The Huawei P9 is here and it’s a standout device.
The market has been replete with some very, very good devices being introduced in the recent past and Huawei too, has been in the mix – with it’s Mate 8.
With the P9 however, Huawei seems to be trying to break a mould, and yet fit into another race.
Let us explain.
Manufacturers have realised that everybody’s getting the same hardware and screens and devices are beginning to lack distinguishing features. So the battle has recently shifted to cameras. Most manufacturers of late, been striving to create the best camera phone around.
Some have made great strides and have staked a claim to the throne. Huawei is entering that race now, with the P9 – and it is doing so in a big way.
The hottest feature about the P9 is indeed the Leica-branded dual camera at the back of the device, which frankly, looks a little mutant-like. As odd as the new dual-lens may look, it does seem to be an innovative and progressive take on photography.
I know you’re probably as interested as I, in discovering what else this device has on offer. Is it a properly serious smartphone that can give the top end devices a tough time? Or is it just another of those camera phones that appeal to only one sect of the consumers.
Lets find out!
The Huawei P9 comes with a Full-HD 5.2 inch IPS-NEO LCD screen with 423 pixels dotting every inch. That said, specs wise, this display does fall behind some of the competition’s numbers especially when listed against giants like the Galaxy S7.
Having said that, 423 pixels per inch is more-than-healthy and is mostly good enough – the display in general, presents nothing to complain about.
In fact, it is rather delightful in the way that it represents colours accurately, it’s bright and sunlight visibility is good as well. The viewing angles are very good as well, and thanks to the OS, you can choose the colour temperature you want to.
All in all, the display is a good one and you will have a fairly satisfying experience doing what you do with it. It certainly is not the best display around and in that sense there is that blemish, but truth be told, its not bad enough to be criticized either.
Huawei is not a brand that plays cheap on material or build.
The P9 too, is a bearer of excellent material, build quality and finish. Starting with an all-aluminium body, that meets the glossy Gorilla Glass 4 protected screen at straight angles, the P9 is exudes class – especially thanks to the industry-flagship-standard of shiny, chamfered edges.
The phone is delightfully thin and weighs a solid but ‘light’ 144 grams – there are other, bigger phones that are lighter, yet, there’s still some reassurance from heft.
Standing taller and wider than the club-class iPhone 6s, the P9 still manages to be just as thin (at 0.28 inches), and just a gram more than the celebrity (despite a half-inch bigger screen). Goes to show that the design is well thought out and the material quality is of decent pedigree.
Another thing that stands out is the black bar on the top end of the back of the device. It looks nice! Especially in this age of monochrome colours, it’s nice to see a two-tone device!
All in all, the material that’s used on the P9 is reassuring and is indicative of Huawei’s intent to not be considered a low-cost budget player.
The P9 comes with the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 955 chipset with a Mali-T880 MP4 graphics processor. Now this CPU is at par or (maybe even slightly better) than the Snapdragon 810.
It is an improved version of the Kirin 950 and does have some tweaks to it. You also get 3 GB of RAM with the base model of 32 GB storage which is also expandable via a memory card.
The performance of the device is delightful – the P9 feels snappy and fast, no matter what you throw at it. Every day tasks such as opening and closing apps, switching between windows, opening and browsing web pages and multitasking are taken care of with buttery smoothness and no trouble at all. Playing high end games too is a wonderful experience as there is no hint of dropped frames or stutter or lag.
The phone benchmarked a little lower than the iPhone 6s but higher than the Galaxy S6. And… there is no heating to be spoken about.
The battery of the device is a non-removable Lithium-Ion 3,000 mAh battery which will easily last you the full day with average usage between charges. The device also has fast charging, so that’s another kudos for this up-and-coming device.
The Huawei P9 runs the Android 6.0 Marshmallow but with the EUI running on top it resembles iOS more than it does Android!
Now this has been a nuisance in the past and frankly Android skins in general have never been able to add to the Stock Android experience more than they have taken away. Bloatware, unnecessary apps and delayed OS updates are a few of the problems that have stalked custom-UIs.
On Huawei’s EUI, the interface is cleaner than before and while it does add some functionality to the OS, there are still times one misses the purity of OS and well-thought-out interactions.
