​Huawei P9 smartphone review: lifting photography to another level... sometimes.

Leica partnership makes this the best cameraphone

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Huawei P9
  • Huawei P9
  • Huawei P9
  • Huawei P9
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Stunning pictures of nearby subjects
  • Great value
  • Fun to use
  • Fast fingerprint reader

Cons

  • Battery-life
  • Australian price hike

Bottom Line

The P9 is a decent mid-range phone with best-on-the-market fingerprint reader and potentially the best camera of any phone (including many compact cameras).

Would you buy this?

This phone has appeared in our Top Rated Android Phones in 2016 list and Which phones have the best cameras? list.

Selling a new phone by focusing on the camera is not a new thing and we’ve been impressed when it's happened in the past: Nokia’s Lumias did some great things (which masked Windows Phone’s deficiencies) while Apple’s 6S Plus impressed with its Dynamic Range and low light performance. But it’s the P9 that has stopped people in their tracks. You don’t have to be a photography connoisseur to recognise that what the P9 achieves (almost effortlessly) is a new level of quality.

So we’ll whizz through the specs and handling and quickly move on to see what the fuss is about.

The key specs

5.2-inch, 1080x1920, 423ppi screen, Dual (colour and monochrome) 12-megapixel rear cameras with Leica optics, 8-megapixel front camera, Kirin 955 chipset, dual quad-core processors plus GPU, 32/3GB RAM, nanoSIM, microSD card (up to 256GB), Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). USB Type-C, Fingerprint reader, Fixed 3,000mAh battery, 145x71x7mm. 144g. Full specs, here.

Handling and general usage

At 5.2-inches this is a relatively small phone which will be a boon to some but a shame to others. The quad-core processors keep it zipping along smoothly although if you take multiple pictures quickly it can lag a little – but it's no deal breaker. The metal chassis and rounded corners make it look very good and Android effectively functions as we’d expect with version 6.0 aka Marshmallow. Camera, screen and battery aside, it’s basically a smaller version of the excellent Mate 8 that we reviewed recently. The battery-difference is significant though. The small chassis means that the 3,000mAh unit just about lasts a full day – if you’re not making use of the camera. If you are then you’re best off carrying an external battery pack around with you.

[Related: Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: The new best Android phone]

As for making calls, we were told that we sounded a bit tinny by some people on the other end. A dual-SIM variant is available but not in Australia – the second slot by the nanoSIM is used as a microSD reader instead.

One of the best features, however, is the fingerprint reader. This is now the fastest on the market and even more accurate and secure with the addition of pressure detection too – it knows about the shape of your finger rather than just the print. Its position at the rear (as with other Huawei models) is inspired and unlocking securely is essentially effortless.

The screen is the best we’ve seen from Huawei. It’s Full HD and colours look very vibrant, accurate and bright: noticeably more so than the functional Mate 8. It would be nice to have had more of it with so many photos to play with but that’s a personal opinion.

Next: The amazing camera and conclusion

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