Huawei P9: Dreaming in monochrome

Launch SRP: RM2099

Overview, Design & Features

Overview

Smartphones with brilliant cameras are a dime a dozen, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a smartphone that doesn't have, at the bare minimum, a 12MP sensor and some of the manufacturer's own bells and whistles thrown into the fray (case in point, Samsung's Galaxy S7 edge, and its 12MP ISOCELL sensor, or the main camera sensor on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus).

In a world where consumers believe that the bigger number, the better the picture, it's smartphone cameras like these that actually serve to prove the masses wrong and that the opposite can, in fact, also be true.

The Huawei P9 then, is something of an anomaly that seems eager to defy the odds of what constitutes as a good main camera.

The heart and soul of the Huawei P9: its dual-lens 12MP RGB and Monochrome main camera, co-engineered with Leica.

The P9's front-facing camera is also quite impressive.

Fitted with a dual lens and sensor configuration for its main camera, the Chinese company had actually collaborated with lenses and optics expert, Leica, in order to design the main camera on the P9. Mind you, the two sensors aren't exactly identical, and for good reason: one sensor is your typical RGB sensor, which takes some really impressive color shots, while the other camera sensor is actually a sensor designed specifically to take some exceedingly beautiful monochromatic pictures without breaking a sweat.

But why the monochrome sensor, you ask? That's because back in the early days of Leica, color film wasn't yet widely available to the masses. Despite the limitation of the times though, Leica's lenses were still able to capture some really gorgeous pictures that still look as good as they do today.

The P9 thus carries on the legacy of Leica and their optics technology, a fact that we can easily vouch for with the pictures we took during our trip to its official unveiling in Bali, Indonesia, and in the next page of this review.

Design and features

Simple, clean, but elegant: the overall design of the P9 is fuss-free, with its power button and volume rocker located on the right side of the phone.

The only thing you can see on the left side is the dual Nano-SIM card and microSD hybrid tray.

Like most flagships, the P9 sports a very elegant yet clean and consistent design for its entire body. While we've already covered the hardware specifications of the P9 in our previous coverage, we'll save you the trouble and re-list them down here:

  • 5.2-inch IPS FHD display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4
  • 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • HiSilicon Kirin 955 SoC
  • Mali-T880MP4
  • Dual 12MP f/2.2 27mm main camera with Leica technology, PDAF, and dual LED flash
  • 8MP f/2.4 front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 32GB internal storage (expandable up to 128GB via microSD)
  • Dual Nano-SIM
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow (with EMUI 4.1)
  • 3,000mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Weight: 144g

As the story goes with the market trends, The P9 supports a hybrid dual Nano-SIM and microSD hybrid, which also means that consumers who tend to travel overseas often will need to choose between freeing the second slot for a local SIM card, or the convenience of storing and watching their favorite movies and listening to their favorite songs directly from the phone.

That's right. The P9 uses the new USB Type-C port now, instead of the traditional Micro-USB 2.0 port.

Of course, the one major difference that sets the P9 apart from the majority of smartphones today is the USB Type-C port. In a sense, it's good to see that Huawei is keeping up with both the times and the trend, and love it or leave it, the USB Type-C port is already fast becoming the industrial standard for charging and speedier file transfers on mobile devices that have adopted it.

We also found the P9's rear fingerprint sensor to be relatively speedy. Once we registered our fingerprints, it took only a fraction of a second for the fingerprint sensor to verify and unlock the phone.

The only qualm we had with the P9 was with its design and glossy metallic body. Yes, it's a beautiful phone to hold and even to look at, but the P9's glossy body was so slippery in our hands, we actually had some frightening and near-death experiences with the phone almost slipping out of our hands, and hitting a variety of uneven (and possibly even display-cracking) surfaces.

8.5
Design
8.5
Features
9
User-Friendliness
9
Performance
8.5
Value
8.5
The Good
Simple and easy-to-use UI
Affordably priced flagship
Monochrome mode takes some exceedingly detailed and breathtaking shots
The Bad
Metallic body and finish makes it difficult to hold and prone to slips
Both front and back are fingerprint magnets