Nov 30

Huawei Mate 9 Android Smartphone Review
Huawei’s Premium Mate 9 Dual-SIM Dual-Camera Unlocked Android Smartphone

Huawei unleashed their top tier premium unlocked Android dual SIM and dual camera smartphone, the Mate 9. For the amount of engineering from multiple companies, like Leica, this smartphone rivals many others out there today. Dual is a word I use when describing what is inside. Dual-cameras, dual-unlocked SIM slots that also doubles as a micro SD card slot.

Huawei Mate 9 Speed
Huawei Mate 9 Speed

The Mate 9 phone runs EMUI 5 with Android Nougat 7 underneath. The AI (first Android phone to include Alexa), Machine Learning and optimizations in the operating software, combine to put its 4GB of RAM and octa-core CPU to full use with its huge 4,000 mAh battery. Their cutting-edge Machine Learning algorithm delivers stable performance by prioritizing RAM, ROM and CPU resources based on how the phone is utilized.

Disclosure: I am a Huawei International Key Opinion Leader and a Best Buy consumer electronics blogger. The smartphone was provided at no cost for review. I have not been compensated for the review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos are courtesy of Huawei unless otherwise noted.

Huawei Mate 9 Unboxing

What’s in The Box:

  • Huawei Mate 9 Android Smartphone
  • Carrying Case
  • Headset
  • SuperCharge Power Adapter
  • USB Type-C Charge & Sync Cable
  • USB Type-C to micro USB adapter
  • SIM Card Removal Tool

Huawei’s release of the Mate 9 to the US market puts companies like Samsung and Apple on notice. The company has a firm commitment with its other brand Honor, to offer North American consumers premium unlocked smartphones at excellent prices, with nearly unbeatable value, like the Honor 8. In the first half of 2017, they have released several firmware updates for their smartphones, enabling Google DayDream VR technology.

Huawei Mate 9 CES Event

Huawei Mate 9 3D Touch Security
Huawei Mate 9 3D Touch Security

Securing smartphones is key for Huawei. The Mate 9’s built-in super-fast 3D finger scanner is rear-mounted. The sensor can recognize a fingerprint 20% faster than the Mate 8. Protect apps, contacts and photos in a PrivateSpace that can be instantly accessed via a single tap.

Live Mate 9 Unboxing via Periscope in Dubai

The Mate 9 was released with EMUI 5.0 and Android Nougat 7. The latest Google security patches continue to roll out, along with additional features. Huawei has also released the more svelte, unlocked P10 with dual cameras co-engineered by Leica and the Mate 9 Pro.

Its build quality and distinguished design is immediately recognizable for a Huawei smartphone. The vertically aligned dual camera system with optical image stabilization and SuperCharge 4,000 mAh battery are Huawei’s best yet.

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The Mate 9 feels sculpted for the hand with a slight curve on the back. It has a larger screen and a nice weight. The layer of Gorilla Glass is on top of a metal back and rounded edges, which gives this smartphone a modern feel. The dual rear-facing cameras on the back give the phone a slight bump. Its antenna lines start on either side, top and bottom and extend straight to the other side. They blend in with the color used for the back material making for a nearly seamless design. A USB Type-C connection port is located on the bottom middle of the device, a well thought out location between the speaker and microphone.

Mate 9 Features:

  • Dual Rear Facing Cameras 20MP Monochrome & 12MP RGB
  • 8MP Front Facing Camera
  • T-Mobile LTE Band 12 Support
  • Octa-Core Kirin 960 CPU
  • i6 co-processor Mali-G71 MP8
  • 4GB RAM / 64GB of ROM
  • 4,000 mAh Battery
  • Premium Quality Materials Used
  • Front Mounted Fingerprint Sensor

Phablets like the Mate 9 smartphone have a large screen that pulls double duty as a small tablet. It has a 5.9” IPS touch panel display with full 1080p HD, 373ppi resolution (better than a Retina screen), and a 16:9 ratio. While many top smartphones come with quad HD or 4K resolution screens, a 1080p HD screen saves on battery life and price.

