Huawei has announced that its latest flagship phone, the beefy Mate 9, will arrive in the US on January 6th preinstalled with an app that gives users access to Amazon’s Alexa. Huawei says the app will offer customers a “natural, convenient user interface” for talking to the digital assistant, and will be capable of all the usual tasks — setting alarms, making to-do lists, and getting information about the news and weather.
It’s minor milestone for Amazon, which has been pushing its digital assistant into an increasing selection of gadgets. This is the first time, though, that Alexa has come preinstalled on a phone — making for a definite, if quiet, challenge to Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant. The same app will be delivered to existing Mate 9 owners via an over-the-air update.
The Mate 9 itself will cost $600 in the US. It has a 5.9-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, 4,000 mAh battery, fingerprint sensor, and a rear dual-camera system. It’s also powered by Huawei’s own Kirin 960 processor, and the company says it will use machine learning algorithms to tweak the chip’s performance over its lifetime in an attempt to stop the hardware from slowing down over time. We had a brief hands-on with the Mate 9 last November, and while the handset certainly impressed in terms of build quality, it’s also huge, and not suited to anyone who thinks phone should fit easily in your hand.
The Mate 9 will come in two colors, gray and silver, and will be available at Best Buy and online stores including Newegg, Amazon, and B&H.