Huawei Mate 9 Review: A Smartphone that Gets Smarter with Use

Huawei’s Mate 9 is definitely a must-have for today’s mobile-first entrepreneur. It has it all: big screen, great display, battery life that outlasts the competition and AI that gets smarter as you work.

That’s it. I’m committed. After only 3 months of taking the plunge into the Android world, this Mate 9 has convinced me. For heavy phone users, like myself, there are only a few essential components to a phone that matter. Bigger screen, great battery life, superior camera and speed. 

Well, the Mate 9 has all of this and takes the word smart in smartphone to a whole new level (more on this later).


About three months ago, after two years of usage, I started watching my iphone 6plus drain its battery in the matter of an hour. It was clearly time for a move. I needed a comparable device.  Was I ready for the big switch? Let’s just say timing was right and I’m not sure what took this long?

In my line of work, being connected constantly is essential. When offered the opportunity to test the Mate 9, Huawei’s impressive first attempt in the phablet space, I seized the moment.


Size Does Matter

Yes, in my line of work big mobile screens are essential. There’s nothing worse than straining your eyes before approving a post, image or graphic for a client.

The Mate 9 is huge. It’s 5.9” screen is actually bigger than its main competitor the iphone 7 Plus, which claims a 5.5” display. Yes, that little bit does make a significant difference. It also means that for some users, the difference may take some getting used to.

Not me.

This beast of a phone fits comfortably in my hands, enabling me to really see every megapixel before posting content for a client.
For those familiar with Huawei devices, this is a tad smaller (one millimeter) than the Mate 8 but it dwarfs the company’s recently launched P9. To be fair, the P9 is an equally impressive device for different reasons, I just couldn’t appreciate the slimmer device.

Vibrant Display

With a big screen comes the striking display of the Mate 9. For most users, including myself, the 1920 x 1080 screen is great.


While the roughly 373 pixels per inch may be insufficient for some, this is similar to most other phones currently on the market.  Sure, display purists may comment on the ‘average’ resolutions, the viewing angles on the Mate 9 make up for this. Turn up the brightness on this device and enjoy the rich color and full brightness of the full HD display. Futurists seeking to connect a VR headset may scoff at the Mate 9, but until the world truly embraces this medium, I think the Mate 9 power display will suffice.

Virtual Reality

Oh, and if you have the Mate 9 Pro, is Daydream compatible, you can experience VR. Personally, I’m betting more on the AR/ mixed reality space but that’s just my opinion.

The big, bright Mate 9 screen may be overwhelming and cause most people to handle the phablet with care. After one month of usage, the bezels haven’t interrupted my workflow in the least bit and the slight curves haven’t put a dent on my user experience. For those concerned about manoeuvring the Mate 9 with one-hand, it’s actually possible and even a pleasure.

Battery Life

Probably the most essential aspect of any good mobile device. Any heavy phone user would say the same. Long-lasting battery is the number one feature any power user looks for. All other aspects are secondary to the holy grail of a good battery.

In their review of the Mate 9, Techradar boldly stated “Huawei may have cracked the battery life issue with the Mate 9.”

The Mate 9 is extremely thin but it packs a solid punch with their 4000mAh battery that just keeps going, and going, and going. I mean it.

So, while many companies flaunt the fact that their phones will last a full day without a charge, most don’t consider power users. They assume average use.

Not Huawei. They have the power user in mind.

Here’s are two examples from my daily usage over the past month.

  • Since starting to use the Mate 9, every morning I listen to some classes on the way to work via an app. While listening to the classes, I’m responding to emails, tweeting, engaging, posting on Instagram, and writing some notes for the upcoming day. All this, and after 40 minutes of a ride, I’m still at 85%. By 8:30pm my phone is still at 35%.

That’s downright unbelievable.

  • In March 2017, I was on the organizing committee which brought TBEX, the largest travel bloggers conference to Jerusalem. For four days, our team was responsible for overseeing all of the details and sharing content with 400 travel bloggers in Jerusalem. As you can imagine, the amount of phone usage that week was nothing short of insane. Each day of the conference began at around 6:30am and continued until about 10:30pm. At around 7pm, I found myself charging the Mate 9 out of sheer nervousness that at 30% it wouldn’t last.

