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

Connectivity

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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36 Comments

1. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

I hate that black screen border :-( apparently, no water-resistant is a con right now... nice...

2. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

yes it is because when the Samsung and apple is doing it which they are the market leaders it become a must have

3. RockeyCoco

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 09, 2016

So after the Irish scanner coming to iPhone, No Irish scanner will be a big con as well......!!!

9. BobLawblaw unregistered

Us Irishmen are pretty easy to spot anyway..

12. athos07m

Posts: 137; Member since: Apr 22, 2012

Comment of the week :P

4. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

8 is a little low score for such phone #justsaying

6. Papa_Ji

Posts: 852; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

Yes bro, puta APPLE logo on the back iphonearena will give it at least 9.5

7. maherk

Posts: 6884; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I've seen nothing but praises for this phone on every review I have watched, and for you to give it an 8, shows again how biased this site is towards anything that don't have the Apple logo slapped on it's back. This is easily an 8.7/9 rated phone.

8. maherk

Posts: 6884; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

"Big and bright is a winning combination, though the lack of quad HD is curious" Double standards again, crying about QHD when you forgive Apple for offering "retina" screens in 2016.

10. tiara6918

Posts: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

I was more interested with the p9 plus even though the mate 9 came out. But when I saw that 12 hr battery life. Damn. This phone is now on my wishlist

11. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

The EMUI should be a con. It's one of the worst Android skins out there. Stay away from it.

13. Ghost04

Posts: 521; Member since: May 03, 2014

iPhone 7 : 4 pros and 3 cons Scored 9.3 . Mate 9 : 5 pros and 2 cons Managed to score only 8 . I love PA for been so honest in reviewing phones .

17. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

and those 2 cons is totally subjective "-We expected more from the dual-camera Leica system -No waterproofing" HTC10, OP3, and lots of other flagship didn't have waterproofing but they didnt write it as cons before... as for camera, let's wait for review from other sites... (since I wont believe any review about camera from a site that say iPhone7 camera is better than S7e, lol)

18. maherk

Posts: 6884; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Because those you mentioned where released before the iPhone 7, that wasn't a con as of yet in PA's books. Wait till the iPhone get an OLED screen, IPS screens will become a con as well.

28. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah right... and 3.5mm jack should be written as cons from now on...

16. sissy246

Posts: 7120; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

"crashing and burning (pun intended) of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7." WOW, iphonearena once again showing its true colors at how bias they are with that comment and scoring this phone only a 8.

19. davthom123

Posts: 121; Member since: Mar 02, 2015

2 cons and an 8 ????

20. zarkonj

Posts: 15; Member since: Sep 30, 2015

I don't get why this phone doesn't have a better Score than 8/10. I mean the Score tells me - if you don't read the review - that the phone costs around 700.-, but is just ok. On the other hand, when I read the full review, there is almost nothing bad. It should score at least as good as the Pixel XL. Maybe the only thing better on the Pixel is the camera. But it also lacks of water-resistance, lacks of a monochrom camera (which btw was already on the P9 very cool), has worse battery and speakers, has around the same performance so...why does it score better? Why?

21. libra89

Posts: 2282; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Really impressed with what this phone is offering for the people who desire big phones. EMUI 5 looks really good!

22. aznhachi

Posts: 212; Member since: Apr 12, 2016

oh booooi

23. teffyhilory1

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Lol comment of the week indeed

24. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Since Apple put IP67 certification on iPhone 7, waterproofing became con. I didn't saw such con when was reviewed iPhone 6 or 6S?!?

25. c.y.a.n.i.d.e

Posts: 11; Member since: Aug 08, 2014

Seriously....what is phonearena's problem with Huawei phones?!?!?!?!?!I am really fund of my dad's honor 7 and yet here it has a rating of 7.0!!!I think honor 7 deserves a rating around 8.5 and based on that,mate 9 deserves at least 9.0

26. Omran2000

Posts: 101; Member since: Aug 18, 2016

2 cons had gave the mate 9 a score of 8/10 ! Phonearena has a real problem with chinese companies But they haven't ruined it , as they did with the mate 8

30. patjanter

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

I have the mate 9 for a week ,its a bomb,only missing the qhd screen a bit and waterproving

31. Pabliell

Posts: 184; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

PhoneArena, could you please add Mate 9 to your size compare feature? Porsche Design and Lite versions are already there, but the regular Mate 9 is absent. Thank you.

32. Pabliell

Posts: 184; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

The only thing that bothers me in this review is the battery recharge time. 144 minutes? Everyone else is claiming that Mate 9 recharges 60% in just 30 minutes and is completely full after 90 minutes. That's almost and hour less than what you got in your test...

33. patjanter

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

Its sooo fast 60 % IN 30 MIN YES

34. E.S.1

Posts: 308; Member since: Sep 14, 2013

Hi, Is this an unlocked phone and if yes would it work on Att in the US? I'm trying to decide between this and One Plus 3T. Thank you

35. Sirobert

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 02, 2017

Why only 8? I have this pjone for few weeks and its the best I'he ever had..my wife has s7 edge which I use sometimes, h9 mate is better in my opinion..battery in h9 mate deserves 10

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Mate 9
  • 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

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