First Look

Huawei's P9 scores with Leica camera maker tie-up

One thing that immediately stands out is how light the P9 - with a slim 6.95mm body - is, at 144g.
One thing that immediately stands out is how light the P9 - with a slim 6.95mm body - is, at 144g.PHOTO: HUAWEI

Huawei's latest flagship smartphone, the P9, could easily be lost in the wider sea of other Android phones, save for the one big killer feature the China company is aggressively promoting - its tie-up with German camera manufacturer Leica for the phone's two rear cameras.

Leica has a history of producing expensive, premium cameras, and the photographic expectations of any smartphone carrying the Leica name are sure to be high.

In this regard, the phone does not disappoint. The camera app starts up in less than a second, and has options specifically catered to take advantage of the Leica optics.

The two 12-megapixel lenses make for good low-light photography, producing acceptable shots with a film-like grain.

The monochrome, or black-and-white, mode on the P9 is fantastic, with picture quality that harks back to the days of film.

A black-and-white picture of a lamp I took in a dimly-lit room threw up great contrast between the bulb and the shadows of the curtains behind, giving it a soft, dream-like look.

The P9 also comes with a selective focus mode, which allows you to adjust the lens aperture and focus point even after taking the shot. It also provides for some nice, creamy background bokeh by adjusting the aperture.

Huawei claims the 3,000 mAh battery will provide enough juice for 12 hours of continuous HD video playback, or slightly over a day of use.

I took the P9 out for about four hours one morning to shoot some photos. With the screen at 80 per cent brightness and after snapping some 50 pictures, the battery dipped only about 10 per cent after a full charge.

The 5.2-inch full-HD display reproduces colour rather faithfully, including those of the photos taken by the camera.

Huawei managed to fit all these features into a slim 6.95mm body with none of the two cameras protruding at the back.

Another thing that immediately stands out is how light the phone is, at 144g.

The weight and small size of the phone make it easy to whip it out for a quick snapshot while on the go, and for one-handed operation.

There is also the handy function of taking a picture with the front camera by tapping your finger on the fingerprint sensor, making it all the easier to take a perfect selfie.

The brushed metal body on the back of the titanium-grey review P9 set I received adds to its premium feel and vibe. There is also a ceramic white version of the P9 that sports a glossy rather than a brushed-metal back, which some may prefer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Huawei's P9 scores with Leica camera maker tie-up'. Subscribe