By Gerard Ramos / Lifetyle & Entertainment Editor
Obviously, Huawei started out the Year of the Fire Dragon rather brilliantly, emerging from the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in January in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a bevy of accolades for its newest flagship smartphone, the Mate 9.
“The annual Consumer Electronics Show trade show attracts some of the best known tech giants and gives us a glimpse into some incredible innovations and products of tomorrow, as well as recognizes outstanding products and brands.
“CES 2017 saw the Huawei Mate 9 phone receive several accolades from some of the top global technology media outlets. Following the global launch of the Mate 9 last November, Huawei has since announced new partnerships with Amazon Alexa and Google Daydream, further increasing the excitement around our newest smartphone. Highlighting the Mate 9’s power, performance, design, Leica dual-lens camera and new partnerships, global media presented Huawei with eight awards.”
So goes Huawei’s announcement following its turn at the trade show, in which the Mate 9 took the spotlight as among the “Best of CES 2017”, as cited by the Wall Street Journal, TechAdvisor/PC Advisor, BGR, Android Police, Chip Chick, Talk Android, TechoBuffalo and Techaeris.
Flush with its CES triumph, Huawei’s local office gathered some members of the lifestyle and tech media in mid-January for a scrumptious luncheon—and some very close hands-on encounter with its latest and greatest. Since then, we’ve been playing with the Mate 9 for a couple of weeks now.
Not deviating much from the slim and sophisticated aesthetic of Huawei’s previous flagships, the Mate 9 is only fractionally bigger (6.18 x 3.11 x 0.31 in) than the company’s previous flagship, the P9 Plus (6.00 x 2.96 x 0.28 in), this despite the fact that the former packs a 5.9-inch display versus the latter’s 5.5-inch screen. It’s quite an engineering marvel, really, especially since the Mate 9 doesn’t feel like it weighs more than the P9 Plus, even though it actually does (190g vs 162g) and boasts of even more features.
The flagship is encased in an all-metal body, with a back in a matte finish that curves just ever so slightly at the center, and the corners rounded out just so. Arrayed on the phone’s right side are slivers of the power and volume buttons, with the hybrid dual SIM/microSD card slot situated on the left. Meanwhile, the USB Type-C port at the bottom side is sandwiched by speakers that provide decent volume output for those days that you forgot to bring along headphones.
And speaking of headphones…yes, unlike the iPhone 7 Plus and the Moto Z, Huawei mercifully decided to retain the standard 3.5-mm headphone jack at the top side of the Mate 9, allowing you to not only keep using the pricey hi-fi headphones you invested good money on a few months ago, but also keep charging the phone while you listen to Adele wax heartbreak on “All I Ask”. (Just in case you’re wondering, yes, the Huawei Mate 9 package does include a solid pair of headphones.)
The Mate 9’s display is a 5.9-inch Amoled panel with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution and a ~373 ppi pixel density. It’s big, bright and beautiful, with true blacks and colors that just pop, making it an excellent device for media consumption. Of course, since the launch of the Mate 9, there have been a few grumblings about Huawei being behind the curve in a smartphone landscape littered with an increasing number of quad HD displays, including Huawei’s own Porsche-inspired iteration of the Mate 9. Our take? Let’s just put it this way: we’ve had good facetime with the excellent Sony Xperia Z5 Premium with its 4K screen and the Mate 9 with its 1080p display, and we can happily say our visual experience on either phone has been nothing less than absolutely delightful.
The Huawei Mate 9 runs on the much-acclaimed Version 7.0 of the market-leading Android OS, the version also known as Nougat, and is powered by the Kirin 960 SoC (the world’s first chipset to feature an ARM Cortex-A73/A53 Octa-core CPU and Mali G71 Octa-core GPU) plus 4GB of RAM, all of which come together to ensure a smooth-as-butter user experience, even in the face of some heavy-duty games or some serious multitasking (watching an episode of British series The Halcyon while Gmail downloads the latest stream of e-mails; Google Play updates some applications; and a huge file is transferred from one peer to another—with Twitter, Instagram and Tinder running in the background).
Of course, beyond Google’s efforts in further improving Android with Nougat, and the serious hardware Huawei has packed into the Mate 9, Huawei would no doubt attribute the excellent user experience also to its combined powerhouse of “Machine Learning Algorithm and EMUI 5.0, an intuitive Android user experience with performance-enhancing solutions powered by the latest in artificial intelligence, [making] the Mate 9…more intelligent as it understands and adapts to the user’s phone usage behaviors—accelerating the phone’s processor, making the operations smoother and more responsive.”
Whatever it is, we’re mighty pleased to say the Huawei Mate 9 has given us one of the most pleasurable experiences we’ve had on a smartphone. No doubt others will also delight in the dual-lens technology Huawei co-engineered with German camera manufacturer giant Leica, with the Mate 9 featuring a 12-megapixel/F2.2 RGB sensor and a 20-megapixel/F2.2 monochrome sensor, plus “enhanced image fusion algorithms that work in concert to produce stunning photography”.
No less notable is the 4000 mAh high-density battery with what’s called an “all-new SuperCharge technology” that Huawei shoehorned into the Mate 9. You will get a full day’s charge in 20 minutes, and the phone’s advanced power-saving technology “increases battery life to provide over two days of uninterrupted performance. This includes a 40-percent increase in call time and a 20-percent increase in gaming time.” Moreover, Huawei says “[the] battery is powered by Super Safe five-gate safety mechanism, which enables real-time monitoring for voltage, electric current and temperature. This safeguards the battery while charging and guarantees a longer battery life”.
In short, the Mate 9 isn’t going to do a Samsung Note 7 on you and explode into flames without warning.
There’s a lot to love about the Huawei Mate 9. And there’s a lot that makes it one of the best smartphones—if not the best smartphone—currently in the market. To know more, visit the Huawei flagship store in SM Mall of Asia or www.huawei.com/ph/.