The Huawei Y9 is the most affordable smartphone with a pop-up selfie camera.
Priced at Rs 16,990, the Huawei Y9 Prime also comes with an all-screen display and triple rear cameras.
While the imaging prowess is impressive, the hardware under the hood feels dated and might not keep up with the competition.
The pop-up selfie camera started off as a premium feature last year and, with the Huawei Y9 Prime, it’s now something most people can have. Not that it’s the sole reason to buy the smartphone, but that’s the primary feature Huawei is riding on to sell the phone. The Y9 Prime is the follow-up to the Huawei Y9 that was launched earlier this year. Unlike its predecessor, which didn’t really have anything exciting going on, the Y9 Prime has a lot to say. We spent some time with the phone at the launch event and here’s what we thought of it:
The Huawei Y9 Prime sports three cameras on the back and one housed inside a pop-up mechanism. We’ll start with the front. The 16MP front camera pops up in around a second according to Huawei, but as compared to the OnePlus 7 Pro, which I was carrying with me, it’s visibly slower. Nevertheless, there are sensors on the body to detect falls and the pop-up module goes inside promptly when one is detected. It also assists in face unlock and rises up every time you swipe up from the lock screen. The camera on the front has 4-in-1 pixel binning to enhance the details while taking a selfie at low-light and has the usual scene-detection algorithms in the name of AI.
The rear cameras are more interesting. There’s the same 16MP sensor on the back as well, which is the primary camera. That’s followed by another 8MP wide-angle sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. Technically, this is a dual-camera phone with the depth sensor assisting in taking portrait shots. The wide-angle sensor did have visible distortion and there wasn’t any shape correction feature, which Huawei should add in a future update to make it more usable. The primary sensor, however, seemed pretty good for the few indoor shots of the demo zone I managed to take. The phone also has a night mode, which takes multiple shots and fuses together to create a clearer photo with less noise in low light. There’s also a portrait mode replete with portrait lighting effects borrowed from Apple.
Thanks to the pop-up camera, the screen stretches all the way to the edges. The Y9 Prime boasts of a high 91-percent screen-to-body ratio, but the display is not completely devoid of bezels, especially at the bottom. The display itself is pretty big, stretching 6.59 inches diagonally with FHD+ resolution. It’s an IPS LCD panel and is fairly bright with vivid colours. The rear panel, made of plastic, sports a dual-tone finish, either in blue or emerald green. Both of them look pretty good but the build quality doesn't seem very convincing. Having said that, Huawei has done good by offering a Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the body along with a single mono speaker.
The hardware under the hood might be a setback for the Huawei Y9 Prime. The Kirin 710 used to be a good choice when the Honor 8X was launched last year, but ever since then, every mid-range Honor and Huawei smartphone has come with the Huawei-designed SoC. With the Snapdragon 710 and Snapdragon 675 now available at the same price, the Kirin 710 will not be able to keep up with the performance ugprade, especially with an older Mali-G51 GPU. Huawei does pack the latest version of GPU Turbo, which should improve frame-rate stability while gaming. On top of that, PUBG Mobile has support for 4D vibrations. The Y9 Prime was launched in only one variant with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, which can be expanded up to 512GB. Powering it all is a 4000mAh battery, which again, lacks any sort of fast charging, something that is now a standard in the Rs 16,000 price range.
The Huawei Y9 Prime would have been of good value had it launched in the beginning of the year. The only things going for the phone, at least on paper, are the three cameras on the back and the presence of a pop-up selfie camera in that price range. Everything else is strictly average, including the hardware under the hood.
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