Huawei Mate 9 Pro Review: Call Quality
Author:Soomal
Source:eng.soomal.com

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Mate 9 Pro is Huawei's flagship by now, so it is widely concerned in all aspects. Thanks to a wealth majesty providing this sample. The mainly difference between Mate 9 Pro and Mate 9 is the display screen. Mate 9 has a 5.5-inch IPS display, while Mate 9 has a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display. In addition, is there exists any difference in call quality?

Mate 9 Pro is also a dual-SIM-card dual-stand-by smartphone supporting all mainstream wireless network in China. However, compared with smartphones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 8xx series chipset, Mate 9 series' SIM2 slot only supports mainstream 3G and 2G wireless network. This problem may not disturb users years ago, but now 4G wireless network has been popular in China, users are requiring better network connection.

Just like Mate 9, Huawei Mate 9 Pro has lots settings about calls, including the most common and useful function in china -- Incoming Call Identify, noise reduction controlling, high resolution sampling and hand-free directional noise reduction. What worth mention is the hand-free directional noise reduction function, it can be switched on by touching the upper right icon when calling. This function is able to filter noise in front at hand-free mode in a specific range, for example, when we are driving, it could filter the wind and engine noise in front. Both Mate 9 Pro and Mate 9 has 4 microphones for sampling, while most common Android smartphones only have 2 microphones placed in the bottom and near the main camera. Although 2 microphones are enough for daily calls and recordings, more microphones help phones improve voice recognition sensitivity and noise sampling. By convention, the GSM network call quality test is under China Unicom, and VoLTE is under China Mobile TDD-LTE.

Earpiece Speaker Test

We place this cell phone indoor with normal signal, and set the call voice volume to maximum, then call 10010, which is China Unicom customer service hotline.

Testing Item Mate 9 Pro vivo X9 Plus Smartism M1L Huawei Mate 9 vivo Xplay 6 iPhone 7 Plus Huawei P9
Output Level of Earpiece,dB -11.88 -13.40 -9.91 -8.48 -10.56 -8.06 -7.59

Mate 9 Pro's earpiece output volume is lower than Mate 9's, but it does not affect the call experience, because when you are calling at the highest volume, press the upper volume button, the Mate 9 Pro will switch on laud mode, the output volume can be improved over 1.5dB.

Loud Speaker Test

Speaker test was undertaken indoors with ambient noise level at 40dB or less, we turn up the ringtone volume to its maximum, and then use a sound level meter to measure sound level at the distance of one meter from the phone.

Testing Item Mate9 Pro vivo X9 Plus Smartism M1L Huawei Mate 9 vivo Xplay 6 iPhone 7 Plus Huawei P9
Face Up,dB 74.1 78.4 77.5 77.4 78.1 78.9 74.8
Face Down,dB 77.7 79.5 75.7 77.5 78.3 79.8 74.7
In Camera Bag,dB 73.1 73.2 72.0 67.3 70.0 73.3 67.4

Mate 9 Pro uses the earpiece speaker to provide stereo performance at a relatively low volume. When you put this phone in your pockets or bags, it will gain the volume automatically to avoid missing calls.

Noise Reduction Test

We place this phone indoors with ambient noise level at 32db or less, in the middle of the room, we use a human-like structure "handholding" the phone to send voice signal, and put surround speakers in a certain distance playing 5 kinds of simulating ambient noise at 6db SNR. Then we standardize the recording from this end, and run a specific program comparing this recording with raw speech recording and noise-speech mixed recording to get noise reduction level, SNR improvement and SNRI-to-NPLR difference quantitative result.

Testing Item[GSM Hand Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 44.8 41.4 48.1 46.7 37.5
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 43.5 38.9 47.7 46.3 35.9
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -4.6 0.0 -6.3 -6.0 0.6
Testing Item[VoLTE Hand Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 43.5 38.9 47.7 46.3 35.9
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 29.3 26.1 31.3 31.3 24.8
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -6.5 -0.8 -8.8 -6.6 -0.2
Testing Item[Hand-Free Mode] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 24.0 21.8 34.1 35.0 17.7
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 24.0 21.8 26.2 23.4 12.5
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -2.4 1.2 -5.7 -4.1 2.2
Testing Item[Hand-Free Mode, directional noise reduction] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 26.8 28.3 32.0 31.4 25.3
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 19.0 19.3 22.3 21.4 15.6
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -3.9 -0.5 -6.4 -4.7 1.2
  • Total Noise Level Reduction, TNLR: Total Noise Level Reduction illustrates the reduction of ambient noise level. The average level is above 5dB. Theoretically, higher TNLR would be better, but an over high result may be caused by severe attenuation of voice signal, or interruption caused by poor phone signal or noise reduction algorithm flaw.
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio Improvement, SNRI: capability of an NS method to enhance the speech component of a noisy speech signal from an additive background noise. SNR improves after noise reduction by comparing noise-reduced and raw voice signal. Generally, the improvement is over 4dB.
    SNRI-to-NPLR difference, DSN: the signal level difference between raw and noise-reduced. Noise reduction process would attenuate voice signal level, cell phones would gain signal to ensure the call quality. Theoretically, it would be best that signal level remain the same before and after noise reduction. A standard signal level peak is -2.5dB. If the signal was gained too high, overflow would happen, and that means frequent crackle, too low, voice signal strength would not be enough, and that means the sound would be too low, and the other end would not hear clearly.
    The result is just a test reference under similiar circumstances or conditions, third-party websites or official technical data cannot be used for comparison.

We can see from the call recording wave graph that Mate 9 Pro has a similar performance with Mate 9, but the Pro version has a lower recording volume in hand-holding mode, results the SNRI-to-NPLR lower than -5dB in some noisy scenes, which means in such scenes the other end may not hear you that clear, and if you switch off noise reduction or switch on high resolution sampling cannot gain the recording volume.

The Mate 9 Pro keeps a high performance in hand-free mode. It has a high recording volume that helps the other end to hear clearly. The hand-free directional noise reduction does not affect quantity result significantly, but it still helps the daily performance, especially in a telephone conference. Mate 9 Pro's overall call performance is similar with Mate 9, but some setbacks occurs, we hope Huawei could fix those problems.

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