(Pocket-lint) - Huawei has just launched the next version of its Mate-series flagships, and despite the prevalence of leaks and details having been published online before hand, Huawei managed to throw in at least one big surprise.
The Mate family has been popular with those in the know for offering a big screen alternative at a good price, and often with killer battery life. With Samsung's Note faltering quite spectacularly, the Mate could be your next best big screen buddy.
Let's dive in to what could be one of the greatest phones the Chinese manufacturer has released to date.
Huawei Mate 9: Design
There were no real surprises when the regular Mate 9 launched on stage in Munich. That’s to say it looks very much look like its predecessor, the Mate 8. It has a slightly rounded, wide, almost all-metal rear with plastic panels at the top and bottom.
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The one big difference to previous iterations of the Mate smartphone series is that it comes in two versions. One has the usual flat-screened design, the other - built in partnership with Porsche Design - has curved edges on both sides of the screen, like the Galaxy S7 edge and the ill-fated Note 7.
These two different versions were hinted at in some comprehensive leaking thanks to Evan Blass (on Twitter and Venture Beat), with what looked - at the time - like official images showing off the flat and curved display options. What they didn’t show was all the Porsche Design branding all over the special edition phone.
On the back of the regular model, a dual camera system sits near the top, with the two lenses sitting vertically, rather than side-by-side horizontally like the P9 and P9 Plus. On either side of the camera system, there's a dual LED flash and a laser sensor for autofocusing, while the round fingerprint scanner sits underneath.
With the limited edition Porsche Design model, the fingerprint scanner is moved to the front, below the screen, to make space for the iconic "pd" branding on the back. The LED flash and laser autofocus sensors are placed differently too, sitting above and below the camera.
As for colour schemes, the Huawei Mate 9 will be available in the usual selection of grey, silver and gold metallic finishes. The Porsche Design phone will be available in one colour: sexy, smokey, stealthy black.
On the front, there’s a huge - virtually bezel-free - screen dominating the available space, while the portions of the frame at the top and bottom have a subtle reflective finish like the back of the Honor 8 on the regular model. The PD model has much more of an S7 Edge vibe to it, thanks to the curved screen and pill-shaped fingerprint sensor.
As is common for Huawei phones, the power and volume buttons sit on the right edge, within thumb's reach, while the bottom edge plays home to a USB Type-C port flanked by two sets of speaker grilles on the Mate 9. Only one of these actually has a speaker behind it.
With the Porsche Design Mate 9, Huawei jettisoned one of the sets of grilles in favour of a 3.5mm jack. But don’t worry, Huawei hasn’t "done an Apple" with the regular Mate 9. There is a headset jack, it’s just been placed on the top edge.
Huawei Mate 9: Hardware and display
Spec-wise, both variants of the Mate 9 have some of the most powerful and high-end components currently available. That means these are the first phones to sport the company's own Kirin 960 processor. And if that's anything like the 950 or 955, they’ll be really quick.
As well as its most powerful processor to date, the two phones host copious amounts of storage and memory. The Mate 9 has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, while the Porsche Design version has an ostentatious 256GB storage and 6GB of RAM.
The flat-screened model has a screen measuring in at a whopping 5.9-inches diagonally, and has a full HD 1080x1920 resolution panel. Its dual-curve edged sibling - previously code-named Long Island - has a slightly smaller 5.5-inch screen but boasts Quad HD resolution. That means the smaller model has a far sharper display, and is the only one to use AMOLED technology for higher contrast and more vivid colours.
As you’d expect, the Mate 9 series continues its tradition of offering an enormous batter. Both versions of the powerful flagship phone sport a 4,000mAh cell, which should easily get to the end of a second day, if not longer, on a single charge.
Huawei Mate 9: Camera
With Huawei and Leica having recently announced a partnership, it's no surprise that the two companies are working together again on the Mate 9's optics.
Like the P9 and P9 Plus, the dual camera on the back will again be made up of one monochrome (black and white) sensor alongside a more usual colour one. They are slightly different to the sensors found on the P9 and P9 Plus, however.
While the colour sensor is virtually identical - with its 12-megapixel resolution and 4K recording capabilities - the monochrome is far more pixel-dense and has a 20-megapixel sensor. Like most high-end phones these days, the camera setup also features optical image stabilisation.
All this camera is paired with the superb camera software found on the Huawei P9. That’s to say, the manual controls are incredibly intuitive and easy to use.
Huawei Mate 9: Software
Like all Huawei phones, the Mate 9 is to launch running Android with the company's own EMUI skin on top. Specifically, it’s EMUI 5.0 running on the latest Android OS, 7.0 Nougat.
With LG having already launched an Android 7.0 Nougat phone, it’s not surprising to see Huawei follow suit in offering its first Android N device to market.
Huawei Mate 9: Release date
Huawei hasn’t told us exactly when the Mate 9 will go on sale, but it’s likely to be at some point in the next month. The special edition Porsche Design version is going to be sold in European Porsche Design stores from December.
Huawei Mate 9 and Porsche Design Mate 9: Price
While Huawei hasn’t given us an exact release date, the company did announce the eye-watering pricing for the Mate 9 phones. Starting with the cheapest, the regular Mate 9 will cost a princely €699 (approximately £630).
As for the Porsche Design model, it continues very much along the same lines as all previous PD-branded smartphones. When it goes on sale, in limited numbers, it will set you back €1395 (around £1255).