Huawei P9 launch: what it all means

Androidpit Huawei P9 Hands on LONDON front
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The Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, the Chinese manufacture's new flagship devices, launched in London on April 6. With a considerable processor on board and a dual rear camera, using lenses from renowned German camera manufacturer Leica, the pair is designed to impress. What does the glittery launch of these new devices mean?

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The Huawei P9 has been prepared for combat with Samsung and Apple. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Samsung approach

Huawei seems to be following what we'll call the Samsung approach this time around. The company has brought back old feature favorites – the fingerprint scanner, a notable omission from the Huawei P8, and the dual camera setup seen on the Honor 6 Plus – while making subtle improvements to key areas. Notably, the P9 bears the Kirin 955 processor, which, while unlikely to be as quick as the Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890, still packs a flagship punch, and marks a significant upgrade from the Kirin 930 found inside the P8.

androidpit huawei p9 plus dual camera
The dual camera was seen before on the Honor 6 Plus, but it's vastly improved on the P9 and P9 Plus. / © ANDROIDPIT

Everyone wants better specs

The RAM and processing power arms race shows no signs of slowing, and Huawei's latest looks to strike at the top-tier market, competing against the Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 6s. Indeed, this is clearly a market that Huawei has been striving towards for several years now, and the P9 could well mark the first phone truly worthy of the right to compete in the arena.

Is boosting RAM and building a better processor anything worth making a fuss over? Not really. Without these upgrades, any device will fall far short of the competition. All that's really to be said here is that the Huawei P9 has enough processing oomph to compete with, but not overtake, the big boys.

Design me a dreamboat

Especially when it comes to the S7, the P9 has a lot to live up to in terms of design. The Galaxy S7 made an art of refinement, resulting in a graceful balance between ergonomics and elegance. Initial impressions of the P9 indicate that, while it has a premium build and finish, there are areas where it just falls short. And, when you're facing off against the S7, falling short sticks out.

Huawei has produced a pleasant device, not a searing device. And that isn't enough.

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The finishing touches fall short of excellence on the P9. / © ANDROIDPIT

A focus on focus

Huawei is placing a lot of stock in its dual-camera setup. It's partnered with German lens and camera manufacturer Leica to build what it believes is its best camera to date. The dual 16 MP snappers work together to provide the option to adjust the focus after having taken a picture and do novel things, like selectively blur images and produce very crisp monotone images. These are fun features, but not what people buy smartphones for.

Androidpit Huawei P9 Hands on LONDON camera manual
The P9's camera might, just might, be enough to give it the edge. / © ANDROIDPIT

With the S7's lightning fast autofocus, whether you should need to refocus an image after taking it is a question worth asking. It seems that the dual camera mostly offers novelty additions to the photography arsenal. It's cool, for sure, but will it be a reason to pick up a P9 instead of an S7 or iPhone 6s? Probably not.

Having said that, there's a possibility that the P9, under a more strenuous test, could actually have one of, if not the best cameras out there. And that might mean something for sales. Or, looking at the Sony Xperia Z5, it might not.

Money makes the Galaxy go round

What we have is essentially what the P8 offered: a device that can compete with Samsung and Apple in key areas – processing speed, memory, camera – but one that is unlikely to outplay the competition.

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This pair represent formidable opponents. / © ANDROIDPIT

Where it should gain a sneaky advantage is in the value-for-money section. But we see the Huawei P9 launch with a price tag of 569 EUR. This is over 100 EUR more than the P8 launched at. This jump in price is a statement of intent from Huawei. It's now only marginally cheaper than the Galaxy S7 or LG G5. Does it have the fire power to make good on this declaration of war? In my admittedly early opinion, probably not.

In closing, although my evaluation might seem harsh, I think the P9 is a strong step in the right direction for Huawei. In a year or two, they might have the brawn to wrestle with Samsung and Apple, and I hope they do. But for now there are too many areas that still need to see improvement.

Does the Huawei P9 sound like a device you would consider over the Samsung Galaxy S7? Let me know in the comments.

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  • Abhyuday Apr 8, 2016 Link to comment

    I would buy the p9 rather than the s7 any day

  • storm Apr 8, 2016 Link to comment

    And not coming to the US from what I've read. Boohoo.

    •   46
      Deactivated Account Apr 8, 2016 Link to comment

      You can order it online, just make sure that it is not region locked. I don't think they are.

  • Ravindu Thimantha Gamage Apr 7, 2016 Link to comment

    The camera is not a gimmick and is way better than you think. Use it extensively and I'm 100% sure that it will beat the crap out of the S7 because Mono sensors 'always' capture more details enabling the P9 to produce crispy images, and as a photographer, I'd rather have two lenses like this than OIS (yes, I said it, this is better than OIS).

    And also from what I've seen and learned the Kirin SoC beats the shit out of the new new Exynos and the SD! I don't know about benchmarks but having used Kirin powered phones since the P7 along with Samsung devices, I know one thing for sure. Kirin SoCs are better optimised for the phones and they will provide you smoother functioning as a result! And given that the Exynos 8890 is better than the SD 820, it's safe to assume that the Kirin 955 is the best SoC in the world!

    • Dilsh Apr 7, 2016 Link to comment

      superb comment Ravindu. look at multitasking performance of both processors. Exynos has very poor multitasking performance. I think, kirin is better than Exynos and Snapdragon.

  • Supasonic Boobyalater Apr 7, 2016 Link to comment

    umm so no mention of the p9 max huh? I'm tired of these baby size phones.. my previous phone was the xperia ultra z.. now I switched to the lg v10 but it's soo small.. once you've had a big size phone, you don't want anything else.. just like most females with penis sizes...

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