A historic pairing
Huawei and Leica combine to create a stunning dual-lens camera in a smartphone. More light and better clarity, for amazing photos and videos.
Reinvent smartphone photography
Blending superior hardware and software with Leica dual lenses, the Huawei P9 enables you to capture high quality pictures without compromising on the handset's sleek and compact style. The Huawei P9 captures brilliant colour, striking black and white and the emotional appeal of Leica images. Capture more light with two sensors, one RGB and one monochrome. Get incredible shots with the Huawei P9's merging algorithm, which intelligently combines the colours taken by the RGB sensor with the detail of the monochrome sensor.
Clear, fast, precise imagery
Capture sharp images with built-in dual-core ISP, professional DSP, and the depth measurement ISP for improved image focusing, speeds, processing.
A professional camera effect
Achieve professional photographic effects and access a powerful array of unique functions, including a choice of film modes, wide aperture effect, monochrome mode and professional mode.
Superb selfies, day or night
With an 8 megapixel front-facing camera, you can achieve superior selfies even in low light.
Premium, Elegant, Stylish.
The Huawei P9 is created by some of the world's top industrial designers to achieve a visually stunning design with diamond-cut edges, rounded out by beautiful curvatures. The Huawei P9 is sculpted using aerospace-class unibody aluminum and a superior-grade 2.5D glass.
Bold, colourful display
Discover a more vivid world that's even closer to natural colours on a stunning 5.2" FHD display with 96% colour saturation and high contrast.
Never miss a moment
Stay charged for longer with the Huawei P9's 3000mAh (typical) battery.
The Huawei P9 is the smartphone with a virtual Triple antenna, meaning you don't need to worry about your hand position under different signal conditions.
Automatically connect to the strongest available Wi-Fi network. The Huawei P9 automatically ranks Wi-Fi hotspots, and prioritises the best connection.
Secure, Accurate, Convenient.
Benefit from enhanced security on your phone and unlock it with ease with the enhanced fingerprint sensor.
It scares me to know that these days, there are smartphones out there that cost more than my car did, more than a month's rent, more than going to see a movie in the cinema every day for a fortnight. Sorry, but that's just horrendous... yet, they get gobbled up by the brand-monkeys who are more motivated by "having the latest edition" than having something that is actually functionally superior or equal but at a better price, if they just ignore the brand name. Still... variety is the spice of life, and it means that when it comes to buying a superior device, they have left one more on the shelf for me. And that's where this phone sits pretty. At around $1,100 this isn't an entry-level phone by any means, but nor is it the "Wallet Terminator" that you could expect it to be from the spec sheet - which I have to say reads like a geeks wet-dream wishlist.
With a moderately grunty CPU - the 8-core 64-bit Huawei Kirin running 4 cores at 2.5GHz and 4 secondary cores at 1.8GHz - 3GB of processing RAM, 32GB of ROM, a MicroSDXC slot, and a 3,000mAh battery that can charge for just 10 minutes to give you up to 5 hours of talk time, this is a powerhouse device for any geek. Pack in some nice extras like the dual 12MP cameras on the rear, an 8MP "selfie" camera on the front face, twin White-flash LEDs, laser-controlled auto-focus and a suite of software to allow you to shoot in RAW mode and use post-shoot software manipulation to pull stunning images out of a photo that otherwise could have been wasted... and this sounds like a photographer's dream too. (Especially if you have some of those dinky clip-on lens gadgets that are becoming commonplace in mall-stores nowadays.)
Style-wise, it's hard to explain exactly why this device is so... sleek and desirable. Yes, it's extremely thin at around 7mm thick, and fits in the average hand so well you'll never want to hold a device any other size again. Yes, it's missing the tactile-annoyances of camera-bumps, somehow managing to slide the cameras back into the body just enough to keep them almost totally flush, the fingerprint sensor is designed to be an integral part of the case, rather than an obvious add-on, the bevelling is somehow more refined, and even the texturing on the power button makes it almost instinctive to know if you're about to change volume by accident in pitch blackness.
However, not all that glitters is actually gold, because some of the hype is a little... unrealistic, perhaps? And as much as I hate to say it of something so beautiful, it comes down to the accumulation of tiny flaws (and/or lack of any significant improvements) in almost every system inside the case.
Surprisingly, for a device of this calibre, the screen is "nothing to rave about", being a 5.2" LED-backlit LCD screen - a diffused lightsource, meaning the light comes out of the screen as a huge spray at slightly different angles, rather than all the light coming out marching in the same direction for a crisper image. At 1080p resolution, you also have a very "average" (by today's standards) resolution. I suppose I should be clear - this is extremely suitable for almost every "daily grind" task, up to and including watching streamed video and most games. As long as you aren't going for "mobile VR" or "4k streaming over WiFi" tasks, there's nothing wrong with this setup. It keeps the cost down, and it's practical. It's also nothing that screams "flagship, cutting-edge,advanced tech" to me and while I'm certainly not a tech-head, I'm also no Luddite either.
