Since collaborating with Google for the Nexus 6P, Huawei has taken great strides in its attempt to become a household name in western markets. With its e-brand Honor, taking care of the budget conscious end of the smartphone market with its Honor 8, Huawei launched its premium offering, the P9, back in April to a mostly welcoming reception. Now, at an event in Munich, we have just witnessed the Chinese handset manufacturer taking the covers off of its successor to last year’s Mate 8, appropriately called the Mate 9, which features a dual-camera setup and the company’s latest processor, the Kirin 960.
The Mate 9 has unibody frame that takes 810 minutes to be manufactured out aerospace-grade aluminum and has 2.5D glass on its front. Weighing in at 190 grams, Huawei’s newest flagship has dimensions of 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm. It has a 5.9-inch Full HD display and is powered by Huawei’s latest chip, the HiSilicon Kirin 960 Octa-core processor that uses 4 ARM Cortex A72 and 4 ARM Cortex A53 cores in a big.Little configuration. Powering the graphics is the Octa-core Mali G71 GPU, which, combined with support for the Vulkan graphics API should help the Mate 9 handle even the most demanding games or apps.
There’s 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM on multi-tasking duty, and here we can expect to see Huawei’s aggressive power management system reach new levels as it attempts to keep the handset performing speedily by halting apps from running wild in the background. Aiding Huawei’s mantra of ‘Born fast, remain fast’ is the 64GB/128GB of UFS 2.0 internal storage.
Continuing Huawei’s partnership with Leica, the Mate 9 has a dual-camera setup on the rear panel consisting of a 12MP RGB sensor with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) as well as a 20MP monochrome sensor. It has a dual-LED flash, laser auto-focus, and the sensors have f/2.0 aperture, 2 x optical zoom, as well as a Hybrid autofocus. The front camera has an 8MP sensor.
As with its predecessor, the Mate 9 has a 4,000mAh non-removable battery packed into the unibody frame, that recharges 50% quicker than the Mate 8. When connected to the official charger the Mate 9 can go from 0-58% in just 30 minutes. Huawei claims that with just 10 minutes of charging the Mate can play 3.5 hours of video or 5.5 hours of 3G calls. Naturally, the quick charging can only be achieved when using Huawei’s official charger with its SuperCharge technology.
On the software side of things, the Mate 9 is running the very latest version of EMUI, version 5.0 on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. Huawei has redesigned EMUI 5.0 to be lighter than previous versions, with the aim of having 90% of functions actionable within 3 taps, and 50% within 2 taps. Instead of the garish appearance in previous versions, Huawei has chosen to go with a blue and white color scheme. Possibly the biggest news is that with EMUI 5 comes a feature that is synonymous with the Android operating system, an app drawer. While it isn’t enabled by default, the app drawer is present and easy to find in Settings/Home Screen Style.
Something that Huawei has emphasized during the launch is the phrase ‘Born fast, stay fast‘. The aim is that with considerable tweaking and optimization the Mate 9 will remain as quick after 16 months as it was when it first launched. This is all achieved thanks to the new Kirin 960 processor, the optimized EMUI 5 interface, internal memory compression, and the ability to predict which apps will be used based on previous app usage.
The Mate 9 supports dual-SIM connectivity, although you will have to choose whether to use a MicroSD card or a nano-SIM in the second slot. An interesting feature is the ability to operate two separate accounts on the Mate 9, if you are a business user, for example, you can run dual WhatsApp, FaceBook, or WeChat accounts on the handset.
The Mate 9 will be available from December in Europe for €699 in Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, and Ceramic White. The handset will come to the US (and supposedly other markets, too), but we have yet to hear details on price and availability.
What do you think of the Mate 9?