- An amazing dual lens camera
- Impressive hardware pushing performance to the limit
- Great design and overall feel
- An impressive feature-price balance
- The camera still struggles with the beauty mode shot
- EMUI still a hindrance to Android upgrades
Its been quite a while since the Huawei P9 launched. The innovative dual lens camera sits at the pinnacle while the impressive processor-RAM marriage still retains that premium snappiness despite the heavy Emotion UI skin.
The Huawei P9 is the Chinese company’s shot at the elite, the likes of Apple and Samsung. With its reputation a force to reckon with among the second Tier Android Manufacturers like Sony, LG and Motorola.
The big question is: Is it a hit or a miss?
Well, let’s do some short background about Huawei for those who don’t really appreciate the brand for what it is.
Huawei has muscled its way out of the tier 3 Android brand world using nothing but sheer genius. The sober balance between high-end specs and low devices prices backed by a solid marketing campaign have made the brand stand out of the crowd.
Since the birth of the P series with the then compact and revolutionary Huawei P7, the company has managed to forge a solid reputation that culminates to the very success that is the Huawei P9.
The P9 Specs Command On-Paper Attention
The Huawei on-paper specs will literally blow you away. There are the 12-megapixel Leica dual rear cameras, a slim design that even beats the iPhone 6s by packing more screen real estate on almost the same device dimensions and an octa-core CPU configuration that gives you a 4.2.5GHz Cortex-A72 and a 4×1.8GHz Cortex –A53
Huawei P9 Specs Highlights
Dimensions: 145 x 70.9 x 7mm
SIM: Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Display: 5.2 inches IPS-NEO LCD capacitive touchscreen
Corning Gorilla Glass Protection
1080 x1920 pixels (423ppi)
OS: Android V6.0 (Marshmallow) running Emotion UI 4.1
Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 955
CPU: Octa-core (4×2.5GHz, 4×1.8GHz)
GPU: Mali-T880 MP4
Internal Memory: 32GB
Camera: Primary: Dual 12MP (f/2.2, 27 mm Leica optics)
Secondary: 8 MP, f/2.4, 1080p
Battery: 3000 mAh non-removable
This is quite impressive for a phone whose price in Kenya is averaging at KSh 44,0000. Here is a quick price comparison with worthy flagship phones.
Samsung Galaxy S7: KSh 64,500
LG G5: KSh 55,999
The P9’s Camera Explained, Reviewed and Tested
The Leica brand name on Huawei P9’s camera got me excited more than the fact that it’s a dual-lens configuration. Leica is a respected name in photography and churns some of the best cameras in the professional photography arena.
My excitement waned a fraction when I learnt that all Leica did was endorse the camera components and manufacturing standards. There isn’t any Leica engineered hardware in the Huawei P9.
Nonetheless, you will get the 12-Megapixel Sony IMX286 sensor, LED flash and hybrid focus. Don’t let the pixel count fool you. By now, you should have realized that there is more to your smartphone camera that the Megapixel count.
But I’ll still live with the endorsement – if the results are worth it.
The Dual Cameras Demystified
Though both cameras are a presentable 12-megapixel, only one shoots color. The other is a black and white sensor.
This configuration lets the P9 take impressive black-and-white photos or use the both sensors to create amazing color photos will a generous splash of detail and contrast.
With the dual-lens configuration letting the phone create that impressive blur you get by altering a DSLR camera’s aperture, the Huawei can boast of being the first phone in the world to shoot a true ‘professional Bokeh effect.’
That’s what Huawei says the two lenses will achieve. Here’s what the market thinks.
The P9 can take great photos. It can match the smartphone deities of its age, the Samsung S7 and the iPhone 6S – if you shoot your photos in the right light settings.
- The camera will add a tiny vignette effect to your photos at times
- Bright light exposures make the two lenses to struggle and you could get unbalanced shots with surreal contrasts
- The reds in your photos might come out stronger than they should be when shooting in auto mode
The P9’s camera shoots in up to 14 modes. There is the standard mode, a High Dynamic Range and Panorama. You will also get Huawei’s proprietary Light Painting, Beauty, Video, Monochrome and Bokeh modes.
The crisp panorama mode yields steady and superb shots while the paint and monochrome modes lets you add some artistic touch to the photos. The light painting is especially interesting as it lets keep shooting continuously until you stops the camera. The result, impressive photos with moving light, similar to what you will get from a long exposure piece on a DSLR.
The beauty mode is, however, a miss. It could do if you don’t mind the overly flattened skin tone and altered eyes but it will never show you for who you really are.
