The Huawei P9 was one of the more surprising smartphones of the year, combining a premium build, with high-end specs and a fairly low price, at least by flagship standards, making it a compelling alternative to the more established Samsung and Apple brands.
Now, Huawei’s back with the Mate 9, a phone which takes many of the best features of the Huawei P9, but stretches them across a larger screen, and even improves things in a few ways – but for a higher price.
Ultimately, the two phones are quite similar, screen size aside, but there are some significant differences, so we’ve put them head to head, so you can see which is right for you.
Huawei Mate 9 (156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm) vs Huawei P9 (145 x 70.9 x 7mm)
The Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei P9 have broadly similar designs, with both sporting a metal shell, for premium good looks. Both phones also have a fingerprint scanner on the back, positioned to comfortably sit under your digits.
But the dual-lens cameras that both phones have are positioned differently, with the lenses higher up on the P9, sat in a differently coloured bar at the top of the phone. The P9 is also slightly slimmer and far more compact overall, at 145 x 70.9 x 7mm, to the Mate 9’s 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm.
Other differences come in the range of available colours, with the Huawei Mate 9 available in Space Grey, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White or Black, while the Huawei P9 comes in Ceramic White, Haze Gold, Rose Gold, Titanium Grey, Mystic Silver, Prestige Gold, Red or Blue.
Ultimately there’s little to choose in the design. Neither phone is water resistant and the Mate 9 is unavoidably a bit more of a handful, but arguably has a slightly more refined appearance.
Huawei Mate 9 (5.9-inch 1080 x 1920) vs Huawei P9 (5.2-inch 1080 x 1920)
Both phones have a 1080 x 1920 screen, but they’re very different sizes, with the Huawei Mate 9 coming in at a massive 5.9 inches, while the Huawei P9 is just 5.2 inches.
That has a knock-on effect on their sharpness. The Mate 9’s screen is 373 pixels per inch, while the P9’s is a crisper 423 pixels per inch.
The extra size of the Mate 9 makes it a two-handed affair, but also makes it a better platform for most visual media than the P9.
Huawei Mate 9 (octa-core Kirin 960 4GB RAM) vs Huawei P9 (octa-core Kirin 955 3GB/4GB RAM)
As a newer phone, it’s no surprise that the Huawei Mate 9 is the more powerful of the two, packing 4GB of RAM and an octa-core Kirin 960 processor, with four cores clocked at 2.4GHz and four running at 1.8GHz.
The Huawei P9 isn’t far behind though, with both 3GB and 4GB of RAM models available and an octa-core Kirin 955 processor, which has four cores running at 2.5GHz and four at 1.8GHz. Don’t let the slightly higher maximum clock speed fool you – this is an older, inferior chip, with the Mate 9 delivering up to 200% better gaming and 3D graphics performance.
But both phones are high-end and offer slick, lag-free performance through most tasks, apps and games.
Huawei Mate 9 (Dual 20MP and 12MP rear 8MP front-facing) vs Huawei P9 (Dual 12MP rear 8MP front-facing)
On the surface these two phones seem to have quite similar cameras – both handsets have dual rear snappers and 8MP front-facing ones, but the P9 has two 12MP sensors on the back, while the Mate 9 has been upgraded to a 20MP and 12MP pairing.
The Mate 9 also has a laser autofocus, for faster focussing than its older sibling, but they’re still similar in a lot of ways. They both have a dual-LED flash for bright, natural images and both split their rear lenses between monochrome and RGB – either combining the two for more detailed shots or using the monochrome lens alone for black and white photos.
On the video front the Mate 9 edges the win, as it can record in up to 2160p at 30fps, while the Huawei P9 can only record in up to 1080p.
Huawei Mate 9 (4000mAh 64GB 4G) vs Huawei P9 (3000mAh 32/64GB 4G)
The Huawei Mate 9 has a big 4000mAh juice pack, which is far larger than the 3000mAh one in the Huawei P9. Of course, it also has a larger screen to power, but you can still expect slightly better battery life overall – the P9 will see you through a day of moderate use, while the Mate 9 is likely to stretch part way into a second day.
The Mate 9 comes with 64GB of storage. There aren’t any other size options, but that should be plenty for most people, and if not there’s also a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB. The Huawei P9 comes with either 32 or 64GB of storage and can be similarly expanded with a microSD card.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC on both phones, while the Huawei Mate 9 also has an infrared port.
This is perhaps the single biggest difference between the two phones, as while the Huawei P9 can be grabbed from around £400 SIM-free or roughly £22 per month on contract, the Huawei Mate 9 is likely to cost roughly £620 SIM-free or from around £37 on contract.
There’s a huge price difference between these two phones, and it’s hard to see how the Mate 9 justifies the extra money – it’s clearly the better of the two, with a bigger screen, a better camera, a faster processor and a larger battery, but the differences are all fairly small, other than the screen size, and some buyers will prefer the smaller screen of the P9 anyway.
That said, the Mate 9 is one of the best phablets around, and compared to other flagship phones the price doesn’t seem unreasonable. So grab the P9 if you want a flagship bargain, and the Mate 9 for a no-compromise phablet.
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