Huawei Mate 9 teases big performance in a big body

Huawei has formally announced the Mate 9, its latest competitor in the crowded high-end Android smartphone market. Thankfully, the 9 in the phone's name doesn't refer to its screen size, a large-but-manageable 5.9". The Mate 9's Kirin 960 octa-core SoC is produced by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon. That chip packs four Cortex-A73 cores and four Cortex-A53s alongside a Mali-G71 GPU, and Huawei touts the SoC as the "world's highest performance smartphone processor." That chip hides in a svelte metal body that Huawei claims needs an hour inside a CNC machine to get right.

The 5.9" display has a 1080p resolution, which owners of non-Apple high-end smartphones may consider pedestrian these days. The Mali G71 GPU in the Mate 9's SoC supports the next-generation Vulkan API, as is required for Android 7.0 Nougat support.  The phone also packs a Leica dual-lens camera on its backside. One of those lenses has a 20MP sensor behind it, while the other uses a 12MP sensor. Those sensors work together in a manner similar to that of the company's P9 phone. The phone's 4000-mAh battery features SuperCharge technology that allows a "full day's charge in 20 minutes."

Unlike Google's vanilla-Android Pixel phones, Huawei follows most other Android phone manufacturers in offering its own custom Android skin. Huawei calls its skin EMUI, and the Mate 9 carries the fifth version of the software. Huawei says its custom interface allows 50% of phone functions to be reached within two clicks, and 90% of functions within three clicks. EMUI 5 is built atop Android Nougat.

A special edition Mate 9 cooked up in conjunction with Porsche Design ditches the conventional 5.9" screen in favor of a 5.5" curved AMOLED display. The Porsche Design Edition also bumps the memory from 4GB to 6GB and the storage from 64GB to 256GB.

That Porsche badge and extra hardware will cost buyers. The standard Huawei Mate 9 will be available in six neutral colors for 699€. Buyers will have to fork out 1400€ for the Porsche Design Edition Mate 9, which only comes in black. According to Wired, the stanard Mate 9 will cost $775 and the Porsche Design version will ring in at a commanding $1550 in the US when sales begin in two weeks.

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