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Huawei Mate 9 vs Huawei P9 Plus: Which is best for me?

Huawei Mate 9 vs Huawei P9 Plus: We decided to pit Huawei’s newest phablet, the Mate 9, up against the company’s other big 2016 flagship, the P9 Plus, to see which one offers the better blend of hardware and software for you.

Huawei Mate 9 vs Huawei P9 Plus: Specs at a glance

  Huawei Mate 9 Huawei P9 Plus
Screen size 5.9-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920×1080) Full HD (1920×1080)
Weight 190 grams 162 grams
OS Android 7.0 w/ EMUI 5.0 Android 6.0 w/ EMUI 4.1
Front camera 8-megapixels 8-megapixels
Rear cameras Dual 12-megapixels/20-megapixels colour/monochrome Dual 12-megapixels colour/monochrome
Processor 2.4GHz/1.8GHz octa-core Kirin 960 2.5GHz/1.8GHz octa-core Kirin 955
Memory 4GB RAM 4GB RAM
Storage 64GB. Expandable via microSD up to 2TB 64GB. Expandable via microSD up to 256GB
Battery 4000mAh w/ fast charging 3400mAh w/ fast charging

Despite both devices launching in 2016 and both coming from Huawei, they adopt distinctly different aesthetic styles. The P9 Plus sports a more squared look and a brushed aluminium finish, with the Mate 9 opting for a bead-blasted metal unibody with subtle rounding and a curvature to its form. Unsurprisingly the Mate 9 is larger in all directions and heavier too, with a 7.9mm waistline (versus 7mm) and an overall weight of 190 grams (versus 162 grams).

Both phones pack Full HD resolution displays, which is a little surprising on a 2016 flagship phablet like the Mate 9, considering its 5.9-inch screen size, but as such you can expect crisper imagery from the smaller 5.5-inch P9 Plus, which also promises punchier colours and better contrast as a result of the AMOLED technology at play, compared to the IPS LCD found on the Mate 9.

The P9 Plus’s display also includes Press Touch functionality, which you could still argue is a gimmick – letting you push hard on the display glass to carry out additional actions, just like Force Touch on the iPhone 6S/7. The Mate 9’s screen tech meanwhile offers superior viewing angles, better overall brightness and a one-handed mode – a particularly important feature on the Mate 9, with its expansive screen.

Both phones run Huawei’s own skinned take on Android, dubbed Emotion UI. The slightly older P9 Plus runs version 4.1 atop Android 6.0 Marshmallow, whilst the new Mate 9 runs the newly unveiled EMUI 5.0 atop Android 7.0 Nougat – the first Huawei phone to showcase either software element out the box. As such the newer Mate 9 boasts a refined, easier to navigate interface complete with new functionality, such as an optional apps drawer and optimisation tools to combat performance erosion over time. Beyond that, both phones feature elements like the aforementioned one-handed mode, themes, fingerprint sensor gestures and split-screen multitasking.

On the inside, Huawei’s P9 Plus runs on the wholly competent Kirin 955 SoC, whilst the Mate 9 is the first to sport the company’s new Kirin 960, which boasts new, faster flash memory, updated ARM core architecture and support for new technologies such as the Vulcan graphics API. In practice, there’s a notable jump in performance between the 955 and 960, with artificial benchmarking scores placing the Mate 9’s chipset around or above Qualcomm’s latest flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 821.

Beyond the processors, both phones offer 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, with hybrid SIM trays on both fronts offering up to 256GB of microSD expandability from the P9 Plus and up to 2TB from the Mate 9. 4G connectivity tops out at Cat 6 on the P9 Plus, but LTE-A Cat 12 on the Mate 9, effectively giving you up to double the data speeds, whilst both phones also feature IR blasters – an increasingly rare inclusion since the likes of Samsung snuffed it from its flagship lineup.

Despite the P9 Plus’ narrow body, the phone packs a surprisingly capacious 3400mAh battery with fast charging that tops out at about 40 per cent charge in 30 minutes. The Mate 9 huge 4000mAh meanwhile, benefits from a new Super Charger power adapter, which allows for up to 58 per cent charge in 30 minutes and a full charge in 90.

Easily the biggest talking point on either of these devices is camera setup. Whilst both feature convention 8-megapixel front-facers, both also pack dual-sensor primary cameras built in partnership with famed camera brand Leica. The P9 Plus demonstrates the first generation of this technology, with twin 12-megapixels sensors, one shooting in colour, the other in monochrome.

Huawei’s evolved the concept for the second-generation dual Leica module found on the Mate 9, which again boasts a 12-megapixel colour sensor, but with added benefit of OIS (optical image stabilisation), whilst the secondary monochrome sensor boasts a 20-megapixel resolution, enlarged pixels to take in more light and EIS. Collectively the Mate 9’s camera array should notably outperform the P9 Plus and retain the former’s ability to capture DSLR-like bokeh in certain modes. The Kirin 960, unlike the P9 Plus’s 955 processor, also supports up to 4K video recording.

Provided you’re tempted by the larger 5.9-inch display of the Huawei Mate 9, it looks to be the smarter choice in almost every other area too. It’s not as light or as thin as the P9 Plus, but it offers a great display, premium design exception battery life, performance and camera functionality in a single package.

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