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Huawei P9 hands-on review

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HUAWEI UNVEILED the P9, alongside the P9 Plus, on Tuesday, and after feverishly unboxing Huawei’s latest flagship, we’ve jotted down our thoughts on the phone that wants you to rethink your relationship with the Samsung, HTC and LGs of this world.

Camera
With its dual-lens camera system, Huawei aims to revolutionise the way we take photos on our smartphones. The P9, and larger P9 Plus, both have Leica-certification – a company that has long been the hallmark of fine quality optics, so it’s something of a boon for the Chinese smartphone manufacturer to be in such considered company.

Huawei P9 with dual Leica cameras hands-on

The Huawei P9 sports two 12MP Sony IMX286 sensors, which are in-turn paired with two Leica Summarit H 1:2.2/27 lenses. These offer an aperture of f/2.2, equivalent to 27mm focal length. One of these sensors captures RGB, while the other records exclusively in monochrome. What’s more, Huawei has even added that trademark Leica shutter sound to soundtrack your merry picture snapping.

Dual cameras are nothing new, remember HTC’s attempt with the One M8 a few years back? Time will tell whether Huawei’s relationship with Leica bears any fruit, but at the time of writing, we realise there’s a wealth of shooting options available here. Knowing where to find them and how to control them will be part of the fun.

Huawei P9 with dual Leica cameras hands-onTaken on the Huawei P9

During our initial fondle of the Huawei P9, we were left wondering whether the refocusing tricks that allow you to change the depth of field after a photo has been taken are just a gimmick. You can control the amount of blur you want to the image, but we’d err on the side of caution and not go overboard. There’s also no image stabilisation onboard.

Design and specs
The Huawei P9 looks stylish enough, and the aluminium unibody teases with its gorgeous curved edges. The power button is conveniently placed on the phone’s right, just below the volume controls. A microSD slot is located on the left, and below you’ll find the headphone jack, USB-C port and speaker grille.

Huawei P9 with dual Leica cameras hands-on

The dual-lens camera system sits near to the rear top edge, not in the traditional position we’ve become so accustomed too. Instead of that space being barren, however, the Huawei P9’s fingerprint sensor sits in the slightly dipped area.

Due to the positioning of the fingerprint sensor, people with small hands might struggle to reach it, and it feels somewhat unnatural to stretch your hand around the back of the device in this manner. 

Under the hood you’ll find Huawei’s own Kirin 955 processor, comprising of four 2.5GHz, and four 1.8GHz, i5 cores. The wheelhouse is completed with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

Huawei P9 with dual Leica cameras hands-on

Our Titanium Grey model looks almost pink in some light – it has a lovely smooth finish, and is easily the most premium handset Huawei has put out yet. It will also be available in a dizzying array of different colours and finishes, including Mystic Silver, Prestige Gold, Haze Gold, Rose Gold and Ceramic White,

Display
The 5.2in screen is Full HD 1,920×1,080 pixels with 423ppi. 96 percent colour saturation and 500 nits brightness also imbue the super-saturated IPS display with an almost cinematic quality.

Huawei P9 with dual Leica cameras hands-on

Software
The Emotion UI is back and with it Huawei’s attempts to ape the look and feel of the iOS experience. We’d forgotten just how unintuitive this could be until we took the P9 out of its box. Try as we might there’s no getting away from those on-screen soft-keys

There’s no app drawer, plus our sample came loaded to the gills with bloatware. We’re going to need to clean it out before we put it to some hard work.

We disliked the Huawei P9’s keyboard immediately, accidentally brushing against the button to enable Huawei Swype on more than one occasion. We felt like we were unnecessarily mashing buttons due to the clunky layout. 

Huawei P9 with dual Leica cameras hands-on

Price and availability
All of the major UK networks will option the Huawei P9 (and P9 Plus) when they go on sale in mid-May. Prices start at £449 for the P9 with 32GB of storage and 3GB RAM, While the P9 Plus costs a little more – £549 will get you 64GB of storage and 4GB RAM.

Our full review will follow in due course. µ

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