Huawei Mate 9 Review - The Best In PH Yet!
|Here's our review of the beastly Mate 9!|
For the review part 1: Huawei Mate 9 Unboxing And First Impressions!
|10 points of multitouch|
The screen isn't the sharpest around, but sunlight legibility ranks among the best!Dynamic range on point and levels of black for an IPS panel is outstanding. Viewing angles are okay and its slim screen to body ratio looks amazing. Brightness is also great. Even at just 60% bright, the screen is legible enough for outdoor use even with direct sunlight hit.
By the way, this handset has a good type of software for color calibration, eye protection mode to increase reading comfort level at night or lowlight, and has 10 points of accurate touch response for better typing experience.
|The single good speaker below!|
The Mate 8 last year only had an "okay-like" of speaker. For the Mate 9, I expected the company to improved on this matter. Gladly, they did. Even if this phablet only has a single speaker at the bottom, it was a good and loud one!
Speaker quality is great up to 80% volume. Sound signature is balanced. Vocals are clear and microdetails are audible. Bass response is fine, but obviously it won't be as meaty compared with bigger or multiple speakers. Above 80% loudness, grains and distortion are present.
Audio headphone-out is excellent and has an accurate audio reproduction. Sound signature is mostly flat and natural sounding. It's HiFi grade in terms of quality and can produce microdetails very well. Driving low-powered headphones or earphones are also great. It still sounds clear even on max loudness on most great quality headphones.
The 2x microphone of the Mate 9 has the ability to record in stereo for videos and voice recordings. Quality is good and noise is minimal on quiet environments. For calls, the quality is fine as long as signal is strong. Not V20 grade in quality, but it is very clear overall!
|Almost 12 hours of work battery life!|
The Mate series made a good name of itself globally due to its long battery life. It appears that the company is continuing that tradition with the Mate 9 as they embedded this phablet with the large 4,000 mAh of battery while making the body slimmer at 7.9 mm.
|Use the ultra power saving mode to squeeze the battery life further|
Battery life, optimization, and charging speed time is on point!Another highlight of Mate 9's battery lies in its charging time. This handset has is compatible with the company's proprietary 5A Super Charge technology which can charge the phone from 0 to 100 percent in 45 to 50 mins. Again, that speed is crazy for a big battery powered phone. It's always cool and safe as well.
|The 2nd gen dual Leica optics behind|
The most exciting highlight of the Mate 9 is its use of the 2nd generation dual Leica optics for mobile. It now has a 20 MP f/2.2 monochrome sensor + 12 MP f/2.2 RGB sensor w/ 4-in-1 Hybrid AF, OIS, 2x zoom, and dual tone LED flash for shooting great photos and videos. Coming from the P9, the addition of OIS for image and video stabilization is a welcome sight.
|The main camera modes and features|
The camera interface is cluttered and has a learning curve. But, once you are used to it, everything is easy to reach and use. This machine has the numerous filters and modes that could be useful for your photography experience. It has a real up to 20 MP monochrome mode, beautify, HDR, panorama, and good food mode. Then its complete with grids, levels, and RAW format support.
The night shot mode also comes with an auto mode if you do not have the experience in long exposure photography, but you can also adjust ISO up to 1600 and shutter speed up to 32 seconds. Then it has a special light painting mode where you can choose either tail light trails, light graffiti, silky water, and star track features.
|Complete manual mode|
The manual camera mode has an up to ISO 3200, 30 seconds shutter speed, exposure adjustment, manual focus, and manual white balance adjustments that professional photographers and enthusiasts can tinker.
|Wide aperture mode|
Lastly, it comes with a cleaner and better wide aperture mode where you can manually adjust "aperture size" from f/0.95 to f/16 via software. As a result it is capable of producing shallow depth of field, creating beautiful bokeh w/ cleaner edges coming from P9, and refocus even after taking the shot.
Anyway, shutter speed and focusing is on par with most flagships we saw. The iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge still shoots a little faster, but we find the accuracy of Mate 9 better. Mate 9 shoots faster in 12 MP mode.
Going to the quality of stills, the dual cameras of Mate 9 works like an improved version of P9. The 20 MP monochrome sensor records light and the lower res 12 MP RGB camera provides color information and details. As a result, you can shoot in 20 MP in both black and white and color mode.
Pushing for awesome quality, the Mate 9 achieved images that surpassed what they achieved with the excellent P9. Colors are very natural and well balanced to the point that it may look true-to-life even for some trained eyes. Sharpness are outstanding the dynamic range good. For monochrome mode, images even look sharper and has very hard to match dynamic range.
