Huawei Mate 9 Review: A Well-Appointed Android Device, At A Bargain Price

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Huawei Mate 9 Review: Layout and Software

The Mate 9 runs on Android 7.0 (Nougat) while sporting Huawei’s latest Android launcher: EMUI 5.0, which is far more streamlined and smooth in comparison to its predecessors. For instance, while previous versions of EMUI lacked an app drawer, 5.0 finally has one. The home screen layout is identical to stock Nougat. You have the time, date, city, and weather at the top, a Google search bar in the middle, several applications, and the Back, Recent, and Home on-screen buttons. EMUI packs quite a few features you don’t get with stock Android, however. You get a more customizable homescreen, a neat shortcut for screencaps wherein you simply knock twice on the screen with one knuckle (don’t knock it ‘till you try it!), the ability to back up your device’s files on a computer or flash drive via USB, and easy screen recording.

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EMUI 5.0 also bundles in Huawei’s Machine Learning Algorithm. This software engine tracks your phone use to prioritize your more important/high-use apps and tune out background processes that might slow your phone down at inopportune times. While Huawei claims this will keep your phone running fast, two weeks of use leave us unable to tell yet if it’s making a difference.

There’s also a one-handed mode, which shrinks your screen and apps to one corner of the display, making single-handed use of this phablet much easier. Since much of that single-handed use is likely being done after-hours, the Mate 9 has a feature called Eye Comfort mode as well, which is a blue-light reduction setting that functions much like f.lux and similar blue-filtering apps. You can adjust how much blue light Eye Comfort mode eliminates, as well as schedule it to automatically activate at certain hours.

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Yet another testament to the customizability of Huawei’s OS is the Floating Dock feature. If you’re unhappy with where the Home, Back, and Recent buttons are, you can use Floating Dock to create a button that gives you access to these anywhere on the screen.

As we’ll see, the phone itself performs as smoothly as its UI. Everything feels fast and stays fast during everyday use cases.


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