The Huawei P9 is rocking the smartphone world, sporting impressive specs and features, but how does it stand up in real-world tests? Here's what the early birds have to say about the handset.
The display isn't really something to die for, as it boasts the same 1080p 5.2-inch IPS LCD as the P8, but on that note, it's in the forefront of the rest of the screens in the category.
"Colors are vivid, blacks are as deep as I've ever seen on an LCD display, and whites are the perfect temperature (you can tinker with this in the settings if your eyes don't agree). There's also plenty of power behind those pixels, making the display easy to read on the brightest of days," Jamie Rigg of Engadget says.
While the Kirin 955 under the P9's hood is pretty impressive, it doesn't really go that far from the previous Kirin 950. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's lacking in power, though, as tests have revealed that it's more or less on par with current-gen smartphones.
"The revised HiSilicon Kirin 955 processor is largely the same as in the Huawei Mate 8. The P8 achieves comparable performance, which coincides approximately with that of the Galaxy S7. However, gaming performance does not reach that of the S7," Eric Herrmann of AndroidPIT writes.
Meanwhile, battery life is excellent, lasting throughout the day and several hours under heavy usage. Aside from the 3,000 mAh pack it houses, that's partly because of its power-saving features, but it can work a little too well.
"Software optimizations for power saving are effective, however, they also inhibit background activity, such as with WhatsApp. This can lead to some messages arriving late," Herrmann continues.
Capacity-wise, the standard model houses 32 GB of internal storage, and other variants can go up to 64 GB, but the availability of those depend on the region. At any rate, it has microSD card support that can go up to 128 GB on the second SIM tray.
It should also be noted that despite running on Android Marshmallow, Huawei turned the adoptable storage feature off because of the possible damage it could cause when taking out the microSD card, the same reason why other phone makers such as Samsung and LG did.
The crème de la crème of the smartphone is arguably the Leica dual-camera optics it's fitted with. In other words, two 12 MP sensors do wonders.
"On the back of the phone at the top sits the dual-camera sensor, which I found made some onlookers perk up when they spot it, as right next to it is the Leica logo. I personally wasn't a fan of this at first, but I've come to terms with it, and it does highlight the fact that Huawei has tapped into Leica's 100 years of photography expertise to develop the camera setup on the P9," James Peckham of TechRadar says.
What's more, there are pro features on the smartphone. That's not really something that an average user will be looking for, but mobile photography enthusiasts are probably over the moon on account of that.
To make things even better, the rear cameras don't have bumps, sitting flush with the entire handset. The P9 scores a ton of points just for that.
In a word, the P9 is premium. To flesh out that idea, the handset is definitely eye-catching thanks to its metal unibody and smoothly brushed metal, and again, it doesn't have any camera bump at the back, even though it's only 0.27 inches thin.
"Based on its looks alone, the Huawei P9 is clearly targeted at the upper end of the market and it's hard to deny that it's quite a good looking handset. The P9 comes in six colors: white, grey, silver plus three variations of gold: rose, haze and 'prestige.' In the hand, the Huawei P9 is definitely one of the nicest on the market and Huawei has done well to pack a flagship specs list in a profile so ergonomic and svelte," Gary Sims of Android Authority writes.
Regarding software, the operating system may be a little too sluggish for users. As everyone knows, it runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the semi-hefty Emotion UI 4.1. If there's anything good to takeaway on this front, it's that the latest EMUI is a lot better than previous versions, even though it sort of looks like an iOS.
"The one thing that lets it down is the software. Version 4.1 is the most polished and nicest version of EMUI yet, but it's just not as good as the standard Android experience. There are lots of nice tweaks and utilities, but being a clone of Apple's iOS is not one of them," Samuel Gibbs of The Guardian points out.
According to Huawei, the P9 has a Level 4 fingerprint scanner that's considerably better than the Level 3 scanners crammed inside most phones in the competition, but the different apparently isn't that obvious.
"I didn't notice much of a difference between it and competing fingerprint scanners like the ones seen on the Galaxy S7 or Nexus 5X. But this isn't an issue and the scanner is still more than good enough. It's super-fast and the only times it failed to recognize my fingerprint was when I was using the phone in rain, or had dirty hands," Alastair Stevenson of Trusted Reviews says.
The Bottom Line
The P9 is a remarkable smartphone that could shoot Huawei up in the market mainly because of what it brought to the mobile photography scene.
Going over the price, it's expected to set customers back by $680 for the variant with 32 GB of storage and 3 GB of RAM. That's just a little too much for what it has in store, and it looks like cost-effectiveness just went out the window on this one. However, there's still no official U.S. pricing, so nothing's set in stone just yet.
To boil things down, it barely manages to be on the same level as other flagships in terms of hardware specifications, but it has a camera on steroids to make up for it. To top it off, it also feels great in the hand and features a top-of-the-line fingerprint scanner — one step above the others, Huawei claims — not to mention that it could just be the handset that photographers have been looking for all this time.