Huawei Mate 9 Review; Simply the Best Mate

Anjie lou delos Reyes
Huawei Mate 9 Review; Simply the Best Mate
Huawei Mate 9 Review; Simply the Best Mate


The Huawei Mate series has come a long way, and with the manufacturing giant's securing partnership with the camera legend Leica, the business class mobile phone got even more appealing to target consumers, thus the birth of a new smartphone era with the Huawei Mate 9.

Huawei dubbed the Mate 9 as a smartphone that provides revolutionary experience with "A Step Ahead" performance and features. The company even boasts that it will stay in such pristine condition up to 18 months with the help of the built-in artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithm as what they want to call it, but that is still a long way to be proven, for now, let us dig deep into this flagship phone and find out the reasons behind the hype.


Huawei Mate 9 Unboxing and Hands-on

The display of Huawei Mate 9 is a notch lower than the Mate 8, it measures 5.9 inches as compared to the 6 inches of the latter, the reason could be because the former's length and width dimensions are also smaller - 156.9mm x 78.9mm versus 157.1mm x 80.6mm. In comparison, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus whose screen size is only 5.5-inch has longer length of 158.2mm, which simply means that the Mate 9 got higher screen-to-body ratio, simply put - a 5.9-inch display installed in a 5.5-inch body. In terms of thickness, both Mates measures 7.9mm, while on the weighing scale, the newer variant is slightly heavier at 190 grams as compared to 185 grams of the older model.

Huawei Mate 9 Display Information
Huawei Mate 9 Display Information

Digging more on its display, it has a very slim bezels and comes with Full HD resolution, giving it a pixel density of 373 PPI. Together with the IPS panel, excellent auto brightness adjustment, and great contrast, this handset offer crisp and vibrant images, and top-notch readability even under direct sunlight. There is also an option to adjust color temperature, and an Eye Comfort mode that helps reduce eye strain by filtering blue light. Moreover, it can recognize touches from 10 different points at the same time.

Looking into its aesthetics, the footprint of the Mate series remains intact, a refined glamorous piece of metal that was built in a meticulous manufacturing procedures, which results to a stylish handset that looks attractive and sexy despite of being huge. Yes, you can argue that it is not a visual flair nor a head turner, but inspecting it at a closer range reveals top notch craftsmanship and premium build quality.

The hardware keys as well as the fingerprint sensor are placed ergonomically, they are within reach whether you are an orthodox or a southpaw, especially if you have a large hand. Speaking of fingerprint sensor, it can unlock the device very fast, can store five different prints, and supports other functions too, such as browsing through photos and checking the notification panel.

The variant that is available in the Philippines is the dual SIM model (MHA-L29) with Category 12 LTE-Advanced that supports up to 4 carrier aggregation for a blazing download speed of 600Mbps, of course, the actual speed still depends on the condition of network provider. By the way, the second SIM slot also doubles as the memory expansion and accepts micro SD card with a capacity of up to 256GB.

If you need to learn more about its physical appearance, you can watch the simple unboxing and hands-on video we prepared above.


Huawei Mate 9 Software Information
Huawei Mate 9 Software Information

The Mate 9 runs on the latest version of Android, which is the Nougat, with Huawei's proprietary Emotion UI 5.0 on top. The default home screen style is the standard view, wherein all apps and widgets are shown on the home screen with 5x5 layout, the look and feel are much the same with the older devices like the Huawei P9 that has EMUI 4.1. However, the newer EMUI 5.0 allows users to enable the app drawer, along with tons of enhancements and added features, wherein our favorite is the App Twin. As the name implies, it allows users to use two different accounts at the same time. Sadly, only two apps are supported by default, the WhatsApp and Facebook. But, if you have a strong heart and want to experiment further, there are several forums extending this feature to other applications.

