Huawei P9 review: Great camera, great design, and ghastly software

a few years in the past, in a traditional ham-fisted fumble involving a pint of beer and a cat video, I dropped my Nexus five. The colorful 1080p display screen that I had spent so much of my free time pawing at turned into left shattered and unusable. Cash became tight at the time, so rather than getting the Nexus constant or purchase an entirely new phone. The following day, I was the proud borrower of a Huawei P7, the Chinese language corporation’s first actual stab at a flagship Android phone.

I’d in no way used a Huawei phone before, and before everything, I was pleasantly amazed. The build quality was top-notch even though the design was a nondescript substitute, and it had a bright 1080p IPS display screen. My excitement diminished, but after I flicked the P7 on, I became provided with one of the maximum outrageously competitive Android skins I might ever see. The icons had been squished and given an odd iOS-like sheen, whilst the app drawer I cherished from the inventory KitKat construct on the Nexus has been eliminated in favor of shoving all the apps onto the house screen.

In short, the P7 was a mess—and it turned sluggish and laggy too. Indeed, the deeper I dove, the extra I found have been changed with the aid of Huawei‘s Emotion UI. Settings were not where I predicted to locate them. At the same time, various menu designs were given a visible tweak that did not include healthy different components of the OS. This changed into a traditional case of terrific hardware being marred via terrible software. It wasn’t long before I bit the bullet and bought a brand new smartphone so that I should get again to something that at least vaguely approached an inventory Android revel in.

Huawei P9

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Sadly, years on, little has changed. Huawei‘s flagship P9 is a fantastic piece of hardware, with a build fine as exact as, if no longer better than, what’s provided with the aid of the likes of Apple, Samsung, and HTC. It is astonishingly thin considering it contains a hefty 3000mAh battery while also being reassuringly weighty; there may be an experience that each inch of space between its comfy curves and glossy chamfered edges has been full of excessive-end tech. It also takes a mean image to a pair of 12-megapixel cameras adorned with iconic camera employer Leica‘s branding. It needs to be a domestic run. And yet, way to the crumminess of Emotion UI—not to say a higher-than-anticipated rate tag—I sadly conflict to advocate the P9 to anybody.

All metallic, all the time

it truly is a shame because the P9 will garner lots of admiring glances from high street shoppers. At just 6.95mm thick—it really is thinner than the 7.1mm iPhone 6S and seven.7mm Samsung Galaxy S7 area—it cuts a first-class determine compared with its opponents. The “sandblasted” satin finish of its aluminum body is pleasingly understated, if instead vulnerable to scratches, and does an excellent activity of making the phone much less slippery; this is a telephone you can maintain at the sharpest of angles, or vicinity at the glossiest of glass tables, without fear of it sliding off into oblivion. It’s comfortable too, wearing a sensibly sized 5.25-inch 1080p display that, way to a very slim bezel, makes it only a wee bit wider than an iPhone 6S.

The display is sandwiched through two subtlety pinstriped bezels (think of the unique Aqua UI for OS X), with a Huawei logo on the lowest, a speaker, and an 8-megapixel selfie digicam up top. There is the now in-style aggregate SIM card and microSD card slot (which doesn’t assist adoptable storage). On the proper, there’s a solid volume rocker with a smaller, textured energy button underneath. The energy button has a barely decrease profile, which allows keeping away from any accidental presses while fumbling around with the P9 in a pocket. Up top, there may be just a single mic; at the same time as on the lowest, there’s a headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, and an expertly chiseled speaker grille.

On the rear of the P9 is a lightning-rapid fingerprint scanner. Above the fingerprint scanner and the color-matched antenna lines is the P9’s signature function: two 12-megapixel Sony 12MP IMX286 sensors paired with Leica Summarit H 1:2.2/27 lenses sporting an f/2.2 aperture and 27mm focal length. Both sit down flush in opposition to the phone’s frame but sadly lack optical picture stabilization. At the same time, as the scanner’s function may not be to everybody’s flavor, it is largely comfortable to use, and I love no longer needing to push a button before the scanner activates, unlike the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. Using two lenses isn’t a new idea—HTC’s M8 did the equal thing again in 2014, and LG’s G5 has cameras too—but Huawei‘s implementation is slightly specific.

One sensor captures statistics in full RGB shade, whilst the other captures just monochrome. Both sensors have identical huge 1.25µm pixels. Still, in theory, the monochrome sensor ought to capture greater light because it ditches the Bayer color filter that normally splits the mild into red, green, and blue elements. greater light was much less noise, and with the aid of combining the monochrome shot with the color facts from the other sensor—a form of computational photography—the P9 should, in concept, take high-quality photographs. Plus, having two sensors approach, you could regulate the focal point after taking a photo.

In exercise, it’s difficult to tell how a lot of difference that 2d sensor makes to snapshots without being capable of disabling it entirely, just because it’s difficult to tell exactly how tons involvement Leica has had beyond slapping its brand on the back of the cellphone. Indeed, the digital camera sensor at the P9 is, in truth, made through Sunny Optical, a Chinese smartphone digital camera producer—Leica merely certified the module. However, the give-up product is definitely the product, and I am pleased to mention the P9 takes excellent images.

There is one area of the P9 in which Leica‘s effect is simple: the UI. Compared to previous Huawei telephones, just like the Mate S, the P9’s camera UI is more refined and faster to load, even when activated from the lock display. A laser autofocus device mixed with the depth facts from the 2 sensors also enables the P9 to cognizance extremely speedy. It’s no longer quite Samsung Galaxy S7 degrees short, but it’s remarkably rapid compared to an awesome performer like the HTC 10. I have no concerns approximately lacking a shot with the P9.

Of “movie.” swipe in from the left. You are greeted with various options for taking various sorts of photos, together with monochrome, which uses simply the single greyscale sensor for pictures, HDR, panorama, nighttime pictures, time-lapse, and an interesting mild painting mode that slows down the shutter pace so that you can wave glow sticks around and create the forms of arty images that have been popular back inside the early ’00s. Without OIS, you’ll need a tripod to make any use of the last option, however. Swipe in from the right, and there may be another list of options, this time letting you do such things as flick GPS tagging on and stale, prompt a reachable digicam grid, or choose among three unique types.