Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design preview: The mini Mate 9 with a big €1395 price tag
You had a double take, didn’t you? No, this isn’t a limited edition Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, it’s the limited edition Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design.
The Chinese telecoms company and German design company have forged a new partnership to show off what they can do. The result is a savvy, sophisticated looking smartphone. Which happens to cost an eye-watering €1395.
Here’s what we have to make of the Porsche Design from our time with the device at the Huawei Mate 9 launch in Munich. It won’t be coming to the UK, so this is as good a glimpse as it’ll get for many.
Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design preview: More than a mini Mate 9
- Porsche Design 152 x 75 x 7.5mm body is smaller than Mate 9
- Porsche Design plumps for 5.5-inch Quad HD screen, not 5.9-inch Full HD
What’s perhaps most unusual about this Porsche Design phone is that it’s nothing like the Mate 9 from which it takes its name. For starters the Porsche Design version has a 5.5-inch, 2160 x 1440 pixel resolution screen – not the larger 5.9-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution screen of the Mate 9.
- Huawei Mate 9 preview: The big-screen boss
From a size point of view, these devices only share their name. The Porsche Design measures 7.5mm thick, meaning it’s slightly thinner than the 7.9mm Mate 9 – but it still manages to cram in a massive 4,000mAh battery capacity, which is great news.
The Porsche Design version of the Mate 9 is also subtly curved to its edges, including the glass screen and metal front and rear. It’s a symmetrical curve front to back – which is where our Samsung S7 edge comparison comes into play. The two phones do look frightfully similar.
The Porsche Design is as well made as we’ve seen from a phone. Its metal has a brushed finish, which glints in the light. It’s also an ultimate fingerprint magnet, which detracts from the look, despite its screen appearing less glossy than the S7 edge we mention.
Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design preview: Fingerprint magnet
Speaking of fingerprints, to access the scanner you won’t wangle your finger around the back (where the circular scanner is present on the Mate 9), as the Porsche Design model has its scanner on the front home key. That leaves just enough room for a shiny Porsche Design logo on the rear, which is like a lower-case P and D combined into one emblem – and far nicer than the massive “Porsche Design” all-caps statement on the front of the phone.
This looks a lot like Samsung again. The surrounding capacative touch buttons, however, are much more like the OnePlus 3 in terms of their response – from their placement outside of the screen, through to their single dot emblems on both sides.
Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design preview: Ultimate power
- Porsche Design pushes 6GB RAM, 256GB storage
- Kirin 960 octa-core processor and Mali G71 GPU
The Mate 9 Porsche Design also benefits from a bump in spec elsewhere. While it embodies the same Kirin 960 octa-core chipset as the larger Mate 9, it pairs that with 6GB RAM rather than just 4GB.
It also benefits from the latest Mali G71 MP8 GPU, which moves on from OpenGL to the Vulkan platform – which is even more responsive than you’ll find in many other phones. It’s a phone perfectly suited to devouring high-end mobile games.
Porsche Design has also chosen to go rather iPhone 7 in its unibody design thinking, which means no microSD card slot is available. Instead the only model comes loaded with a whopping 256GB storage for you to load it up with content. That might go some way to explain its huge price tag.
Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design preview: Dual Leica cameras
- Dual cameras: 12MP colour, 20MP B&W
- Optical image stabilisation for both 27mm f/2.2 lenses
As if one German company wasn’t enough, Huawei has snagged two. Yep, Leica returns in the Mate 9, including the Porsche Design version, with its dual camera arrangement.
It’s much like that found in the earlier Huawei P9 model – meaning one 12-megapixel colour sensor and one black & white one – but now the B&W sensor is higher-resolution, at 20-megapixel. The added resolution is there to help with a “hybrid zoom”, which uses the mono information from the higher-resolution B&W image to enhance the detail in the colour image when digitally zooming.
Both cameras feature 27mm f/2.2 equivalent lenses and now have optical image stabilisation, hence the small bump to the rear – although it protrodes slightly less in the Porsche Design model than it does in the standard Mate 9.
And let’s not forget 4K video capture (H.265 compression) too. Jolly good stuff all round.
Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design preview: New software
Otherwise the bulk of the Porsche Design model is just like that of the Mate 9. We’re particularly impressed that there’s a 4,000mAh battery on board here – including SuperCharge technology for fast-charging – just as there is in the larger Mate 9.
This also means Huawei’s latest EMUI software reskin – now in version 5.0, sat over the top of Android 7.0 Nougat – comes present and correct. That means a simpler interface, with a cleaner design, plus some interesting options like dual Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp use via the Dual SIM. Clever stuff.
Other details resemble the standard Mate 9. So why not take a read of our full preview, below, to get the low-down on what to expect.
- Huawei Mate 9 preview: The big-screen boss
What can we say? Despite the bonkers price, the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design is a lovely looking phone. Well made and all powerful, it overshadows the standard Mate 9 to such an extent that now all we want is this limited edition version.
Saying that, the Mate 9 name is kind of misleading. The Porsche Design’s different screen size, body size, curved design front to back, plus repositioning of the fingerprint scanner make it a wholly different and wholly exciting phone.
Indeed, we think this is Huawei laying the groundwork for its next generation of phones (while looking a lot like a certain successful Samsung in the process). But from what we’ve seen, it’s hard to be critical of that position.
The Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design will be available in limited quantities in December.