While Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Samsung Bixby are squaring against each other by offering different features, Amazon Alexa is on a different track altogether. Unlike Apple Siri which made its journey from a smartphone to a smart speaker, Amazon's Alexa did quite the opposite. However, as compared to voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Apple Siri, Alexa's performance is far from being perfect. In fact, users need to download two apps -- Amazon Alexa and HTC Alexa to make the voice assistant work on Alexa-enabled phones such as HTC U11 and Huawei Mate 9.
Let's start with the biggest flaw: Each time you want to talk to Alexa on the Mate 9, you'll first have to open the Huawei Alexa app by tapping it. For Mate 9 owners who want to link their smart home devices to Amazon's helper but don't want to shell out for the Echo or Echo Dot, this is a nice bonus. Many smart home devices already work with Google Home, and more are expected to join in, making the Assistant potentially as capable as Alexa. Just as it is on the Mate 9, hotword support is missing for Alexa on iPhones, although that's less of a surprise considering Apple's notoriously closed-off OS.
Huawei has partnered with Amazon to bring its new phablet, the Mate 9, to the American market this week. The Chinese telecommunications company has also announced prior CES 2017 that its high-specced smartphone is arriving in the United States with the Alexa voice assistant as one of its key features. Ensuring its success in the American market, Huawei promised to consumers that its Mate 9 phablet will never lag and will remain fast in performance for 18 months. The company emphasized its partnership with Amazon when it stated in the press release that the cloud-based voice service Alexa is going to be part of the Huawei Mate 9 user experience.
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.
Under the hood, the phone uses machine learning to anticipate which apps you're going to use when, allowing for supposedly smoother performance. 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. If the price is on par with what it costs in Europe, the phone will be on par with or slightly cheaper than its rivals, which would make it a good value, so-so camera notwithstanding. That said, if it ends up costing the same as it does in Europe, the Mate 9 will be cheaper than its rivals, making it a good value for its performance.
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