Smartphone camera shoot-out

The Huawei Mate 9's wide aperture is its winning feature

Daytime landscape shots with the Mate 9 show great sharpness and tremendous details.
Daytime landscape shots with the Mate 9 show great sharpness and tremendous details.PHOTO: HUAWEI

The smartphone's monochrome image sensor garners more details, sharpness and sensitivity

The Huawei Mate 9 uses a 20-megapixel monochrome camera and a 12-megapixel colour camera for its rear dual-camera system, different from the two-focal-length scheme of Apple and LG.

The use of a monochrome camera helps to improve overall image quality, due to the monochrome image sensor garnering more details, sharpness and sensitivity.

Daytime landscape shots show great sharpness and tremendous details, with great dynamic range. However, the distortion at the edges is quite visible, especially upon close scrutiny.

For the night landscape shots, the Mate 9 underexposed the overall image to get the lights in buildings correctly exposed. That means the night sky became pitch black with plenty of details lost.

The selfies I took are great, with skin looking smooth and fair - second only to the LG V20's and on a par with the Samsung S7 edge's.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $898 (without contract)

    REAR CAMERA: 12-megapixel colour 27mm f/2.2; 20-megapixel monochrome 27mm f/2.8

    FRONT CAMERA: 8-megapixel 26mm f/1.9

The Mate 9 might not have a portrait mode like the iPhone 7 Plus,. but its wide-aperture function is much more flexible. This function allows you to change aperture settings from f/0.95 to f/16.

An aperture setting from f/0.95 to f/1.8 will achieve the bokeh, or blurred background, effect when shooting portraits or food. This is something the iPhone's restrictive Portrait mode cannot do. On the downside, the Mate 9's blurring can look a bit fake at times. It is a matter of trial and error to get it right.

Without flash, skin tones tend to look a bit red under indoor incandescent lighting. With flash on, they actually become even more reddish.

• Verdict: For photography buffs, the wide-aperture function of Huawei Mate 9's camera for bokeh effects will be the deal clincher.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'The Huawei Mate 9's wide apperture is its winning feature'. Print Edition | Subscribe