Four days of TBEX vs Mate 9= Mate 9 battery wins.

Looking for a quick charge? The Mate 9 supports fast charging, which can bring this device to a full day of usage within 30 minutes.

My colleague Diana Adams mapped out her amazing experience with the Mate 9. Here’s her charging chart, clearly showing how fast any power user can get recharged. For the record, within 30 minutes, 57% juice is probably more than enough for normal usage.


After battery life, power users are suckers for a solid camera. They want solid pictures that can be integrated into blog posts or shared with journalists. Yup, that’s how good the Mate 9 camera really is.

While the dual-lens Leica branded camera was actually introduced with the P9, the graphics and the image quality of the Mate 9 seem to really make this combo a great fit.

The dual lens Leica camera built into the Huawei P9, Mate 9 and P10 devices is so good that it won the 2017  TIPA Best Smartphone Camera award.


Leica understands quality cameras, so the partnership with Huawei makes perfect sense.

During one of their Huawei Innovation Days, in Paris 2016, which I was fortunate enough to attend, Jerome Auzanneau, Executive Office and CMO at Leica highlighted that both the hardware and the software reflect a collaboration between these two amazing companies.

Like the P9, the Mate 9 offers superior photography and that’s without using the professional setting on the camera. The 20-megapixel monochrome, combined with the 12-megapixel RGB camera are simply a dynamic duo for daily digital photography.

Who doesn’t love taking pictures of food? Here are ‘food porn’ shots that fellow Huawei Key Opinion Leaders took Mate 9 (no filters or edits).

Credit to Shakthi Vadakkepat
Photo Credit Diana Adams

And for today's lunch #asado #meat #huaweimate9

A post shared by Mordecai Holtz (@mordecaiholtz) on

Beauty/ Selfie Mode

For today’s power users, the selfie can be a modern version of the business card (h/t Gary Vaynerchuk).

With the Mate 9, the “beauty mode” is perfect for capturing your very best. Ranked on a scale from 1-10 the beauty mode allows the user to choose how much beauty should be added. Putting vanity aside for a moment, the front facing 8-megapixel camera produces some inspiring results.

Want to get a real sense of what the Leica dual-camera can do?

According to Huawei’s trusted reviews site

Slotted within the Huawei P9, Huawei Mate 9 and brilliant new Huawei P10, this smartphone camera won’t just replace your old compact camera, it’s coming after your DSLR too. How? Well it’s got all this going for it…”

Want to get a real sense of what the Leica dual-camera can do?

AI- Making Your Phone Smarter

Huawei has found a way to bring its mobile device users to the future by introducing AI to the masses. The Mate 9, according to Huawei, most people suffer from over notification and overage on data usage. The drain on the phone causes an overall slowdown. We all know that feeling when our phone doesn’t respond.

So how did Huawei change this?

Using an AI-based algorithm, the device pushes the less used device down the pipeline, leaving optimal room and memory for the more common ones. This Kirin chipset based technology is designed to improve over time for an improved device experience eliminating a common slow device slow down after a few of months. Basically, the AI approaches three key problem to optimize the device – smart memory allocation, CPU allocation and storage optimisation – that’s a solid trifecta of identifying and offering a smooth solution. What the  algorithm does is it implements a storage defragmentation regularly, without causing any problems to the notifications, this was a common problem with previous EMUI softwares.

While I’ve ‘only’ been using the Mate 9 for a few months, I have yet to experience any slowing down. I’m constantly reminded when there are too many power-intensive apps working in the background. How will this AI-algorithim impact the future of this device? Good question. It’s still too early to tell.


While the Huawei Mate 9 is a bit on the pricey side, I’m confident that people will buy this device, clearly showing a strong challenge to the two other leading high-end phablets (Iphone and Samsung). A recent article in ZDNET argues that Huawei is now driving the future of the conversation on mobile.

The specs and features definitely make it a great value for the price.

Thanks Huawei for sending me this Mate 9. It’s converted me.

The transition from Apple to Android was a bit of a challenge but nothing insane. The Mate 9 has stolen my heart for mobile phones, it’s also helped Peter Shankman with his iPad issue

I can only imagine what’s in store as the company is now eyeing the laptop space….

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