All in all, the camera is an absolute stunner, if you can afford to overlook the selfie beauty mode and the slightly capable Bokeh effect.
The Pro camera mode that you can bring up by swiping from the bar at the bottom of the camera app lets you manually control focus, ISO, shutter speed, exposure and white balance. This is the holy grail of professional photography. It will take you some time and skill to set it right but it is worth the pain.
The P9’s Design and Looks
I must admit, it’s a bit absurd to talk of the camera before telling you how the phone looks. Well, I had to. It’s a Leica endorsed dual lens shooter.
The P9 is as classy as the LG G5. It definitely is a darling among Kenyan buyers who seek specs and performance, not brand names. The unibody metal chassis gives it a firm feel that is noticeably almost as premium as what you will get with the iPhone 6s.
An almost-absent bezel adds to the appeal making the Huawei P9 feel like any other high-end smartphone in the Android market today.
You will get a USB Type-C port at the very bottom, next to the Nano SIM and microSD card slot. The only problem is you will have to lose one SIM card to expand its inbuilt 32GB/64GB to 128GB. This might not be as snappy as it gets since the P9 doesn’t recognize the hyped Android Marshmallow Adoptable Storage.
Most manufacturers are opting to turn off Adoptable Storage since they really don’t have control over how you use it. A slow cheap memory card will slow down the device. Constant swapping of the SD card will also offset the device’s performance. Seems like a noble justification to the decision.
The Level 4 fingerprint scanner is pretty fast and reliable, capturing fingerprints almost always apart from when the hands are really dirty or wet. An additional swipe down the scanner to scroll through photos or pull down your notification panel might seem menial but will be an absolute delight if you grow into it.
A compact build that can survive drops on mild floors sums up the package. Giving you something sleek and robust enough to survive the thrash of daily use without forcing you to hide it in occasionally ugly phone cases.
Huawei P9 Display Review
The modest 5.2 full HD screen at 1080 x 1920 might be good enough on the Huawei P9 but it is nothing compared to the 2560 x 1440 screen you will get on the likes of Galaxy S7. Nonetheless, you will find the Huawei P9 price in Kenya an absolute bargain for the impressive resolution you get.
I am an almost staunch crusader of the current vanity in smartphone specs. While the jury is still out on the human eye resolution threshold, I tend to think the difference between the P9’s 423ppi display and a 510ppi site will not be different to even the pristine user. You have to be looking for the difference to note it.
The P9’s LCD screen brings out the contrast well giving you vibrant colors without looking too artificial. You can use the color temperature settings to give the phone your preferred look. A generally wide viewing angle and inferior but presentable whites aren’t so bad a bargain.
The screen is steps below the current deity that is on Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10. The good thing is, it is good enough for the greater part of the society.
The Software and Performance
You will get the Huawei Emotion UI (EMUI) that has stuck on the latest Huawei phones. While skins were a great thing back then when Android was a freckled teenager, it’s now a nuisance on the performance of the otherwise excelled Android user experience.
While the EMUI is light and less of a bother than before, the fact that it adds a load to the OS and puts a limit to how fast Huawei users can get their Android OS updates makes it a nuisance.
The EMUI changes the Android UI, makes it different. The app tray vanishes, leaving home screens for all apps. A useful shortcut on your control panel lets you control a couple of features and settings with ease.
With Huawei having cleaned off bloatware, the EMUI could be an excellent launcher to people who install launchers onto their devices either way. You can still ditch the EMUI for a better launcher. No biggy.
Huawei P9 Price in Kenya – The Performance
The Huawei P9 packs a real punch under the hood. This gives it a solid performance 99 percent of the times, reminiscent of the impressive performance that has been a characteristic of the latest flagship devices from Huawei.
AnTuTu bench marking tool gives the phone an impressive 98,008. This is better than the Qaulcomm Snapdragon in the Nexus 6P but inferior to Samsung Galaxy S7’s Snapdragon 820 that scored a whopping 129,468.
On Geekbench, you will get 1,750 on a single core and 6,281 on multi-core settings. Themulti-coree performance always puts it almost at par with the S7’s 6,307. Gamers will, however, be at a slight disadvantage as the P9 seems inferior to most 2016 flagship phones with its 966 score on the 3DMark Sling Shot benchmark. Galaxy S7 scored 2,129.
What Does All this Really Mean?
With the Huawei P9 price in Kenya standing at Ksh44,000, the device is a great bargain given the way it compares to other flagship devices in the market. The solid performance and continued reliability of the gadget makes it a worthy contender and a great gadget to someone who isn’t willing to spend so much on Apple or the Samsung flagships.