Phone Comparisons: Huawei Mate 9 vs ASUS ZenFone AR

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Introduction

Do we have a good one for you today – The new Huawei Mate 9 takes on the new ASUS ZenFone AR. The Mate 9 is your typical all-metal Huawei device with the fingerprint sensor located on the back. It is a great looking device and has a solid build quality. The ZenFone AR is a beautiful looking metal-framed device with a faux leather backing over plastic – like the Galaxy Note 3 and it is very reminiscent of a Samsung 'S' device in its general shape with its fingerprint sensor on the front. The AR is ready for both ready for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Let's look at just what these two devices have in common, if anything, and then we will take a closer look at each one in hopes that we can determine a winner of this comparison.

The Huawei Mate 9 and the ASUS ZenFone AR have a few things in common. The display on the Mate 9 is only 0.2-inches larger resulting in a similar physical size, but the Mate 9 weighs 20 grams more than the ZenFone AR. The displays use a different technology, different resolutions, and different Gorilla Glass for protection. They both use different processors and GPUs but are on equal ground when it comes to performance. They pack 4GB of RAM, but the ZenFone AR also has an 8GB variant. Both have a 64GB memory option, and both have the means to expand their memory via a microSD card. The primary camera areas could not be more different – the Mate 9 uses one 20MP sensor along with a 12MP sensor, and the ZenFone AR uses a 23MP with extra sensors/lenses for its AR capabilities. They both include enhanced audio, although the AR cranks it up a notch with DTS sound enhancements. Both have a fingerprint sensor for unlocking your device, and both devices have NFC and can authorize mobile payments. They both use a large, non-removable battery, and both have rapid charge capabilities. They come with the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC, and the newer reversible Type-C port for charging and data transfer.

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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.

Specifications

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Huawei Mate 9

Huawei likes two things – a big screen on their devices and that display had better be Full HD, not Quad HD. The new Huawei Mate 9 follows that formula to the letter with its tablet-sized 5.9-inch display. Although the screen is large, Huawei was able to keep the Mate 9 relatively compact by using small bezels and placing the fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. We are looking forward to the official US version on its way later this year that will work on all the major US carriers. It has a very solid, all-metal build to it and its slightly curved edges make it comfortable to hold for long periods. Let's see just how it stacks up to the new ASUS ZenFone AR.

The Huawei Mate 9 sports a phablet-size 5.9-inch IPS LCD FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and only 373 pixels-per-inch (PPI) due to its large screen. For the processor they chose their powerful 64-bit Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core model with four cores running at 1.8GHz and four cores running at 2.4GHz and to handle the graphics, Huawei included the robust Mail-G71 MP8 GPU. The Mate 9 packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable internal memory via a microSD card.

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Huawei does like to include a good camera on their smartphones, and they did a great job with the Mate 9. Huawei tapped Leica for a dual primary camera with a 20MP sensor for colored photos and a 12MP sensor that shoots strictly monochrome (B&W) photos. Huawei used a rather small aperture of f/2.2, but the added OIS, 2X zoom, both Phase Detection Autofocus (FDAF) and laser autofocus, and a dual-tone LED flash. The resulting photos are more than the sum of its parts. Together it gives you some great pictures, and the added software allows the user to manipulate their photos. Those that are into black and white photos can take advantage of the secondary lens and will have the ability to experiment with some great B&W shots. The Mate 9 uses an 8MP sensor on its front-facing camera (FFC) with a larger f/1.9 aperture and 26mm wide-angle lens for great selfies and video chatting. The Mate 9 packs a large 4000mAh non-removable battery along with Huawei's own SuperCharge to charge your battery from 0-100-percent in only 90 minutes.

With a display, this significant, one would think that Huawei would have considered a Quad HD resolution, but Huawei believes the extra battery savings is worth giving up a little resolution. The Mate 9 has dual speakers, but they did not add any Hi-Fi circuitry to enhance the sound. The Mate 9 has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor to unlock the device or authorize mobile payments, including Android Pay. The Mate 9 is running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, so there is no waiting for that update. 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 is about $600.

ASUS ZenFone AR

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The new ASUS ZenFone AR is an exciting smartphone and could be one of the most talked about devices of 2017. It comes in black only with a metal frame and a faux leather backing. The back looks like a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the front looks like a Samsung Galaxy S7 with its round corners and a fingerprint sensor that looks like a home button. What makes this device stand out from the crowd that it is the first Tango-enabled smartphone that has both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in one smartphone. It has three camera lenses and built-in software to make it work. ASUS also gave it high-quality audio to use with its five-magnet speaker or earphones. Does it have the right stuff to beat out the Huawei Mate 9?

The ASUS ZenFone AR sports a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 515 PPI. The ZenFone AR comes with the revised Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor with dual cores clocked at 1.6 GHz and dual cores clocked at 2.35GHz, and it still uses the Adreno 530 GPU for its graphic duties. One version of the ZenFone AR packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and offers 32GB/64GB of memory, with expansion up to 256GB via a microSD card. Another version will be coming out that packs 8GB of RAM.

To use Tango and AR, ASUS equipped the ZenFone AR with a TriCam system that uses three rear cameras for its special effects. It starts with a 23MP camera, and then adds a motion tracking lens and finally a depth-sensing lens with an infrared (IR) projector. It includes laser autofocus, 3X Optical zoom, 4-axis OIS, dual-colored LED flash, and an aperture of f/2.0. For its FFC, the ZenFone AR uses an 8MP wide-angle lens with the same f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, and dual-tone LED flash for excellent low-light selfies and video chatting. The battery size is a non-removable 3300mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0.

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Keep your eye on the ASUS ZenFone AR in 2017 and see how well it sells, as it should be a hot commodity as users try out its capabilities. It is Tango-enabled and is the first smartphone design with both AR and VR capabilities as well as being Daydream ready. It has a fascinating camera area and includes a five-magnetic speaker for impressive sound as well as DTS Headphone X for virtual 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res audio. With its NFC chip and fingerprint sensor, you can authorize Android Pay mobile purchases with a swipe of your finger. The ASUS ZenFone AR measures 158.7 x 77.7 x 9mm, weighs in at 170 grams and is available in Black with the faux diamond cut leather backing. It is a GSM device, so it will not work on Verizon or Sprint. It comes with Android 7.0 out of the box and should be available soon and should cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.

…And The Winner Is…

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The Final Word

This decision was a tough one – both devices are so deserving, but I picked the ASUS ZenFone AR as the winner of this competition. Its biggest drawback is not having the bands to work on all major US networks. Both devices cost about the same amount, around $600, so that factor is left out of the equation.

The AR has the QHD Super AMOLED display, one of the best available processors and GPUs, a great camera area with Hi-Fi sound. Its biggest draw is its ability to run Tango, AR, VR and it's Daydream ready.

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The Huawei Mate 9 is no slouch by any means and has a top-rated processor and GPU itself. It does have dual speakers, but no real extra sound circuitry to take full advantage of the speakers. It has a larger battery and a built-in IR Blaster, and it does work on all major US networks.

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