Huawei Mate 9 Pro preview: The Mate we wanted all along

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When Huawei unveiled the Mate 9 it overshadowed it by revealing a smaller-scale and better designed Porsche Design model in tandem. But the latter model’s limited availability and €1,395 price tag clearly demonstrated it wasn’t a model for the masses.

Now Huawei has gone and changed all that, with the reveal of the Mate 9 Pro: a Porsche Design doppelgänger, minus the special edition’s branding, that looks more than a little bit like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

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That means a 5.5-inch (2560 x 1440; QHD) screen, curved edges, front-placed fingerprint scanner and physical home button, alongside off-screen capacitive buttons. It’s available in white or silver only, the latter of which doesn’t half love showing up smeary fingerprints.

And we think it’s far better looking than the larger Mate 9. Really this so-called Pro model should have just been the Mate 9 all along. Shame that Huawei wasn’t bold enough to go along with that idea from the off.

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The physical home button is an interesting touch, as it’s flanked by two light-up capacitive buttons on the phone body itself rather than the screen. We find these are programmed back-to-front for our use, and without the triangle/circle/square visual reference it’ll take a little bit of getting used to this control format.

Spec-wise the Pro will offer the latest Kirin 960 quad-core (2.4Ghz) processor and Mali-G71 graphics processor. It’s plenty powerful, although the actual specs are somewhat up in the air: Huawei tells us that the phone will come with 6GB RAM and 128GB on-board storage, but the models on show at this year’s CES show floor were kitted with 4GB RAM and 64GB on-board storage.

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Perhaps a step-down from the Porsche Design model after all then? Which is odd, as the whole point of its Pro moniker would surely be to squeeze that extra bit of power in.

There’s no change in camera arangement, with the Pro offering the same dual lens arrangement as part of its Leica partnership. That means one 12MP colour and one 20MP black and white snapper, both with f/2.2 aperture and 27mm equivalent focal length.

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Software wise the Mate 9 Pro runs EMUI 5.0 over the top of Android 7, which – as we’ve said with the Mate 9 (er, standard) – makes for a mixed experience. There are some great additions like dual SIM and app twin (for dual WhatsApp/Messenger accounts), but the never-ending battery alerts and strict permissions frustrate.

Speaking of battery, the 4,000mAh cell in the Pro is hugely capacious. We doubt it’ll last quite as long as the Mate 9 given the higher-resolution, but it’ll easily blast the Apple and Samsung devices of this world out of the water… not that this Huawei is waterproof. Maybe next time, eh?

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Other software points of interest in this build of EMUI include a new Student Mode (for parents to control their children’s profile and access) and Trustspace. Neither of which are on our standard day-to-day Mate 9.

There’s a current catch though: the Mate 9 Pro is only coming to China. At least for now. We suspect a savvy Huawei will release it worldwide to greater reception than the larger Mate models. If, that is, Samsung doesn’t have something to say about the way it looks…

(pocket-lint.com, https://goo.gl/QnEPzT)

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