Design & Display:
Of major emphasis during the presentation, Huawei was very keen to push how much effort has gone into the Huawei P9’s design and build. The firm seems very aware that it is competing in a modern premium market of predominantly metal and glass flagships such as the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s. The Huawei P9 is made from “one piece of sleek and solid metal,” so a unibody design, but also features glass components too. In terms of shape, well, the leaks showed it all, and we reckon there’s no denying the Huawei P9 is an attractive phone to look at – there is a hint of Samsung, HTC, and Apple in there, amongst others, but to be fair there is only so much that can be done with smartphone slab design and the cohesive whole doesn’t really look like anything else. We have been impressed by Huawei’s design and build quality before, and this device appears to continue the firm’s aptitude for good-looks and solid build with a deft hand.
Another hyped element during the pre-launch rumours was the camera tech, initially off the back of images showing a dual-lens and then, more recently, because of Leica branding. The two wide-aperture, f/1.1 sensors fulfill different purposes, both feature a large pixel size for more light, but one handles RGB colour while the other is a monochromatic black-and-white sensor. There’s also hybrid laser and depth auto-focus capabilities which can switch to the best solution for short and long-range photography – the handset has the world’s first dedicated depth image-signal processor (as well as a dedicated Digital Signal Processor) for this purpose. As expected, you’re also able to re-select a focal point post-capture, but that’s not the main point of the dual-camera setup as it has been with past implementations. Nope, here it’s all about the overall image quality.
I may not be a big believer in Huawei’s software, but I have nothing but respect for its hardware. Past phones powered by Huawei’s Kirin chips have offered excellent performance. Unlike past phones running EMUI I’m also yet to experience any unexpected application crashes on the Huawei P9. Outside of a few small bugs causing occasional stutters I haven’t noticed any serious issues with the P9’s performance.
Processor & Software:
As expected, the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus pack Huawei’s own Kirin 955 SoC, which is a pretty astounding bit of kit. It’s an octa-core setup with a quad-core cluster of ARM A72 cores at 2.4GHz and another quad-core cluster of ARM A53 cores at 1.8GHz, together with an i5 co-processor. All of which is on ARM’s big. LITTLE architecture as well as 16nm FinFET Plus semiconductor tech. Needless to say, Huawei is promising big performance, but also big battery efficiency. There’s 3GB of RAM onboard the P9 while the P9 Plus has 4GB, and the software is Android 6.0 together with the firm’s own UI.
The P9’s battery isn’t quite as massive as earlier rumours suggested, but still impressive nonetheless with a sizeable 3000mAh cell. The handset also packs in stereo speakers. The Huawei P9 Plus has a bigger 3400mAh cell and is alleged to offer two-day battery life. Both models have a “new generation” fingerprint scanner with 3D scanning, which is claimed to improve the security.