The model Mate 9 I tested came with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The SIM card tray also has a slot that can support up to a 256GB micro SD card or a secondary SIM card. The SanDisk 128GB A1 micro SD is perfect for this phone with enough storage space to capture thousands of images, 4K video and to run large Android apps.

A SuperCharge 4,000 mAh internal battery is included. I have seen Huawei’s small batch factory that builds these smartphones and it was amazing how rigorously they test the design for deficiencies. That explains how it can last for nearly two days. In about 20 minutes, it can charge for a full day’s worth of use.

Dual cameras in a smartphone were available from Huawei for nearly a full year before Apple included them in their iPhone 7 Plus. The dual camera capability of the Mate 9 also brings a portrait like mode, which Huawei calls aperture mode. The images taken in this mode can be modified later, such as changing the focus to another part of the photo. That means its dual cameras make it much easier to take higher quality photos.

Two cameras on the back combine images from dedicated color and monochrome sensors. These sensors are co-engineered by Leica and have OIS (optical image stabilization), phase detection, laser autofocus, are backside illuminated and have 2x hybrid zoom. See from the photos above and below, the dual cameras take sharp photos.

Huawei Mate 9 Cameras
Huawei Mate 9 Dual Cameras

The Mate 9’s monochrome sensor produced amazingly detailed images with exceptional levels of gray. Optical image stabilization for both sensors were what was missing from the Huawei P9. Its image processing technology does a fine job of producing much better photos in low light than my iPhone 6S Plus.

Roman ???? circus.

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On the front of the Mate 9, an 8MP camera with autofocus is there to capture the best selfies. The iPhone 7 Plus, that costs a lot more, offers a lower 7MP front facing camera. While it is not all about the megapixels, the Mate 9’s imaging sensors certainly bring in more light. A cornucopia of options will help users enhance selfies too. Software is important and Huawei has engineered an interface that both makes it easier to use than stock Android and fully takes advantage of its eight-core Kirin 960 CPU.

Huawei’s EMUI 5.0 camera app is optimized to take photos in less than a second. This camera app has removed extensions that were previously installed as default to speed up the app. They can be downloaded again if needed. I would have liked the software to have an automatic HDR mode though. Posting large photos and 4K video requires next level wireless signals.

Connecting to the wireless carrier of choice is possible with its unlocked 4G LTE enabled primary SIM card slot. The MHA-L29 model of the Mate 9 is compatible with LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 29, 38, 39, 40 and 41 for its first SIM card slot. The second SIM card slot is compatible with the following 3G bands; 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 19. This smartphone has some of the most advanced LTE wireless technology on the market today.

Huawei Mate 9 Side View
Huawei Mate 9 Side View

To make accessing the wireless Internet even faster, the Mate 9 has category 12 LTE hardware. The maximum speed it can theoretically connect to an LTE network is 600 Mbit/s down and 150 Mbit/s up. T-Mobile customers can enjoy LTE band 12 in the US, which is important for speed and range.

Huawei included support for 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi on both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands, 4.2 Bluetooth with support for LE and NFC. To navigate around the world, this smartphone supports GPS, Glonass, Galileo and BDS. As evidence with all of the above, Huawei engineers their smartphones to work exceptionally well around the world.

Powering all of its features, Huawei installed a huge and SuperCharging battery. Its 4,000 mAh lithium-polymer battery is rated for nearly two full days of normal use. Its SuperCharge capable wall plug can power up the phone for a full day’s worth of use in about 20 minutes.

Huawei Mate 9 Accessories
Huawei Mate 9 Accessories

My overall time with the Mate 9 has been nothing short of excellent. Its quality and build materials made me feel that this phone should be a lot more expensive. It is T-Mobile LTE band 12 compatible and super-fast when running on that network. It shows with impressive LTE category 12 hardware inside. Capture amazing moments with exceptional clarity via dual cameras and OIS. Elevate selfies with its 8MP front facing camera. The unlocked Mate 9 smartphone with Android Nougat 7 is great for anyone looking to go big and travel around the world in style. For its value and feature set, the Mate 9 is very hard to beat in the premium smartphone category.

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