Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design review

A premium phone at a beyond premium price

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At €1,395 (around £1,200, $1,500, AU$2,000), Huawei needed to pull out all the stops with the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design - and then some.

While it’s a stylish phone with a great screen, strong performance, a good camera and ample storage, it really needed to do more for the asking price.

As it is, you’re basically paying for the exclusivity and brand recognition of the Porsche Design label. If that kind of thing matters to you, go right ahead. 

This is a good phone, and it won’t let you down. But for the prudent majority, there are simply too many superior phones for a good deal less money.

Who's this for?

The Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design is for those to whom the cost of Apple’s and Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphones is a whole lot less problematic than the fact that they’re so darned common. It’s also for those who like to flaunt their designer labels.

Should you buy it?

It’s quite possible that some people will be thoroughly smitten with the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design’s aesthetics. It is a beautiful phone.

But is it prettier than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge? Opinion may vary, but we don’t think so. Nor is it any more powerful, or its camera more capable, or its software more refined than any of the leading phablets out there, including the iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel XL.

Which means that you’re left with a very good phone that falls just short of the very best in all the ways that matter - but costs a good deal more. As a result, it’s almost impossible to recommend a purchase to all but the biggest designer label fanatics - who are unlikely to be awaiting our critical approval.

While there isn’t much else to consider in the Mate 9 Porsche Design’s price range, you can get similarly accomplished phones for a whole lot less. These are three prime alternatives.

iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus may lose out to the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design from a design perspective, and its screen isn’t as eye-poppingly sharp. Some will prefer the flexibility of Android, too.

But other than that, Apple’s flagship phone is the much better purchase. It’s more powerful, its software ecosystem is more appealing, and its dual-lens camera is capable of better results in more situations.

To top it all off, you’ll actually save lots of money, even if you opt for the top 256GB model. We never thought we’d write that of an iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Against the iPhone 7 Plus, the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design can at least fall back on its differences to mark it out. Placed against the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, that’s not so easy.

It’s a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ - or at least as well - with Samsung’s current flagship. It’s arguably prettier, its curved display more pronounced and arguably even easier on the eye, and its camera is also superior.

And to top it all off, the Galaxy S7 Edge is a fair bit cheaper.

Google Pixel XL

The comparisons don’t get any more flattering with the Google Pixel XL, but then the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design put itself in this position with its outrageous price tag.

We will say that Huawei’s phone is better looking and more elegant than Google’s, with the latter’s utilitarian design failing to excite. But that’s about it for Huawei wins in this contest.

The Google Pixel XL represents the pinnacle of Android phones, with its own 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display (and Daydream VR support out of the box), brilliant camera, sterling performance, and unparalleled synergy with the Android operating system.

First reviewed: December 2016