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Huawei P9 Hands-on, First Impressions: Leica Boss

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We go hands-on with Huawei’s P9!

Huawei’s newest smartphone, the P9, has certainly created its fair share of buzz lately for a number of reasons. It’s the first device co-engineered with their new buddies, German camera maker Leica, and is the first Huawei-branded that sports a dual-camera setup. We’ve finally managed to get our grubby hands on the phone at their Southern Pacific Conference event in Bali, Indonesia, and it’s as good as we expected it to be.

Huawei P9/P9 Plus specs

  • Kirin 955 octa-core processor
  • 3GB/4GB of RAM
  • 5.2-inch full HD IPS display/5.5-inch full HD AMOLED display
  • 32GB/64GB of expandable storage
  • Twin 12-megapixel rear camera with laser AF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC
  • 3000mAh/3400mah battery
  • Android Marshmallow, EMUI

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Initial Impressions: One of the best cameras in a phone today

Huawei’s been trying hard to keep their design language consistent throughout their entire product lineup and the P9 is a continuation of that. While it may not have the design pedigree that Korean rival Samsung may have, they’ve been making a name for themselves as far as making solid, beautiful, all-metal smartphones are concerned.

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The P9 uses a single slab of machined aluminum for its body, chamfered on the sides for that extra premium feel. From the back, the P9 kind of looks a little like the Nexus 6P, especially with the coloring of the camera module that holds the dual, Leica co-engineered cameras on the rear.

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Going through the physical features of the phone, you’ll see the power button and volume rocker on the right. The phone uses a USB Type-C connector that’s located on the bottom right beside the speaker grille, along with the 3.5mm jack. Just like with other Huawei smartphones, there’s a fingerprint scanner located on the back of the phone.

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The 5.2-inch display is just full HD, which is a bit of a disappointment, considering that most flagship smartphones nowadays use QHD panels, with Huawei’s own Nexus 6P sporting the higher resolution display. Nevertheless, the P9’s screen is bright, beautiful and is a pleasure to look at even under direct sunlight. There’s even a bigger version of the P9 dubbed the P9 Plus that ups the display size to 5.5-inches, the storage to 64GB and RAM to 4GB.

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The biggest draw of the P9 is obviously the dual cameras on the back. The cameras, co-engineered with famed German camera manufacturer Leica, isn’t your usual twin-camera setup. One camera shoots in color, while the other shoots in monochrome, and the software (which was developed by Leica) combines the two into a single image.

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And while the actual cameras themselves weren’t made by Leica, the development of the module, the app and the software was overseen by the famed German brand at every step.

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The cameras themselves sport f/2.2 aperture lenses and 1.25-micron pixel size. If the cameras weren’t enough, there’s also a laser assisted AF system in the phone, as well as a revamped AF software that allows users to refocus the shot after it’s taken. This isn’t new – their own Honor 6 Plus could do that as well, though the P9 does it better since there’s more depth information available thanks to the laser AF.

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In practice the P9 does deliver excellent photos in our tests, and the app that comes with the phone gives users control over every aspect of photography. Check out our sample photos below:

And as a fun comparison, try to figure out which photo below was shot by a Leica camera and which one was shot with the P9:

Of course, the P9 is still a smartphone first, and Huawei’s put in their best processor to power it. The P9 has their Kirin 955 octa-core processor, and depending on the version you get, that’s going to be paired with either 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Huawei’s Kirin 955 performs pretty well in synthetic benchmarks, and combined with the power-efficient full HD display, 3000/3400mAh battery (depending on the version you get) it’s capable of delivering impressive battery life with day to day use.

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So that’s it for our first hands-on with the P9. There’s still no word on local pricing for both the P9 and the P9 Plus, though it’s slated to launch at the end of May in the PH.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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One Comment

  1. Hi, what’s your first impression on its audio quality using earphones? Does it have a dedicated DAC and how would you compare it with phones with DAC (V10, HTC 10, Vibe X3 etc.) Thank you

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