says the Huawei Mate 9 uses something called iAware System, a machine learning platform that learns your usage and preempt changes between apps as well as pre-loading frequently used apps.
The Huawei Mate 9 is being released in New Zealand in its dual SIM version - the second SIM is actually also a microSD card slot so you can use one or the other. In case you end up using both SIM slots you still have about 49GB storage free (out of 64GB total storage), so not bad.
Like the Huawei P9 this new handset comes with a Leica-designed camera sporting two sensors (a 20 megapixel monochrome and a 12 megapixel colour sensors) and laser-based focus, plus a 8 megapixel front facing camera. Photos are superb and super sharp. Like the Huawei P9, this camera combines the information collected from those two sensors (colour and monochrome) to get detailed information creating an image equivalent to that of a 36 megapixels sensor. The company says improved algorithm gives better effects and its 54mm focal length plus f 0.95 aperture allows users to create great photos. Native monochrome photos are bright and a professional mode allows you to control ISO, focus, shutter speed, white balance, exposure and metering independently.
In terms of mobile connectivity the Huawei Mate 9 supports 2G/3G and 4G networks, with up to 600 Mbps (CAT9) service, ideal for New Zealand conditions.
Huawei put some effort into its unique take on user interface, with an updated EMUI 5.0 which now includes an app drawer, making it friendlier to use than before. Some of the built-in apps now also include a swipe right action (similar to that of the camera app introduced with the Huawei P9), that will show its menu when you swipe the screen left to right, making it easier to access app menus. Behind the scenes there's an updated algorithm to identify gestures and touches correctly and discard errors that may appear from holding such a large device.
It is really a large phone, with 5.9 (1920 x 1080) inch IPS display. Watching downloaded content works really well - pair this with a good pair of noise reduction headphones and you have your own space. Even without those headphones you can still get great sound out of the Huawei Mate 9.
Definitely a smartphone to consider if you are looking at upgrading now.