'Leica look' images with Huawei Mate 9

The Huawei Mate 9 has a generous 4,000 mAh battery.
The Huawei Mate 9 has a generous 4,000 mAh battery.PHOTO: HUAWEI

The Huawei Mate 9 is a likeable phone with a fantastic dual-lens camera, but it is unfortunately let down by a couple of software quirks that will hopefully be cleared up in future updates.

Out of the box, the Mate 9 comes with a screen protector and a thin plastic case, which is a nice touch as protection for less popular phones can sometimes be difficult to find.

The body of the Mate 9 is not particularly distinctive, but it is well-finished. The sides of the phone are brushed metal, and the volume and power buttons click nicely when you depress them.

The fingerprint sensor sits at the back, just below the dual Leica lenses, and both the front and back of the phone bear the Huawei name in block letters.

The 5.9-inch phone is powered by Huawei's own powerful Hisilicon Kirin 960 chipset, and comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory. It also has a generous 4,000 mAh battery, and I found that even after a whole day of heavy use, I ended up with about 20 per cent left.

 

While the phone looks and feels premium, there are a couple of software issues that Huawei will hopefully iron out soon.

First, notifications in the status bar show up as a number instead of as icons, and there is no way of changing this, short of downloading a third-party app. What this means is that if you have received an e-mail and a WhatsApp message, the status bar will just show "2" instead of the WhatsApp and mail logo.

Also, the pulse notification light on the front of the phone was quite hit-and-miss, and it lit up only about 50 per cent of the time I had an unread message.

However, these small nuisances are mitigated by the Mate 9's fantastic camera.

It has a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and a 12-megapixel RGB camera, and combines information from both sources to create images with a "Leica look" - less oversharpening and oversaturation, and with a little grain reminiscent of the old days of film photography.

The wide aperture mode also allowed me to control the bokeh on the pictures, and there were convenient toggles to tweak the saturation.

While the resultant pictures may not be to everyone's taste, I loved the sense of drama that came out of the snapshots.

Lisabel Ting


TECH SPECS

PRICE: $898

PROCESSOR: Kirin 960 SoC (4 x 2.4GHz Cortex A73 + 4 x 1.8GHz Cortex A53 cores)

DISPLAY: 5.9-inch full HD Amoled display

OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 7.0

CAMERA: Dual 20-megapixel and 12-megapixel, f/2.2, optical image stabiliation (rear); 8-megapixel (front)

MEMORY: 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage

BATTERY: 4,000 mAh

RATING

FEATURES: 5/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4/5

BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 5/5

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline ''Leica look' images with Huawei Mate 9'. Print Edition | Subscribe