Yesterday saw the Chinese electronics company, Huawei, take the wraps off of its P9 range of smartphones featuring a metal unibody design and dual cameras. The London-held event had the heady intention of ‘reinventing smartphone photography’ thanks to Huawei’s teaming up with Leica. The range consists of the 5.2-inch P9 and the 5.5-inch display P9 Plus. Join us after the break for the rundown on the P9 line-up.
Let’s take a look at the hardware shared between the two handsets. The P9 and P9 Plus has a unibody construction made out of aerospace-grade aluminum that Huawei says melds seamlessly with the 2.5D glass that covers the front of the handset. As seen in the image above, there is a beveled edge going around the rear panel, as well as an antenna strip top and bottom.
Huawei made a point of mentioning that the P9 does not have a camera bump on its rear, unlike some of its competitors. Speaking of the rear panel, there’s a Class 4 fingerprint scanner situated on the middle of the phone, which Huawei boasts will detect fingerprint ridges in 3D. From personal experience with the Honor 5X (a review of which is coming up in the next week or so), the fingerprint scanner should be pretty accurate and easy to use.
Both the P9 and P9 Plus use the same Kirin 955 octa-core processor (4x Cortex A72 cores + 4x Cortex A53 cores) manufactured with the 16nm FinFET process and there is a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU powering the graphics. There’s a USB Type-C port for charging, and although neither fast charging or USB 3.1 were mentioned at the launch event by name, Huawei claims that 10 minutes of charging would equate to 5 hours talk time.
The P9 can be had with either 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM or 64GB/4GB. The P9 Plus, however, is only available with 64GB storage and 4GB of RAM. Both models support MicroSD cards up to 128GB.
Software-wise, both the P9 and P9 Plus will launch with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, and before you get too excited, it also has Huawei’s EMUI 4.1 running on top of the Android OS. Just like Samsung’s TouchWiz, EMUI is something of a Marmite equation, you either love it and its functionality or you hate it. As is typical with EMUI, there is no app drawer present, instead, much like the Honor 5X, and of course, Apple’s iPhone, the app icons are spread across the home-screens.
Next, we have the dual camera setup developed in with renowned camera maker, Leica. Huawei says that it is reinventing smartphone photography, and its partnership with Leica has enabled it to endow the P9 with world-class dual cameras working in tandem to capture picture detail. The dual 12MP sensors of Sony origin (IMX286) on the rear combine with Leica Summarit lenses featuring f/2.2 aperture and a 27mm focal length.
Why the two sensors? Well, one is monochrome while the other is color. The monochrome sensor only captures black and white detail while the regular color sensor takes care of color reproduction. According to Huawei, the P9 lets in 90% more light than the Samsung Galaxy S7. As you might expect from a flagship these days, there’s a dual-tone LED flash present as well.
When it comes to focusing on objects, you have laser-focus, depth focus, and contrast focus to choose from, with the P9’s dedicated depth measurement chip helping you along the way.
The P9’s camera app has a whole host of camera modes for you to choose from. With selective focus, Burst mode that can take 16 shots in a second, Beauty (photo or video), Monochrome, Video, HDR, Panorama, Night Shot, Light Painting, Time Lapse, Slow-Mo, Watermark, Audio Note and Document readjustment, you should never run out of options. But if you do, the P9’s camera app also has a professional mode, which means you can change things such as ISO among other settings to tweak the image.
Moving on to the displays and here we see the P9 with a 5.2-inch display with 423 pixels per inch and the larger P9 Plus with a 5.5-inch panel boasting 401 ppi, 500 nits peak brightness, and 96% color saturation. While the P9’s panel is of the LCD variety with IPS technology, there is a 5.5-inch Super-AMOLED display on the P9 Plus. Both models feature Huawei’s ‘Press Touch’ technology that allows the display to detect varying levels of pressure. For the moment, though, there are only around 18 apps that support Press Touch.
As you would expect, with the P9 Plus being a larger handset it has increased battery capacity. The P9 has a respectable 3,000mAh battery with a claimed longevity of either 12 hours of HD video playback, 8 hours of 4G browsing, 20 hours of 3G calling or listening to music for 56 hours. The P9 Plus boasts a 3,400mAh battery.
The P9 has dimensions of 145 x 70.9 x 6.95mm and weighs in at 144 grams while the larger P9 Plus is a bit heavier and slightly thicker at 162 grams and dimensions of 152.3 x 75.3 x 6.98mm, but still thinner and lighter than say the iPhone 6S. Bezels have been whittled down to just 1.7mm on the sides of the display. Finally, the P9 and P9 Plus handsets can be had in either white, grey, silver or in a choice of three gold finishes – rose, haze, and prestige.
Price-wise, the P9 range is definitely not aimed at the budget-conscious buyer. This is Huawei taking firm aim at the premium segment, and the P9’s pricing fully reflects this strategy. The 32GB/3GB P9 is priced at €599 (682) and the 64GB/4GB version is €649 ($740) and will become available on April 16 (next week). The P9 Plus is only available in 64GB/4GB guise and is priced at € 749 ($853) and is due to become available around the middle of May.
On a side note, it goes to show how often the leaks that technology sites report are often incorrect, the recent Oppomart leak giving the specifications of the non-existent P9 Lite and P9 Max is a prime example. That’s why a healthy pinch of salt is needed when reading (and reporting) about leaked information.
What do you make of the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus? We have a 32GB/3GB P9 in hand to review, so if you have any questions let us know in the comments below.