Huawei's Mate 9 Becomes the First Alexa Phone

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LAS VEGAS—Huawei's Mate 9 phablet will be the first phone in the world to have Amazon's Alexa voice service preinstalled, the company said here at CES. The US version of the phone will come out on Jan. 6 for $599.99, with the Alexa service arriving in February.

Alexa is becoming the default voice interface for controlling connected homes, and we're seeing a lot of Alexa-aware gadgets at CES. Huawei didn't give a lot of details about the uses of Alexa, and the existing phones on demo didn't have the Alexa service running yet.

With "OK Google" and the Google widget on an Android phone, you can do basic voice searches and commands. We're left to think that the Alexa functionality is about the thousands of third-party "skills" that give specialized information, and about controlling other Alexa-connected devices. Or perhaps it'll replace OK Google entirely—we just don't know.

The phone is a big 5.9-inch phablet with a big battery. At the CES event, Huawei made sure to call out its dual cameras, which allow for enhanced digital zoom and better low-light performance, and its Kirin 960 processor, the first to use ARM's latest Cortex-A73 cores. It is, by all measures, very fast.

At $599.99, the Mate 9 puts itself among rarefied competition, including flagships from Apple, Samsung, and HTC. Its huge screen may prove a sales benefit, although the 1,920-by-1,080 screen resolution means former Galaxy Note 7 users may feel it's a step down. Long battery life will also be a plus. The Mate 9 will be sold on Amazon, B&H, Best Buy, and Newegg.

We have a full preview of the Mate 9, and our UK site did a full review of the phone as it was released in Europe. We hope to find out more about the Mate 9's Alexa integration at CES events tomorrow.

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