back to article Huawei Mate 9: The Note you've been waiting for?

Can you believe Huawei’s luck? Imagine discovering a new planet, populated entirely by Irish people, which has a dozen orbiting satellite moons all harvesting shamrocks, all the year round. That lucky. Through extraordinary timing, the Chinese giant finds itself with the big screen phone category to itself, thanks to its new …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    The stylus was one of the most compelling features of the note 7. As it is, a refurbished note 4 would be my phablet of choice.

    1. djstardust

      The Note 4

      Is still a good phone, even by today's standards, and you can pick up a good one pretty cheap on ebay now.

      I have one I use as my main phone and I got a spare one as well.

      1. a pressbutton

        Re: The Note 4

        ... and they still do regular ota updates too.

        (excellent phone - I have one too from when they first came out)

        1. The Average Joe Bloggs

          Re: The Note 4

          Same. I am still as pleased as ever with my note 4, it had an update only last week in fact.

          Performance seems to be acceptable, I still play Hearthstone on it, watch netflix and browse the web a hell of a lot. I am not going to be "upgrading" to anything any time soon, especially since the new phones now don't really offer anything significant.

          1. The Average Joe Bloggs

            Re: The Note 4

            Adding to the above: I just got a notification of another update today :)

  2. Tom7

    Competition

    TBH I'm having trouble seeing how this is hundreds of pounds better than the cheap competition.

    I've recently bought an Elephone P9000. It kicks the Huawei into the gutter for value. Alright, the screen's 0.4" smaller on the diagonal and it won't hit quite the same benchmark numbers. And... I'm struggling to think of anything else where it doesn't match up. It's a gorgeous 1920x1080, 400+ppi, display. The camera is 13MP, with laser focus and two-tone flash. The bezel is perhaps a mm larger than the Huawei. The body is a single piece of aluminium. It's Android 6.0, but the beta of 7.0 was available to download a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't have waterproofing or a stylus, but neither does the Huawei. It *does* support wireless charging, which the Huawei doesn't..

    The speakers are pretty rotten to listen to. But you can own one tomorrow if you throw £185 at Amazon.

    1. Patrician

      Re: Competition

      User reviews of that phone aren't all the most flattering I've read.

      1. Tom7

        Re: Competition

        Specifics? I've really still yet to fault it. I'm probably not the most demanding smartphone user - I use it for web browsing, email, Facebook, Skype and, you know, making phone calls - but I can't see a lot wrong with it. OTA updates also seem pretty regular and do make significant improvements (which I guess is another way of saying it shipped before the software was ready, but I'm not complaining).

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Competition

      The camera is 13MP, with laser focus and two-tone flash.

      If you want to go budget then you really ought to ignore the bells and whistles, which are there just to convince you that there's no such thing as a false economy, and you're less likely to be disappointed.

      Price/performance isn't linear, which is why the term "premium" exists. Still, you almost always do "get what you pay for": paying a bit more will generally mean a better overall product. If you ask me, waterproofing, ability to survive the odd drop and a screen that's readable in sunlight are more important than how many MP the camera has (CCD size and speed are more important, but can also fall victim to "go faster stripes". After-market support is also important: does the vendor have a support operation in your country, etc? Yes, we all know Samsung's and Huawei's record on updates isn't stellar, but they have UK subsidies who you can at least take to court.

    3. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Competition

      I hope the Elephones are put together with more care than their website.

      I quite liked the look of the one model which is described thus: "Elephone S7 is the lastest Elephone smart mobile"

      It gets weirder from there.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Competition

      It doesn't have waterproofing or a stylus, but neither does the Huawei

      After watching how a less than 6 months old phone goes in the bin, the former is a mandatory feature in this household. There is an inevitable moment when the phone goes into the hands of junior or his sister. That means that it is guaranteed to end together with junior and his pants in a rock pool on the next holiday. Junior's antics aside I have learned to appreciate waterproof phones too. No rain, no shine, no spilled coffee or soup will prevent an Xperia M series or higher from working (one of the reasons I no longer buy E).

      So no waterproofing? Sorry - no sale.

      1. Tom7

        Re: Competition

        Well, so go buy a phone that costs £650 and let the little ones find some other way of breaking it. I can afford three broken and replaced phones to break even with your purchase cost.

  3. Yesnomaybe

    Nope.

    Doesn't have a stylus, so this is no replacement for my Note4. I was JUST about to buy the Note7 when it was withdrawn. Shows the benefits and perils of not being an early adopter...

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Nope.

      Likewise - I'd happily buy one now, to be honest, and just charge it in a lipo bag. Or just take it apart and swap the battery out, or whatever. Exploding phones aren't great, but like others have said, it's a tiny fraction of the ones sent out, and an easy fix. And, if it really was the charge voltage, as someone posted somewhere I now can't track down, it's an easy easy firmware fix anyway.

