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Huawei P9 review

Posted on 10-Jul-2016 12:25 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

Huawei is quickly becoming one of the largest smartphone presences in the markets and this year's blitz marketing campaign focusing on the new Huawei P9 is just evidence of how much the company is investing on this.


You can't walk around town without seeing billboards, buses or electronic banners telling you about the new smartphone and how great its main feature - a dual-lens camera design with Leica - is. The main thing though is that they are right about it.


You can find smartphones with bigger screens (although the Huawei P9 comes with a large 5.2" and larger 5.5" screen sizes) but it will be hard to find a smartphone that beats the imaging specs introduced with this new model.


What you get out of the box in New Zealand is basically an Android 6.0 smartphone, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage supported by a HUAWEI Kirin 955 64-bit process, octa-core (4 x 2.5 GHz A72+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53). The local model does not support dual SIM but it does include NFC.


In addition to this you get GPS which includes GPS, A-GPS, Glonass and even the Chinese standard BDS location systems.


Connectivity options include WiFi (both 2.4GHz and 5GHZ), Bluetooth 4.2 (with support for BLE) and USB Type C with high speed file transfers. All this back by 2/3/4G mobile networks (4G TDD LTE:Band38/39/40, 4G FDD LTE:Band1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28, 3G UMTS: 800(B6,Japan)/800(B19,Japan) /850/900/AWS/1900/2100MHz(Band6/19/5/8/4/2/1), 2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz). Huawei added a WiFi+ feature that will connect to the best access point that you have access to, excluding access points with no Internet access at that moment. It will also turn WiFi on automatically when near to known WiFi networks.


When I first inserted my Semble-ready SIM card I was able to use the Semble app to load the data and enable contactless payments. Since then Semble must have tested something because they have now blocked contactless payments on this smartphone, pending an OS update that should be coming sometime after July.


A multitude of sensors support smartphone applications including Fingerprint Sensor, G-Sensor, Gyroscope sensor, Compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity sensor, Hall effect sensor. The Fingerprint Sensor is actually on a next level, with support for enhanced security thanks to 3D support.


Thanks to its Fingerprint Sensor position on the back of the case you can easily bring the Huawei P9 back from sleep and unlock it with a single touch. You can also use the Fingerprint Sensor to scroll through photos in the photo gallery or to bring down the notification centre.


While the Emotion UI (EMUI) 4.1 might be a bit different than other Android implementations (you won't find an app drawer here), you can easily replace it with other launchers if you prefer. Nonetheless, it's smooth sailing, with fast app launch and easy to switch between apps.


The large 3000mAh battery can easily keep you going during the day, but Huawei has also added power managing features that allow you to close background programs as soon as the screen is turned off. Good thing they let you chose which programs to keep open because you will need to carefuly manage the list if some apps are to be kept running. Also impressive is the fast charging and how you can quickly get enough power


The screen is really nice and shows vivid colours, which you can really appreciate when paired with photos taken with the new dual-lens Leica camera.


The camera app can be used in both Automatic or Pro modes - Pro mode allowing you to control everything in the camera and giving you the option to save RAW files (unfortunately those can only be saved into the main storage area). One of the most interesting auto modes is the option to take photos with different depth of field, but giving you the option to manipulate this at later stage, saving different version of the photo with bigger or smaller apertures.


With the dual lens you basically have a B/W sensor coupled with a RGB sensor - allowing for images to get rich colours with details from the B/W sensor.


Better than talk too much about the photo quality, below are some photos (and I am no professional photographer) that you can check for colours and focus.


Huawei worked with Leica to create different auto modes and effects, similar to what you would find in Leica cameras. According to Huawei there's no indication this is going to be a one-of-kind Leica partnership with them.


The phone is manufactured on a metal unibody with a Gorilla glass that is slightly curved on the side edges. Very comfortable to hold but I recommend a case to further protect it from falls - the metal is quite slippery at times.


I am a fan of using Gmail with Google Exchange Services to access my Office 365 account, but the built-in email app and Exchange account type manage the task with no problems - although I'd like to see something like the Gmail feature that allow you to delete emails directly from the notification list without having to open the app.


Below are some thumbnails that lead to larger photos (original sizes) so you can check quality for yourself. The B/W photos were taken using the native B/W mode, no filter involved.