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Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 Review - Affordable pop-up camera phone

OPPO
Huawei wants to make full-screen display and pop-up camera smartphones affordable. How does it perform in real-world use though?
Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 Review - Affordable pop-up camera phone
Full-screen display experience made affordable

In our first impressions, we said that the Y9 Prime 2019 will not win in RAW power but makes up in design, features, and overall value for the price.

For our review part 1: Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 Unboxing and First Impressions

Inside is the Kirin 710F octa-core processor with the Mali-G51 MP4 GPU, 4GB RAM, and a large 128GB of internal storage.


Does it deliver? Let's find out. 


Display Quality

Thin side and top bezels!
Thin side and top bezels!

In front of the Y9 Prime is a 6.59-inch 2.5D curved TFT LCD LTPS display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 resolution at 391 ppi that is bright, vibrant and sharp. This coupled with the pop-up camera mechanism, and the thin top and side bezels give it an immersive experience.


There is an "Eye Comfort" mode that allows you to schedule and customize the intensity of the warm or cool filters for easier mobile phone use. At maximum brightness, it is bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight.

The display supports 10 points of multitouch which allows for better UI interaction especially in apps or games that make multitouch a necessity.

Audio Quality

Single bottom-firing speaker and 3.5mm headphone jack
Single bottom-firing speaker and 3.5mm headphone jack

At the bottom of the Y9 Prime is a single speaker, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. At maximum volume, it is loud enough to fill a studio condo unit with minimal distortion; however,  it will struggle with the ambient noise of large open spaces.

When using the included earphones to the 3.5mm headphone jack, sound quality improves with better separation and high emphasis on the bass. I wish the sound stage was bigger though.

The microphone quality is crisp and clear. We never had a caller who had a hard time hearing us. It is decent for video audio recordings as well.

Battery

PCMark benchmark
PCMark benchmark

Inside the Y9 Prime is a large 4,000mAh battery that is charged with a 10W charger. There is no word if it supports Huawei's SuperCharge.

Around 6 hours of screen on time!

In our usual PCMark Battery test, the Y9 Prime was able to give 9 hours and 38 minutes. 


This is was surprising given that we were getting more than 6 hours of on-screen time with our unit.


We would unplug our unit from the charger at 8AM and we would arrive home at 8PM with a little over 40 percent in our battery left.


Huawei provides several power modes: Performance mode, Power saving mode and Ultra Power saving mode. In performance mode, there is no limit to power consumption.


In Power saving mode, brightness, processor performance are limited to save power. In ultra power saving mode, it turns the UI into a basic interface with access to select apps only to save as much power as possible.


The accompanying 10W charger charges the Y9 Prime in around 2 hours. This may deter people who are looking for faster-charging given that the competition offers fast charging around this price point.


Camera

Main camera UI
Main camera UI

At the back of the Y9 Prime is a triple rear camera set-up of a 16MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP f/2.4 120-degree ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 2MP f/2.4 with PDAF and with LED flash.


Triple-cam made affordable!

Y9 Prime 2019 has multiple camera modes: Photo, Video, Aperture, Night, Portrait, Pro, Slow-mo, Panorama, AR lens, Light Painting, HDR, Time-lapse, filter, and stickers.


Huawei's Light Painting mode which gives unlimited exposure time is still unmatched by any brand. At its price point, Y9 Prime 2019 is also one of the most affordable with such image software tech. It can even allow you to take silky water shots in daylight.

The Pro mode is robust for the price with controls for ISO (50-3200), Shutter Speed (1/4000th of a second to 8 seconds), EV, AF, and white balance.


On the opposite side of the Photo mode and shutter controls are the buttons for HiVision, LED flash, Moving Picture, AI and settings. 


Switching between the standard lens and the ultra-wide lens is still awkward because it is placed in a position that you can't reach while holding your phone one-handed.


Fortunately, it has snappy shooting and reliable focus speed. As mentioned in our first camera samples article, close-up shots are possible in daylight. Photo saving time is quite fast well.


Rear Camera Samples

Daylight main camera
Daylight main camera
Daylight ultra-wide camera
Daylight ultra-wide camera
Close-up well-lit
Close-up well-lit

Huawei Y9 Prime's main camera and its ultra-wide camera produces somewhat decent daylight and indoor shots with somewhat sharp but vibrant colored images.

Indoor main camera
Indoor main camera
Indoor ultra-wide camera
Indoor ultra-wide camera
Main camera close-up
Main camera close-up

Indoor images also turned out okay as long as you have enough light. It struggled a little with minimal grain in shots with artificial light.
Using the Aperture mode
Using the Aperture mode

We did find the main camera to produce a decent close-up image but it could be sharper.
Low light main camera
Low light main camera
Low light ultra-wide camera
Low light ultra-wide camera
Low light night mode
Low light night mode

In low light, the main camera produces acceptable images with some increased grain and some noise reduction. On the other hand, the ultra-wide camera's low light images are not good with severe noise and color cast that results in super soft images with minimal clarity.
Normal vs night mode
Normal vs night mode

Night mode improves the main camera's images significantly with sharper images, more vibrant color and stronger contrast but it only works for subjects that stay still. Sadly, there is no night mode for the ultra-wide cam.
Main Camera UI
Selfie camera UI

Out of the box, the 16MP f/2.2 front-facing-selfie camera is hidden inside the phone with a pop-up mechanism.

This is the crowing feature of the Y9 Prime 2019 because it is one of the most affordable pop-up camera phones in the market when it came out and it shows with the noticeably slow pop-up and pop-down time.