      Plus, think what it'll be worth to collectors in a few years!

  4. n13ldo

    I still have my #2 Note7. Hasn't burst into flames despite rough treatment. Doesn't get remotely warm. Keeping it till at least the next Note from Samsung. Ready for the flames (pun intended)

    1. Yesnomaybe

      I envy you.

    2. tony72

      Only a tiny fraction of them burst into flames, the only problem really is with you not being allowed to take in on many airlines now; if you have to travel, that's a bit inconvenient.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Only a tiny fraction of them burst into flames"

        Of course, you don't know if you have one of that tiny fraction, any more than you know if there is a bullet in the chamber that's just moved behind the hammer.

        I'm just saying.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Good on you. Still, Samsung did the only sensible thing they could do and withdrew the product: at some point you can no longer bury the bad PR. While the battery-related problems were obviously worrying, they were also, er, blown up (sorry) all out of proportion by a sensationalist media.

      I'm happy with my second-hand S5 but looking forward to what Samsung next come up with, especially if they go back on the non-replaceable battery approach. Could be onto a winner if they do.

  5. JaitcH
    Meh

    What about the battery?

    Is it buried deep in the electronics like the Samsung Flaming Note or can it be swapped out?

  6. gBone

    OnePlus 3 is not competition?

    The OnePlus 3 is not competition? Ok, the screen is only 5.5" but 6GB RAM, 128 disk and very respectable resolutions all round?

    1. zengqcan

      Re: OnePlus 3 is not competition?

      I think OnePlus did a great job with the build quality. I never thought I'd say that, but yes, I'm stock on op5t and not planning to change it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkWMbfhoRBE

  7. Col68

    "We’re at the beginning of a design design overhaul ."

    Cool, will it run Halls of the Things?

    1. a pressbutton

      only in mountains for kings.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Download Marvin (an 48k ZX Spectrum emulator) and you can play Halls of the Things all day long.

      Wonder if somebody will push out a remake of HotT for Android... now *that* (and Sinistar) will frustrate a lot of people :)

  8. Slx

    It looks like an evolution of the Nexus 6P, but without the freedom of stock Android.

    1. PLAzmA

      Dont forget the missing forward facing stereo speakers and the resolution... actually its more like a larger p8 in more ways.

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    A standard app drawer!

    I wonder what it says of Huawei that it took them the better part of 3 years to realise that combining the app drawer and home screens was a terrible idea.

    I still remember the pain of dragging a app icons 5 screens over to the left because the dumb G510 I'd bought just plonked the icons onto screens in the order they were installed. In the end I had to waste a not insubstantial amount of flash use Nova as a launcher instead of this brain damage.

    The best thing Huawei could do is just leave the stock android on there or sparingly modify it. It shouldn't require a designer to figure this out.

  10. a pressbutton

    Where is the ASUS Zenfone 3 ultra review

    ~7 inch phablet!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where is the ASUS Zenfone 3 ultra review

      My iPhone 4S battery started acting silly. One can't buy either an iPhone 6 due to touch disease, nor an iPhone 7 due to the moronic headphone socket decision.

      Grabbed an Asus ZenFone 3 for the local equivalent of US$287 (slight discount, cheap as chips, magic!). Unlocked, no contract.

      It seems to be the same sort of phone as so many others. 8 cores, but merely fast. 4GB or 3.5GB? RAM, 64GB flash. Lovely 5.5" 1080x1920 IPS screen. 16Mpix camera, 4K video. Even Hi Res Audio, including a headphone socket!!

      There's plenty of similar phones like this. They're all quite lovely.

      It was surprisingly easy to migrate my essential data from iOS over to Android. Contacts, Notes, Calendar, all trivially easy. Does Apple realize that they've left the gate open, making escape from their walled garden so easy?

      I'll probably get a new battery for the old iPhone 4S. Keep it working as a backup, or in case it's ever needed.

      Cheers.

  11. SL1979

    Firmware?

    I suppose the first thing that crossed my mind when reading this was, "Does it still contain backdoored firmware that phones home, and gives all of your data not only to Google, but to some random Chinese IP address?".

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Firmware?

      Once your data is shared with Google, does it really matter if it is shared again with China?

      If the US gets an authoritarian government (errr...) that forces tech companies to share the data they are collecting with the NSA, that's much more of a direct threat to a US/UK/EU resident than the Chinese government doing the same.

      I'd argue that between the two, you're better off "sharing" your data with that random Chinese IP address than Google HQ.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Firmware?

        As I figured I would, attracting a lot of downvotes from idiots dumb enough to still believe Google's "do no evil" credo - but I note none have posted any defense of them.

  12. Al Black
    Black Helicopters

    Huawei Spyphone

    If you are happy to have the authoritarian Chinese government intercepting your communications then by all means, buy a Huawei! Don't whine to me when you are blackmailed into becoming a Chinese spy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huawei Spyphone

      Decades ago, I visited China as a young tourist.

