Hands on: Huawei Y9 Prime review

Huawei's budget offering is now in India

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict

Huawei Y9 Prime is here to make its mark in a segment dominated by Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro. With a pop-up camera, minimal bezel screen and Kirin 710F chipset, the phone does the basics right but it is still early to form an opinion especially due to the average perfromance of the triple cameras on the back.

For

  • Notch-less display
  • Vibrant screen, certified by TUV Reighland
  • Decent performer

Against

  • Cameras need more optimization
  • No fast charging support
  • No Gorilla Glass protection

Huawei Y9 Prime is here to make its mark in the mid-range smartphone market in India. The company recently announced its H1 2019 results with over 118 million shipments in the backdrop of the ongoing tussle with the US administration.

In India, the Y9 Prime will be up for grabs at Rs 15,990 and there’s just one variant on sale-- with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. At that price point, it goes up against the likes of Redmi Note 7 Pro and even the Realme X to some extent.

We were able to get a brief look at the Huawei Y9 Prime at the launch and here’s what we could make of it.

Design and Display

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The Y9 Prime has a plastic back and receives a reflective coating which looks rather vibrant. The phone comes in Emerald Green and Sapphire Blue colours. As and how the light falls on the back of the phone, it reproduces glitter effects.

We also noticed that the pop-up module doesn’t fit symmetrically into its place and one can feel the gap between the chassis and the module easily. 

It measures 8.8mm at its thickest point and weighs around 196.8g. In comparison, the Redmi Note 7 Pro clocks in around 186g while the Realme X is at 191g. The Y9 Prime feels comfortable to hold and use in one hand as the gently curved back offers a firm grip. 

Having said that, it will be very hard to keep the back of the phone free of smudges and fingerprints.

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Huawei Y9 Prime features a 6.59-inch Full HD+ display and uses an IPS panel with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. There’s no additional protection on the display which is a bummer as a topping of Gorilla Glass has now become an essential feature and is found on most mid-range smartphones.

The display looks decent upon first look, but we couldn’t help but notice a bit of banding on the top. Now it could be the particular unit at fault but we’ll test the display further when the Y9 Prime is in for review.

Camera

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The Y9 Prime has three cameras on the back which consists of a primary 16MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP depth sensor. Also, there is a 16MP selfie camera hidden inside a pop-up mechanism on the top edge of the phone.

When the front-camera is triggered by the camera app, the module slides up to reveal the selfie camera. In case of accidental drops, the pop-up camera mechanism is smart enough to retract the module before the phone hits the ground. Huawei has also stress-tested the pop-up mechanism and claims that it can withstand a pressure of 15Kg.

In our brief time with the phone, we were not at all impressed by the photography capabilities of theY9 Prime. The photos from either of the cameras were filled with visible grain and we could notice over-processing in play here. Having said that, we’d like to give it a second try in more natural environments and especially play around with that ultrawide lens.

Performance and Battery

Huawei Y9 Prime is powered by Kirin 710F chipset with an octa-core CPU clocked at upto 2.2GHz and Mali-G51 MP4 as the graphics chip. This is paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB storage which can further be increased upto 512GB using a microSD card.

It runs on Android 9.0 Pie-based EMUI 9 and while it isn’t the most fluid experience to have, the Y9 Prime seems to nail the basics. Additionally, it comes with GPU Turbo 3.0 to enhance the gaming performance on the phone.

It is still very early to form judgment when it comes to the performance of the Y9 Prime and we’ll have to test it further.

The phone is fitted with a 4,000mAh battery but sadly does not support fast charging.

Early Verdict

In our brief time with the Huawei Y9 Prime, we were not impressed with the cameras but the minimal bezel display and decent performance are surely two of the key highlights of this phone. Having said that, the company has cut a lot of corners here and it shows as you hold the phone in the hand.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.