There is no indicated AF system but the selfie camera detects faces instantaneously and it also takes shots instantaneously.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie

The selfie camera, on the other hand, is impressive. The images produced have a wider field of view with good sharpness, vibrant colors, and strong contrast in daylight.
Daylight selfie portrait mode
Daylight selfie portrait mode

The edge detection on the portrait mode/aperture mode is mostly accurate but struggle with fine detail like hair strands. The out of focus areas/bokeh is not the most natural-like out there but it is good enough.
Bokeh works even if there is more than 1 human in the frame
Bokeh works even if there is more than 1 human in the frame

The face beautification is at its best at level 3 with just enough smoothening that doesn't look artificial.
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie 1

Indoor selfies are almost as good as daylight selfies if you are in areas with proper lighting. It'll struggle a little in dim situations.
Low light selfie
Low light selfie

Even in low light, selfies are quite crisp with respectable dynamic range. The grain is visible but not as bad as other budget selfies cameras.
Low light selfie with screen flash
Low light selfie with screen flash

It is not the best selfie camera in its price range but it is more than good enough for most.

For videos, the main camera can shoot up to 1080p 60fps with face beautification while the only uses the main 16MP for the video which means you can't switch between the main camera and ultra-wide camera.

There is also no setting for EIS nor was there a mention of OIS on any of the cameras.

Footage from both the rear camera and front are sharp with decent contrast and color in daylight, but 
noticeably softer in low light.

Because of the noise in low light, casting occurs. There is no stabilization so the footage can be noticeably shaky.

Video Samples


Performance

Y9 Prime 2019's respectable Benchmark scores
Y9 Prime 2019's respectable Benchmark scores

The Y9 Prime 2019 carries a 2.2GHz 64-bit Kirin 710F octa-core processor, Mali-G51 MP4 GPU, and 4GB of RAM which produced a score of 142,082 in AnTuTu and a score of 1571 in single-score and 5527 in multi-core tests from GeekBench 4.

The result is average at this price point. It is almost on par with similarly priced devices with Helio P60 and SD660. But, it is lower than some phones with SD710 and maybe SD665. 


Its use of the Kirin 710F is still sufficient enough as the difference from the competition is barely noticeable when navigating or switching between apps and the home screen.





For games, GPU turbo is there to alleviate the power shortage. Users have to check if the games they play are compatible with it though.

As you can see from our gaming sample below, the Y9 Prime 2019 performs decently in games. It isn't the most powerful device out there for the price, but it can somehow game.


Its thermal management is decent as well. Kirin 710F gets warm while playing games with 4G LTE on, but not alarmingly hot.


The UI

EMUI based on Android 9.0 Pie
EMUI based on Android 9.0 Pie

Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 is running on the latest version which runs smoothly though we had instances where the system would stutter when running a heavy game.

Otherwise, it was smooth sailing. Huawei has made great improvements with the overall UI with the focus on one-handed use that is obvious in some parts of the OS and not so much in others


One example is in the camera wherein the switch from the main camera to the wide camera is on the side which is difficult to reach when holding the phone horizontally to take a picture.


It has iPhone X-like gestures for easy navigation if you do not want to use the traditional Android keys.


Some of the old UI quirks that have annoyed a number of people haven't been addressed so EMUI is still a polarizing skin of Android. Either you like it or you don't.


GPU turbo is built-in and extremely useful for specific games that support it, otherwise, the gaming-focused crowd should look elsewhere for performance.


It has a Ride mode that has been introduced wherein when active, Bluetooth and headsets are disabled and calls will automatically be answered via voice or SMS message.


It is a mode focused on people who drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle.


Overall, it is a feature-rich skin that doesn't get slow over time.


Other features

The Huawei Y9 Prime can connect via WiFi, 4G LTE and Bluetooth 4.2. Connections are stable, reliable and fast. GSM signal is quite good as expected.

The fingerprint sensor is at the back of the phone is able to read and register our fingerprints instantaneously.


Because of the pop-up camera feature, face unlock is missing and is sorely missed given the competitors have that feature even with a pop-up mechanism.

Note: Others made it possible to put a face unlock mode even if they have pop-up cameras.

Pros - Beautiful design, full-screen display, long-lasting battery, USB-C, decent selfie camera, value for money
Cons - No fast charging, slow pop-up mechanism, no face unlock, rear-facing camera could improve 

Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 Specs

Display: 6.59-inch 2.5D curved TFT LCD (LTPS) screen w/ FHD+ 2340 x 1080 resolution at 391 ppi
CPU: 2.2GHz 64-bit Kirin 710F octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G51 MP4 w/ GPU Turbo
RAM: 4GB
ROM: 128GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 400GB
Back Camera: 16MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.4 120-degree ultra wide-angle lens + 2MP f/2.4 w/ PDAF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16MP f/2.2
Battery: 4,000mAh w/ 10W fast charging
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ EMUI 9.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 700MHz 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, BLE, HWA, aptX, and aptX HD, FM Radio, OTG, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, USB-C Colors: midnight black, emerald green, sapphire blue
Dimensions: 163.5 x 77.3 x 8.8 mm
Weight: 197 g
Price: PHP 12,990

Verdict

Huawei Y9 Prime 2019 offers value for money with its beautiful design, long battery life, full-screen experience, and pop-up selfie camera.

It has few compromises like the lack of face unlock solution and the hit or miss primary cameras, cameras, but Huawei effectively democratizes the pop-up selfie with full-screen experience.

If you are okay with the above-mentioned minor gripes and want that thin bezel and no notch goodness on a budget, the Y9 Prime is a good option.

Build/Design - 4.25
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 4
Performance - 4
Average - 4.083/5
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