Huawei P9 First Impressions!


If there’s one product that we’ve been waiting to review, it’s the Huawei P9. The Chinese company’s flagship phone has been earning quite the hype thanks mainly to its dual Leica rear cameras, and Huawei has been pretty smart about cultivating that hype. We’ve finally gotten one for review, and today we’ll be seeing what the device looks in person.

Specifications:

  • Hisilicon Kirin 955 octa core (4 x 2.5 GHz Cortex-A72 & 4 x 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.2-inch full HD IPS OGS display
  • 32GB of expandable storage
  • 12-megapixel dual rear Leica cameras, f/2.0 aperture, dual tone flash, laser autofocus
  • 8-megapixel front camera, f/2.4 aperture
  • Dual SIM (Hybrid slot)
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ EMUI 4.1

Packaging and contents:

Huawei’s P-series of devices has always been focused on design and features before specs. While that may not appeal to the tech geek, they’ve committed a lot of resources to make the device look and feel as premium as possible, and that starts with the packaging which is much different compared to the packaging of their previous devices.

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That’s the box right there. Plain, white and Leica.

While P-series devices usually come in black and gold boxes, the P9 comes in a minimalistic white box with Huawei and Leica branding. Once you open the said box, you’ll see the phone inside (gold in our review unit’s case), along with the words Huawei Design.

Under the device you’ll find three boxes containing the charging adapter, the USB to microUSB-C cable, earphones, user guide and a pleasant looking transparent plastic case.

All in all, it’s your typical Huawei packaging, not much in the way of surprises.

First impressions: Premium Proposition

I’ve seen plenty of videos with the Huawei P9 in them, and I thought the design was quite nice. But there’s quite a big difference between seeing the device on the screen and when you’re actually holding the phone in your hands – and believe us, photos don’t do the phone justice. It’s definitely one of the more visually stunning devices I’ve had the chance to use, up there with the Mi5 and Galaxy S6.

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The Huawei P9’s design is relatively simple to explain, so let’s start at the back. The phone has a matte metal finish that subtly shines in the sunlight. It’s very premium looking, and the dual cameras do grab quite a bit of attention. The phone is also pleasantly light, which works to the P9’s favour.

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The metal frame of the device has beveled edges, and the dual 12-megapixel Leica cameras with an f/2.0 aperture, paired with an dual tone LED flash and laser autofocus. I haven’t thoroughly tested the camera, but from the brief period that I’ve played around with it, it seems quite impressive. Low light shots especially are handled very well.

The SIM and microSD tray is on the the left of the device, while the power button and volume rocker are on the right side. The phone’s 3.5mm jack and USB port are both at the bottom of the device, just like previous P-devices.

Up front you’ll see the 5.2-inch IPS full HD OGS display, as well as the 8-megapixel front camera with an f/2.4 aperture. The phone doesn’t have any capacitive buttons, instead opting for software buttons. Despite that, the phone still has a chin decked out with the Huawei logo.

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The Huawei P9 in hand

While Huawei’s P-series devices have traditionally had rather average hardware, the P9 is an exception. The device packs Huawei’s own Kirin 955 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. The device runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0 with Huawei’s controversial EMUI 4.1 on top of it.

So far, I’ve ran into no performance problems, be it just doing menial tasks or playing games like Need For Speed and Pokemon GO!. While the spec hungry may be left wanting more, the device is still more than powerful enough to handle everything you’d want it to do, and the device also doesn’t get as hot as its predecessors when under pressure.

That’s pretty much it for now. We’ll be taking the phone out and using it as our primary phone in the next few days.If you’ve got any questions or things you’d like to see in the full review, feel free to write about it in the comments!

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31 Comments

  1. NextHype
    August 11, 2016

    Airyl, could you take the same photos with P9, S7 and a third phone of your choice (with top notch sensor too) and upload them full size so we can see the differences ?

    landcape (sunny / cloudy / dusk)
    nature (flowers / macro)
    low-light env (city by night / interior)

    Thx !

  2. balcobomber25
    August 11, 2016

    Couple months late on this one…

    • Airyl
      August 11, 2016

      Hey, there’s a lot to do between the OnePlus 3 rumors and MediaTek X20 news.

      • balcobomber25
        August 11, 2016

        Don’t forget the Elephone rumor of the day!!

    • Nam Dang
      August 11, 2016

      Did you watch couple videos of Huawei Honor 8 on YT? This device seems really like a cheap P9 (Plus) alternative.. could be my next phone!
      Oh and btw Asus Zenfone 3 also has some impressions and reviews.. damn its camera is really good!