      Very first night, in my hotel room, the telephone rang.

      Somebody asked, "You want girls?"

      An honest answer would have been "Hell yes, send a dozen." But wisdom led me to reply, "No thank you."

      And I hung up.

      The phone immediately rang again. "You want boys then?"

      Comedy gold.

      I replied in the negative again, this time more forcefully.

      Crazy times...

    2. zengqcan

      Re: Huawei Spyphone

      That's not ture. All smartphones including iPhone obtain phone location via network and GPS even if you turn of the permission and GPS

    3. zengqcan

      Re: Huawei Spyphone

      I think that's not true. All smartphones including iPhone obtain phone location via network and GPS even if you turn off the permission and GPS

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hmm

    I know when I am looking to put down flagship dosh Chinese branding puts my worries at ease. Chinglish support is just the best.

  14. Tromos

    GPS?

    Most reviews (especially Reg ones) totally skip the GPS, which to me is more important than the camera. How good is it at acquiring (and holding onto) a fix? How many and which of the satellite constellations are supported? Does it even have a GPS? Given the number of apps that use location, it can't be only me that wants to know.

    1. Richard Cranium

      Re: GPS?

      Well I'm kind of with you on that but I go hill walking and find the GPS in my mobile a bit questionable, well TBH I seldom use it now. There are a couple of issues. Compared with a dedicated GPS (basic Garmin, mono LCD screen, no maps) mobile is poorer on acquiring, retention and positional accuracy (also I suspect it's guilty of power consumption). Although in the mobile GPS does interact with apps if the apps need a data connection they don't work in remote, rural and mountainous areas. I can preload (detail 1:25k OS) maps to the mobile but its a nuisance, easy to forget and takes a big chunk of memory.

      One problem with mobile phones is the obsession with small dimensions and weight whereas a dedicated GPS has plenty of space for good internal aerials, dedicated GPS hardware with well evolved software and replaceable batteries (AA in my Garmin so I get around 20 hours but I can take spares or buy them easily). Potential ways forward: a GPS with Bluetooth to communicate with the mobile or a nice chunky GPS with built in mobile (android).

    2. bengoey49

      Re: GPS?

      Agree with you. I use GPS navigation when I am in Indonesia, I usually use Waze and Here Maps.

      When you loose GPS fix whilst driving in a foreign country, you are in trouble. I know for the fact that my Wileyfox Swift GPS is bad for locating GPS and for accuracy of location. My wife's Blackberry Dtek60 is superb for GPS navigation compared to Wileyfox. Of course the latter is a much cheaper phone, but if you often use GPS for navigation , you have to consider this when buying a new phone.

      Unfortunately most reviewers do not test the GPS and Radio Signal reception except notebookcheck.com

  15. MrDamage

    Important question

    Does it do any dodgy phone-home tricks?

  16. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    Memory? removable battery?

    How much memory? does it have a card slot?

    Removable batteries probably arent a major issue, but i would definitely prefer one.

    Airlines are specifying battery capacity limits now, I cant remember where the threshold sits off the top of my head, but it is another headache to afflict the traveller.

    The speakers only need to be good enough - for phone use, I use bluetooth speakers for music playback.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Memory? removable battery?

      This is not a technical review, it's a fashion review. It doesn't care about technical things like batteries or the stylus, it cases about things like how it looks.

      Since most mobile phones are virtually identical from a technical standpoint, that's all there is to compare.

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        Re: Memory? removable battery?

        its not just the review, the manufacturers page it links to also avoids mentioning any useful details.

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    For me the Huawei Mate 9 ticks many boxes.

    Plus the fact that they did not add a lot of gadgetry to it. I'm just WTF at the infrared port, who uses IR comms in this day and age when Bluetooth or WIFI is much better (and faster) at transferring pr0... errr, movi... errr Linux distros. *ahem*.

    I'm using a Mediapad T1-701u at the moment, very impressed with it. Big screen (means easy-to-read emails and other stuff, especially for old farts), long and excellent battery life and it's responsive enough for me to use it on a daily basis.

    Only niggle for me is the "phone home" crapware they sneak into the phones. Hopefully some kind soul will release an app to disable said crapware from doing the ET thing permanently.

    A shufty at GSMArena showed me that it is also slightly thicker than my current Huawei device (and also smaller too) but who cares about thickness? I don't want an ultrathin device...

    So it is possible to get more life out of a battery - you just have to be clever, and design the phone properly than try and do sneaky tricks with the battery...

    Should be interesting to see (and compare the two) as my current device uses a 4100mAh Li-Ion battery and the Mate 9 uses an 4000mAh Li-Po...

    1. davemcwish

      Who uses IR comms in this day

      My m8 who uses his Sammy to play around with friends TV's

  18. Lamont Cranston

    Am I the only one giggling at "bottom-firing", then?

    *hangs head in shame*

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