If you need to learn more about the EMUI 5.0, you can find all the information at


Huawei Mate 9 CPU-Z Information
Huawei Mate 9 CPU-Z Information

Underneath the metal body resides Huawei's own silicon chip that is built in a 16nm manufacturing process, the HiSilicon Kirin 960, it is their latest and most powerful chipset to date. It still uses the big.LITTLE CPU design wherein there are 8 CPU cores grouped into two clusters, four of which are high-performance Cortex-A73 CPU cores clocked at 2.4GHz each and another four Cortex-A53 CPU cores with 1.8GHz frequency for low-power applications. The graphics processing unit is an octa core ARM Mali-G71, a next generation GPU clocked at 900MHz, which performs 180% better than the Mali-T880MP4 found in the Huawei P9's HiSilicon Kirin 955 chip.

Below are the scores it gets on our favorite benchmarking tools:

Antutu - 140,058
Quadrant - 40,164
NenaMark2 - 60.8fps
Geekbench - 1,929 (single core)
Geekbench - 6,1715 (multi core)
PC Mark - 6,543
Vellamo Browser - 7,603
Vellamo Metal - 3,310
Vellamo Multicore - 5,191

Huawei Mate 9 Benchmark Results
Huawei Mate 9 Benchmark Scores
Huawei Mate 9 Benchmark Scores

The synthetic benchmark scores are really good, if not great, and are comparable to other high-end Android devices of 2016, with the likes of Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It has a serious raw processing power and quite really fast, both in single and multiple core processes.

In real-life performance, there is nothing much you can complain about, it is fast and buttery smooth most of the time even there are plenty of applications running in the background. The day to day usage, from navigating the screen, opening apps, watching movies, and playing high-intensity games are awesome and gives unmatched user experience, a true flagship caliber. Yes, I have encountered hiccups, but those are very seldom, and I believed were caused by software stutter, and not because of the hardware components. It is also worth noting that the 1080p display helps to ace every task, as there are lower numbers of pixels to push every now and then. Moreover, the "machine learning algorithm" feature that anticipates/predicts user's phone usage pattern and behavior, improves responsiveness, thus improving the overall experience.


Huawei Mate 9 Camera Interface
Huawei Mate 9 Camera UI
Huawei Mate 9 Camera UI

The camera capabilities of a phone have been the major concerns for most consumers, and those devices that prioritize this feature mostly emerge as winners. Take the P9 and P9 Plus as examples, the awesome dual Leica rear cameras of these handsets change the smartphone camera landscape, and help Huawei catapults to stardom that it is currently enjoying today. And, it is no brainer that the manufacturing mogul invest heavily with this aspect, making the Mate 9 more potent with second generation Leica lenses.

It still has two cameras configured to work hand-in-hand as the main shooter, but this time around, it offers more pixels - one with 20MP and the other one with 12MP, the former has monochrome sensor for more details, while the latter got an RGB sensor for more vivid colors. It also has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), advanced 4 types of autofocus, and 2x optical zoom (only available at 12MP resolution and below). Moreover, it can shoot videos of up to 4K resolution, however, the object tracking and stabilizer features are only available at 1080p 30fps and below.

On the other side, the front facing camera still has an 8MP resolution, same as the last year P series, but got wider aperture at f/1.9 as compared to the f/2.4. Unlike other selfie snappers in the market, it is auto focus, allowing users to capture clearer and speedy images of themselves. Oh, there is also the mandatory beautification mode with up to 10 levels.

Going on the software side, the interface is technically the same with the previous Huawei's flagships, boasting tons of modes, and customization, from Auto Mode to Pro Mode, from colored to monochrome, night shooting and bokeh with refocusing capability.

Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Zoom (1x)
Zoom (1x)
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Zoom (2x)
Zoom (2x)
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Zoom (10x)
Zoom (10x)
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Broad Daylight
Broad Daylight
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Without Flash
Without Flash
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - With Flash
With Flash
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Indoor
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Night Shot Mode
Night Shot Mode
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Night Shot
Night Shot
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Close-up
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Red Velvet Pancake
Red Velvet Pancake
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Noodles
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Boston Lobster Curry
Boston Lobster Curry
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Chainsaw
Huawei Mate 9 Camera Sample - Selfie

Looking at the sample photos above, we can safely say that they are full of details, have accurate color reproduction with near natural textures, and got decent depth. Speaking of depth, when wide aperture mode is selected, it produces very sharp images with nice bokeh, wherein the subject in focus really stands out, while the background is almost washed out.

