When it comes to hardware design language, non-Apple/-Samsung phones tend to be all over the place, even within the same product line. Meizu, on the other hand, has stuck with the same design language over at least a half dozen phones released in the past two to three years. That coupled with the quad HD AMOLED display (another jump, as previous Meizu phones mostly used 1080p LCD panels) give this phone a decidedly more premium feel than not just other Meizu phones, but most phones at this price point ($2,999 yuan/US$430). The Pro 6 Plus scored a 112,795 on Antutu (left), which is among the highest of all phones released this year; the phone uses USB-C with Meizu's own fast charge technology that supports up to 24-watt charge (middle); the device scored a 1,469 and 3,471 on Geekbench's single- and multi-core tests.
The most interesting thing about Huawei's latest flagship, the Mate 9, is actually invisible to the naked eye. Under the hood, the phone uses machine learning to anticipate which apps you're going to use when, allowing for supposedly smoother performance. What the phone would have been like without this AI, we don't know, but we can say that the performance feels brisk throughout. If fluid day-to-day use seems like table stakes, you might also be impressed with the long battery life, bright display and the fact that it actually has a headphone jack. Unfortunately, what's otherwise a great phone stumbles with low-light photography, as well as some heavy-handed software tweaks that will turn off Android purists.
Huawei's slice of the worldwide mobile pie isn't as big as it used to be, but hey -- at least it keeps getting better at making big phones. Then came the enormous Mate 8, which was incredibly well built (even if the company's EMUI interface sometimes made me want to jam a fork in my eye). All together, these flourishes make the Mate 9 feel like a premium piece of kit and a little smaller than you'd expect. The thing about using Huawei phones was that even though they pack a lot of power, the underlying software and interface was always sort of a mess.