Huawei's Y9 is an inexpensive phone with a battery that will last two full days.
The mid-range smartphone is a pretty popular product for a number of smartphone makers, including Huawei. This is because not everyone wants to buy - or can afford - a smartphone that's over $750. And in recent years, these mid-range smartphones have gotten really good. Huawei's Y9 is another new mid-range smartphone from the company - and it's very similar to the Honor 7X and Huawei Mate SE - with a large battery. But is it worth the money? Let's find out.
The Huawei Y9's spec sheet is very similar to the Honor 7X, with the same 5.93-inch 18:9 aspect ratio display here, which sports a resolution of 2160x1080. There's a Kirin 659 chipset powering the show with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. There are also 4GB/64GB and 4GB/128GB models available. Huawei has included a micro SD card slot here for expanding storage, should you need some more space. And this is powered by Android Oreo with EMUI v8.0 and a 4000mAh capacity battery.
On the camera-front, Huawei has a dual-camera setup around the back. With a 16-megapixel sensor that has a f/2.2 aperture as the main lens, and a 2-megapixel secondary-lens. There is also phase-detection autofocus available here for getting great shots in low-light. Now on the front, Huawei has also gone with dual-cameras, and it's a fairly similar affair with a 16-megapixel main sensor that has a f/2.0 aperture and then a secondary 2-megapixel sensor for getting depth data.
The Huawei Y9 also supports WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac networks, as well as having Bluetooth 4.2 on-board. It uses A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS for location tracking, but there's no NFC. There is a headphone jack included, and a fingerprint sensor as well. Finally, there is a micro USB connector included for charging up the Y9.
In the Box
Included in the box with the Huawei Y9, you'll find a case for the Y9 as well as a micro USB to USB-A cable and a wall charger. Huawei has also included a slew of paperwork including warranty information, as well as the SIM ejection tool, so you can access the SIM slot and also the micro SD card slot.
The build on the Y9 is pretty similar to most of Huawei's other smartphones on the market today. That includes a metal body with a glass front. The metal body does have slight curves around the edges, that are going to keep the phone feeling comfortable in your hand, and it doesn't have any sharp edges. The back of the Y9 is pretty clean too, with the dual-cameras up in the top left-hand corner, with the flash next to it. The fingerprint sensor is a little further down and still centered, with the Huawei logo at the very bottom. There are antenna lines here, which Huawei has pushed as far up and down as possible, to give the Y9 a rather clean look.
On the bottom of the Huawei Y9, you're going to find the increasingly rare headphone jack. There is also a single speaker and the micro USB connector as well. It's a bit odd seeing a micro USB connector on a smartphone in 2018, but it does help Huawei keep the costs down - and let's face it, most people have a ton of micro USB cables available at home anyways, so it makes sense to use it on an inexpensive smartphone. On the right side is where you'll find the power and volume buttons with the left side housing the SIM and micro SD card tray. There's nothing at the top, besides a microphone.
The front of the Huawei Y9 is almost all display. In fact, about 76.7-percent of the front is display. There's a fairly small forehead and chin on the Y9 and even smaller side bezels. Now, since it's not quite as 'bezel-less' as other smartphones, Huawei as able to squeeze its logo onto the front, below the display. Of course, the forehead houses the usual array of sensors and the earpiece. But this time around, it sports two cameras, which likely needs more space then usual - even if the second sensor is just a 2-megapixel sensor for depth data.
Huawei has done its usual job here when it comes to the build of the Y9. Sporting a metal unibody and a glass front. This is something Huawei has been doing for a few years, and it's actually pretty good at. The Huawei Y9 feels pretty solid in the hand, and that's what you would expect from Huawei. There's not too much to complain about when it comes to the build quality of its smartphones, and that's the same with the Y9.
Huawei has followed the industry trend of using taller displays on all of its smartphones, even the mid-range and low-end offerings, so it's not surprising to see that being done here. The Huawei Y9 sports a 18:9 aspect ratio display here, which has a resolution of 2160x1080, which makes it full HD+, technically. But it is still full HD, which is not surprising for Huawei. As the company has long kept to 1080p displays instead of 2K or Quad HD panels. This helps save battery, and it's also a bit cheaper - so Huawei can keep its prices down. Now the full HD+ panel here on the Y9 actually looks pretty good. You won't see any pixels here, which is a good thing, but it can be a bit on the warmer side. Luckily, Huawei does offer the ability to adjust the temperature in the settings. Auto-brightness also seems to be pretty decent, getting bright enough when you need it but also not blinding you when it's dark.
