Huawei P9 Review: A Smartphone every Photographer would Love


Smartphones have always tried to replace our cameras. In true world, it does make sense, as you don’t carry your camera wherever you go unlike your mobile devices. While some companies claim to make camera phones, that would replace a DSLR, its nothing but just a joke. Each have different purposes and it would be wiser if we do not compare these two. However, on a regular daily usage you do not need a DSLR for everyday pictures; it would be nice to have a good portable Smartphone that couples as a camera which clicks quick and great pictures.

Huawei announced its flagship, the Huawei P9 today in India. The phone will be available for 39999 INR on Flipkart. The Huawei P9 is one of the best phones the company has every made. It is targeted at people who love creating photographs. Especially, with its association with Leica, it makes it even more worth looking at. I have been using this phone for over a couple of weeks and I am very impressed. Let us look at a detailed Huawei P9 review in this article. If you are keen on the camera review, read it here.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The Huawei P9 is made up of aerospace-class unibody aluminium and a 2.5D glass with a brushed metal effect for a smooth look. The edges are flat and straight design makes the device easy and comfortable to hold.

The phone is very light and feels great to carry along. Might feel slightly slippery. The back is quite ergonomic and the rear flows very well to the front. A protective case will still be a good idea.

Huawei-P9 rear antenna

The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side which feels vey neat and also offers a good amount of tactile feedback. The power button also have a textured feel to it making it more comfortable to use.

The left side is for the SIM and SD card slots. There is a single slot with a dedicated SIM and a Hybrid slot. You could either pop-in two SIM cards or use one for a expandable micro-SD card.

The phone is powered with an octacore Kirin 955 chipset (This octacore processor comes with 4 x Cortex A72 cores clocked at 2.5GHz and 4 x Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz), Mali T880 GPU, faster EMMC 5.1 and 3GB RAM. The Huawei P9 is the first phone with a processor, that has a Depth Image Signal  Processor onboard.

The phone has a onboard 32GB ROM, expandable upto 128 GB. The phone doesn’t support adoptable storage though.

There is a very slight lag on the app-load when you launch 3rd party apps; its certainly not a major deal breaker. Probably, it would’ve been better on a 4GB/64 RAM model. However, the Emotion UI makes the OS much user friendly and optimises the OS with a good RAM management.

The OS also provides some good tweaks that help in better performance when compared to other phones in  this segment. The Gaming performance on this phone is very impressive as well.

The rear of the phone sports the camera and the finger print sensor. The Leica branding on the rear adds to the premium feel to the phone. Although, I still wonder why the SUMMARIT H1:2.2/27 ASPH was needed. They could’ve just kept it subtle with just Leica.

Huawei P9 Dual Camera Leica

The finger print sensor is an impressive feature on this phone (or in any Huawei phone in that matter). The finger print reading is fast (the company says 0.5 seconds to unlock) and also, has worked well all the times for me. When compared to other phones, the accuracy is pretty neat.

The Kirin 955 chipset also helps with silicon-chip level protection. There is a dedicated security module within the silicon chip that ensures user security, handling key information like fingerprints, keypad, and voice.

The phone has a 3000 MAH battery which offers a decent battery life of around a day. The charging speed isn’t one of the best either. Considering the phone to be a flagship, the battery life could’ve been better for sure. However, With Emotion UI, there are tons of more customisations which you can apply, to make your phone even better in terms of battery saving. Thanks to the patents Huawei has on the same.

With triple Antenna, the call drops are fairly less. Also, you don’t need to worry about your hand position under different signal conditions. Better RF performance- system automatically switches to the antenna with the best signal to prevent dropped calls.

Huawei P9 Leica Dual Lens back rear

The call quality is very impressive and the volume is good too. The Wi-Fi+ 2.0 automatically connect to the strongest available Wi-Fi network. The phone ranks the Wi-Fi hotspots, and prioritises the best connection.

The combination of beautiful design, powerful hardware, and a great camera gives this phone an edge when compared to the rest of the competition.

Display

The Display is very impressive and sharp. I find it to be one of the real good features of the phone. Its a 5.2″ FHD display with 96% colour saturation and high contrast. The quality and the details are neat. Images aren’t over-saturated or too warm/cold. the colours are vibrant and the brightness on the screen is impressive as well.