For daylight images, the Mate 9 shoots the best photos we saw on a smartphone.Lowlight performance has improved too. It can now compete the likes of V20, iPhone 7 Plus, and S7 Edge w/ bigger aperture size even on point and shoot. It still lags a little behind them in dynamic range for point and shoots, but when on night or manual mode, it'll blew them all away.
Rear Camera Samples
|Against the light HDR|
|Indoor good food mode|
|Trail lights test|
|Auto night mode sample|
|Normal vs 2x hybrid zoom|
|2x hybrid zoom in HDR while moving inside a car|
|Indoor bokeh w/ desaturated background|
|Indoor lowlight bokeh|
|Bokeh at night|
For selfies, the Mate 9 has a bright type of 8 MP f/1.9 front camera w/ wide angle lens, AF, and screen flash.
|There's a great type of 8 MP selfie cam!|
There's beauty and panorama modes for stills to choose from. We liked the fact that this selfie cam has AF or tap to focus for better and more accurate images. Shooting speed is also fast. There's screen flash for lowlight, but it is very slow. We believed that it can be fixed via software update though, let's hope.
|Selfie camera modes|
For daylight, the selfie cam of Mate 9 has plenty of details. The colors are pleasing and close to natural. Dynamic range is also good. For lowlight, noticeable grains are visible, but understandable. There are just times that it oversaturate your shots and will make you look cartoonish on higher beautify levels.
Selfie Camera Samples
|Daylight beautify selfie|
|Indoor selfie w/ beautify|
|Groufie in lowlight|
|Selfie screen flash|
For videos, this the first Mate that has the ability to record in 4K at 30 fps. This is also one of the few dual camera setup that has OIS for image and video stabilization. It also has the ability to record in 1080p at 60 fps or 30 fps.
Video captured using the main camera is sharp looking at 4K, but we liked the quality better on 1080p at 60 fps. For the best quality, shooting in 1080p at 30 fps is recommended. Colors are very good, 2x zoom is applicable, and bokeh mode works occasionally. However, even if the quality is more stabilized than ever, it still lags in video recording quality against most flagships today.
Selfie videos on 1080p is shorter in angle. I often use the 720p selfie videos as the angle is wider and you can enable beautify mode even on videos.
|Very high benchmark scores!|
The Mate 9 is packed with the Kirin 960 chipset w/ i6 co-processor and Mali G71 graphics. It's the company's speediest and most advanced SoC yet. Huawei even had a promise of "never slowing down" for 18 straight months (unlike other Android smartphones) due to its Android 7.0 Nougat OS w/ EMUI 5.0 skin and deep learning AI tech. The deep learning AI technology will automatically study your behavior to ensure good speed all the time.
The result, so far so good and so fast! The Huawei Mate 9 is arguably the speediest Android handset we ever used. Even at just 4 GB of RAM, multitasking performance is silky smooth and we never had major problems during our try with it.
|EMUI 5.0 skin is clean and feature packed!|
Going to the UI, the Android 7.0 Nougat OS w/ EMUI skin is a total refinement coming from what we saw with the older EMUI 4.1 skin. Icons and spacing is now better, transitions feels faster, and you can now use the app drawer mode for a more traditional Android look.
|Phone Manager and Health app|
The UI is also packed with a good type of Phone Manager (for phone optimization), Health app (fitness tracker), screen recorder, mirror share
In telephony, the experience is even better than usual. GSM signals are strong, WiFi connectivity is stable, and Bluetooth 4.2 has good distance and speed. LTE-A also works here.
The Huawei Share feature (WiFi + Bluetooth) also deserves a special mention here as it enables super fast Huawei to Huawei file transfer possible. It is as fast or even faster than the SHAREit app.
Fingerprint scanner is feature packed, OTG, Advanced GPS is accurate for Waze / Google Maps, and AR and VR apps also works.
VerdictThere are few points to improve, but that won't change our minds from claiming that the Huawei Mate 9 is arguably one of the best phablet that's officially and readily available in the country today.
The Mate 9 has nearly everything that we wished for a flagship phablet device. Construction is top notch, performance is superb, cameras are excellent, and battery life is better than most high-end smartphones we tested.
To make things sweeter, this phablet is at least 4K cheaper than its other higher-end competitors. Overall, if you need a big handset with powerful all around performance, the Huawei Mate 9 is a value packed machine at PHP 32K.
Build / Design - 4.75
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.75
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.58 / 5