Huawei Y9 first impressions: Great for video junkies, but competition is stiff

The Huawei Y9 will be available for purchase starting 15 January on Amazon India.

Huawei has kicked off 2019 with the launch of Y9 in India. The smartphone is priced at Rs 15,990 and in that segment, it enters the ring with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi A2, Redmi Note 6 Pro, Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2, Realme U1 and Honor 8C. At the launch today, I got to spend a while with this smartphone, here are my first impressions.

Build and design

The build and design of the Huawei Y9 are definitely striking. It has a large 6.5-inch display, with a tall-ish build. Design-wise, despite the plastic back, the glossy finish at the rear of the phone gives it a premium look. Of course, where there is gloss there are smudges.

While the Mi A2 and Redmi Note 6 Pro are pretty standard with their aluminium build, the Huawei Y9 falls in the league of Realme U1 and Max Pro M2, that are basically premium-looking mid-segment phones. For me personally, this adds a lot of value to the phone.

Further, the Huawei Y9 comes in a black and blue colour variant. While the blue variant looks very pretty, somewhat like the P20 Pro, the black variants look quite vanilla (The irony!).

Huawei Y9 sports what you can call a bathtub notch. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Huawei Y9 sports what you can call a bathtub notch, but it's not as bad as the Pixel 3's tub. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

The Huawei Y9 features a volume rocker and power button on the right edge and the SIM tray on the left. The phone support dual micro SIMs plus a microSD card. On the bottom edge, the phone has a microUSB port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a speaker grille.

At the back, the smartphone features a vertically placed dual camera setup, a fingerprint sensor and a lot of free space to leave your fingerprints on.

The phone has a large full view LCD display with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. It sports a Pixel 3-like “bathtub” notch which houses the front dual cameras.

The Huawei Y9 features a larger 6.5-inch LCD display. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

The Huawei Y9 features a larger 6.5-inch LCD display. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Software and OS

The Huawei Y9 is powered by a Hisilicon Kirin 710 chipset. While in Malaysia the smartphone was launched in a 6 GB RAM and a 4 GB RAM variant, in India only the latter model was announced. I asked Huawei if we could expect the 6 GB variant in India, but all I got was “it’s not a plan yet”. The Y9 comes with 64 GB of inbuilt storage, which is further expandable to 400 GB via microSD.

Thank God for that 3.5mm jack though! Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Thank God for that 3.5mm jack though! Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

I couldn't run benchmarks on the phone, but I found the phone pretty smooth to use in the time I spent with it. There was also no noticeable lag when switching between multiple apps.

The Huawei Y9 comes with Android Oreo out-of-the-box, which is layered with the company's own EMUI on top. I think the skin looks very neat but I did notice that Huawei loaded up the phone with way too much bloatware.

As with the Honor 8C and Realme U1, the Huawei Y9 features a special gaming DND mode which gives you an uninterrupted experience by muting calls and messages while playing games.

Camera

Now the camera is the highlight of the Huawei Y9, or so the company claims. The smartphone has a four-camera setup with "dual AI" sensors at the front and back. It sports a 13 MP primary sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, and a 2 MP secondary sensor with an aperture of f/2.4. The secondary sensor is also the depth sensor. Up front, the device features a dual camera setup as well — a 16 MP unit with an f/2.0 aperture and a 2 MP depth sensor with an aperture of f/2.4.

Huawei Y9 sports four cameras in total. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Huawei Y9 sports four cameras in total. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Now I wasn’t in the best lighting to really put the camera through its paces but Huawei has sent us a shot clicked with Y9's night mode. While I'll reserve final judgement until the review is done, the image shared by Huawei is certainly quite sharp and looks nice.

The phone also supports a portrait mode on both the front and rear cameras. I am really waiting to see how this phone fares in comparison to its competitors and specifically the Redmi Note 6 Pro and Realme U1, both of which perform pretty well on the optics level.

Battery

Battery is another highlight for the Huawei Y9. It is fuelled by a 4,000 mAh battery and comes with a promise of close to 30 hours of battery life. This is par for the course as far as the competition is concerned though.

That display could be a delight for users with heavy video consumption and for gamers. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

That display could be a delight for users with heavy video consumption and for gamers. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Conclusion

The Huawei Y9 looks promising, especially for users who love to watch a lot of videos on the go. If the performance is up to scratch, gaming will also be a joy on that massive display. That large, tall screen looks vibrant and nice. Of course, how you are going to carry the phone around should be given some serious thought. The Rs 15,000 segment is extremely competitive and I'm curious to see how it'll hold up in from of previous favourites such as the Redmi Note 6 Pro and Realme U1.

Xiaomi Mi A2 is also an important competitor, considering it offers stock Android One, and Xiaomi recently reduced the price of the phone to Rs 2,000 below that of the Y9. To win this market, the Y9 needs to be impressive enough to make the customer WANT to shell out that extra two grand.

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