Huawei has started the year on a high note. According to IDC, they currently ranked #3, propelled by their focus on making premium smartphones. It all began with the Huawei P8, followed by the Mate S, Nexus 6P and the Mate 8.
If you’re looking for a new flagship, they have just launched the Huawei P9 series during their South Pacific region event in Bali. The trio includes the standard P9 along with its P9 lite and P9 Plus variants. Read on for our first impressions.
If you liked the Huawei P8, you would feel right at home with the P9. It retains the same 5.2” display size with full HD resolution and they have also kept the same placements for its buttons. The build of the P9 is noticeably refined compared to its predecessor. It has rounded corners around the edges, while the screen uses a curved 2.5D glass, making it super slick to swipe your fingers from the sides. The P9 at 6.95mm is slightly thicker than the P8 (6.4mm) but it retains the same weight of 144 grams.
Moving towards the back, it gets a familiar matte metal feel as the Huawei P8. What’s noticeably different is a camera visor at the top, like the Nexus 6P. Aligned towards the left are two 12MP f/2.2 cameras that boast a pixel size of 1.25 micron. The two sensors play a different role, with one taking in RGB colours while the second unit takes images in monochrome, which is combined by its own picture algorithm for greater detail. There’s also laser focus that helps when dealing with closer subjects. Like the P8, the camera module is flush without any protruding camera bumps.
On Leica’s involvement, Huawei explains that Leica has been instrumental in the development of both software and hardware. While the camera components are not made by Leica, the German optics company were deeply involved when developing P9’s picture quality algorithm. For a unique experience, the camera interface uses a custom Leica UI with their official fonts and shutter sound. After all, the Leica stamp is only given if a product meets its stringent standards.
During our hands on, the interface takes a while to get used to as it is different from other Huawei devices we’ve tried before. Taking photos are snappy but it isn’t as fast compared to a Galaxy S7 edge. We will be posting a camera comparison soon to compare the results with other flagship smartphones. For the front, it gets an 8MP f/2.4 shooter for all your selfie needs.
For security, Huawei makes one of the best fingerprint scanners in the market. The P9 takes bio-metric security up a notch with a forth layer that detects 3D ridges on your fingertips. It is still easy to set up with a couple of taps and it unlocks instantly on a single touch.
Browsing through the P9, it feels rather smooth with no lag or performance issues to report. Huawei is still using its in-house developed Kirin processor and the P9 runs on their new Kirin 955 64-bit octa-core unit (4x 2.5GHz A72 x 4x 1.8GHz A53). There will be 2 specs coming to Malaysia – a higher end 4GB RAM + 64GB storage and a standard 3GB RAM + 32GB storage option. As usual, you can expect dual-SIM support with expandable microSD storage on its hybrid SIM tray.
The P9 also has finally joined the reversible USB Type-C bandwagon and it gets a 3,000mAh capacity battery, which is larger than the P8’s 2,680mAh unit. It currently runs on EMUI 4.1 with Android 6.0, and Huawei says that it will stay buttery smooth after pro-longed use thanks to its built-in software optimiser. If you’re interested in getting one, expect to pay more than the RM1,799 launch price for the Huawei P8.
Huawei P8 vs P9
[nextpage title=”Huawei P9 Plus”]
Size isn’t the sole highlight of the P9 Plus. Apart from a slightly larger 5.5” screen, the Huawei P9 Plus uses an AMOLED panel with a “Force Touch” feature. Huawei calls it “Press Touch” innovation and it allows you to perform extra interactions like previewing images or to pop-up menu options.
While it is slightly bigger in size, the back of the P9 Plus feels very different from the standard P9. Instead of a matte metal finish, the P9 Plus has a glossy brushed metal surface which can be a fingerprint magnet.
In the audio department, it uses both the earpiece and the down-firing speakers for stereo playback in landscape mode. When in use vertically in portrait mode, the top piece fires out treble while the bottom speaker pushes out bass. It sounds better than the standard P9 but we would still prefer a proper front firing stereo speaker set up.
The dual main cameras are maintained and the front gets a brighter 8MP f/1.9 (P9: 8MP f/2.4) selfie camera. With a bigger size, the P9 Plus gets an extra 400mAh battery capacity than the P9, which should be enough to last you a full day. In terms of specs, it gets the same Kirin 955 processor and it comes in a single 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant.
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus
[nextpage title=”Huawei P9 Lite”]
Last year’s P8 Lite is also due for a replacement. For the P9 Lite, it gets a similar sized 5.2” display with Full HD resolution, while the body uses plastic instead of metal.
Despite being a lower priced device, it still gets the same 4-level fingerprint scanner mounted at the back like its bigger siblings.
Under the hood, it gets a Kirin 650 Octa-Core processor and for the Malaysian market, it comes with 3GB RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. Over at the back, it has a similar looking glass camera visor but it gets a standard 13MP f/2.0 shooter. For selfies, it sports an 8MP camera up front.
Keeping the lights on is also a 3,000mAh battery like the standard P9. Instead of USB Type-C, it settles for a traditional MicroUSB port that’s placed between two speaker grills. We are told that the P9 Lite will be priced competitively and we are hoping it would slot under RM1,000 like the current P8 Lite.
All three P9 models could be launched in Malaysia as early as end of this month. If you are looking for a different flagship to break the norm, the P9 is a smartphone worth checking out.
Huawei P9 vs P9 lite