Announcing a partnership with an iconic camera brand like Leica implies some very high-end optics, and while there are Leica lenses in the mix, the biggest contribution seems to be the software profiles, more than anything tangible or obvious when not using one of the presets. Just using the camera in "default" ways brings you nothing mind-blowing really, except maybe more pixels than most smartphones in this price bracket. To be honest, this level of gear is a wee bit more than I would normally use, or afford, so I can't say I have a lot of hands-on with it's peers to make a fair comparison. (Not that I like doing 'parallel comparison' reviews anyway.) Still, there's some excellent software under the hood if you want to make use of it. At first glance, I assumed the "dual camera" set up would be to obtain stereoscopic data for perspective correction and post-production depth-of-field adjustments (a la HTC's M8 from 2014) but no... in a manner that smacks of "how jpegs are built", one camera captures the colour data from a regular colour image while the other captures the crisper greyscale image, and the two are brewed together to give you a richer, crisper, composite colour image. Here, then, is where the unit shows it has some new tricks in it's gaggy-bag. This really showed itself off in the low-light tests, where noise was noticeably reduced... though that was at the expense of crispness because the noise is 'masked' with subtle blurring and color-correction. All that processing means your images are brighter, more vivid... and less accurate to the desert of the real. Still, it looks great, if that's your thing. Add in the "RAW Format" shooting mode, and you have the option to tone all that down a smidge in the desktop app of your choice.
When it comes to AndroidOS, every brand seems to have their own take on things, but few sway quite so far off the beam as Huawei do, with "EMUI" - I am confident in guessing the 'UI' bit stands for 'User Interface' but I'm stumped as to what the 'EM' is all about... however call it what you will, EMUI v4.1 is Android v6.0 (Marshmallow) at it's most mod'd - everything has been tweaked, customised, optimised and purified. Notifications are discrete but information-dense, giving you all you need to know to make quick decisions about whether to give it attention now, or pass on it until later, without having to dive elbow-deep into the app to get the full story. Something that the old phone I used to have really annoyed me by forcing me to do. I also found that I could get a rough idea what app was squawking at me by checking the colour of the indicator light. Blue for Facebook, Green for Calendar/Planner/Messaging, etc. Some apps allow you to tweak light colour/frequency/etc so that added an extra level of information for me, all from a single pinpoint LED. And that was just the beginning... my ability to spot behavioural patterns quickly came in very handy with this phone... it almost felt like studying a living creature, working out it's biological processes by observing it's behaviours.
Power-wise, there's some bad ju-ju going on under the hood, because a 3,000mAh battery should last longer than this one seems to. Now, Li-Ion batteries are known to be relatively, but not totally, immune to "charging memory" issues, but the handset I received was a demo unit that had done the rounds a bit already, and not just in NZ... so I can not categorically state that the unit has power management issues... but I can say that after taking the battery down to just over 5%, then spending a few minutes installing a decent 3rd-party power management app, charging the unit back to 100% (in record time for a battery of this capacity, I will admit), and running all the same tasks again... I ended up with the same performance and 35% battery left at the end of the day. So... I suspect that it's a software issue more than anything else. That said, maybe they should look to a more power-efficient CPU, as that is always the first and greatest culprit. Or... it could, I suppose, be a reflection of the added overhead caused by the EMUI's extensive tweaking of AndroidOS - every extra calculation costs a few more electrons than the basic optimised OS would require. It has also been suggested to me that this may have been a case of "bad location" as most of my testing occurred in an area of town that has patches of wildly-varying signal strength - when the signal is degraded, all phones start to really pump out signal to try and get a better connection to the local tower/s. This *eats* your battery like nothing else.
Overall, this is a very impressive device - with a lot going for it... ALMOST enough to overshadow the small but fundamental flaws that stop it from being a perfect-10 in my book. Would I go out and buy one? No... but that's more about budget than anything else. Would I trade in my Huawei P8 Lite for one if I could do so for an affordable price? Quite possibly actually. I didn't find the flaws too massive in terms of my own, personal usage profile. I carry a portable high-capacity battery pack with me everywhere, and the USB 3.0 Type-C plug means that even if I have to do it "blind", I can plug it in to charge without a falter. I do worry about how well it will hold up under high-GPS scenarios (Damn you, Ingress!) but that is of small concern for most people, I am sure. A well-thought-out software upgrade would easily solve almost all the problems I had... and the rest would be solved by switching to a more power-efficient CPU too I am sure. Still a gold-star phone in my books, even without the marketing-lure and hype provided by Superman and Lucy in the advert campaign,
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