With Samsung and LG out of the picture in Europe, there's nothing at all with a big screen to challenge Huawei's latest flagship.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle is good for everyone selling a high-end smartphone. The advantages of not having to compete with a phone as good as the Note 7 was, backed by Samsung's enormous marketing budget, are obvious. It's good for Apple, Google, and anyone else vying for consumer attention in a crowded market.
But the effect of the Note 7's demise in Europe is even more pronounced. Not only is the major big-screened Android phone out of the picture, but LG also isn't selling its V20 on European shores, nor are there any signs of that the situation will change anytime soon.
Nobody — literally nobody — is selling a current, high-end, mainstream Android phone in Europe with a screen bigger than 5.5 inches.
The result: Nobody — literally nobody — is selling a current, high-end, mainstream Android phone in Europe with a screen bigger than 5.5 inches. And if you're Huawei, having just launched your Mate 9, you've got to be rubbing your hands in glee at that fact.
At launch, the Huawei Mate 9 has basically no competition in Europe. All its competitors land in the 5.5-inch category — phones like the Pixel XL, iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy S7 edge. Thing is, though, those devices aren't really direct rivals to the Mate 9. There's a big difference between a 5.5-inch display and a 5.9-inch display, even when it's surrounded by bezels as chunky as the iPhone 7 Plus's. A 5.9-inch display may well be more tempting to Galaxy Note 4 upgraders — of whom there are a lot in Europe — looking to stick with a big phone.
This is still a big phone. (A big Big Phone. Capital B, capital P.) But it's nowhere near as comically oversized as a 5.9-inch handset could've been. Nor is using it one-handed a total impossibility, though you'll need some manual dexterity to juggle it around. And while it may lack the head-turning quality of a Galaxy S7 edge, it's an attractive phone that feels good in the hand, with just enough heft to not feel insubstantial.
The overall heft and size of the Mate 9 isn't a world away from the Note 4, which uses a 5.7-inch display but with bigger bezels. For sure, the two-year-old Note is closer in size to the Mate 9 than a Galaxy S7 edge.
So not only does Huawei have a device to tempt Note upgraders away from Samsung's smaller handset — the only non-explosive Samsung upgrade path available right now — it also has the only 5.7-inch-plus flagship Android phone you can buy in Europe. Considering the marketing energy Huawei seems to be putting behind the new Mate, and how it's been able to forge strong relationships with all four of the big UK networks through the P9, this phone has considerable potential in the European market.
And that's before you consider that the Mate 9, free from the Huawei software wonk of yore, actually looks like it'll be a good phone in its own right.
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