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The Huawei Mate 9 has been revealed this week, making for quite a step up from the Mate 8. And that’s before we get into the limited edition Porsche Design variant of the phablet.
But, if anything, what should you know about the new phone? Well, here are nine key takeaways to keep in mind.
The Kirin 960 chip is a beast
Huawei’s in-house HiSilicon processors have traditionally been good but not great, stepping up to great territory with last year’s Kirin 950 chipset. However, the processor still had a few weak spots, namely the lack of 4K recording support and a weak GPU suite.
Fortunately, the new Kirin 960 fixes these issues, bringing 4K support and being the first chipset with the new Mali G-71 GPU (in octacore flavour). Expect the G-71 to appear in Samsung’s 2017 flagships, giving Huawei a nice little jump on the competition.
Kirin 960: the chip to power Huawei Mate 9, P10
Huawei has announced the HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor a few weeks before the Mate 9 is expected to be revealed, being the successor to their potent Kirin 950 and 955 processor. We definitely expect to see the 960 in the Mate 9, but Huawei’s track record has shown it’s likely to use the processor (or tweaked variant thereof) in next year’s P10 flagship as well. Read more…
Speaking of first to the post, the new chip is also the first to launch with ARM’s high-power A73 cores, bringing substantial power efficiency improvements.
The dual camera system has been upgraded
Huawei also detailed a number of improvements to its dual-camera system, first seen on the Honor 6 Plus before making a big splash with the P9.
There’s still a black and white camera and a traditional camera layout here, but the former sees a bump to 20MPs (the latter is still at 12MPs).
The other big improvement is that we now have optical image stabilisation in the mix, which should reduce blur and shaky footage.
We’re keen to see if Hybrid Zoom on the Huawei Mate 9 is better than digital zoom
In another interesting feature, the Huawei Mate 9 also packs a heavily hyped “hybrid zoom” feature. But it’s suggested that this simply sees the 20MP camera being cropped to 12MP.
However, according to the press release, Huawei’s dual-camera setup uses “pixel binning” technology in some situations (like Nokia and Sony flagships), which would make for zoom that’s better than digital zoom and great low-light shots. So I’m leaning towards the “hybrid zoom” being decent.
It uses machine-learning for the OS
One of the more innovative features (if Huawei can pull it off) is how the phone handles performance degradation over time.
The company uses machine learning on the Mate 9 to determine how to allocate resources, getting better over time as you use it.
Again, it’s contingent on Huawei actually managing to pull it off, but it would go a long way to solving a key issue.
The phone isn’t cheap
The Mate range saw a big price jump with the Mate 8, and the flagship price tag continues with the latest phablet.
Huawei’s Mate 9 will set you back €699 for the 4GB RAM/64GB storage model, putting it squarely in flagship territory then.
The Porsche Design model is ridiculously expensive
Remember the expensive BlackBerry Porsche Design handsets? Well, Huawei has released a limited edition Porsche Design Mate 9 as well.
The Porsche Design variant features 6GB of RAM, a dual-curved AMOLED display, multi-function home button and 256GB of storage, making for one of the more cutting-edge phones around.
But with those imposing specs comes an imposing price, having a suggested retail price of €1395.
The phone is Google Daydream VR ready
Google’s Daydream certification lays down a strict framework for VR support (from screen tech to horsepower), but the Mate 9 has passed the test.
In other words, the new phone will be compatible with other Daydream-certified accessories (headsets, controllers etc) and will work well with Google’s new VR apps.
However, it’s unclear whether the Daydream certification applies to both Mate 9 variants. After all, there’s no word on whether the vanilla model will have AMOLED technology like the limited edition version.
We’ve still got the same battery
The Mate 7 and Mate 8 were renowned for their endurance, so we’re glad to see the Mate 9 continue this tradition.
The new phone still maintains the 4000mAh battery capacity of the previous model, which should translate into two days of solid usage.
The Mate series has generally had large batteries – the Mate 9 is no exception
Huawei is also introducing fast charging technology, saying that ten minutes of charging will give you the ability to watch two movies.
In the wake of the Note 7 scandal, the firm has also touted safety improvements for fast charging.
The EMUI skin has been tweaked
Huawei’s EMUI Android skin has been quite polarising, but it has seen some tweaks and improvements with the latest EMUI 5 release.
In addition to the machine learning stuff, Huawei has introduced a few aesthetic tweaks. But another big improvement is usability, with Huwei claiming that 90% of tasks can be accomplished in three or fewer taps.
South Africa isn’t part of the first wave of countries
Want a Huawei Mate 9? Well, the first wave of countries are China, Malaysia, France, Poland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain, Japan, Thailand, Kuwait and the UAE.
We haven’t received a release window for SA just yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we receive details.
Featured image: Huawei Mobile via Twitter