Huawei Y9 hands-on review: the most affordable pop up camera phone

Huawei’s first phone with a pop-up selfie camera – the Y9 Prime – has recently launched in India. The Chinese tech major has plans to take on brands like Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo with this phone. 

So, does the Y9 Prime – or the rebranded P Smart Z – have what it takes to stand out? Well, let’s understand in our first impressions of the phone.

Huawei Y9 Prime: peek-a-boo design

The Y9 Prime’s standout feature, quite literally, is the pop-up selfie camera. For the pop-up camera to have invaded the sub Rs 20,000 price range itself is mind-boggling showing us how fast smartphone tech keeps evolving. The camera pops out within a second. However, this pop-up module is not as fast as the ones inside the OnePlus 7 Pro or the vivo V15 Pro. Huawei claims that it has been tested 100,000 times and that it has a failsafe retractable mechanism when you drop the phone inadvertently. 

Thanks to the pop-up camera module, you now get a full-view display. This display is a 6.59-inch FHD+ TFT LCD panel. The chin is slightly thick but the display itself reels you in. Even the outdoor brightness was decent and the colors, accurate. By the way, the ambient light sensor is placed on the bottom chin. 

Coming back to the phone, you get triple cameras on the rear and a physical fingerprint sensor. There is a USB Type-C port at the bottom, a headphone jack, and a mono speaker. The hybrid SIM card tray is on the top edge, and the power button and the volume rocker sit on the right edge. 

What I like about the design is the plastic body of the phone has a two-tone finish. The Emerald Green color is particularly attractive. I’d totally buy this one if I had to. 

Huawei Y9 Prime: triple cameras with a 120-degree wide-angle lens

The triple camera setup on the rear has a 16MP primary camera, an 8MP secondary wide-angle camera with 120-degree field of view and a 2MP depth sensor. The images look over-sharpened from the front and the rear camera. And, the wide-angle samples are a tad bit underexposed. These are just my immediate first thoughts and you will have to wait for my full review for the final verdict. Take a look at the samples and decide for yourself. 



Huawei Y9 Prime: dependable hardware and software

Internally, the Y9 Prime uses a new Kirin 710F processor. I don’t know how different it is from the Kirin 710, though. Need more time to run benchmarks and test it out. Furthermore, you also get 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. And, you can expand up to 512GB further using the memory card slot in the hybrid tray. 

There is a 4000mAh battery to power all this hardware and the phone comes with an 18W fast charger in the box. 

As for the software, you get the latest EMUI 9.1 based on Android 9 Pie. This is your typical EMUI fare with comically large icons but very well-optimized to run with its homegrown chips. To know more about EMUI you can check our review of phones like the P30 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro. 

Closing first thoughts on the Huawei Y9 Prime

The Y9 Prime is a curious phone from Huawei. To think that Huawei would make one of the most affordable pop-up camera phones is definitely surprising, to say the least. Yes, Huawei has cut a few corners to achieve the price of Rs 15,990 such as the TFT panel, a plastic body, and no in-display scanner. But, these compromises can easily be overlooked if you factor in the affordable price tag plus the incredible offline offers. If you pre-book the phone on or after August 5, you get Rs 4,500 worth of free goodies in the form of a Huawei-branded sports Bluetooth earphones and a 15,600mAh battery pack. That is definitely a deal that is not very common in the smartphone world these days. 

Having said that, the phone has stiff competition from the likes of the Realme X, OPPO K3, Redmi Note 7 Pro, and the vivo Z1 Pro. Only time will tell if the Y9 Prime can stand up to the competition. 

Well, that’s it from me. See you in the next one. Goodbye and godspeed my friends. 

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Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?