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Huawei Y9 2019 Review - One of the BEST smartphone under PHP 13K?

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Huawei's latest smartphone has just been made available the Philippines, the Y9 2019. It goes with a big screen, promising specs, quad-cameras, and more affordable price tag than the Nova 3i.
Huawei Y9 2019 Review - More of a Mid-ranger than an Entry-level Smartphone
Meet the Huawei Y9 2019

Following the Y6 2018 launched seven months ago, Huawei Y9 2019 made a huge leap in terms of design, cameras, processor, and more!

Huawei positioned it as a mobile device for students, young professionals or anyone with a tight-budget but want something that packs a lot of punch for the price. 

So we better check out and prove why it's worthy being dubbed as "one of the BEST smartphone under PHP 13K".

Here's our full review!

Unboxing/Accessories

What's inside?
What's inside?

Huawei Y9 2019 came with the similar box of the Y6 2018. It still carries the Instagram-like font printed on the box.

Inside, it has the unit itself, 5V/2A USB wall charger, USB to micro cable, SIM ejector tool, clear TPU case, pre-installed screen protector, earphone with mic, and the usual paper documents.

All of these despite being an affordable phone!

Build Quality/Design

Premium-looking design
Premium-looking design

At first look, the overall design of the Huawei Y9 2019 would remind you of the Nova 3i. BUT, you'd notice in the feel of the smartphones that Y9 2019 is made of a glass-like, sturdy plastic while the Nova 3i has a glass construction. However, the material used is just fine for the price.

We liked the 3D glass-like curve at the back of Huawei Y9 2019 and 2.5D curve on top with pre-installed screen protector. We wished that it has water resistance though just like most of the budget phones at its price point. 
Microphone on top
Microphone on top
3.5 mm headphone jack, micro USB, mic, and speaker grill at the bottom
3.5 mm headphone jack, micro USB, mic, and speaker grill at the bottom
Volume rocker and power button at the right
Volume rocker and power button at the right
Triple slot drawer on the left side
Triple slot drawer on the left side

Design-wise, Huawei Y9 2019 is a modern-looking budget smartphone. It has a small notch with very huge 6.5-inch screen display. We are constantly happy at how budget smartphones can look at their best even being priced at an affordable point.

Premium-looking design for its price!

I like how the notch is as small as enough to house the dual selfie cameras. I also love the small bezels that helped in putting a HUGE display on a small body. Yes, this phone is considered as small despite the big screen size. It measures at  just 162.4 x 77.1 mm which is a bit bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus with small 5.5-inch display.

There are two mics, one placed on top and the other placed at the bottom along with the micro USB port for charging, 3.5 mm headphone jack and grille speakers.

On the right side lies the volume rocker, and power button. Meanwhile on the left side is a triple slot for microSD and dual SIMs. 

The glass-like back is prone to fingerprint smudges but not that as visible and can easily get wiped-off with a cloth. We recommend putting on the case to avoid these smudges. 

It has nice ergonomics and has a nice grip. It is not slipping out of the hands when you hold it unlike those that have the same construction.

Display Quality

6.5-inch display!
6.5-inch display!

Huawei Y9 2019 sports a HUGE 6.5-inch 2.5D curved IPS screen display with FHD+ 2340 x 1080 resolution at 396 ppi. You would mistaken it as a mid-range smartphone because of its big display and very small notch.

It has a sharp display for the price paired nice colors and contrast considering it's an entry-level phone. Huawei Y9 2019 has nice viewing at all angles and a fine sunlight legibility.

Sharp, crisp display!

In the settings, you can find the option to turn the display into a yellowish one under 'Eye Comfort' to protect the eyes from straining. You can also change the home screen style, view mode if you like the icons small, default or large, and even the text size.

It also has the option to turn off the notch. As expected, it has 10 points of multitouch.

Audio Quality

Similar with the Huawei Y6 2018, this smartphone sports a single speaker grill placed at the bottom. it is accompanied with two microphones placed each on top and bottom.

The single bottom grille speaker produces nice and crisp sound for casual listening. It has distortion on max loudness, but it is very minimal and not that distracting.
Party mode
Party mode

We can't miss to note how awesome the "Party Mode" is! It allows you to connect up to seven of your friend's Huawei Android phones to share the same music. Forming a circle with the smartphones connected can create a music party with louder and clearer audio output.

