Slap a fancy name on something and you can charge a lot more for it. 

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 is crazy expensive, especially when you can get it without the Porsche name for less than half the price in the shape of the Huawei Mate 9 Pro.

You’d have to be mad to buy this phone when the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge costs almost S$1000 less.

But that doesn’t mean this is a bad phone. Anything but.

Not just another Mate

Ignore the name - this isn't just a regular Mate 9 with the Porsche Design name engraved into it. The two are completely different.

The Porsche Design Mate 9 is a much smaller phone, with a 5.5in screen instead of a 5.9in one. It's got curves in all the right places, too - namely the edges of the screen. And moving the fingerprint sensor to the front leaves it with a lot more in common with the Galaxy S7 Edge than the Mate 9. Yep, we went there.

It really has a look of its own, though. The back is a dark, near-black hue of blue, carved from one sheet of brushed aluminium. You can’t miss that great big Porsche Design logo on the front, either. You’ve paid for it, so it might as well be loud and clear.

The Porsche Design Mate 9 is very skinny at 7.5mm thick, even if the design award still goes to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, as it’s about 2.5mm narrower. This is still one of the most striking phones around, mind.

There are extras aplenty too. There's a factory-applied screen protector to keep the super-hard Gorilla Glass 4 looking perfect for even longer, there’s a now super-rare IR blaster, which lets the phone work as a universal remote, and a great fingerprint scanner.

It sits around the front, a departure from Huawei’s standard rear scanners, but works just like a classic Huawei model. There’s no button, you just put a finger on the recessed pad and it does the rest. It’s lightning-fast, too.

The one thing missing is water resistance. Neither Mate 9 is. Bummer, right?


OLED punch

The Porsche might have a smaller screen than the regular Mate 9, but it still manages to pack in more pixels. The 5.5in, 2560x1440 OLED is as good a spec as you’ll find in any of 2016’s best phones.

Colours are punchy, contrast is perfect thanks to those pitch-black OLED pixels and, compared to the Sasmung Galaxy S7 Edge, the display barely curves at the edges at all. Whether that’s a pro or con is up to you: a lot of people find the Samsung’s shapely curves distracting.

You can fiddle with the colour temperature to get a perfect personal preference, just like most of Huawei's phones, and there’s a night reading mode that turns white hues as yellowy as an old paperback’s pages.

Samsung’s best give you even more customisation, but the Porsche Design Mate 9 is a close match in quality terms - not least because it almost certainly uses a Samsung screen.


Huawei eats humble pie

The software, though? That's all Huawei. The Porsche Design Mate 9 uses Huawei's EmotionUI interface, running on top of Android 7.0. 

For years, critics have complained that Huawei fiddles with Android too much: zapping the apps menu, overly aggressive power management, endless popups. Now, there's finally the option to make EmotionUI feel more like normal Android.

A quick flick of a switch in the Settings menu now restores the apps drawer. It doesn’t look exactly like the Android one - more like the apps menu of nerd’s choice CyanogenMod. Still, it marks a big swallowing of Huawei pride.

There are other quirks, of course. Fresh out of the box, the Porsche Mate 9 has a pretty ugly set of icons. They’re meant to look classy and luxurious, but it’s the phone equivalent of covering a Porsche’s leather dashboard with tin foil.

You can fix this easily, though. A Themes app lets you reskin the software, replacing wallpapers, icons and even the style of the lock screen. There are dozens to download. Plenty are ugly, but there are some more neutral gems in there too.

A few tweaks and the Porsche Mate 9 should suit most tastes, but anyone complaining that Huawei has ruined Android just hasn’t looked deep enough into how much control you have here. It’s far more flexible than a pure Android phone.

Performance is also flat-out fantastic. We haven't noticed any weird bugs, no annoying slow-down, and it's easily one of the fastest Android phones in the world right now. Sure, that’ll all change in a couple of months, but why not let Huawei bask in glory for 10 minutes?

Tech Specs 
Stuff says... 

Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 review

A true rival for the best phones around. As long as you don’t look at the price.
Good Stuff 
Fancy design
Great cameras
Mammoth 256GB storage
Loads of power
Bad Stuff 
Insane price
Not water resistant

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