Huawei wants you to rethink your relationship with the Samsung, HTC and LGs of this world with the firm's latest smartphone.
Huawei aims to revolutionise the way we take photos on our mobile phones with a dual-lens camera system. The P9 and larger P9 Plus both have Leica certification. The German company has long been the hallmark of fine quality optics, so it's something of a boon for the Chinese smartphone manufacturer to be in such considered company.
The P9 sports two 12MP Sony IMX286 sensors paired with two Leica Summarit H 1:2.2/27 lenses. These offer an aperture of f/2.2, equivalent to 27mm focal length. One of these sensors captures RGB, while the other records in monochrome.
Dual cameras are nothing new, and some will remember HTC's attempt with the M8 a few years ago. Time will tell whether Huawei's relationship with Leica bears fruit, but there's a wealth of shooting options available here. Knowing where to find them and how to control them will be part of the fun.
We wondered whether the refocusing tricks that allow you to change the depth of field after a photo has been taken are just a gimmick. You can control the amount of blur applied to the image, but we'd err on the side of caution and not go overboard. There's also no image stabilisation.
Huawei has even added that trademark Leica shutter sound to soundtrack your picture snapping.
Design and specs
The P9 looks stylish enough. The aluminium unibody has gorgeous curved edges, and the power button is conveniently placed on the phone's right, just below the volume controls. A microSD slot is located on the left, and below you'll find the headphone jack, USB-C port and speaker grille.
The P9 is powered by Huawei's Kirin 955 processor, comprising four 2.5GHz and four 1.8GHz i5 cores, and comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
We disliked the keyboard immediately, accidentally brushing against the button to enable Huawei Swype on more than one occasion. We felt like we were unnecessarily mashing buttons owing to the clunky layout.
The dual-lens camera system sits near to the rear top edge, not in the traditional position to which we've become accustomed. Instead of that space being barren, however, the P9's fingerprint sensor sits in the slightly dipped area.
The position of the fingerprint sensor means that people with small hands might struggle to reach the scanner. It feels unnatural to reach your hand around the back of the device in this way. Those with extra long hands might also encounter problems here.
Our Titanium Grey model looks almost pink in some light. It has a lovely smooth finish, and is easily the most premium handset Huawei has put out yet. It will also be available in a dizzying array of colours and finishes, including Mystic Silver, Prestige Gold, Haze Gold, Rose Gold and Ceramic White.
The 5.2in screen is Full HD with 1,920x1,080 pixels at 423ppi. The IPS display has an almost cinematic quality with 96 per cent colour saturation and 500 nits brightness.
The Emotion UI skin is back and with it Huawei's attempts to ape the look and feel of iOS. We'd forgotten just how unintuitive this can be, as try as we might there's no getting away from those on-screen soft keys.
There's no app drawer and our sample unit came loaded to the gills with bloatware. We're going to need to clean it out before we put it to some hard work.
Price and availability
All of the major UK networks will offer the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus when they go on sale in mid-May. Prices start at £449 for the P9 with 32GB of storage and 3GB RAM. The P9 Plus with 64GB of storage and 4GB RAM will cost £549.
Our full review will follow in due course.
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