Update: The first live images of the Mate 9 have leaked, while other new leaks suggest the Mate 9 Pro might have two fingerprint scanners and a serious amount of power.
Huawei itself has revealed official teasers for the Mate 9, highlighting the release date, battery life and camera, the last of which is a feature that’s sounding ever more impressive, with rumors of a 20MP/12MP dual-lens snapper with 4x optical zoom.
Thought all of 2016’s flagships had arrived? Think again, because Huawei has a massive phone with similarly big specs in the works, and we’re expecting to see it soon.
The Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei Mate 9 Pro might not have the brand appeal of the iPhone 7 Plus or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but with talk of a 20MP dual-lens camera, a huge curved screen, 4x optical zoom and up to 6GB of RAM, among other impressive specs, they could be even higher end.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 being killed the Mate 9 could also prove a strong alternative to that. Read on for all the news and rumors so far.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A phablet flagship from Huawei
- When is it out? A November 3 announcement is likely
- What will it cost? Possibly upwards of $475 (£400, AU$625)
Huawei Mate 9 release date
Early rumors suggested the Huawei Mate 9 would land in December, but more recently there’s been talk from PhonAndroid of an early November launch, and Huawei has now even announced a press event on Thursday November 3 in Munich.
While the company hasn’t mentioned the Mate 9 by name, it has said it will use the event to launch a “new flagship device” according to Pocket Lint, so it’s almost certainly going to be the fabled phablet.
The image above, found by GizmoChina, is an official teaser for the event, and while it doesn’t give much away the claim of ‘a step ahead’ certainly suggests Huawei is cooking up something impressive.
Of course you probably won’t be able to buy the Huawei Mate 9 on November 3, but hopefully the company won’t keep us waiting too long.
TechRadar’s take: With no other Huawei flagships on the immediate horizon November 3 seems all but guaranteed to be the announcement date.
Huawei Mate 9 screen
- 5.9-inch screen in curved and flat varieties
- 1080p and QHD resolutions
The Huawei Mate 9 is largely expected to have a 5.9-inch 1080 x 1920 screen, with a pixel density of 373 pixels per inch.
Ideally we’d like to see a sharper QHD resolution on a display of that size, but it should still be reasonably crisp.
However, there has been some talk of a QHD 1440 x 2560 resolution too, and @evleaks has posted leaked renders of the phone in both curved and flat screen varieties, leading to speculation that the curved version (likely called the Mate 9 Pro) could be QHD while the flat one is 1080p.
A Weibo leak spotted by GizmoChina also points to a 5.9-inch QHD dual-curved display on the Mate 9 Pro.
TechRadar’s take: The Huawei P9 only has a 1080p screen, so we wouldn’t count on a QHD one, but it would make sense for Huawei to up the resolution given that the Mate 9’s screen is larger, so there’s a fair chance that at least one version will be QHD.
Huawei Mate 9 design
- A full metal body
- Nine different color choices
The Huawei Mate 9 is rumored to have a metal body, a bit like the Huawei Mate 8 or Huawei P9. Leaks and renders suggest there’ll be strips along the top and bottom, possibly housing antenna bands, and that the phone will have a slightly curved rear.
It may also come in nine different colors according to PhonAndroid, including amber gold, amber gray, ceramic white, champagne gold, mocha gold, silver, pink gold, shiny black and sky gray.
The front of the phone has minimal bezels to either side of the screen in the leaked images we’ve seen, but larger ones above and below.
Oddly, images of the curved screen version show an oblong home button below the display, while the flat screen version seemingly has no button and just a Huawei logo.
TechRadar’s take: The Huawei Mate 9 is likely to have a full metal body, given that other recent Huawei flagships do, and the images we’ve seen seem believable.
Huawei Mate 9 camera and battery
- 20MP and 12MP rear cameras
- 4x optical zoom
- A big battery
According to MyDrivers, the Huawei Mate 9 has a Leica-branded dual-lens camera, just like the Huawei P9, but it looks like it might be getting a megapixel upgrade, with talk of a 20MP and 12MP sensor pairing, up from 12MP for both on the P9.
That’s looking ever more likely, as a seemingly official advert for the phone, shared to Weibo and spotted by GizmoChina, says the same. Though we should point out that as ever, more megapixels doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality.
It’s likely that the dual-lenses will serve the same purpose as on the P9, with one (probably 20MP) RGB sensor to pick out colors and one (likely 12MP) monochrome one for enhanced detail if you use both lenses, or for true black and white shots if you use just the monochrome sensor.
