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Huawei P9 Review


Mobile Phones

Huawei P9 Review

Huawei has been in India for quite long time now, but they haven’t had a flagship device under the Huawei branding in India this year. The budget offering under the Honor series has been pretty active with Honor 5X and Honor 5C launched recently. Earlier this year Huawei announced the flagship device, the P9 with dual cameras in partnership with Leica.

The Huawei P9 comes with 5.2 inch Full HD display and is powered by Kirin 955 Octa core processor coupled with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. It has two 12MP camera sensors sitting side-by-side, with one of them being a normal RGB sensor and the other being a monochrome sensor. It has a fingerprint scanner and 3000mAh battery along with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. So how does the Huawei P9 perform? Let’s find out in this detailed review.

Huawei P9 Review

 

Design and Build:

Similar to other flagship devices, the Huawei P9 ships with a metallic unibody design and looks great. The edges of the device are chamfered and the phone is pretty light and slim for a flagship device. The rear panel has a separate unit for camera hardware which includes the dual camera set up, dual LED flash, laser auto focus and the Leica branding reminding us of the Nexus 6P.

The power and volume keys are placed on the right side while the SIM card slot is on the left side. The bottom portion houses the audio jack, USB C type port and the speaker unit. The rear panel also houses the fingerprint scanner and Huawei branding. There are antenna lines on the top and bottom panel of the phone.

With a smaller display and on screen buttons, the phone has a compact size and is easy to hold and use with one hand. The build quality of the phone is excellent and looks and feels like a premium flagship from every angle. At 6.95mm thickness, it is one of the slimmest flagship devices and even with dual cameras, there is no protrusions on the rear panel. Overall, the Huawei P9 is the best looking flagship smartphones out there.

 

Display:

Huawei P9 is one of the few flagship phones to sport a 5.2 inch display. The phone comes with a 1080p Full HD IPS LCD panel with Corning Gorilla Glass protection and 423ppi. The color reproduction is very good on the display and so is the viewing angles. The touch response is again good, with decent sunlight readability. While Huawei hasn’t gone with Quad HD panel, the display still looks quite good and is also pretty sharp.

Huawei also provides you option to customize the color temperature of the display. While the display isn’t as vivid as the Mi5, we don’t have too much to complain here.

DSC_0983

 

Software:

Huawei P9 runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and on top of that we have the EMUI 4.1. When we reviewed the Honor 5c with EMUI 4.1 we mentioned that the company has done a lot of work in optimizing the heavy UI. The EMUI offers lots of added features and tools. It comes with multiple home screens devoid of an app drawer with custom settings and notification panel.

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You also get simpler home screen and smart assistance feature which brings in features like customizable navigational bar, floating dock, motion control, one handed UI, voice control, gloves mode and more. There are a plethora of options available in the EMUI.

The phone also has apps like Mirror, magnifiers, flashlight, recorder, FM radio and more.

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The phone comes with themes support and once you have inserted the SIM card in the device you have the option to download themes from the store. You can also customize the themes to create your own theme with ringtones, icons, lock screen etc. The phone also comes with Magazine unlock option which serves a new wallpaper every time you switch on the display.

 

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Huawei P9 has fingerprint scanner located on the rear panel and you can configure it from the settings. Other than unlocking the device, you can also use the fingerprints to open apps. This can be configured in the fingerprint settings.

There is also a phone manager app which provides with options like phone accelerator, storage cleaner, call blocked, power saver, traffic manager, do not disturb, app lock and more. Finally, you can also customize the three on screen buttons but adding a new button or changing the position. Overall, the EMUI is a feature rich UI offering lots of additional options and it feels more refined with 4.1 and Android 6.0.

 

Performance:

The Huawei P9 is powered by an octa-core Kirin 955 SoC clocked at 2.5GHz and coupled with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. Out of the 32GB storage, you get 25GB in the first boot. You can also expand the storage using micro SD card. The Indian variant comes with single SIM card with 4G LTE. On the connectivity front there is Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G, a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, NFC and USB C Type port.

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While most of the flagship devices has adopted the Snapdragon 820, Huawei has gone with the in house SoC, the Kirin 955. While it is not as powerful as the SD 820, it performs quite well with 3GB RAM. The phone works effortlessly and is pretty smooth in performance. It performed exceptionally well in gaming performance as well with almost all heavy games playing very well without any heating issues.

The call quality of the phone is pretty good and the speaker performance is quite decent. The 4G LTE performance is good on the device and there were no issues with signal reception.

The fingerprint scanner located on the rear panel is also good and unlocks the device in quick time without any lags. Overall, we don’t have anything to complain in the performance of the device.

 

Camera:

Camera is the highlight of the device and it comes with dual 12MP sensor engineered in partnership with Leica. One of the 12MP sensor is for RGB while the second one is for monochrome. The software processing takes care of combining the RGB and monochrome to produce the perfect color photos. The phone also comes with laser autofocus along with dual tone LED flash. But surprisingly, for a phone which is focusing on camera, OIS is missing.

The camera app is one of the best we have seen with lot of options and modes available. There are plethora of modes including monochrome, beauty mode, light painting, watermark, HDR, night shot, slow motion, video, panorama and time lapse. Apart from the modes, there are other options to make the camera experience better. The camera app is definitely one of the strong points of the phone and is treat to use. The Pro mode also allows you to make the best of the camera experience. The focusing with laser and PDAF works well and does the job very well.

If you are person who like vivid and rich color images, there is also a vivid and smooth mode available. Looking at the camera samples taken with the Huawei P9, you can see the rich amount of detailing available. The colors are also pretty spot on with great sharpness. The P9’s software processing does the great job of combining the RGB and monochrome images to give the best color quality. The low light photography is another strong point of the phone and it produces great detailing even in low light conditions. There is some noise, but it is better than some of the flagships and one of the best cameras we have tested.

The video quality (1080p) is quite decent, but again there is no 4K support nor there is OIS. There is also option to record videos in slow motion and time lapse. The front facing 8MP camera also works very well with good color quality and overall good selfie experience. Here are some of the camera samples taken with the device.

 

Battery Life:

Huawei P9 comes with a 3000mAh battery and in our testing we found the battery performance to be average. Even with a battery capacity of 3000mAh it wasn’t great performance. While there is quick (or fast) charging support, the default charger which ships with the device is the 2A one which has no support for quick charging. There are many battery modes and options to get you better battery life including the option to change the display resolution to 720p from 1080p. You can also play with the power plans (smart, ultra and performance) to get better battery life.

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Verdict:

Huawei P9 is an excellent all-round device with great looks and terrific camera performance. If you are in the market for a flagship phone good performance with great camera, without doubt Huawei P9 should be on your list. Huawei P9 is one of the few flagships offered in 5.2 inch screen size and offers a mixture of good optimized software, performance, camera and looks. Comparing to OnePlus 3 and Xiaomi Mi5, P9 is a pricier, but if camera is your priority, without doubt Huawei P9 is worth the money.

Pros:

  • Excellent design and build
  • Great camera
  • Good performance
  • Software is customizable
  • Gaming
  • Size
  • Fingerprint Scanner is quick

Cons:

  • Single SIM card
  • Battery performance
  • No OIS/ 4K
  • Price
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Nirmal is a Technology Blogger and a Microsoft MVP in Windows. He can be contacted at nirmal@nirmaltv.com. You can find Nirmal on , and .

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