Ausdroid attended a briefing in Sydney today, at the beautiful Pier One at Dawes Point. What a fantastic location. Anyway, the purpose of this endeavour was to become familiar with Huawei’s new Mate 9, which launches in Australia next week, on the back of Huawei’s most successful pre-order campaign to date.
We already know much of what there is to know about the Mate 9; it has been announced in other markets a little while ago now, but it’s now here, and my goodness it’s delicious. 64GB storage, 4GB RAM, yadda yadda — this is all stuff you can browse through in the specs table below:
|Key Specifications:||Huawei Mate 9|
|Release date||November 2016|
|Screen technology||IPS LCD|
|Resolution||1,920 x 1,080|
|Rear camera||20MP mono + 12MP RGB|
|Chipset||HiSilicon Kirin 960|
|MicroSD||Yes, up to 256GB|
|Android OS||Android 7.0|
|Vendor skin||EMUI 5.0|
|Dimensions||156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9 mm|
The main things to know are that the processor inside this beast – the Kirin 960 – offers 18% performance improvement over the previous model, and 15% more power efficiency. The improvements don’t stop there, with a whopping 180% performance increase in the GPU over the prior model.
Huawei have designed the Mate 9 to address three common customer complaints, about both Huawei phones and those from other manufacturers:
- Battery life
- Camera performance
- Slower software performance over time
Let’s run through what’s been done to address these three areas of concern.
Firstly, the Huawei Mate 9 has a giant 4,000 mAh battery in it, and there’s a swathe of safety systems in place, including QA checks, software and hardware controls, and more, to ensure that the Mate 9 stays nice, cool, and not on fire. Conservatively, this will last around 1.7 days, and for those who don’t use all the smart features very often, up to 2.4 days is possible.
This whale of a battery is charged by a 5A charging solution which delivers a whopping 22.5W of power (that’s around half to a third of a laptop charger), delivering a 50% charge in less than 20 minutes, or a full charge in well under two hours.
On the camera front, Huawei has taken its partnership with Leica and what it learned in making the P9, and gone a step ahead here. The Mate 9 features a 20MP monochrome sensor paired with a 12MP colour/RGB sensor, and uses this to deliver some of the sharpest mobile imagery I’ve ever seen. No joke, the photos that come straight of the Mate 9 — without any editing — look stunning.
I shot a few samples, but they’re nothing compared to the ones we’ve been given, and I’m going to share those here:
The dual setup gives users the ability to create stunning, almost DSLR-quality depth of field photos (as you can see with the butterfly sample above), and it truly is very easy to take these yourself, with no appreciable talent in photography (yo). We’re led to believe this will be the same kind of setup as in the yet-to-be-announced Huawei P10 … and we can’t wait to see this in a slightly more hand-ready form factor. The Mate 9 is a phablet, and a bit large for my tastes (though it might be fine for yours).
Huawei claims to have some fairly solid consumer research backed by their own testing which shows what we all know to be true; Android phones do slow down over time, and it is (and has been for a while) a major area of customer complaint.
To ward this off, Huawei has done the usual tricks of defluffing and speeding up their launcher, which forms part of the brand’s EMUI 5 platform. They’ve also done what they can behind the scenes (without going into specifics…) to head these problems off before they come up: managing storage, keeping cruft to a minimum, ensuring that files are stored contiguously to avoid fragmentation, and the like.
A bit more on EMUI 5.0 though; Huawei claims that half the phone’s functions can be accessed in just two clicks, and if you take that to three, 90% can be reached. That’s rather impressive. Huawei have also heard feedback, and EMUI 5.0’s launcher starts – by default – with a standard experience, including a desktop with app-drawer which users can customise. Of course, if you prefer the everything-on-one-screen look, you can opt for that, but having the app drawer turned on by default is a great move.
This is the first phone from Huawei where (on first impressions, at least) I reckon EMUI is finally great. It looks good, it’s liquid smooth, and it works well. Seriously, it’s going to be hard to fault it … unlike past years’ EMUI which have been… rather bad.
Huawei also has a new ‘App Twin’ feature which we’ll explore further, allowing you to run two instances of popular social and messaging apps (e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp and the like) for those who manage two profiles. An edge case, but something undoubtedly that’s come from customer feedback, so I’m sure this will be a welcome feature.
Huawei’s Mate 9 goes on sale on February 7 for $999 RRP, which gives customers the dual-sim Mocha colour (it’s delicious). Optus and Vodafone are carrying the single-SIM Space Grey variant on a variety of plans. Each model features 4GB RAM, 64 GB storage, MicroSD support up to 256GB, and perhaps the best camera we’ve seen yet.
Oh .. one more thing. In the box, at no extra cost, you get a screen protector which has been applied at the factory, so perfectly that you can BARELY tell it’s there, and a clear TPU-style case to protect your phone. Everyone should be doing this.
Stand by for Scott’s review in a week or two.
Ausdroid was treated to a coffee and some beautiful harbour views for this event, thanks to Huawei and Ogilvy.