Huawei Mate 9 Review
Interface and Functionality
Why can't all OEM skins feel as polished as EMUI?
The arrival of Android 7.0 Nougat means that Huawei's got to come up with a new version of its custom UI, and we see that debut on the Mate 9 in the form of EMIU (or the Emotion UI) 5.0. The company places a big emphasis on clean design and enhancing productivity, and at this it's largely successful.
Some of the features of EMUI 5.0 will only reveal themselves in time, like the platform's ability to optimize itself for your most-used apps, or reduce storage fragmentation to optimize free space and keep apps running briskly.
But there are still plenty of EMUI capabilities that you can check out on day one, from its ability to “twin” an app and support login from multiple accounts at once, to the way it allows you to use the phone's fingerprint scanner (which we should mention is exceptionally fast and accurate) as a touchpad for gesture controls.
Maybe the best thing about EMUI 5.0 is just how customizable it is, giving you easy control over system settings that other third-party UIs might lock you in to. You can reorganize the order of on-screen virtual Android buttons to suit your preferences, or even transition the launcher between a standard app-drawer arrangement, and an iOS-style everything-on-the-home-screen configuration. There are a ton of similar features waiting to be taken advantage of, and discovering them is a big part of the fun of using the Mate 9.
Processor and Memory
Huawei's in-house effort gives more mainstream chips a run for their money
While Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors continue to power the majority of flagship smartphones (and a good chunk of even lower-tier models), the competition's not dead yet, and in addition to manufacturers like Apple and Samsung delivering handsets running in-house chips, Huawei's playing the same game with the HiSilicon Kirin processors in its own phones. The Mate 9's an especially noteworthy phone in this regard, as it introduces us to the very latest Kirin chip, the Kirin 960.
As a result, we were hugely curious to see how the Mate 9 would perform, and our experiences have been quite favorable. Subjectively, it runs Android as smooth as any other phone with a top-shelf processor. And when it comes to benchmarks, the Kirin 960 also offers some extremely impressive figures, showing performance either comparable to or in excess of this year's other fastest phones.
Huawei makes the smart call of giving the Mate 9 a full 64GB of internal storage – which we'd love to see become the standard on more smartphones, especially phablets that are just asking to serve as our mobile media hubs. And when paired with the phone's support for microSD expansion, you've got the potential to be looking at more storage than you'll know what to do with.
In addition to ample solid-state storage, Huawei also doesn't skimp when it comes to RAM, equipping the phone with a comfortable 4GB. That's sufficient for all of our usage needs, and the only shadow hanging over it is the knowledge that the special Porsche Design Mate 9 – the same one with that higher-res screen – gets 6GB of memory.
AnTuTu Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 128531
Huawei Mate 8 87783
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 179811
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 128191
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 3376
Huawei Mate 8 2894
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 3198
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 7527
Huawei Mate 8 5733
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 4840
JetStream Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 68.406
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 167.76
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 60.315
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 60
Huawei Mate 8 39
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 58.2
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 52
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 36
Huawei Mate 8 18
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 55.8
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 28
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 2785
Huawei Mate 8 1958
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3119
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1761
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 1923
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3443
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1857
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Huawei Mate 9 6140
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 5619
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 5569
Next-gen speed and broad carrier support are the highlights of this travel-friendly handset
The Mate 9's well equipped for wireless connectivity, supporting 20 LTE bands and 10 3G bands. And with compatibility for LTE Cat 12, the phone theoretically has the capacity to pull down data at 600Mbps – though you're almost guaranteed to see far less in actual usage.
Dual SIM support further enhances the Mate 9's wireless strengths, though at the expense of memory expansion.
If you're still carrying a phone with micro USB, you're missing out, because USB Type-C becomes more and more of joy to use as time goes on (and we accumulate more and more compatible hardware). There's nothing particularly special about what the Mate 9 is doing with it, but we're still happy to see it here, all the same.
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- Display 5.9" 1080 x 1920 pixels
- Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
- Processor HiSilicon Kirin, Octa-core, 2400 MHz
- Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
- Battery 4000 mAh