Huawei P9 review – with Leica Co-Engineered Cameras

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Welcome to my review of the Huawei P9. The Huawei P9 is Huawei’s flagship phone that for the first time is available from all UK networks. The P9 is by far the best Huawei / Honor phone I have used from the software, hardware and cameras.

The Key Specifications

– Screen 5.2-inch IPS LCD, 2.5D glass, 1920×1080 resolution (423ppi)
– Cameras – Dual 12MP (colour & monochrome), ƒ/2.2 lens, Leica certified
– 8MP front camera
-Battery – 3000mAh capacity Non-removable
– Processor Huawei Kirin 955 Quad-core 2.5GHz
– 3GB or 4GB RAM
– 32 or 64GB internal storage
– microSD slot
– Dimensions – 145mm x 70.9mm x 6.95mm
– Weight – 144g

Hardware and Design

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If you buy a phone just based on looks then the Huawei P9 is a winner for you. It is beautifully made. The phone is only 6.95mm thick and still comes with a 3,000 mAh battery and the twin Leica branded rear lenses do not protrude.

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The phone has the fingerprint sensor on the rear along with the two lenses, two tone flash and laser auto focus. The right edge has the power and volume buttons. The bottom edge house the USB Type C connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, mic and loudspeaker. The left edge houses the nano sim card/micro SD card. I have the 3gb ram/32gb P9. The model number is EVA-L09. This specific version does have NFC. Some of the models sold in different countries have 4gb ram and sometimes don’t have NFC so it is worth checking before you buy. Any official UK model should have NFC which is important as android pay is about to go live.

Software and Phone Basics

Huawei still use EMUI, this time as version 4.1. I installed the Running theme which I felt looked the least offensive. You will either love or hate EMUI. EMUI like many other phones does not include an app drawer which really in my book doesn’t matter. If you want to change the launcher just install Google Now or Nova Launcher.

Some of the software features provided by the P9 include WiFi Direct, Data Traffic Management, NFC, Tethering, Link+ (WiFi+, Signal+, Roaming+, Link+), Normal or Easy Home layouts, Themes, Colour temperature display adjustments, LED notifications, Fingerprint gestures (show notification panel, browse photos, Floating dock (icon appears on screen so you can easily access back, home etc), motion controls (flip to mute, pick up to reduce volume, raise to ear to speak, knuckle screenshot, knuckle gestures used to draw a letter to open camera, designated app, music or weather), One handed UI (shift screen, mini keyboard), Voice control, smart cover options, smart headset control when using Huawei Music app, Gloves mode and Huawei ID. So the kitchen sink of options!

Call quality is excellent on the P9 as are most of the other cellular and connectivity options. This is a strong point for the P9. However, I did notice that if the WiFi signal was weak, it did not automatically reconnect unless you selected the WiFi network manually.

The 1080p panel offers decent viewing angles and is readable in the sun. Battery life is excellent on the P9. I always got to the end of the day with ease. The combination of the 1080p screen and a 3,000mAh battery really helps. The Kirin processor seems to play most games reasonable well. Occasionally there was some stuttering/lag.

Camera and Audio

This is where Huawei made all the focus during the P9 launch. On the rear you will find 2 lenses with LEICA branding. The lenses are not made by LEICA, merely endorsed by LEICA who helped co-engineer and worked with Huawei on the development and processing aspects.

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What I initially discovered is the P9 for very fast action shots in burst mode was not fast enough. Future testing improved this slightly. However, I don’t think the shutter speed goes fast enough for very fast shots. However, the shot of George does actually look cool and you get a sense of his speed.

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The P9 colour reproduction is outstanding at times. It can produce such real life like images that are better than the S7 or G5. The menu is incredible.

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What you have with the rear lenses is one monochrome lens and the other a standard lens. The concept is that together more light and depth data can be gathered.

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Tree Life #HuaweiP9

The P9 has loads of camera modes but one of them is a refocus mode. After taking the above photo, you can tap anywhere on the shot to create a focus point and then adjust the f stop from f/16 to f/0.95. You can create and save as many different refocused images from one image too.

The Huawei camera app is one of the best available. Features includes, filters, 14 shooting modes (beauty, beauty video, light painting, watermark, monochrome, HDR, night shot, slow mo, photo, video, panorama, time-lapse, document, audio note), film modes (standard, vivid colours, smooth colours), camera grid options (grid, phi grid, fibonacci spiral left, fibonacci spiral right), Timer, audio control, touch to capture, smile capture, object tracking, ultra snapshot and image adjustments. The P9 also has a Pro mode which gives you options from focus points, ISO(50-3,200), Shutter speed (1/4000 to 30 seconds), EV, AF-S, AF-C and Manual Focus and AWB. The max photo resolution is 12mp. The max video resolution is 1080p at 60fps.

I have created a dedicated Flickr album for the P9 – Click HERE. Jonathan Morris has created an open Google Photos Gallery which has over 14 different people contributing photos from their P9 phones. Click HERE.

My opinion on the P9 camera is that with some care and skill it is possible to snap some great shots. The monochrome mode is superb and works well. Some of the special light painting modes are unique to the android phones e.g. silky water. In fact the light painting modes includes car light trails, light graffiti, silky water and star track. The P9 is the only flagship phone to offer such options. RAW capture is equally impressive. Video recording is just average and there is no 4K option. The lack of OIS will mean you will end up with a few blurred shots from time to time. The front facing camera is reasonable too with plenty of beauty options to knock 10 years off your age! A weakness of the P9 is low light shots with people or movement. However, static shots using the night, light painting, monochrome or Pro modes produce stunning photos.

The headphone quality is reasonable with Dolby DTS provided. The output is loud, but not of the highest audio quality available. Bluetooth is ok too. The loudspeaker is average but acceptable.

Conclusion

When you consider everything you get in this phone, it is quite remarkable. At an official retail price of £450 there are plenty of other options available that might be more appealing. But when you consider several places are now offering the P9 at less than £400, this becomes a more viable option. Even more appealing Vodafone is offering this at £300 on Pay as You Go and is unlockable after 30 days. At this price it becomes a great option and unique.

Huawei are soon to be selling the larger version of the P9, the P9 Plus. This is slightly improved as it has a 5.5 inch AMOLED screen, not IPS. It also has 4gb ram and 64gb rom, Infra Red Blaster, 3,400 mAh battery, stereo speakers and Press Touch screen technology.

For more information on the Huawei P9 and the latest pricing on Amazon UK click HERE.

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4 thoughts on “Huawei P9 review – with Leica Co-Engineered Cameras

  1. Not reconnecting to a weak WiFi network is a good plan. The most energy draining part of WiFi is scanning and connection establishment. To keep constantly restablishing a weak connection will just increase drain.

    Did not realise that some variants do come with NFC.

    Curious choice to go with amoled with the larger variant.

    If there is one thing that stuck in my mind about your earlier huawei review, honor I think it was, you said it could receive cell reception in places where other devices refused. Take it the P9 is the same.

    Like

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