Do we have a good one for you today – the Sony Xperia XZ takes on the new Huawei Mate 9. These two all-metal smartphones battle it out to see which one has the better specifications and value for your hard-earned dollar. The Xperia XZ hit the US shores a couple of months ago while the Mate 9 is a newcomer to the ever-increasing phablet-sized devices. The Xperia XZ has the usual Sony look – rectangle with large top and bottom bezels while the new Mate 9 has the usual Huawei look – all-metal with curved sides and small bezels. Despite their differences these two devices do have a few things in common that we will take a look at now, and then later we will look at each device to try to determine a winner of this specification comparison.
The Xperia XZ and the Mate 9 do not have much in common, especially because of the difference in display sizes – the 5.2-inches on the Xperia XZ versus the 5.9-inches on the Mate 9 – that makes the Mate 9 larger and heavier all around. Both devices do use an IPS LCD display technology and have the same Full HD resolution…and I say that not as a good 'thing.' They use different processors, different GPUs, have different amounts of RAM, although both have expandable storage. They both have excellent cameras, and while the Mate 9 uses a dual Leica design, the Xperia XZ holds its own for great photos. They both use a non-removable battery with rapid charge capabilities. They have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC, and the newer Type-C reversible port for charging and data transfer.
Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Sony Xperia XZ
Sony and the US seem to have a love-hate relationship, but we have to give Sony credit for at least getting the Xperia XZ to the US faster than most of its devices, but somewhere between Japan and the US, they forgot to include the software for the fingerprint sensor. By flashing the UK firmware to the US Xperia XZ, you can use the fingerprint sensor – something you should not have to do. The Xperia XZ retains the all-metal backing they started using on the last model after a long history of using metal and glass. It retains the familiar Sony rectangle shape with its large top and bottom bezels. At a price of $699, it should have all of the bells and whistles…or at least a fingerprint sensor. Let's see how it stands up to the new Huawei Mate 9.
The Sony Xperia XZ sports a 5.2-inch IPS FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 424 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) Sony made a wise choice and included the 64-bit Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with dual cores clocked at 1.6GHz and dual cores clocked at 2.15GHz. It packs only 3GB of DDR4 RAM, and although Android is designed to run on as little as 512MB RAM, the 3GB in the Xperia XZ did show a few signs of lagging on certain apps, but according to our review, it ran fine the rest of the time. You can have your choice of 32GB or 64GB of expandable internal memory.
Sony has always taken pride in the Xperia's camera area. The Xperia XZ's primary camera sports a new 23MP Sony lens with an aperture of f/2.0, 24mm, phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and laser autofocus, and LED flash. For its front-facing camera (FFC) it uses a huge 13MP sensor with a f/2.0, 22mm, and HDR capabilities to give you great selfies or video chats. The Xperia XZ uses a smaller 2900mAh non-removable battery with Quick Charge 3.0 to give you a rapid charge when needed.
The Xperia XZ does have some redeeming qualities with its Hi-Res audio and utilizes that great sound through dual front-facing stereo speakers. It also comes with IP68 certification for dust and water resistance – something the Mate 9 is definitely lacking. The Xperia's biggest mistake is not allowing it to operate on all major US carriers and offering no fingerprint sensor for mobile payments. It measures 146 x 72 x 8.1MM and weighs in at 161 grams. It comes in Mineral Black, Platinum, Forest Blue, or Deep Pink. It will cost you a sizable $699 for this Sony flagship.
Huawei Mate 9
Huawei likes to have a big screen device in their lineup, and the Mate series is where you will find it – the newest is their Huawei Mate 9. It comes with a full-metal body and small bezels, so even with its large display; Huawei was able to make it relatively compact in physical size. While the US version is on its way, like the Xperia, it will only work on GSM networks, leaving Verizon and Sprint out of the equation. Like the Xperia, it comes with only a Full HD IPS LCD display resolution. It has a solid build to it and with its slightly curved edges feels great to hold over an extended period. Let's see just how it stacks up to the Sony Xperia XZ.
The Mate 9 sports a large 5.9-inch IPS LCD FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and only 373 PPI due to its large size. It is running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box on a 64-bit Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor with four cores running at 1.8GHz and four cores running at 2.4GHz. It packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable internal memory. It is coupled to a Mail-G71 MP8 GPU for outstanding graphics.
The camera area is excellent with dual Leica optics – a 20MP for colored photos and a 12MP that shoots strictly monochrome (B&W) photos – along with an aperture of f/2.2, OIS, 2x zoom, with both Phase Detection Autofocus (FDAF) and laser autofocus, and dual-tone LED flash. For the FFC the Mate 9 uses an 8MP sensor with a f/1.9 aperture and 26mm lens for selfies and video chatting. The Mate 9 has a large, non-removable 4000mAh battery with Huawei's own SuperCharge that will charge your battery from 0-100-percent in only 90 minutes with the provided charger.
The Mate 9 has many good qualities, but like any smartphone is not perfect. We have a large display, but only 1080p making it a poor candidate for Virtual Reality (VR.) It does have dual speakers with one set on the bottom of the phone, and the second speaker is the earpiece. It puts out some nice sounds, and the earphone jack sounds good as well. There is no dust or water protection and on the phone this expensive, it should have some protection from the elements. The Mate 9 measures 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm, weighs in at 190 grams and comes in Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, and Black. Its pricing should be somewhere in the $750 range.
…And The Winner is…
The Final Word
This decision was a tough pick – the Xperia XZ and the Mate 9 both have FHD displays, and neither one will work on Verizon or Sprint networks. After carefully looking at the specifications and the pricing – that is virtually the same – I decided to go with the Mate 9 as the winner.
The Huawei Mate 9 has a larger display, premium processor, and GPU, more RAM, more camera options, bigger battery and faster charging, a fingerprint sensor that works in the US for mobile payments, and it is running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.
Sony does have its IP68 certification for dust and water resistance and Hi-Res audio, along with dual front-facing stereo speakers – however, the Mate 9 seems to offer more features and specs for the money.
Neither one of these devices can run on the CDMA networks of Verizon and Sprint, but if you are already on AT&T or T-Mobile, you might want to give the Huawei Mate 9 a strong look. If it is too large for you, then you may want to look at the Sony Xperia XZ, although there are other devices for the same price (and cheaper) that offer more.