If you want a smartphone with a brilliant, and innovative camera, then you must consider the new Huawei P9. Built with the help of camera experts Leica, the P9 and its larger sister phone the P9 Plus succeed the P8 from last year as Huawei’s new flagship phones. Here’s everything you need to know about the P9 and P9 Plus.
Price and availability
Sadly, the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus won’t arrive in the U.S. any time soon, but they were made available in a number of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries from April 16. It’s unknown whether the P9 and P9 Plus will reach other areas in the near future.
The P9 is now up for order through several networks in the U.K., and ready to buy in Huawei’s own Vmall online store. It’s available in Mystic Silver and Titanium Grey for £450 (about $650), and that’s for the model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage space. The O2 network also has the P9 available on several monthly tariffs starting £29 (about $41) each month and £10 ($15) up front for the phone. Vodafone and EE offer similar deals, while Three is a little cheaper each month at £21 ($30), but you’ll pay £100 ($145) up front for the phone. Carphone Warehouse also has the P9 on a variety of networks.
Here are the color options for each carrier:
- CPW – Mystic Silver, Titanium Grey
- EE – Titanium Grey
- O2 – Titanium Grey
- Three – Mystic Silver, Titanium Grey
- Vodafone – Mystic Silver, Titanium Grey/ Quartz Gray in May
- vMall – Mystic Silver, Titanium Grey
Perhaps you’re more interested in the larger Huawei P9 Plus? If you want one, your choice of where to buy it are limited at the moment. In the U.K., the Vodafone network has secured it as an exclusive, where it’ll cost you £15 with a two-year contract starting at £42 each month. Vodafone has one-year contracts at £57 each month and up, with the phone at £115.
That’s all the info we have on the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus for now, but we’ll keep you updated as we learn more about pricing and availability in other parts of the world.
Sleek aluminum or ceramic design
Just like the P8 before it, the P9 is a gorgeous phone. The same design language flows from the smaller P9 to the larger P9 Plus. Huawei used curved-edge glass on the front of the device and aerospace-class aluminum on the back, like the iPhone. On top of that, so-called “diamond-cut edges” shine and catch the light, while adding some grip the the metal phone. The power button and volume rocker rest on the right side of the device.
There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device that’s ringed with a shiny metallic chamfered edge, and a simple antenna line runs along the bottom of the phone. Up top, the dual camera setup with a flash and Leica branding sits in a textured metallic insert. The only other detail is the Huawei branding at the bottom of the phone. It’s a slim, sleek device that fits right in with Huawei’s other metal smartphones, and it comes in black, silver, gold, and rose gold — again, just like the iPhone.
Huawei’s jumping on another trend in the Android space: ceramic smartphones. One model of the P9 will feature a white ceramic back, much like the ones found on the OnePlus X and the Xiaomi Mi5. Of course, not all of these different color options will be available in every market or on every carrier.
The P9 is the smaller of the two phones with its 5.2-inch 1080p screen. It’s powered by Huawei’s new Kirin 955 2.5GHz 64-bit ARM-based processor and varying amounts of RAM. Depending on which version you buy, you’ll get 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage, or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The 3,000mAh battery inside the P9 should keep the 5-inch phone running for a decent amount of time. With that 1080p screen, you can reasonably hope for a day and a half’s use before a recharge.
Meanwhile, the P9 Plus sports a larger a 5.5-inch screen with “Press Touch” technology, which is essentially the same pressure sensitive screen tech that’s behind Apple’s 3D Touch feature on the iPhone 6S and the Force Touch feature on the Apple Watch. The P9 Plus isn’t the first Huawei phone to get Press Touch, as the most expensive version of the Mate S had the same feature. However, this is the first time we’re seeing it in a Huawei P series smartphone.
With a bigger screen comes a larger 3,400mAh battery, which should help keep the phablet-sized P9 Plus up and running. The P9 Plus also packs dual-IC Rapid Charge, which will give you as much as six hours of talk time after just a 10-minute charge. The P9 Plus also has the same processor as the P9, but it comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage by default.
Both phones are running Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.1 on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, so expect to see an iOS-like interface on these two new phones — not the Stock Android you’ll see on the Nexus 6P.
Leica camera technology
Of course, the highlight of the P9 and the P9 Plus is not the processing power or the screen tech, but rather the camera. Huawei partnered with Leica to bring the best camera tech available to the P9 and P9 Plus.
Huawei claims that the dual-camera design on the P9 “fully unleashes the power of Leica’s optical lenses,” lending precision, detail, and quality to the photos it takes. The two 12-megapixel camera sensors on the back of the phone work together to create one image that captures both natural color and impressive detail, Huawei says. The RGB camera on the P9 focuses on capturing the color in an image, while the monochrome camera snaps up all the detail. The company also boasted about the P9 camera’s low-light performance.
When you use the P9’s camera, Huawei wants you to feel like you’re using one of Leica’s high-end cameras. The UI gives you the choice of three Leica film modes: Standard, Vivid Colors, and Smooth Colors, so you can tweak the image to your liking. Huawei says that each film mode imitates the effects you’d get with a Leica camera. There’s even a monochrome mode, for those who like black and white photography.
The camera also has a special Hybrid Focus tech, which allows the camera to decide which type of focus is best for the subject you’re shooting. The P9 has laser, depth calculation, and contrast to create the best focus. You can also choose to take advantage of the wide-aperture feature on the P9 to create bokeh and depth-of-field effects.