Inside the Y9, is the Kirin 659, which is Huawei's own chipset. Being its own in-house chipset, it means that Huawei can really optimize it for this device, and it seems like it has. But then again, this chipset is no slouch. It's an octa-core chip with four 1.7GHz Cortex-A53 cores and four 2.36GHz Cortex-A53 cores inside. It is also powered by the Mali-T830 GPU, so it is definitely powerful enough to keep things running smooth, and that was our general experience while using the Huawei Y9. Through everyday usage, it was able to keep things running smoothly, and there weren't really any hits of lag or stuttering here, which is nice to see.
Now with there only being 3GB of RAM on our unit (there is a 4GB model out there, but not on the one we were testing), it does bog down the phone a bit. There are times where the phone will get a bit slow, and that's when you have a lot of apps open, which is understandable, seeing as it is only 3GB of RAM. But for most light users, the 3GB option will definitely be plenty. However, if it's available, the 4GB of RAM option is going to be the better option here.
Similar to pretty much every smartphone in 2018, Huawei has added fingerprint and facial recognition to the Y9, giving you a few ways to unlock your smartphone. The fingerprint sensor is still located around the back, and it's in the right place so it's just above your index finger, and not in a weird position that makes it hard to use. The sensor is speedy and quick, as one would expect from Huawei, given the fact that it is the one that had been pushing fingerprint sensors for the past few years. Now facial recognition is new here on the Huawei Y9, and it may be surprising to see it baked into such an inexpensive smartphone here, but it's here, and works fairly well. It unlocks pretty much instantly. Also, like many other smartphones out there, it will brighten the display when you're in a dark environment to illuminate your face and then unlock as well. Which is a nice touch. Of course, facial recognition here is not that secure, since it is only using the front-facing cameras and not other technology like the iPhone X, but it is an option that's available.
There's a single speaker here on the Huawei Y9, which is not surprising, given there aren't many smartphones in its price range that are utilizing the earpiece as a second speaker just yet. That bottom-firing speaker actually does pretty decently on the Y9. What's interesting here is that if you are watching YouTube the bass will be pretty punchy, with decent mids and highs. But if you close YouTube and use picture-in-picture, the bass is almost gone, and the mids and highs get much louder. It's pretty odd, but when watching TV shows and stuff, it actually sounds better. The speaker itself does get plenty loud, though dual speakers would always be nicer.
Huawei did opt to keep the headphone jack on the Y9 here, which is something that many people are going to love, no doubt. This means that you can plug in any set of headphones and use them with the Y9 as is, and not worry about a dongle, or charging up the battery. We did use the Y9 with a pair of JBL headphones, and it sounded pretty good. Not as good as something like the LG G7 ThinQ that has a quad DAC, but good enough here. And of course having that headphone jack included is a big plus.
On the Huawei Y9, we ran both 3D Mark and Geekbench 4 for benchmarks to see how well the Y9 would perform. On Geekbench, it picked up single-core scores of 940 and multi-core scores of 3658. That's pretty decent for the hardware that's inside. Now over on 3D Mark, it picked up a score of 327 in the Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1 test, and a 356 in the Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan test. You can see the full results from both benchmarks in the gallery below. Now, we typically run AnTuTu on review devices, but the app continually froze on the Y9. We're unsure of why, but we'll chalk it up to the app having issues, and not being the phone's fault.
With a 4000mAh capacity battery inside any smartphone, you'd expect it to perform pretty well, in terms of battery life. Never-mind a smartphone that has a pretty good chipset that is also good at preserving the battery and a full HD+ display that will make that battery last even longer. That's a recipe for a battery that is going to give you multi-day battery life, and well, that was the case on the Huawei Y9 here. We were able to consistently get over six hours of on-screen time on the Y9, and that was over the course of two days, typically. And even then, the battery wasn't fully depleted, it was still around 20-30% left. Which means it could likely get another hour or two of on-screen time. That was just with casual use, so if you used it heavily in a single day, you could likely get even more on-screen time here. That's pretty good, and definitely what we like to see from smartphones.
Of course, the flip side of battery life is charging that battery. With a larger capacity battery, it means it's going to take longer to charge, and well, that is the case here. Huawei's own fast charging is included, so it's not that slow. But it will still take a couple of hours to fully recharge. Huawei did not include wireless charging here - though it's not available on its higher-end smartphones either, so that shouldn't be a surprise. On top of that, this is a metal smartphone, so while it is technically possible to do wireless charging through a metal backplate, it is going to cause the phone to get much hotter, so opting to leave it out is a good idea. And it's what most smartphone makers have opted to do. The Huawei Y9 is a smartphone you're only going to need to charge at night anyways, so that's a good thing.
