Motorized pop-up cameras have become quite the trend in the mid-range segment, so it’s not suprising for Huawei to bring out a phone loaded with the tech. What’s unexpected is that they decided to do it on the Y-Series – the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019, the first smartphone from the brand to host a pop-up selfie camera.

Specifications
Display6.59" FHD+ TFT LCD
ProcessorKirin 710F (Octa-Core)
RAM4GB
Storage128GB (Expandable)
Rear Camera16MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front Camera16MP
OSAndroid 9 + EMUI 9
Battery4,000mAh
Other FeaturesAI Scene Recognition
AI Beauty
3D Portrait Lighting
USB-C Interface
What’s in the Box?
You get the following – Case, SIM Ejector, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card, Headset, Charger, and a Type-C Cable
Design and Build Quality

Design wise, Y9 Prime 2019 follows a familiar language seen on the P20 series, at least at the back.  Holding the phone, you get a feel that despite the back panel being made with plastic, the phone seems sturdy enough, and does look premium. The colors of the back panel are in the same family, but at the same time, slightly contrasting.

All buttons are on the right side. At the bottom, you get a USB-C port, along with the headphone jack and speaker grill. Up top, the SIM slot is located next to the pop-up camera module. The phone uses a hybrid SIM tray, something that’s not so common these days.

The 6.59-inch has FHD+ resolution, and is surrounded by a fairly thin amount of bezel, though slashing a tiny bit more on the bottom part would’ve made it sweeter. As for the display quality, colors show decent saturation and text is sharp enough.

Y9 Prime 2019 runs on a Kirin 710, which has been the mainstay for Huawei’s mid-range lineup for quite some time now. Even so, it has proven itself to be very capable and efficient.

The device’s benchmark score puts it just slghtly below the OPPO F7 on AnTuTu’s charts. On ours, it trails just a bit behind the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2, and around 7,000 points behind the Nova 3i.

Still, benchmarks aren’t always indicative of the device’s actual performance, so I played PUBG Mobile on it. The phone can play the game well in HD + High FPS setting, without any issues. There are stutters when resources are loading for the first time, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.

The phone comes with AI-assisted shooters – three at the back, and one at the front. The former consists of a main camera, a wide angle snapper, and a depth sensor.

1x
Wide

The wide angle lens does a good job of capturing more on the frame. It shows some distortion on the screen when shooting, but the effect will not appear on the actual image.

As for quality, these cameras are able to take some fairly-detailed shots with decent color reproduction. They do tend to be a bit too sensitive to light, and at times overexpose the subject. Even with sufficient artificial lighting, there’s also a slight hint of graininess in some photos. Aperture mode works well with good accuracy and a decently refined bokeh effect.

Point and Shoot Low-Light
Point and Shoot Low-Light
Night Mode

Low-light shots tend to be too soft for my taste. The phone’s dedicated night mode does help solve this problem with visibly more sharpness and detail.

While normal selfies are detailed enough, portrait mode does need a bit of work in terms of what to blur and what not to blur.

The pop-up camera mechanism takes a little under a second to rise and retract, along with a mechanical sound.

Y9 Prime runs on EMUI 9 on top of Android 9 Pie. Performance was smooth and fluid in general, without any slowdown or any experience-breaking lag when opening apps.  It does miss out on Face Unlock, which is strange, since most other devices that have a motorized front camera have it.

Initial Verdict

So far, I am quite satisfied with the general performance of the Y9 Prime 2019, despite the use of a processor that needs a new successor. The build quality is decent, the design looks premium, and gaming performance is more than decent.

As for Cameras? well, they are also decent. The wide-angle lens works well, and is a great addition to the phone’s arsenal. There are a few refinements needed in terms exposure, and how the AI tackles each photo. Its dedicated Night Mode also works well. Portrait mode does need some work on its accuracy.

EMUI offers a good feature set, and it offers smooth and fluid performance for a better user experience. We’ll be testing the phone further as we build up the full review, so stay tuned.

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Author

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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