Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus: Bargain bin

Bargain bin

GSMArena team, 19 December 2016.

Retail package

Both phones come bundled with fast chargers with a proprietary USB-C cable (regular cables may make the Xiaomi charge slower and certainly will top up the Huawei at a lower rate), plus a basic bumper case. Huawei's retail package is richer - there's a solid headset and a microUSB to USB-C adapter.

Huawei Mate 9 charger and cable - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei headphones and adapter - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Xiaomi charger and cable - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review
Huawei Mate 9 charger and cable • Huawei headphones and adapter • Xiaomi charger and cable

Neither bumper case is particularly great, especially if you buy these phones for the premium metal feel. As for the headphones, a good pair of Xiaomi Pistons costs from sub-€10 to around €25 for the High-Definition, dual-driver model.

Half the price, just as good: We think so! Xiaomi's headphones are good and affordable, you can order a pair along with the phone.

Design

Huawei was quite proud of how it managed to slim down the bezels on the Mate 9 and indeed it is roughly the same size as the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus, despite having a screen that's 0.2" bigger. We also loved the curvature of the back - 7.9mm at its thickest, the metal tapers off to even thinner side.

The Mate 9 chassis has been machined on a CNC mill in an hour-long endeavour that includes 50 steps. The lengthy process was worth it as the phone has a distinct premium feel, but the finish of the metal is too smooth for our liking (it makes the phone slippery, not what you want from a 200g, €700 gadget).

Huawei Mate 9 metal body takes an hour to manufacture - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei Mate 9 metal body takes an hour to manufacture - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei Mate 9 metal body takes an hour to manufacture - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei Mate 9 metal body takes an hour to manufacture - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review
Huawei Mate 9 metal body takes an hour to manufacture

Xiaomi had different ideas. The back of the Mi 5s Plus is flat (with beveled sides), even the glass on the front is flat (contrasting with the 2.5D glass of the Mate). The metal back has a brushed texture which you can feel as you brush your fingers across the back. Unfortunately, this doesn't give it more grip. Another complaint is that the plastic antenna lines on the back are a bit too prominent (Mate 9's are more discreet).

The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus goes for brushed metal but it is still too smooth - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus goes for brushed metal but it is still too smooth - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus goes for brushed metal but it is still too smooth - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus goes for brushed metal but it is still too smooth - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review
The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus goes for brushed metal but it is still too smooth

Okay, so Huawei's cost of labor was higher, and the design team must have charged more. There are subtle differences and more noticeable ones that amount to the Huawei Mate 9 looking like sleek, high-end equipment.

It definitely helps that Huawei matched the color of the front to the color of the back. Xiaomi meanwhile offers only White and Black fronts, which don't match well with all color options for the back.

Huawei Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus in the hand - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus in the hand - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus in the hand - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Huawei Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus in the hand - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review
Huawei Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus in the hand

Xiaomi did manage to get the dual camera on the Mi 5s Plus flush with the back, though, while the Leica cam on the Huawei sticks out.

Huawei/Leica's camera protrudes - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Xiaomi's camera is flush with the back - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review
Huawei/Leica's camera protrudes • Xiaomi's camera is flush with the back

Finally, time to talk accessories. The Mate 9 has double the loudspeakers (two) and microphones (four) of its opponent. Huawei kind of cheated here and use the earpiece as the second speaker and it just doesn't sound as good as a dedicated loudspeaker.

Both phones have IR blasters on top and dual card trays. However, Mate 9's is a hybrid - you can replace SIM 2 with a microSD card. Xiaomi opted out of expandable storage.

IR blaster on the Mate 9 - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review On the Mi 5s Plus - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review Card tray on the Mate 9 - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review On the Mi 5s Plus - Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review
IR blaster on the Mate 9 • On the Mi 5s Plus • Card tray on the Mate 9 • On the Mi 5s Plus

Half the price, just as good: Not in this case. A discerning eye can tell which is the more premium offering and expandable storage is certainly handy.

Screen

Both companies picked IPS LCD panels, even though they have each dabbled in AMOLED. Still, they picked some very good units, so we have no complaints.

Both are very bright (around 650 nits) with amazing contrast ratio (around 1,500:1, with a slight edge for the Huawei). Both can scale down to very low levels for late-night viewing, but neither has an Always On mode.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei Mate 9 0.41 665 1622
Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus (warm) 0.43 673 1565

From a fairly even start, the Huawei Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus trade victories. The Huawei has superior sunlight legibility, in part thanks to the higher contrast of the display but also (we think) because the glass is less reflective.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Xiaomi did a better job of tuning for color accuracy, though - it achieved a deltaE of 3.3, the mark of a well-calibrated screen. The Mate 9 can get close to that in the right mode (Warm), but it remains above the 4.0 threshold.

If we had to pick, we'd go for the better sunlight legibility. Yes, on a flagship phone we expect to have at least the option of switching to accurate colors, but from a practical standpoint we're more likely to notice a washed out screen in the sun than an if the fuchsia color is off.

Half the price, just as good: We'll call this 'close enough.' We do prefer the better sunlight legibility of the Mate 9, but the differences aren't dramatic.

Battery

The Huawei Mate 9 enters this challenge with a slight advantage - it has a 4,000mAh battery, compared to Xiaomi's 3,800mAh. The chipset in both phones are built on roughly the same process (16nm and 14nm respectively), but both companies tune their OS customizations to handle app power use differently.

The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus wins this challenge handily - almost a day's worth of Endurance rating more. With the exception of the video playback, the individual tests are quite close. However, the Mi phone is a lot more efficient in standby mode.

Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review

The Huawei Mate 9 has the benefit of Doze, an Android 7.0 feature. It's supposed to put the phone in deep sleep when it detects that you are too (e.g. the accelerometer hasn't noticed the phone moving in a while). We don't know the exact impact of this feature (it cannot be switched off), but it wasn't enough to push the Mate 9 on top.

Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus review

When it comes to charging, the phones perform equally well. Xiaomi used Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0, Huawei their own SuperCharge. Still, the bundled chargers provide a similar amount of power with a slight edge for the Mi 5s Plus - 24W vs. 22.5W.

Half the price, just as good: Better even! When the Endurance rating is on the order of several days, efficient standby is most important.

Reader comments

  • Alphanull

Huawei is excellent. But it don't means Xiaomi is awful. Mate 9 may have better speed in multitasking but mi 5s+ have sd821 with adreno 530 . Mail G71 MP8 in the face of Adreno 530 Can't do anything....... Camera .. designe .. display : ...

  • Anonymous

Was going to say the same thing. They forgot to examine connectivity as well, which the mate kills the 5 on

  • Toto

Are you sure about battery performance? xiaomi is good on that. lol