At a launch event in London today, Huawei has unveiled its latest flagship smartphones – the Huawei P9 and the P9 Plus. The ambitious Chinese manufacturer has its sights firmly set on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 these days, and there’s some quite interesting technology packed into the new P9 range.
Based on its looks alone, the Huawei P9 is clearly targeted at the upper end of the market. The design isn’t a massive departure from last year’s P8, but there’s also quite a nice resemblance to the excellent Nexus 6P as well. The phone comes in at just 6.95mm thick and has a bezel that measures just 1.7mm. Huawei says that the phone is constructed with a full metal unibody and features curved edges for a comfortable hold, and it’s hard to deny that it’s quite a good looking handset.
When it comes to the display, Huawei has remained committed to its opinion that going above and beyond a 1080p resolution just isn’t worth the additional hit to battery life. The Huawei P9 features a 5.2-inch display with a 1920×1080 resolution, resulting in a very decent 423 pixels per inch. As such, the handset is pretty much the same size as last year’s P8.
The P9 Plus bumps this up to 5.5-inches, for those who want a slightly larger handset, and swaps out the LCD panel for an AMOLED alternative. Huawei boasts that its new display is capable of 500 nits peak brightness and 96% color saturation, and the company’s “Press Touch” display technology that debuted with the Mate S also makes a reappearance in both models.
As for performance, the Huawai P9 features an in-house Kirin 955 SoC build on 16nm FinFET, a slightly beefed up version of the 950 that featured in the Mate 8. The chip boasts a octa-core CPU configuration built from four Cortex-A72 and four Cortex-A53 cores for a balance of power and energy efficiency. The chip also features a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU, which is certainly the most powerful graphics chip in a Huawei phone to date, but won’t quite rival the Mali-T880 MP12 configuration packed into the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Huawei has paired this chip up with a few memory options. There’s 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage in one variant or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in the other. The Huawei P9 Plus only comes in the 4GB/64GB configuration. The handsets also feature a microSD card slot if you require additional space.
There has been a fair amount of hype surrounding the Huawei P9’s dual rear camera configuration. It featured in plenty of leaks and the company announced that it has been working with German camera specialist Leica to co-engineer the camera inside P9. The company boasts that it is “changing smartphone photography forever” with the P9, which is a mighty bold claim.
The Huawei P9 includes a dual 12 megapixel rear camera with Leica SUMMARIT lenses, 1.25-micron pixel sizes for better low light performance, and a wide F/2.2 aperture. There is also a laser focusing module on the back and a dual-tone LED flash. The phone comes with an 8 megapixel camera on the front just like before, which is sure to keep selfie enthusiasts happy as well.
The dual rear camera configuration allows Huawei to do some quite novel things. Interestingly, the dual camera sensors are slightly different. One is monochrome while the other is color. The monochrome sensor offers 300 percent better light capture and 50 percent more contrast, which can then be processed with the more regular sensor to improve the look and colors of the image.
There’s also a dedicated depth sensor processor for the camera, which can use the laser focusing module for short range focusing or information from two 12 megapixel image sensors for longer range depth detection. Thanks to the dual sensors, post capture image refocusing is also possible.
Photography enthusiasts will be pleased to note that Huawei has included a manual camera mode, which offers up greater control over ISO, exposure and shutter speed, and can also output files in RAW format. We’ll definitely be keen to see how the Huawei P9’s camera performs in the real world.
|Huawei P9||Huawei P9 Plus|
|Display||5.2-inch LCD panel|
|5.5-inch AMOLED panel|
|SoC||HiSilicon Kirin 955||HiSilicon Kirin 955|
|CPU||4x 2.5GHz Cortex-A72|
4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53
|4x 2.5GHz Cortex-A72|
4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53
|GPU||Mali-T880 MP4||Mali-T880 MP4|
|Storage||32/64GB + microSD||64GB + microSD|
|Cameras||Dual 12 megapixel rear with OIS and laser focus,|
8 megapixel front
|Dual 12 megapixel rear with OIS and laser focus,|
8 megapixel front
|Features||Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, infrared, stereo speakers||Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, infrared, stereo speakers|
|OS||Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1||Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1|
|Dimensions||145 x 70.9 x 6.95mm||152.3 x 75.3 x 6.98 mm|
|Price||€599 / €649||€749|
Huawei has bundled in a few other nice extras with the P9 too. The phone features an improved fingerprint scanner positioned, in typical Huawei fashion, on the back of the smartphone for easy reach and screen unlocking.
The Huawei P9 comes with a 3,000mAh battery, while the P9 Plus has a sightly larger 3,400mAh cell. Dual-SIM users are catered in Asia while still allowing full use of the separate microSD card slot. As an added bonus, of sorts, the handset also comes with a reversible USB Type-C connection on the bottom, so you won’t have to fumble around with cables any more and can make use of the standard’s fast charging capabilities. The smartphone also includes the usual assortment of Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and NFC connectivity options, as well as an infrared blaster on the front, and a dual speaker setup.
To accompany its latest smartphone releases, Huawei also announced its new TalkBand B3. Just like before, the band neatly tucks away a Bluetooth earpiece that connects up to your smartphone. The company has clearly done some redesign work on the accessory’s look, and it’s all the better for it.
The TalkBand B3 comes with a PMOLED 80×128 resolution display for basic text and images, and a 91mAh battery that can apparently last 3-4 days on a single charge. Huawei boasts that the TalkBand B3 features an improve high grade chipset and professional audio. This redesign offers 25 percent additional volume over its predecessor and improves background noise cancellation by an even better 80 percent. The B3 is also IP57 rated for some dust and water resistance.
The watch accessory will be available in three different styles and a variety of colors. These include the Classic variant in Brown or Gold for €199, the €249 Elite only in Rose Gold, and the Active model in either a rubber Black or White options for €169.
One of Huawei’s major selling points in previous years has been the price of its high-end smartphone models. The Huawei P9 isn’t cheap but it seems to offer some rather good value, targeting a €599 price point that undercuts the likes of the Galaxy S7 by a decent enough margin to make it a very attractive purchase. The 32GB Huawei P9 will retail for €599, the 64GB option is priced at €649, while the P9 Plus model will come with a more expensive €749 tag.
The Huawei P9 and P9 Plus come in a choice of six different colors. There’s Ceramic White, Titanium Grey, Mystic Silver, Haze Gold, Prestige Gold, and Rose Gold options available, although these might vary based on the region of sale. The P9 will go on sale on April 16th in Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Denmark,Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
Just before the launch event Huawei also revealed that it will be launching its flagship phone in the US later this year, which is a major step forward for the company. Consumers around the world are sure to have some tough choices to make about their next smartphone.