Out of the box, the Huawei Y9 is running on Android 8.0 with EMUI 8.0 and the April 1, 2018 security patch. That's not the latest version of Android, nor the latest security patch, but it is pretty close, so it's good to see that Huawei is pushing out the latest with its new smartphones. Huawei has gotten better over the years with pushing out updates to its devices, which is good. And in fact, during the review phase, we did receive two updates for the Huawei Y9. Now they were both bug fixes, but still updates, nonetheless.
With Android 8.0 and EMUI 8.0, you can expect virtually the same experience as you would get on any other recent Huawei or Honor smartphone. The software hasn't changed a whole lot here. You still get no app drawer out of the box, though that can be changed in the settings. And if you want a different launcher, there are plenty of them available in the Play Store. You also get plenty of apps pre-installed here. Quite a few games, including Asphalt Nitro, Dragon Mania, and Kingdoms. Now these are all able to be uninstalled if you don't want them, which is nice.
Software on the Huawei Y9 is pretty unsurprising. If you've used a Huawei or Honor smartphone recently, then you know what to expect here with EMUI and Android Oreo on-board. The software itself is actually pretty fluid on this hardware, we didn't have many issues with the software bogging down the phone at all. It was pretty fast, and very few force closes at all on the Huawei Y9, and that's always a good thing. So it appears that Huawei has done a good job here of optimizing the software for the Huawei Y9.
Believe it or not, there are four cameras on the Huawei Y9. The rear dual-camera module is pretty similar to a number of other smartphones Huawei and Honor have put out recently, and there's not many surprises here. It's a 16-megapixel main sensor and then the 2-megapixel secondary sensor is here for gathering depth information - particularly for wide-aperture and portrait mode photos. The aperture is actually somewhat low on the rear-camera, at f/2.2, you'd expect something closer to f/2.0 - which is what the front-facing camera sports. This means that the rear camera is not going to be as good in low-light as some other cameras out there. And that was also the case for us during our review. We took a number of shots in low-light, and at night, and while the photos came out fine, they definitely could have been a bit better.
Given Huawei's recent success with cameras on its smartphones, many would expect the Y9's camera to be pretty impressive, for the price. But it's actually rather underperforming. The Honor 7X likely has a better camera than the Y9, and its hardware is virtually the same. For instance, in wide-aperture mode, the phone will only focus on what's in the middle and blur out the rest of the image. In most other devices - including the Honor 10 that we just reviewed - it would focus in on the subject that's in the middle and blur out the rest of the image. That's not the case here, and it's a bit surprising actually. Of course, if the subject is small enough, wide-aperture can look really good on this phone's camera, and you can adjust the aperture in real-time as well. So you can go all the way down to f/0.96. Now, anything under f/2.2 is obviously done by software, so it doesn't look as great as something around f/2.2 or so.
The front-facing camera here is a bit interesting. On the one hand, the main sensor has a wider aperture than the rear, at f/2.0. And with the secondary 2-megapixel sensor for gathering depth data, it should do pretty well with portrait mode shots, without needing any software, or at least that's what you would think. That's not the case here. Portrait mode shots here are okay, but not that impressive. Of course, we still have to remember the price tag on this smartphone, but having a dedicated camera for gathering depth information should help improve portrait mode without needing to use software. However that was not the case with the Huawei Y9, unfortunately.
The camera on the Huawei Y9 isn't going to compete with something like the Samsung Galaxy S9, LG G7 ThinQ, or even Huawei's own P20 smartphones, but it is going to give you some decent pictures. While it is an underperforming camera, that doesn't make it a bad camera. And it's definitely not a deal breaker for buying this new smartphone.
Tall, Full HD+ Display
Impressive Battery Life
Somewhat outdated Software
Micro USB connector for charging
No NFC included
The Huawei Y9 definitely does not check all of the boxes, but the question is whether it checks enough of them to get you to purchase the phone, and the answer is, probably. The Y9 is a pretty decent smartphone for its price point, and with the huge 4,000mAh capacity battery inside, it's definitely going to get a lot of attention from those looking to get a new smartphone, but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for something like the Honor 10 or the Huawei P20.
Should you buy the Huawei Y9?
If you're not looking to spend a lot on a new device, then definitely. The Huawei Y9 nails the important parts of any smartphone. Which is the performance and battery life. The Y9 is still pretty snappy, which is good, and it has a battery that is going to last you around two days or more. That's something you really don't see too often these days. While the camera is not perfect, it will still get the job done and provide you with some good photos for sharing on Instagram, Facebook and other social media websites. For a smartphone that's under $250, this is a great option, and it does stack up quite well against Motorola's very popular Moto G lineup.