Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

Huawei, as reported, has recently overtaken Samsung in the race to be the numero uno smartphone brand in the world. Though that comes as an effect of Samsung needing to recall its exploding Galaxy Note 7 devices, still Huawei was always running at the footsteps and quickly snatched its position with a glitch by Samsung. To freshen up your not so distant memories, Huawei was the brand that manufactured Google Nexus 6P last year and the smartphone got great reviews by bloggers around the globe. Today we have Huawei P9 with us for review, the phone which is being promoted for its dual camera that has principally been co-developed with German optics manufacturer Leica. This should mean that the camera on P9 should be outstanding to say the least. Well, we are here to find out all about the camera capabilities as well as other features of this phone. With its price tag though, the device competes in the premium market, which though not flooded has some fierce competition which we would talk about later.

You can buy Huawei P9 in Titanium Grey color here.


Huawei P9 has a unibody metal enclosure and has a squarish design upfront with less emphasis on curves. The device has a beautiful appearance and looks extremely good in the hands. What we majorly like about the design is that it stands out uniquely and does not bear any resemblance to phones by other brands which we'll give a skip naming. The device is available in 3 colors - Prestige Gold, Mystic Silver and Titanium Gray. Due to the lack of curves on the phone, it seems thinner than it actually is and gives a blade-like impression to the user. The chamfered edges further add to the elegance. Though antenna lines run across both the top and the bottom at the back, the top one is hidden by the camera cut out which does look a bit similar to the one found on Nexus 6P but is considerably thinner than that on the Nexus. The 5.2 inch display in the front houses the touch buttons while the bezel on top has the normal sensors, camera and speaker.

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

The phone still uses the 3.5 mm audio jack and employs USB Type-C which should mean faster data transfers. USB Type-C is gaining momentum consistently and its not long before the entire smartphone industry would move towards the new connector which obviously has its advantages. The power button and volume rocker are made of metal and give decent feedback. The back of the phone houses the dual 12 Megapixels camera lenses, a dual tone LED flash and Leica branding over a glass cutout at the top. Below that, there is a square fingerprint sensor.

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it


Huawei P9 sports a 5.2 inch Full HD IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 423 ppi. The screen is extremely sharp with accurate and natural color reproduction. Due to the use of IPS display, the viewing angles are very deep. The screen is fairly visible under direct sunlight. The natural color reproduction makes watching Youtube videos and playing games a treat on this smartphone. The display though seems to be cooler as whites are inclined towards bluish tones rather than yellowish ones.


Huawei P9 is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 955 SoC with an Octa Core processor with four cores of Cortex A72 running at 2.5 GHz while the other four cores being Cortex A53 running at 1.8 GHz. The GPU supporting the CPU is Mali T880. Coupled with the processors, there is 3 GB RAM, which may seem below par for a phone costing this much. The internal memory on the phone is pegged at 32 GB which is again on the lower side. You can expand internal memory to 256 GB through a microSD card. The device houses a 5.2 inch Full HD IPS LCD display. There is a single Nano SIM slot and connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, GLONASS and 4G. In terms of cameras, the rear snapper is a dual 12 Megapixels sensor manufactured in collaboration with Leica and the front selfie camera carries a resolution of 8 Megapixels. There is no OIS in either of the cameras which is again a bummer for a device being marketed primarily for its cameras. There is 3000 mAh battery on board which should be enough to fuel a 5.2 inch device.

Operating system

Huawei P9 is preloaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow layered with Huawei's proprietary Emotion UI 4.1 skin on top of it. Like Honor branded phones, P9 also does not have an app drawer and uses home screens to arrange app icons. The notifications are divided into 2 tabs, one for notifications and the other for shortcuts. This can mean an extra click each and every time you swipe down from the top. You can also search apps, contacts, messages etc. by swiping down on any of the screens which does look similar to that on iOS. In terms of apps, there is some bloatware that is present on the smartphone though not as much as some other brands and some third-party apps come preinstalled as well. The Emotion UI does seem to lack a bit in terms of customisation as well as availability of gestures or enhanced settings like a few other smartphones. Huawei seems to maintain a simplistic attitude in terms of operating system and software which can be good for the system resources but over simplicity can also mean a lot of important features gone missing.


Huawei P9 has long been touted as a camera smartphone and the dual 12 Megapixel rear sensors are a testimony to that fact. But the use of the cameras is slightly different from the way it is implemented in the new iPhones. One of the rear cameras on Huawei P9 captures images with RGB color data while the other captures monochrome images. The sensors as well as the image processor then works on the two images and stitch them into a single beautifully crafted end piece shot. For the professionals, there are a lot of pro settings, modes and options available on board the P9. Exploring all the options in detail would be an entirely separate review while we would concentrate on the primary points here. The dual cameras have been developed in company with Leica but it is not clear as to the amount of expertise imparted by the German camera maker.

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

Image quality on Huawei P9 is top notch with ample detail capture and natural color reproduction. Low light images also come out clear and without much grain. However, the lack of OIS can necessitate clicking images twice or thrice to accommodate hand jitters. Video quality is decent but we would have liked the camera to shoot 4K videos as well which sadly it does not. However, the camera shines in one department, and that is in clicking monochrome pictures. Black and white imagery from Huawei P9 is astounding in quality. There is also support for RAW pictures. And you can also add "Huawei P9 - Leica Dual Camera" watermark to all the pictures before they are saved in the gallery.

The front camera has a resolution of 8 Megapixels and it clicks fairly good selfies though nothing extraordinary.

Some of the camera pictures that we clicked with Huawei P9 are here:

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it

Huawei P9 review - Lacks a few basic features but astounding camera quality more than makes up for it


Huawei P9 delivers smooth performance with its Kirin 955 SoC and 3 GB RAM. Multitasking is no problem for the device and you can switch between apps at your peril. Games like Asphalt 8: Airborne run without any jitters. The fingerprint sensor at the back is pretty responsive too and the phone does not show any measurable lag doing any of the activities. Call quality is loud, clear and crisp as well. The loudspeaker at the bottom is fairly loud too.


The battery capacity available on Huawei P9 is 3000 mAh. We recharged the device to 100% and used it moderately like playing a few games, watching Youtube videos, surfing the web, a bit of Facebook navigating along with a little sleep time. The battery died on us after 13 hours which means the phone should last you a day of usage but you should not expect it to last longer and you might even need to recharge it twice a day if you are a particularly heavy user. Sadly enough, the bundled charger does not have quick charging option either.


- Unique and fresh design
- Fast performance
- Top notch camera quality
- Clicks wonderful black and white images
- Fast and accurate fingerprint sensor


- Bit overpriced
- 3 GB RAM and 32 GB Internal Memory seem like an underkill
- No 4K video
- No OIS in camera
- Overly simplistic operating system
- No dual SIM


3.5 stars out of 5


Huawei P9 is a bit overpriced for the features it offers. There is no 4K video recording, no OIS and the phone has an overly simplistic operating system and user interface. The phone does not shine in all departments either. But all these glaring omissions can be overlooked with the hugely impressive camera quality. If you are in the market looking for the best smartphone camera at this price, then Huawei P9 is the one for you. But if you need a phone with a better battery and more features in a package that succeeds in all departments, maybe at the expense of slight camera quality, then you will be better off with OnePlus 3 which has been continuously termed as the best Android of the year and sells at a lot lesser price than the Huawei P9.

You can buy Huawei P9 in Titanium Grey color here.

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