It's also nice to note that Huawei did not remove the 3.5 mm headphone jack so it's a yay for those who do not want to live the dongle life!

Sound quality is great, it's not that bassy, and it produces balanced audio. Loudness level is also more than enough to power regular earphones. Distortion is minimal as well.

The Y9 2019 also comes with a FREE earphones with mic. 

Connecting it to a Bluetooth speaker is also seamless. We're able to enjoy listening to music via Bluetooth speaker without interruption. Sound quality just dips a bit on Bluetooth as expected.

The two microphones are working well but for videos, they create a hissing sound. It makes a casual recording, though.

Battery Life

Stellar battery
Stellar battery

Huawei Y9 2019 is packed with a big 4,000mAh battery found in the flagship Samsung Galaxy Note9. It's a 1,000mAh bigger than its predecessor, Y6 2018. In our PC Mark battery benchmark test, it lasted for 12 hours and 46 minutes long compared with the Note9's 11 hours and 21 minutes.
Huawei Y9 2019 battery settings
Huawei Y9 2019 battery settings

In real life usage, Huawei Y9 2019 lasts up to almost 11 hours under heavy usage. When we say heavy, we mean a LOT of gaming and surfing the internet.

BIG battery = long hours!

The 5V/2A USB wall charger can fill up the Huawei Y9 2019 from 0 to 100 percent under 1 hour and 40 minutes. Not bad!

Camera

Dual rear camera of 13MP + 2MP
Dual rear camera of 13MP + 2MP

The Y9 2019 has a quad camera setup similar with the higher-priced Nova 3i. It has dual rear cameras of 13MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4 with PDAF, Master AI, and LED flash. 

Most of the camera features like AI, HDR, Panorama, Portrait, Video, AR stickers, Light painting, Pro, and more can be found on the camera settings. The Pro mode have ISO 50/1600 and 1/4000 to 8s exposure. But what's special about the Huawei Y9 2019 is it's Super Night Mode for handheld, long exposure night shots.

Super Night Mode in an affordable smartphone!

In terms of camera quality, Y9 2019 can take photos as clear as those in the mid-range level. It captures photos with balanced exposure and contrast, nice colors, and sharp details.

The Y9 2019 is also equipped with AI software. It can detect over 500 scenes categorized under 22 labels. 

Throughout our review, there are times that the AI function either oversaturates or oversharpens a photo. BUT, mostly, the AI functions to enhance the beauty of a shot. It can be turned on and off (even after taking the shot) according to your preference.

For portrait, you can take photos with blurry background. The blur depth is artificial, but the blur is there and that's nice. 

There's a dip in quality in low light shots on point and shoot mode. But, it is noticeable that it has less noise than the Nova 3i due to its brighter f/1.8 lens.

It also has the handheld Super Night Mode feature. And it is really lit! You can even adjust the ISO level from 100 up to 1600 or auto depending on your preference.

Huawei Y9 2019 is one of those at this price point that can take superb night shots even without flash.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Daylight
With no AI vs with AI
Without AI
Without AI
With AI
With AI
Auto with AI
Auto with AI
Outdoor dim
Outdoor dim
Bokeh mode
Bokeh mode
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
Low light close-up
Low light close-up
Normal vs Super Night Mode
Normal vs Super Night Mode
Super Night Mode 1
Super Night Mode 1
Super Night Mode 2
Super Night Mode 2

For selfies, it features a dual camera setup of 16MP f/2.0 + 2MP f/2.4. It has the 10-level beautification, filters, AR stickers, AI, portrait, light painting, and panorama. The Super Night Mode is not available for selfie camera, but the lowlight selfies are being aided by the screen flash. 
Dual selfie cameras of 16MP + 2MP
Dual selfie cameras of 16MP + 2MP

Huawei Y9 2019 captures nice selfies under daylight and indoors. It also has the bokeh effect on selfies and you can put beautification in up to level 10.

Low light shots are crisp and detailed too, though you will see some grain. Use the screen flash for better looking selfies in the dark.

Overall, it is one of the better selfie shooters at this price point for me.

