The Huawei Mate 9 has a lot of work to do. It has to carve a name for itself while also competing with the flagship Samsung Galaxy S7 and new iPhone. Does this Chinese upstart have enough to succeed?

The Huawei Mate 9 certainly looks the part. It features a sleek chassis, large screen and strong features. So does the competition though and they also have the advantage of established market presence to help them along.

Huawei Mate 9 design

The Huawei Mate 9 is a good size, measuring only slightly larger than its 5.9 inch screen. It has a nice heft to it but doesn’t feel bulky with it. The case is smooth and largely uninterrupted, with a lack of bezel and lumps around the rear camera being an obvious high point.

The UI is Android with a little manufacturer overlay called the Emotion UI. Huawei says the UI has an AI element to determine how we use the phone. The company says this will prevent all apps vying for supremacy when used and will instead optimize resources for the most-used apps instead. We have yet to test this in reality but will be a neat feature if it works.

Hardware

The Huawei Mate 9 uses an own brand processor in the Kirin 960 chipset with 4GB of RAM. The phone is fast, controls responsive and everyday users should see enough speed to keep them happy. The screen is a bit of a shortcoming though, being ‘only’ a 1080p LCD. Here the Galaxy S7’s Super AMOLED QHD screen pulls way ahead.

Despite being only HD, the screen is bright, renders well and reproduces colors respectably. For most users, the lack of a QHD screen won’t be an issue. The phone also features a 20 and a 12 megapixel camera,

Full hardware specs can be found at GSMArena.

Using the Huawei Mate 9

The phone is a little big to use one handed but is otherwise simple to handle. The Emotion UI is a little fiddly and bombards you with a little too much information. If you’re the type to be able to ignore all that, you will like the phone. If you’re someone who cannot ignore warnings or notifications, you’re not. Fortunately, many of these messages can be turned off.

Battery life seems respectable but again, without getting a longer hands-on, it is impossible to see how long it lasts. The 4000mAh capacity is larger than many but until we know how efficiently it is utilized, it is impossible to tell how long it will last. What does look good is the new SuperCharge feature which increases current to the charger to a claimed 10 minute charge to fifty percent.

The Huawei Mate 9 looks to be a solid phone with some interesting features. While it won’t threaten the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone anytime soon, it is a worthy alternative for those who like to experiment with other brands.