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Huawei Y9a Review: Capable Cameras, Excellent Battery

Huawei launched the Y9a this month (September), and it has already been brought to Kenya, although it is yet to go on sale (it is on pre-order).

It is an interesting proposition because it does all things right, save for a couple of issues that cannot be blamed on the company itself.

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The things it does right are very many, but in summary, here is what you are going to enjoy

  1. the display is not interrupted by anything because the front camera has been hidden in the body via a pop-up mechanism – making the view immersive;
  2. the battery is huge at 4300 mAh, and what makes it even better is the charging speeds thanks to the supplied 40W charger that can fill it to 70% by half hour; and lastly t
  3. the G80 chipset is more than capable, meaning this a fast phone that does not slow down even when pushed to the limits.

The above features are compelling enough for any buyer to snag the Huawei Y9a without more convincing. And that is considering that we haven’t talked about other features such as camera performance, which stars a 64 MP main sensor.

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We could stop right here and tell you to go buy the Y9a, but that would be a disservice to others who may want more insights about the latest release in the Y9 line. Which is why we will try to answer a couple of questions along the way, some of them I have asked myself too…

No Google Services

Operating system:

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  1. Android 10
  2. EMUI 10.1

The discussion around Huawei and Google has long been exhausted, and in summary, there are a lot of things we do not know as consumers, but we understand that America and China have some bad blood. These issues have led to trade restrictions, and in nutshell, Huawei cannot load Google services in its phones.

The available option is AppGallery, which has many apps even at its infant stage, but the majority of customers outside China are going to encounter issues. The issues can be alleviated by downloading apks (Android app files) and installing them. That is, if they are not available on AppGallery. The other option is using third-party stores such as Aptoide. Still, the approaches are limited to apps that do not need Play services.

In the Kenya case has seen some apps included in AppGallery such as KCB and Equity Bank’s Eazzy Banking.

Popular apps such as Snapchat and Office are in the store too.

It should be noted that Netflix works on the Y9a as well.

The app situation is obviously the biggest setback that separates the Y9a from the competition.

And the bad news end here.

Fast Phone

The Huawei Y9a has the following components;

  1. Chip: MTK G80
  2. CPU: Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)
  3. Mali-G52 MC2

Huawei decided to use a MediaTek chip in the Y9a in place of a Kirin system. the G80 is a capable option and performs very well on other competing devices.

To put it simply, you will hardly see a difference in performance between the Y9a and devices that cost twice as much. This is how far chipset manufacturing has come because performance differences are negligible between midrange phones and flagship ones.

Unfortunately, the Y9a does not ship with a high refresh rate screen as seen in rivals such as the realme 6. This is not a bad decision per se, but those who are starting to see the smoothness of 90Hz (or higher) screens appreciate them. Perhaps the next release will feature such screens.

Lastly, there is 8 GB of RAM here, meaning you can keep very many apps in memory without seeing slowdowns. It makes multitasking so much better.


  1. RAM: 8 GB
  2. Internal: 128 GB

The test unit Huawei sent to us does not have memory card expansion, but we are certain this is not the variant that will sell in Kenya.

The official page of the device reveals it can take two SIM cards and a Nano Memory (Huawei’s custom solution).

Still, 128 GB is a big space for your videos, music files, apps and documents. If you capture 4K videos, you might need additional storage (the chipset supports 4K videos).

Most people who will buy the device hardly need this big a space, so it is a good thing to have peace of mind that you will not run of space.


As mentioned, the Y9a boots Android 10 and EMUI 10.1.

The overlay has a lot of tricks: you can make the whole system dark; use gestures for navigation, choose if you want to use an app drawer or have your apps in home screens, use other gestures such as a three-finger swipe to take a screenshot… name them.

The options give you freedom to run the device the way you want with appreciable customizations.

The only thing lacking here, and we hate to bring it up, is access to Google Services, but we have established it not Huawei’s fault.


  1. 16 MP pop-up selfie camera
  2. Quad main camera: 64 MP (main), 8 MP (ultrawide), 2 MP (macro), 2 MP (depth)

The five cameras are versatile, and give you options to take detailed 64 MP images, or ultrawide snaps. You can take impressive bokeh mode images too, as well as close-ups using the 2 MP macro lens.

Huawei is no stranger to good cameras, and you kind of expect to get good images using the Y9a. The same can be said about its other phones that even cost less.

Here are some samples (they are excellent for the price, which is Ksh 30999):

Parting shot

The Y9a is a whole, impressive package. As introduced, it does everything superbly: cameras, check, battery life, check, charging speeds, check, customizable software, check, overall design, check, and memory, check.

It fails on the software end of things thanks to the Google ban. The hiccup has been contained with AppGallery and other software tricks to get some of your apps, but the steps may be engaging to customers who are not knowledgeable about tech.

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