The mobile landscape has shifted dramatically over the past few years. Companies that once reigned supreme are now struggling to stay afloat, while newcomers have arrived at the table and quickly made their way to the top. Among these newcomers are Chinese companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi, and OnePlus, all of which are working hard to make their mark.
Huawei is taking an approach of collaboration and partnership to stand out among other manufacturers. The latest piece in this is a long-term partnership with Leica, the renowned German camera maker. The first fruits of this partnership are already in existence with the Huawei P9, a high-end smartphone that uses Leica camera tech to capture stunning shots. Is it enough to give the company a leg up?
Huawei hasn’t skimped on the specs when it comes to the Huawei P9. Here’s the rundown:
5.2-inch 2.5D 1080p display
64-bit octa-core Kirin 955 processor with four A72 cores at 2.5GHz and four A53 cores at 1.8GHz
3GB of RAM
64GB of storage
Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras
8-megapixel front-facing camera
USB Type-C port
Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.2 overlay
The body of the P9 measures in at 145mm x 70.9mm x 6.95 mm, with a weight of 144g. As for colors, there are three options: Prestige Gold, Titanium Grey and Mystic Silver.
Design and Build Quality
When it comes to design, Huawei excels at creating simple, elegant devices. With the P9, that same philosophy is brought to life in the best of ways. The metal exterior of the device is a matte grey that is both tasteful and bold, with chamfered edges that make it even more eye-catching. The fingerprint scanner rests near the top of the device, perhaps a tad higher than is comfortable, but perfectly acceptable.
Above the fingerprint scanner is an expanse of black glass that encompasses the device’s dual cameras. To the right of the flash, you’ll find small silver text reminding you of the camera’s Leica origins, along with the specs of the lens directly below that.
Like most other smartphones, the front of the Huawei P9 is a swath of glass, broken up only by the Huawei logo and the speaker. Moving onto the sides, you’ll notice that the Huawei P9 bears a striking resemblance to the iPhone 6s, with similiar antenna breaks and identical port and speaker placement. The primary difference is that the P9 swaps the location of the volume rocker and SIM card slot.
While Huawei’s design may not be original, it still boasts a striking elegance that deserves merit.
Huawei has a personal relationship with smartphone displays. While its competitors have rushed to pack in the pixels, Huawei believes that it can achieve a great display and great performance while using a more reasonable resolution. The 5.2-inch display on the Huawei P9 has a resolution of 1920×1080, putting it on par with flagships from the past two years. That being said, the display offers 16.7 million colors and is able to render some of the most beautiful scenes we’ve seen on a smartphone.
Sharp as a tack and more vivid than life, the display on the Huawei P9 is sure to satisfy. Blacks are deep and rich, while whites are pure and bright, though a cool tint is present. When it comes to color, you’ll be stunned at just how well the P9 handles them, weaving them together to craft a gorgeous image.
As far as the display goes, you have no need to worry. The Huawei P9 will satisfy.
Google has worked hard to turn Android into an operating system that’s both functional and attractive. With the latest iteration, Android can proudly stand as its own OS, yet manufacturers continue to craft UI overlays, most of which detract from the experience.
Huawei has come under fire for mimicking Apple in more ways than one, but the influence of iOS can be blatantly seen in Huawei’s UI. Full of Gaussian blur, standardized icon designs and, most notably, the lack of an app drawer, Huawei’s EMUI 4.1 is clearly trying to mimic the success of iOS. While it’s a valiant effort and the software is actually quite nice, the lack of originality and the departure from its Android roots makes EMUI a strong swing and a slight miss.
While not being sold as a flagship in many countries, the Huawei P9 has the performance to act as a flagship. It flies through any task thrown at it without a stutter. Not once in my entire time reviewing the device did I see a slowdown or stutter. While we may knock the software for resembling Apple devices, the animations are buttery smooth and work without flaw.
In real world performance, the Huawei P9 is sure to stun. As far as quantitative statistics go, you can see the table below.
1668 (single-thread) 6220 (multi-thread)
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
When looking for a great smartphone camera, there a number of factors to consider. Does it perform well in low light? How accurate are the colors? What is the start time? Huawei considered those questions and turned to an expert for help. As part of a new partnership with Leica, the Huawei P9 was born.
Sporting dual 12-megapixel cameras, BSI CMOS sensors and F/2.2 apertures, the rear camera setup on the Huawei P9 is incredible. Additionally, while one sensor shoots in full color, the other is a monochrome sensor that excels at capturing details. Combining the photos from both sensors lead to sharp, vivid images that are stunning.
An important benefit of the dual-camera setup is that users can adjust the aperture while shooting, as well as after shooting. This capability isn’t common and is extremely useful for creating photos with high-quality depth of field. Photos taken on the Huawei P9 can truly rival those taken by certain DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.
Check out the sample images below. These images are straight from the camera and have not been edited.
As far as our review capabilities went, the battery life on the Huawei P9 is excellent. Being an international device, our review unit in the U.S. wasn’t connected to a cellular network and didn’t act as a daily driver. Nonetheless, we can relay our experience, which was quite positive. The battery on the P9 seems to last for a very long time, with the device being exceptionally good at preserving battery life in standby mode.
Over our three-week review period, we charged the Huawei P9 four times, with the device making the most of those charges. It should be noted that the Huawei P9 uses a USB Type-C port for charging, so be sure to keep that in mind when looking at accessories.
Huawei P99.5 / 10
Rarely does a device cover as many of the bases as the Huawei P9 does. The device exudes quality in every way, offering powerful performance and a superb camera. It not only covers the technical aspects, but extends further to the exquisite design and stunning display.
Huawei has created a device that excels in multiple areas, so much so that it’s difficult to find anything to complain out. Perhaps the software is a bit unoriginal, but it performs in such a manner that its imitative features are overlooked. That is the key to a great device. When the comprehensive package is enough to overlook the flaws, you know you’ve found a device that’s worth your time.