      • balcobomber25
        August 11, 2016

        That’s the last phone I am waiting for to launch before I decide. It’s launching in the US next week. The hardware is pretty much spot on copy of P9, the main difference it doesn’t have the Leica branding and its made of glass/metal instead of just metal. But that Blue color is so incredible looking.

        • Nam Dang
          August 12, 2016

          Ikr?
          That blue is the new black haha
          While Huawei lacks OIS and 4k, it has 1080p at 60fps and an overall good performance.
          Would be interesting to see if it’s priced under 350$ – Asus Zenfone 3 is only 250$ and has a camera at least as good as Xiaomi Mi5.

          The race is now:

          OnePlus 3
          LG G5
          Huawei Honor 8
          Asus Zenfone 3

          • balcobomber25
            August 12, 2016

            I don’t take a whole lot of video so OIS isn’t a big deal for me.

  3. techi
    August 11, 2016

    dual camera with dual flash?? superb!

  4. NextHype
    August 11, 2016

    Airyl, could you take the same photos with P9, S7 and a third phone of your choice (with top notch sensor too) and upload them full size so we can see the differences ?

    landcape (sunny / cloudy / dusk)
    nature (flowers / macro)
    low-light env (city by night / interior)

    Thx !

    • Airyl
      August 11, 2016

      I’ll try, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. My main device is a Redmi Note 2, and I really don’t have any way of securing an S7, but I’ll see what I can do.

    • NextHype
      August 12, 2016

      Not sure they’re trustworthy as their top 3 is always Samsung Sony HTC followed by Apple.

    • realjjj
      August 12, 2016

      There is nobody better at reviewing cams.
      However , what matters for each user is subjective so don’t go just by the total score,look at subscores. And ofc they don’t factor in the resolution,just the quality of the pixel.

      Samsung’s flagship is the best in cams,it’s not just them arriving at that conclusion. Apple is good, LG and HTC too, for the most part as HTC had some misses.. Sony is an expert in cameras in general and they make sensors too so you would expect them to do a good job. The China guys are yet to catch up. The hardest part is the software, a lot of the magic comes from there and the big names from China will catch up,it just takes a while as they lack experience. Even Google with their Nexus devices needed some time to catch up in camera quality.

  5. balcobomber25
    August 11, 2016

    Couple months late on this one…

    I do agree though the pictures don’t do the phone justice until you actually hold it for yourself. I used one back when it launched and it was my experience that the camera wasn’t good on auto mode, you really had to set everything just right. But if you did the photos were exceptional. Will be interesting to see if it’s changed in recent updates.

    • Airyl
      August 11, 2016

      Hey, there’s a lot to do between the OnePlus 3 rumors and MediaTek X20 news.

    • balcobomber25
      August 11, 2016

      Don’t forget the Elephone rumor of the day!!

    • Nam Dang
      August 11, 2016

      Did you watch couple videos of Huawei Honor 8 on YT? This device seems really like a cheap P9 (Plus) alternative.. could be my next phone!
      Oh and btw Asus Zenfone 3 also has some impressions and reviews.. damn its camera is really good!

    • balcobomber25
      August 11, 2016

      That’s the last phone I am waiting for to launch before I decide. It’s launching in the US next week. The hardware is pretty much spot on copy of P9, the main difference it doesn’t have the Leica branding and its made of glass/metal instead of just metal. But that Blue color is so incredible looking.

    • Nam Dang
      August 12, 2016

      Ikr?
      That blue is the new black haha
      While Huawei lacks OIS and 4k, it has 1080p at 60fps and an overall good performance.
      Would be interesting to see if it’s priced under 350$ – Asus Zenfone 3 is only 250$ and has a camera at least as good as Xiaomi Mi5.

      The race is now:

      OnePlus 3
      LG G5
      Huawei Honor 8
      Asus Zenfone 3

    • balcobomber25
      August 12, 2016

      I don’t take a whole lot of video so OIS isn’t a big deal for me.

  6. techi
    August 11, 2016

    dual camera with dual flash?? superb!

  7. PhoneFix
    August 12, 2016

    JizzChina u just woke up ? with this phone ??
    it’s been quite few months since release..

  8. ohad
    August 16, 2016

    Hi, i am lookig to buy a phone with a good camera (in the note 4 level) and good preformans. Would you recomand the p9 or maybe the mi5 / op3?

    • Airyl
      August 17, 2016

      If you’re looking for camera performance, I’d definitely recommend the P9 over the Note 4, Mi5 and OP3.

  9. ohad
    August 16, 2016

    Hi, i am lookig to buy a phone with a good camera (in the note 4 level) and good preformans. Would you recomand the p9 or maybe the mi5 / op3?

    • Airyl
      August 17, 2016

      If you’re looking for camera performance, I’d definitely recommend the P9 over the Note 4, Mi5 and OP3.