The P9 was introduced today in London. The phone has been co-engineered with world-renowned camera manufacturer Leica, incorporating a dual-lens system that aims to redefine what a smartphone camera is capable of.
Two 12-megapixel Sony cameras are visible on the rear of the phone. They both have a unique role to play in capturing a photo, working alongside each other to create the final result.
One of the cameras has an RGB sensor that captures the colour in the scene. The other one is a monochrome camera that specialises in reproducing picture detail. Traditional smartphones compromise somewhere between accurate colours and crisp details. Huawei is aiming for the best of both worlds, using two lenses and combining the images later to create detailed and vibrant photos.
The camera technology, developed with Leica, also allows the P9 to perform well in low-light scenarios. It can capture more light from scenes by gathering it with both sensors. Additionally, you can disable the colour sensor entirely to create true monochrome images with deep blacks and bright whites that post-processed filters can’t always achieve.
“Leica and Huawei share an uncompromising commitment to imaging excellence, and our partnership will put outstanding photography into the hands of more consumers around the world,” said Oliver Kaltner, CEO of Leica Camera AG. “We are deepening our collaboration to give users a more optimal smartphone photography experience.”
The rest of the P9’s hardware is similarly impressive. The P9 and P9 Plus both have all-metal bodies and edge-to-edge 1080p Full HD displays. The P9 Plus gets a 5.5-inch panel while the P9 has a smaller but still considerable 5.2-inch screen.
Power comes courtesy of Huawei’s own Kirin 955 64-bit processor. It’s a new octa-core chip running at 2.5GHz and is paired with 3GB of RAM on the P9 or 4GB on the P9 Plus. Battery life is also strong; the large bodies have allowed Huawei to include a 3,000mAh battery with the P9 and a 3,400mAh one on the Plus-sized variant. The latter should last up to two days on a charge with even the former surviving 12 hours of HD video playback.
There’s the now standard package of premium extras including a fingerprint sensor, 32GB or 64GB of storage and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, skinned with Huawei’s “Emotion UI” that looks more than a little like Apple’s iOS. Huawei has been criticised for its software in the past so it is interesting to see it make a return here.
Huawei will be launching the phones on April 16 in markets worldwide including the U.K., France, Germany and many other European regions. The P9 will cost €599 and the P9 Plus €749. Huawei has included a total of 18 different 4G bands on the device’s cellular radio so it is likely it will be supported by your network. The company is yet to confirm which bands are included though.
The P9 is Huawei’s most accomplished attempt yet to build a high-end phone for Western markets. The Chinese manufacturer is undergoing a large-scale expansion across the world, hoping to coax customers away from the likes of Apple and Samsung with its new camera technology and premium feature selection.