Another month, another flagship. This time the flagship comes from Huawei in the form of the new Huawei P9 and Huawei P9 Plus handsets. The phones were unveiled in London in early April and will be available to most in the world either sometime in April or May (depending on where you live). And from first glance this duo seem to impress, as our Richard Goodwin reported. He’s not alone in his praise either. "Usually the conversation in the smartphone market revolves around Samsung and Apple, but Huawei's strong showing for both the quarter and the year speak to how much it has grown as an international brand," said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
But could the P9 really give Apple a run for it’s money? In this comparison we compare the Huawei P9 to the entry level iPhone 6s (we’ll have a Huawei P9 Plus versus the iPhone 6s Plus a bit later on). Here’s how the two phones stack up.
iPhone 6s vs Huawei P9: Specs
Here’s the specs for the iPhone 6s:
Display: 4.7-inch display with a 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326ppi, 3DTouch enabled
Dimensions: 138.3mm x 67.1 mm x 7.1 mm
Weight: 143 grams
Storage: 16, 64, or 128GB
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Processors: A9 chip with 64-bit architecture and M9 motion coprocessor
Front camera: 5 MP
Rear camera: 12 MP photos. ƒ/2.2 aperture. 4k video
Battery: 1715 mAh
Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold, or Rose Gold
And here’s the specs for the Huawei P9:
Display: 5.2-inch display with a 1920×1080-pixel resolution at 423ppi
Dimensions: 145mm x 70.9 mm x 6.95 mm
Weight: 144 grams
Storage: 32 or 64, plus support for microSD cards up to 128GB
Memory: 3 or 4 GB RAM
Processors: Kirin 955 2.5GHz 64-bit ARM-based processor
Front camera: 8 MP
Rear camera: Dual 12 megapixel rear with OIS and laser focus
Battery life: 3000 mAh
Colors: Mystic Silver, Titanium Grey, Quartz Gray
There’s a lot right with the Huawei P9 that Apple got wrong with the iPhone 6. For starters, the storage and RAM. On the storage front the Huawei P9 starts at 32GB—much, MUCH better than the 16GB entry level iPhone 6s. Both phones come in a 64GB model, and while it’s true the iPhone offers a 128GB model while the P9 does not, the Huawei P9 supports microSD cards up to 128GB, which means even the base model can surpass the iPhone’s maximum storage if the user so chooses.
Another nice thing about the Huawei P9 is the RAM. It comes in two different offerings too. The 32GB P9 comes with 3GB of RAM, while the 64GB P9 comes with 4GB of RAM. Both are a far cry from the iPhone 6s’ 2GB of RAM.
As for processors, the P9 features Huawei’s new Kirin 955 64-bit processor, which here locks horns with Apple's powerful A9 chipset inside the iPhone 6s. Plenty of benchmarking databases show the Kirin 955 to be at the top of the Android OEM pile even surpassing the impressive Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Samsung Exynos 8890. However, there are some early reports that the Kirin 955 is not as powerful as the A9 chipset found in Apple's devices.
iPhone 6s vs Huawei P9: Design & Build
Though the P9 doesn’t look exactly like the iPhone 6s both flagships sport the same material design: precision-engineered aluminum with a good selection of color options. As for the major design differences, the fingerprint sensor on the P9 is on the back on the phone while the Touch ID on the iPhone 6s is located in the home button on the front of the phone. In our view the iPhone 6s fingerprint scanner location is notably more convenient than the rear panel on the P9, but this does come down to personal preference.
What’s really interesting is that the P9 is actually the thinner phone, coming in at 6.95mm thin versus the iPhone 6s’ 7.1mm thinness. As for weight the iPhone is still the lighter phone—just barely—coming in at 143 vs 144 grams.
iPhone 6s vs Huawei P9: Display and Battery
As for displays, the P9 features a larger 5.2in display versus the iPhone 6s’ 4.7in display. What’s really amazing about that, however, is that the surface area of the P9 is hardly larger than the iPhone 6s, despite the display being much larger. However, size isn’t the only difference. The P9 has a higher screen resolution at 1920x1080 at 423ppi versus the iPhone 6s’ 1334x750 pixel resolution at 326ppi. That being said, the P9 doesn’t have any kind of pressure-sensitive 3D Touch display like the 6s does - not that this is necessarily a negative point; there are some who don't see what the fuss is about with 3D Touch.
But when we get to battery, the P9’s 3000 mAh battery trounces the iPhone’s 1715 mAh pack. However—just as with RAM and processors—how long a phone’s battery lasts has as much to do with the size of the pack as it does with how well the software works to conserve power. That being said, early reports are the P9’s battery can last as long as a day and a half under normal use.
iPhone 6s vs Huawei P9: Cameras
When it comes to the cameras, it’s game over. The P9 CLEARLY wins here. Why? Because it features a dual-camera Leica lens in its rear camera. That’s right, there are TWO 12MP cameras on the back, leading to pictures that approach DSLR quality. This is HUGE—and it’s something the iPhone 6s’ rear single-lens 12MP camera can’t match. Oh, and did we mention the P9 features optical image stabilization? That’s something else the iPhone 6s doesn’t offer. As for front facing cameras, the P9 beats the iPhone there too, with an 8MP front camera versus the iPhone’s 5MP lens.
iPhone 6s vs Huawei P9: Verdict
No doubt about it: the P9 is a great flagship phone. Is it better than the iPhone 6s? In some respects, yes. Does that mean you should buy a P9 over an iPhone 6s? That depends on several factors, the biggest of which is how big a fan of iOS you are. If you love iOS, no matter how good the hardware in the P9 is, you’re not going to enjoy the software experience (if you don’t like Android as much). It’s for this reason I can’t say the P9 is an “iPhone killer.” Still, it does offer a number of things (cameras, storage) that the iPhone could learn from.