For a while, phones with ultra-giant screens were about as fashionable as stonewashed flares.
Now, though, Huawei seems to think they’re the next skinny jeans. Or leatherette leggings. Or whatever Grazia says is fashionable these days.
The Mate 9 is a flat-out huge phone, with a 5.9in screen. Don’t start unpicking the seams in your pockets just yet, though.
Thanks to a smart design it’s only 1mm wider than the 5.5in iPhone 7 Plus. It’s big, sure, but makes Apple’s giant phone look like a design dinosaur.
If a big screen is number one on your priorities list, the Mate 9 deserves serious consideration. Even if it does cost a packet at RM2699.
Turn the Mate 9 on and you’ll immediately notice the screen.
It’s not the size that’ll make your eyes open wide, but just how much it dominates the front of the phone. There’s only a wafer thin bit of surround to each side, and even the top and bottom are slender.
Huawei is out to prove phones with giant screens don’t need to be a laughing stock: mission success.
Let’s not go overboard, though. If you hate big phones, you’re not going to like the Mate 9. Obviously.
This is among the prettier phones Huawei has made, too, with a slim aluminium body and a slight curve that looks and feels as premium as it gets.
It doesn’t set any wider, drop-dead-gorgeous design standards, though. The very top and bottom bits of the back are plastic, for example.
Huawei itself has even shown the Mate 9 up, with the ridiculously expensive Porsche Design edition, complete with curved glass front for a look less ordinary.
Build quality is still fab on the standard phone, so only the style-obsessed need worry.
Like Samsung’s Note phones, the Mate range has a real nerd-pleaser edge. No problem with that.
If you need proof, there’s 64GB storage plus a microSD card slot, and an IR blaster on the top edge to turn the Mate 9 into a universal remote control.
These used to regularly show up on higher-end phones, but it’s now one of the rarest phone features in the known universe. Given how many dedicated universal remotes end up gathering dust in drawers, it’s no wonder most phone-makers leave an IR blaster out, but it’s still a neat extra.
Like other high-end Huawei phones, the Mate 9 has a finger scanner on the back and it’s a perfect fit for a device this big. It fits right under your index finger, is dead quick, and can be used for more than just unlocking the phone and the odd password leapfrog. Dive into the Settings menu and you can make a swipe open up your notifications, to silence alarms and even answer calls.
There’s just one missing bit: water resistance. We’ve not tested for any secret squirrel water-proofing, but with no sly rubber seals anywhere, we suggest you don’t either.
Do you really need six inches?
Aside from its size, the Mate 9’s 1080p resolution doesn’t sound like a world-beating display - not when there are phones with QHD OLED screens for the same price.
Still, it comes across well in person.
It looks a lot sharper than a 1080p Samsung OLED would at this size, with almost no sense we’re dealing with a screen that’s low on pixels. Teeny tiny text looks a tiny bit softer than it would on a QHD screen, but there’s not that much in it.
Colours and rich and deep, with the slight over-saturation that has been flavour of the month for pretty much the entire year. Contrast is great and peak brightness is excellent. Brightness does take a dip at an angle, but this is standard for an IPS LCD.
There is a stinger, one that (rare for a Mate phone) may upset the geek contingent. This screen isn’t that well-suited to VR, despite being massive.
You need an OLED screen to avoid that awful seasick feeling virtual reality can cause, and more pixels wouldn’t go amiss either. This ain’t a Google Daydream VR-certified phone.
It is hard to beat for watching Netflix, though, and we imagine that’d be more useful for 99.5 per cent of people anyway. Like other Huawei phones, you can fiddle with the Mate 9’s colour temperature and there’s an eyeball-saving night mode that warms up the screen until sunrise.