The LCD ensures blacks are nice and deep. It’s quite good even in a broad day light. Reading text on the phone is pretty good. I like the fact, it isn’t too sharp giving a realistic clear text.

Huawei P9 EMUI

If you want to nit pick, the display brightness could still look slightly low when compared to other flagships who offer Quad HD displays and much brighter nits. Huawei has managed to offer a better battery life with a full HD display here.

Software, User Experience:

The Huawei P9 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box with the customised version. These days, Every company have their own android skins for their phones. Out of all, my personal favourites have been the Flyme OS, MIUI and Emotion UI. They are not just basic customisations, but give users few features which are actually worth trying.

This phone offer Emotion UI 4.1, featuring Marshmallow.  There are few software features which makes the phone pretty good. My personal favourite is the notifications window. They show a lot more detail on a timeline about the app notifications and your system.

Shake to re-align icons is cool as well. Themes would also fancy some people for sure. I also like the screenshot gesture, where you just have to knock the screen.

step counter emui healthI love the Health App; that little notification on the lock screen is super cool. This version of EMUI also brings in some performance improvements.

The emotion UI provides you way more options to further make use of the finger print sensor, than to just unlock your phone. Gestures help you do that. For e.g.: Swiping up on the finger print scanner shows the recently used apps. Swiping down brings in the notifications page to quickly read through and toggle settings. A tap can be configured to take you to back screen or even click a picture while you take a selfie. You can even take a call, or use it like a home button with customisations available.

Camera:

With dual cameras, the P9 does a lot more than the competition. This is the second phone after LG G5 to come with a dual lens this year. While on the LG G5, the secondary module acts as a wide-angle lens, Huawei’s approach is different here.

With being, co-engineered with Leica, The Huawei P9 has a 12MP RGB main sensor and accompanied by a 12MP monochrome chip on board. The Huawei P9’s merging algorithm, intelligently combines the colours taken by the RGB sensor with the detail of the monochrome sensor.

Huawei P9 Dual Camera Leica

According to Huawei, the image information from both sensors makes the P9 camera 100% more light-sensitive than other smartphone cameras. Further, using the colour and monochrome camera simultaneously helps in producing a superior image with deeper blacks, vivid colours, and natural looking depth of field. Read our in-depth camera review here.

The Dual Lens on the Huawei P9 also helps in simulating shallow depth-of-field.

The camera is powered with a 12MP sensor, a f2.2 aperture, 22mm Leica optics, which does allow a lot of light and a dual tone LED flash to use in low-light conditions. The device doesn’t have an optical stabiliser though.

In outdoors, the camera performs very well and is quick. The quality of pictures is fantastic and the details are sharp with colours being good as well. The bokeh (background blur) is natural unlike the other phones in this segment. Thankfully, the software doesn’t over-sharp the images and hence, images feel realistic. Emotion UI also offers a great camera software which gives DNG Raw capture and other modes.

The monochrome pictures out of the Huawei P9 are worth falling in love with!

The Huawei P9 also offers manual shooting controls (professional mode) for people who like to create photographs. Here are some of the pictures I clicked with this camera over the past 2 weeks.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

In the past two weeks, I have been using the Huawei P9 as my primary phone, and I am very impressed with it. To begin with, the phone feels great on hands, software is optimised, the images aren’t too saturated; the colours and details feel real etc.

The Huawei P9 has been my favourite Smartphone, not just for the fantastic camera capabilities, but for a great User Experience.

Well, at this price, although it looks quite expensive, we need to consider that, this is a device from Huawei (not Honor, which has been making the budget phones) and they are competing it along with other flagships in the market. The company seems to be aggressive in getting out the brand Huawei in the country and they would like to keep it at a premium point.

While the camera is the most interesting feature on this phone, the oct-core chipset, The EMUI, and a fast fingerprint scanner are worth appreciating as well. Something I really miss on this phone is a hardware camera button. That would’ve been a nifty addition. The phone is perfectly sized, feels premium and the software is top-notch as well.

If you are behind the latest and greatest of hardware, you may see various other options in the market. However, if you love clicking pictures and value great user experience than hardware, then Huawei P9 is the camera phone for you. Like I mentioned the, photos are great and the monochromes are something worth falling in love with. The P9 is one of the best phones Huawei has ever made.