Selfie Camera Samples

Outdoor selfie
Outdoor selfie
Selfie with bokeh
Selfie with bokeh
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
AR Stickers
AR Stickers
Low light selfie with bokeh
Low light selfie with bokeh
Low light selfie 2
Low light selfie 2

Huawei Y9 2019 can shoot videos from 720p at 30fps up to 1080p at 60fps quality at the back. For selfies, it has up to 720p in face beauty video mode.

At the back, it shoot videos with good exposure and details. Autofocus is quick though there are times where it'll lose track of the subject. Stabilization is acceptable for the price, but it would have been better if it has EIS.

For selfies, we noticed that it has a slight crop. Though details are still crisp. Stabilization is also a bit better than the main cam. You can apply the face beauty and other filters even while video shooting is ongoing.

Video Samples


Performance

Strong scores!
Strong scores!

Unlike the Huawei Y6 2018, the Y9 2018 is equipped with the 2.2GHz 64-bit Kirin 710 octa-core processor and Mali-G51 MP4 with GPU Turbo plus 4GB RAM and 64GB expandable storage.

Superb performance for the price!

In case you missed it, the Kirin 710 processor was introduced along with the Huawei Nova 3i. This is the result of the Chinese smartphone brand's mission to bring a 12nm processor to the masses that can provide performance and power efficiency gains.

Huawei Y9 2019 is one of the smoothest at this price point. Hiccups are very rare and it can open apps quickly. Switching from an app to another is also smooth.

Playing heavy 3D games in this device is so nice! We were able to enjoy games under heavy settings with a bit lagging, but the game is playable, thanks to its Kirin 710 processor. 

The graphics on supported games like PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang are also nice because of the GPU Turbo.

Even games without GPU Turbo (yet) like the NBA 2K19 are playable at max settings.


Thermal management is great so far.

It runs on the Android 8.1 Oreo paired with EMUI 8.2. The icons are up to date, there are some bloatwares that cannot be deleted.
EMUI 8.2
EMUI 8.2

It is also feature-rich like other Huawei devices. Some of our favorite features are the Phone Manager for optimization, Themes to customize the look of its UI, and Health to monitor fitness and steps. It also has a Ride Mode feature that automatically answers your phone with voice or SMS messages.
Phone Manager
Phone Manager

Just like the Nova 3i, the AI of this handset can study your behavior to keep the phone fast always. It also has the Game Suite feature for game acceleration and uninterrupted gaming. If you have calls, only a small reminder box will appear.

We're happy that Huawei retained the fingerprint sensor aside from its face unlock option for security. Both the fingerprint scanner and face unlock are snappy and fast. The face unlock works even under low light settings. 

The rest of the telephony experience works great. It has a strong GSM signal for SIMs, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It has LED notification, OTG, and Dual SIM slots. 

Pros - Premium-looking design powerful performance, big battery, quad cameras, loud speakers, steady connectivity, affordability
Cons - No mention of Gorilla Glass protection, no video stabilization, not on USB Type-C

Huawei Y9 2019 Specs

Display: 6.5-inch 2.5D curved IPS screen w/ FHD+ 2340 x 1080 resolution at 396 ppi
CPU: 2.2GHz 64-bit Kirin 710 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G51 MP4 w/ GPU Turbo
RAM: 4GB
ROM: 64GB expandable via microSD card slot
Back Camera: 13MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4 w/ PDAF, Master AI and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16MP f/2.0 + 2MP f/2.4 w/ AI face beauty
Battery: 4,000mAh
OS: Android 8.1 Oreo w/ EMUI 8.2
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz), 700MHz 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, BLE, HWA, aptX, and aptX HD, FM Radio, OTG, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, Colors: midnight black, sapphire blue, aurora purple
Dimensions: 162.4 x 77.1 x 8.05 mm
Weight: 173 g
Price: PHP 12,990

Verdict

Definitely, Huawei Y9 2019 is definitely one of the BEST smartphones under PHP 13K! 

Its powerful processor for the price, quad cameras with above average quality, big battery, loud speakers, and affordability make it a superb device! It has a few weaknesses like it's still on a micro USB and lack of stabilization, but it is one of those "some" for the price.

If you're looking for a smartphone with superb features, great performance, and premium-looking design under a tight budget, then Huawei Y9 2019 can be the perfect choice, most especially as a gift this coming holidays!

Build/Design - 4
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.75
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.458/5
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