The P9 with first gen Leica dual cameras excels in the low light photography, and it is quite expected that the 2nd generation optics found on the Mate 9 can deliver similar quality, which it is. The details and highlights are preserved in a certain way that does not disappoint. Night Shot and Light Painting modes come handy for those who want to take photos in dark environments, especially those people who are not really familiar with the manual mode. By the way, we recommended the use of tripod or similar tools to be able to capture the subject the way you wanted it to be as long exposure shots usually result to blur images, unless you have rock steady hands.

Overall, it seems that Huawei as well as Leica do their homework properly, the camera hardware and software work harmoniously in sync to deliver more than satisfactory results.


Huawei Mate 9 Smart LTE Speed in Davao
Smart LTE Speed in Davao

Unlike the P9 with model number EVA-L09 that arrived in the Philippines in 2016, which is a single SIM variant, the Huawei Mate 9 that lands locally has two SIM slots, slot 1 for Nano SIM, and slot 2 for either Nano SIM or micro SD card. It supports Category 12 LTE with carrier aggregation and has theoretical down speed of 600Mbps and uplink of up to 150Mbps.

The Wireless Fidelity is of course supported, with dual band and supports a,b,g,n,ac standards. The Bluetooth is at version 4.2, GPS has A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, and Gallileo for better and accurate positioning, NFC is also present, and IR blaster comes as a bonus and handy, especially if you always lost track of your home appliance remote control. There is also USB Type-C for faster data transfer and the traditional 3.5mm audio jack.

By the way, the FM Radio receiver is gone, much like the P9, and we think it is not coming back anytime soon or probably not anymore as the Huawei P10 has none on its system as well.


Huawei Mate 9 PC Mark Work Battery Life Result
PC Mark Work Battery Life Result

Aside from the Leica co-engineered cameras, another strong point of the Mate 9 is its battery, it has a huge 4000mAh power reserve, which, according to Huawei can last up to 20 hours of video playback, or 105 hours of continuous listening to your favorite musics, or 30 hours of 3G voice calls, or about 20 hours of web browsing using LTE connection. Based on PC Mark Work 2.0 Battery Life test, it lasted for 12 hours and 13 minutes, it is not the longest we've seen, but it is definitely one of the highest scores among other phones that we reviewed. In terms of real-life normal to heavy usage, the phone usually stays alive for about two days. Meanwhile, filling up the juice using the supplied power adapter and cable only took 1 hour and 10 minutes (from 0 to 100%).


Huawei revolutionizes the dual camera smartphone arena with the P9 and P9 Plus, and with the overwhelming positive feedback from the said devices, they duplicated that winning formula, added a newer Leica optics and put them inside the Huawei Mate 9. Having superb imaging capabilities surely gives it an upper hand, but Huawei did not stop there, they packed it with more features inside and out, and made sure that consumers will love it, which in my case, I really do. The result is an elegant and a premium handset with great display, speedy overall performance, amazing battery life, and obviously, nice sets of camera.

Huawei Mate 9 (MHA-L29) Specifications:

  • Dual SIM, dual standby, supports LTE connectivity
  • 5.9-inch IPS capacitive FHD (1920x1080) touchscreen display, Coning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • Dimensions: 156.9mm x 78.9mm x 7.9mm
  • Weight: 190 grams
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.0
  • 2.4GHz 64-bit quad core Cortex-A73 CPU + 1.8GHz 64-bit quad core Cortex-A53 CPU, ARM Mali-G71 MP8 GPU, HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB internal storage, expandable via micro SD card up to 256GB, uses SIM 2 slot
  • 20MP f/2.2 monochrome + 12MP f/2.2 hybrid autofocus main camera with dual LED flash, Leica-co-engineered, OIS, 4K video recording
  • 8MP f/1.9 secondary camera, 1080p video recording
  • Multimedia player
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • NFC
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band
  • USB Type C
  • Bluetooth v4.2
  • Sensors: accelerometer, light, proximity, magnetic, fingerprint
  • Battery: 4000mAh lithium-polymer, non-removable, supports Super Charge
  • Colors: champagne gold, space gray, moonlight silver, ceramic white, mocha brown
  • Price: Php31,990

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