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Huawei Mate 9 review: A poor Note 7 replacement

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £699

It’s fast and has a fantastic screen, but poor battery life means the Mate 9 just doesn’t measure up as the next Note 7 replacement


Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz Kirin 960, Screen Size: 5.9in, Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080, Rear camera: Dual 20 megapixels, Storage (free): 64GB (52.6GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Dimensions: 157 x 79 x 7.9mm, Weight: 190g, Operating system: Android 7.0



Where the Mate 9 sets itself apart from the Mate 8 is with its dual rear cameras. As with the Huawei P9, the cameras have been produced in partnership with legendary German optics and camera manufacturer, Leica, with one dedicated wholly to monochrome shots while the other is a full RGB sensor.

Each lens has an aperture of f/2.2 as well as built-in optical image stabilisation, but the monochrome sensor has a 20-megapixel resolution while the RGB sensor only has a 12-megapixel resolution. You can still take pictures in 20 megapixels, though, so you won’t have to compromise on pixel count regardless of whether you’re taking pictures in colour or black and white.

According to Huawei, the advantage of having a dedicated monochrome sensor is that it can capture more detail than a standard RGB sensor. That may well be true, but in practice I found it made several of my pictures look overly dark, even taking into account the gloomy overcast weather conditions. Images were well-exposed, but colour vibrancy suffered as a result, with bright orange brickwork appearing quite dull and muted.

I also wasn’t that impressed with the Mate 9’s wide aperture mode. This is meant to create an enhanced “bokeh” effect for shallow depth-of-field shots, but I found it often clipped the edges of the subject I wanted to keep in focus and blurred them out as well as the background. I achieved sharper, more visually pleasing results just by using the camera’s auto mode. The background wasn’t quite as blurred, admittedly, but at least the subject in the foreground was completely in focus.

The Mate 9’s indoor performance was slightly better, but it struggled in low light. The fur on the stuffed bear in our still life test shot, for instance, looked soft and smeary, and object outlines weren’t particularly sharp. White and greys were also a little warm for my liking, but at least the camera managed to keep noise levels to a minimum. Sharpness improved once I switched on our external studio lamps, but the colour temperature was still a little on the warm side.


With its sub-par battery life and not particularly brilliant cameras, I’m not wholly enamoured with the Mate 9. It’s fast and has a lovely design, but I’m not sure it’s worth the money. UK prices have yet to be announced for the Mate 9, but we do know that it’s set to cost 700 Euros, so you’re almost certainly looking at a UK SIM-free price well north of £600. That’s a lot more than the Mate 8’s initial price of around £450, and it rather undermines what remains of the Mate 9’s appeal.

Right now, the Mate 9 simply doesn’t do enough to make it a worthy Note 7 replacement, and I’d advise opting for one of its cheaper 5.5in rivals instead. The Moto Z Play or OnePlus 3 both surpass the Mate 9 in several key areas and cost significantly less.

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ProcessorOcta-core 2.4GHz Kirin 960
Screen size5.9in
Screen resolution1,920 x 1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera8 megapixels
Rear cameraDual 20 megapixels
Storage (free)64GB (52.6GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD (up to 256GB)
BluetoothBluetooth 4.2
Wireless data3G, 4G
Dimensions157 x 79 x 7.9mm
Operating systemAndroid 7.0
Battery size4,000mAh

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