The UI is significantly different from the stock Android. For starters there is not app drawer. There are things present that you do not get with Android such as motion gestures, a floating dock, voice wake up and a one handed mode.
There is also a theme engine that enables you to change the look and feel of your OS suiting your style. Also you get a battery monitor. This essentially allows you to monitor your battery and use different modes after having judged yourself how long is it going to be before you can charge your device.
Even after some very good additions to the OS I still feel that this UI robs us of the Android experience and I for one, prefer a launcher over the UI that comes out of the box. Having said that, if and when you get used to using this UI you will find it good and simple.
The Huwei P9 comes with dual 12 megapixel sensors with f/2.2 aperture, made with Leica optics, with phase detection autofocus and dual-LED (dual tone) flash. The two sensors look amazing to be truthful (I know I called them mutant-like earlier, but they do grow on you and you start to like them like you like the odd-shaped headlights on some cars).
Now, out of these two sensors, one is a colour sensor while the other is a black and white sensor. What this means is that the colour sensor is an RGB sensor that captures vivid colours and details; whereas the black and white sensor is tasked with capturing details, lights and shadows and many of the pleasing things that combine to make a realistic photo.
The dual sensors are apparently more effective in delivering better light sensitivity. The two sensors can focus independently and capture details and colour. The device then selects from the best of the two.
In fact, there are three focus modes available – Laser Focus, Depth Focus and Contrast Focus. However, the absence of Optical Image Stabilisation is an odd oversight and one that I honestly missed during my time with the Huawei P9.
Otherwise, the camera performs brilliantly – the snaps that this camera can take can be truly stunning. The amount of detail and the colour representation is absolutely fabulous!
The night time shots too, for a surprise are extremely good. There is the slightest of noise present here but there is not a considerable lack of detail and there is no overexposure issues with either the night time or the day time shots.
Overall, images from the P9 are brighter with more dynamic range than anything we have ever seen so far.
Now, while still photos are amazing, the same cannot be said about the videos. This device seems to be a generation behind the competition on the video front.
The camera app offers you a lot. It is nicely laid out and even has different gestures, slide modes a fully manual mode and some filters to help you do more with the cameras. What’s really nice though, is that the app never completely takes away your ability to influence a shot.
The 8 megapixel front-facing camera is also a well balanced unit that allows you to take very good selfies. In fact you might find yourself featuring in more and more landscape or event shots, than ever before.
All in all, this camera does lack a couple of things but it simply makes up for it and more. Eventually, the camera setup on the P9 is the best we gave seen so far and it really is different.
Also the partnership is promising and we can expect Huawei to pack some weighted punches in the future as well.
The Huawei P9 comes with a decent screen, and while the Full-HD 5.2 inch IPS-NEO LCD screen is being spoken about in a little negative undertone by many other reviewers, we found that the 423 pixel density was in fact not a major let down.
The colours are accurate, it’s bright and with very good viewing angles as well. So, from an entertainment standpoint, the display is not a blemish.
Blessed with Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-fi Direct, and holding on to the 3.5 mm jack, the P9 is quite competent as a contributor to streaming (wirelessly and via wired connections too).
While storage capabilities could have been increased somewhat (128 GB max. expandable storage is a surprise), however, what’s on offer is quite acceptable too (think of all those non-expandable devices out there… at least you can add to the 32 GB onboard memory of the P9, at will!
The one downside I can clearly list though, is that it comes with only speaker (and it wouldn’t have taken much to bring in another one into the medium sized body of the P9.
There’s enough you can do with this device, and while it may not be setting the world afire on this front, it’s a still a decent device overall.
While security is set up the usual Android way, Huawei is relying on it’s fingerprint sensor to be a huge talking point in the advancement of data security.
The fingerprint scanner placed at the back, is what Huawei is marketing as “Level 4” sensor – basically it uses an proprietary algorithm to unlock the device within a minuscule 0.4 seconds, and also recognises the finger when placed from any direction.
In our day to day tests, we found fingerprint scanner to be simply brilliant. It is extremely fast and indeed reads your touches from any weird angle. Also it is very easy to set up and has multiple functions attached to it as well
You can swipe on it to slide from one photo to another on your screen. Also you can tap on it to wake the phone up or in case of a call, answer it.