Quick Reviews

Huawei Y9s First Impressions!

Huawei yesterday launched a couple of new devices for the Kenyan market. A smartphone, and two wearables. It is actually, I believe, the first time a wearable is headlining a Huawei launch in Kenya. Normally, they just talk about these wearables during major phone launches, and promise to bring them to the market. Yesterday, they actually had the units available, gave prices, and promised to bring in even more of their smart gadgets soon. Which I think is a good thing, but I believe all this is orchestrated by the American ban that’s still on going that has forced the company to not be able to launch any new phones with Google Services.

I know you’re now wondering if the new Huawei Y9s they’ve launched comes with Google Services. Yes, it does. I don’t think Huawei, or the customers, are ready to sell phones outside China without Google Services. I also believe Google isn’t ready for such a situation. The new Y9s has all the default Google Apps pre-installed, and the Google Security Patch is from August this year.

So how did Huawei launch a phone post ban that is pre-loaded with Google Apps? Well, that’s simple: These are phones that were already approved before the ban. Actually, the new Y9s is a repackaging of a phone Huawei announced some months ago called the Honor 9X. One can also say it is a repackaged Huawei P Smart Z.

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The difference between the Honor 9X (global model) is almost non-existent. And weirdly enough, under Settings > About Phone, you’ll see that this phone’s Model Number is STK-L21 which is the exact model number as the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019.

So what’s new with the Huawei Y9s?

  • The new 48MP camera
  • The side-mounted fingerprint scanner that doubles up as the power button.
  • The new colour option: Breathing Crystal.
  • 6GB RAM
  • Higher price point: RRP is KES. 31,999

What’s the same with the earlier launched Huawei Y9 Prime?

  • Same processor: Kirin 710F
  • Same display size and quality
  • Same Android Version and EMUI version
  • Same amount of storage: 128GB
  • Same 16MP pop-up selfie camera
  • Same 4000mAh battery
  • Same Model Number

P30 Lite NEW Edition:

Huawei recently introduced to the Kenyan market the P30 Lite NEW Edition. The difference between it, and the Y9s is in display size, and battery size. The displays on the P30 Lite (both NEW and old) have always been way better for me in quality compared to the displays on the Y9 series.

Apart from the display and battery, the Y9s has all the exact same specs as the NEW Edition P30 Lite. Remember the new P30 Lite starts at KES. 28,499. Before picking either up, make sure you interact with both and compare the display qualities. This could be an important deciding factor on which device to go with since the specs are similar.

Display, Performance, Software experience:

I have the reviews of both the Huawei P30 Lite, and the Huawei Y9 Prime 2019.

  • If you want to know what sort of display comes with the Huawei Y9s, check the Y9 Prime 2019 review.
  • If you want to know what sort of performance to expect, I bet you it’ll be the same as what I was getting with the P30 Lite, so check that review out.
  • In terms of the software experience, you’re getting EMUI 9.1, and this should be the same experience as the Y9 Prime 2019, especially given it is the same model number.


The new 48MP camera is the biggest change in the new Huawei Y9s. From the little interaction during the launch, there’s no noticeable change in how one takes pictures, or how the pictures look. What I am sure of though, is that the level of details in shots must have increased. From the very short time holding the device though, I cannot confirm this.

The extra lenses remain the same as with the Y9 Prime 2019. That is one 8MP Ultra-wide sensor, plus a 2MP depth sensor.

The pop-up selfie camera is the same one we saw on the Y9 Prime too: a 16MP shooter with fixed focus. The sliding mechanism, and placement is the same too. Huawei still boasts that it is very durable, and strong.

Side Fingerprint Scanner:

What I really like is the side mounted fingerprint scanner, which makes the device look clean at the back. It is a small change when you think of it, but it gives the phone a whole different vibe. I loved the side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10e, and I am sure on this one, everyone picking up the device will like it too. What will be confusing is which finger to register. It seems like a fast-enough, and well place scanner.

I still prefer these old school scanners because they’re very fast, very reliable, and always accurate. I am glad Huawei didn’t go with an optical under-display scanner, because though that would be cool, it would be a much slower option for unlocking your phone.

What I thought would be cool while holding the phone is if Huawei decided to have punch-hole display. It would look totally sick.

Same Phone different price?

In some ways, one can feel that the Y9s is underwhelming given the similar specs to other recent Huawei phones. But I feel like it stands out on its own because it is the best of both the Y9 series, and the P30 Lite. This is the first time a Y-series device is hitting that over 30K mark, and that is an uncomfortable place to be with a phone especially in the Kenyan market.

I believe Huawei isn’t really keen on the selling the new Y9s. I don’t know why, but it feels like they wanted to launch something to get back into the news cycle. Perhaps this is a good way to get the conversation around them on-going. Or perhaps it is the thing that comes just before a bigger announcement. What are your thoughts on the new Huawei Y9s?

Huawei Y9s Full Specifications and Price:

PRICEKES. 31,999
Display6.59 inches 2312×1080 pixels (~391 ppi density), IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen full screen
Rear CameraTriple:
48 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.4, 13mm (ultrawide)
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth sensor)
Front Camera16MP, pop-up
ChipsetHisilicon Kirin 710F (12 nm)
GPUMali-G51 MP4
Storage128GB Storage (MicroSD Expandable to 512GB Sim 2 Slot)
Operating SystemAndroid 9.0 (Pie), EMUI 9.1
Battery4000mAh non-removable battery
Network2G, 3G, 4G
Colour optionsMidnight Black, Breathing Crystal
Fingerprint (side-mounted),
Face Unlock
USB Type-C,
All Glass Design,
Bluetooth 4.2



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