Design and Display

In its "Space Gray" color scheme (sound familiar?) the Mate 9 has a typical monolithic appearance with dark glass and a large display. Things start to change when you turn the phone over, however.

The Mate 9's Leica Dual Camera system sits atop a fingerprint reader, and the rest of the phone's rear panel is smooth metal.

Now a look around the perimeter of the handset:

Display

Specifications from Huawei:

  • 5.9" FHD Display
  • 1080p (1920 x 1080), 373 ppi
  • 16.7M colors, Color saturation (NTSC) 96%
  • High contrast 1500:1 (typical)

The display in the Mate 9 is actually slightly smaller than its 6-inch predecessor, with a 5.9-inch IPS panel that is still sporting an FHD (1080×1920) resolution. The reduction in size gives the Mate 9 a slight edge in pixel density (373 vs 368 ppi). I could detect no difference in the clarity of text or other content on the screen, but I do appreciate the slight reduction in size from a usability standpoint. For instance, the 5.9-inch Mate 9 is smaller than the 5.5-inch display-equipped iPhone 7 Plus, though Apple’s industrial design choices (home button, symmetrical top and bottom bezel) call for a taller form-factor.

Mate 8 on the left, Mate 9 on the right (screen brightness 100% for both phones)

Subjectively, the display looks very good; with good color saturation and fairly deep black levels for an IPS panel. And this is (apparently) a standard IPS panel, rather than the IPS-NEO display in the Mate 8. Does this make a difference? My impression (an example of which you can see in the above photo) was that this new display does not look quite as good the Mate 8, which seems to offer deeper black levels and better color – but it is very close. Without proper measurement equipment I will defer to the stated specifications, which list the Mate 9 as having a the same native contrast ratio as the Mate 8 (1500:1) and 1% greater color saturation (96% vs. 95%).

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