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Hands-on with the Huawei Mate 9, a 5.9-inch phablet that promises to be blazing fast

By Koh Wanzi - 7 Jan 2017

Huawei Mate 9 and Mate 9 Porsche Design

Note: This article was first published on 4th November 2016 and it is now republished as the phone is now available for purchase.

One phone, two designs

Huawei Mate 9

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 left a gaping hole in the phablet market when it was unceremoniously discontinued in October. Suddenly, there was no obvious device to recommend to someone looking for the best Android phablet. Sure, one could make a strong case for the Google Pixel XL, but its 5.5-inch screen still falls a little short for folks looking for a display closer to 6 inches.

So when Huawei unveiled the Mate 9 yesterday in Munich, the timing could not be more opportune. That said, the 5.9-inch device is just the latest hopeful to plug the gap in the Android phone line-up (there was the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, which seemed molded in the likeness of the Note7), and if our first impressions are anything to go by, things are looking up for the phone.

Huawei Mate 9 Nexus 6P

Here’s a summary of the key specifications:

  • Kirin 960 SoC (4 x 2.4GHz Cortex A73 + 4 x 1.8GHz Cortex A53 cores)
  • Mali G71 octa-core GPU with support for Vulkan
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of storage
  • 5.9-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel LCD display
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.0
  • 156.9mm x 78.9mm x 7.9mm

However, Huawei wasn’t stopping there, and it also announced the Mate 9 Porsche Design, a more luxurious version of the Mate 9 with the Porsche Design branding stamped right on it. This model featured various design tweaks and beefier specifications, including a smaller 5.5-inch display and a higher resolution 2,560 x 1,440-pixel AMOLED panel (in addition to 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage). This notches up the pixel density significantly compared to the regular Mate 9, and the Porsche Design phone comes in at 534ppi versus 373ppi on the vanilla model.

Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design

Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design

While we didn’t get to spend enough time with the Porsche Design phone to comment properly on how the screen looks, we can say that the display on our unit of the Mate 9 appears plenty crisp and sharp. At no point did we find ourselves wishing for a higher resolution, and we’d hazard a guess that this will be the case for most users as well. Colors really popped as well, and you’ll find little to complain about.

In addition, the Mate 9 Porsche Design’s display curves at the edges, not unlike what Samsung did with the Note7. Compared to the Mate 9, it’s also slightly more compact and more suited to one-handed use.

Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design

Other design changes include the placement of the fingerprint sensor – while the sensor on the Mate 9 is located on the back below the camera, the Porsche Design phone has a physical Home button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor.

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