The image above, which according to a Weibo leaker is a prototype of the phone, gives you a clear view at how the camera might look. We’ve since seen a photo supposedly showing the finished handset (below), which looks much the same, complete with a dual-lens camera and a dual-LED flash.
The latest leak from Evan Blass suggests the Huawei Mate 9 camera will boast a 4x optical zoom on the rear camera as well.
That could be a standout feature for the phone, as few handsets offer optical zoom at all. Whatever the specs of the camera it’s clear Huawei is pushing it, as a teaser image (below), found by Playfuldroid, shows the snapper off.
Around the front the Mate 9 is thought to have an 8MP snapper – the same spec as the Huawei P9 and a higher megapixel count than many front-facing cameras.
There’s some debate about the size of the battery, with both 3000mAh and 4000mAh claims being thrown around, but given the size of the screen we’re hoping for something big. It’s also likely to support fast charging via USB-C, as seen in the image above.
Whatever size the battery is, it’s clear that Huawei plans for it to last a long time and charge fast, based on the video teaser above, which features people complaining about the battery life of their phones. It doesn’t offer any solution, but presumably Huawei has one in mind with the Mate 9.
TechRadar’s take: A dual-lens camera is very likely, given that the Huawei P9 has one, and a 4x optical zoom would help the Mate 9 stand out. The battery will be at least 3000mAh – as the Huawei P9’s is, but 4000mAh seems more believable, given that this is a bigger phone and that the Mate 8 has a 4000mAh juice pack.
Huawei Mate 9 OS and power
- Up to 6GB of RAM
- A 2.6GHz octa-core processor
- Android Nougat
There should be no shortage of power here, as the Huawei Mate 9 is said to have a 2.6GHz octa-core Kirin 960 processor and come in at least two configurations – one with 4GB of RAM and one with 6GB. That rumor has popped up a couple of times now.
While not confirmed, it’s likely that the 6GB version would come with a curved screen while the 4GB model has a flat screen.
Very few phones yet have 6GB of RAM, with most flagships still rocking 4GB, so both models should be high-end devices.
The Mate 9 is also rumored to come running Android Nougat, so its software could be as up to date as its specs. Though it’s sure to be overlaid with Huawei’s Emotion UI, which is one of the more intrusive Android interfaces and lacks an app drawer.
TechRadar’s take: 6GB of RAM could become the new standard soon, and a few phones already have that much, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it from Huawei, while a high-end octa-core processor is very likely given that this is a flagship phone.
Huawei Mate 9 other features
- Up to 256GB of storage
- Two fingerprint scanners
Like most flagship phones, the Huawei Mate 9 is said to have a fingerprint scanner. In fact, oddly, it may have two, with a Weibo leak spotted by GizmoChina suggesting there will be one on the back and one on the front – at least on the Mate 9 Pro.
The phone is also rumored to come with 64GB or 128GB of storage coupled with 4GB of RAM, or with 256GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, according to @playfuldroid. The GizmoChina leak also points to a maximum 256GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, plus there’s said to be a microSD card slot.
TechRadar’s take: All of these features are believable, and in fact we’d almost be surprised if the Mate 9 didn’t have a fingerprint scanner, though two scanners seems over the top.
Huawei Mate 9 price
- Could start at roughly $475/£390/AU$625
- Top end model might cost up to $1300 (around £1065/AU$1700)
A leaked promo image for the Huawei Mate 9, shared by @playfuldroid, gives us a hint at the price – though it’s in Chinese Yuan and a direct conversion isn’t likely to be entirely accurate.
According to the image the Mate 9 starts at 3199 yuan, which is roughly $475/£390/AU$625. That’s for a 64GB version with 4GB of RAM, though another model with seemingly the same configuration costs 3399 yuan (around $505/£415/AU$660).
If you want 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM you’ll apparently pay 3899 yuan (roughly $580/£475/AU$760), and for 256GB of storage and 6GB of RAM it’s listed as 4699 yuan (around $700/£575/AU$915).
However, prices for the 256GB Huawei Mate 9 Pro could be even higher, with reliable leaker @evleaks claiming they’ll reach $1300 (around £1065/AU$1700).
Snap (no pun intended): Mate 9/Pro feature 4x optical zoom. But pricing on a spec’ed out Pro is enough to give you a heart attack: $1300.23 October 2016
TechRadar’s take: The leaked Chinese prices actually undercut some flagship phablets, so they’re believable – though direct conversions are rarely completely accurate. A top-end model costing $1300 sounds unlikely, but the source is reliable.