When you’re researching your new mobile, what do you look for? Battery length, software, built-in apps, memory, the appearance, camera quality? All of the above maybe, well for me, those things are all important, but high on any features has to be a great camera, I take a lot of pictures, which is probably why my past few smartphones have been Samsung. Well, there’s a new player – the Huawei P9 and they have partnered with German camera manufacturer Leica to create a dual camera.
For some, this will be probably the first time you’ve heard of Huawei, they aren’t as well known here in the UK, but they are huge in China, and this Huawei P9 might be a game changer for them as the 12MP dual shooter really takes exceptional photographs, which I’ve tried to demonstrate with my Lake District backdrop. My current mobile is the Samsung S6 Edge and I took snaps side-by-side with the Huawei P9 and it really couldn’t rival the colour quality as well as the distance it could capture.
It might seem a weird way of reviewing a phone, capturing the Lake District, but I wanted to show it’s biggest feature and selling point, which I definitely think is the camera, and you have to agree these shots could have come from a DSLR quite easily, the quality of the colours and its ability to capture great distances clearly in bright sunlight was impressive. Helped by the fact that both of the phone’s cameras feature 12 million pixel sensors, accompanied by f/2.2 maximum aperture lenses. The dual camera has been designed with the intention of capturing more light, and therefore better images, due to the two sensors, one RGB and one monochrome.
I was using the camera on the pro mode, meaning I could basically capture my images in manual mode, much like a DSLR, you can adapt the brightness, the ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, autofocus type, metering and white balance, plus you can also shoot in the raw DNG format, which gives you flexibility when editing shots in Photoshop. Changing all the settings can be a little fiddly, just like your DSLR, until you get used to it. But I also like that there’s a feature to quickly reset all of the settings, so you can easily start over.
In addition, there are also a number of auto features that were quite handy including a mode to recreate the look of using a DSLR with a large sensor, as you can create shallow depth of field effects, I experimented with this, but I didn’t like the results as much as the manual shots. You can also take panoramic and monochrome shots, use the ‘Hybrid Focus’ to capture photos with speed, depth and clarity, plus there is a wide choice of video modes, including slow-mode, and light painting, which I wish I was able to try, but you need a city full of cars to try it out really, rather than a tranquil Lake District setting.
The Huawei P9 also caters for the selfie generation with its 8-megapixel front-facing camera, as well as its built-in beauty mode that smooths out your skin within selfie shots, which I generally turn down to zero as it is quite scary how much you can change, including the size of your eyes. It’s a step too far for me.
So it can’t be all good, or can it, sadly not, I found that even though the operating system was Android it is so different to my Samsung, I found it a little slow and frustrating, and at times, I felt that the touchscreen responsiveness could have been better. I’m also not a fan of the fingerprint scanner to open the phone, I missed the bottom button on the Samsung, which basically allows you to do everything, including bringing up the camera without opening the phone, I couldn’t find that feature on the Huawei P9. I also didn’t master the knuckle gesture to capture a screenshot by knocking on the screen with my knuckle.
I was also a little disappointed that it didn’t have fast charging, I’ve become so spoilt with it using Samsung, plus the charger was different, which meant while away I couldn’t share with my husband and I didn’t remember to take mine, which wasn’t helped by the average battery life. I suppose I was taking a lot of photographs and videos, but it didn’t seem to perform as well as I had hoped, however, it does have a phone manager for accessing power management and file cleanups, which can help optimise apps and help battery life.
Overall, I loved the camera, the picture quality is amazing, and the design, I liked the sizeable screen and thin design, was comfortable to use, especially when taking pictures, and lightweight. However, my husband felt it was a little too big, but I like big phones, I still miss my Samsung Note!!
If the Huawei had the same Android system as the Samsung’s or HTC’s then I would say grab this phone, you won’t regret it, but I think you will find it frustrating to start with moving from another Android phone to this, and it will seem very alien moving from an iPhone, but if you stick with it you’ll get used to it. I have to be honest, for the camera, I’m tempted to move.