Huawei's P9 and P9 Plus: too good for Instagram

7 April 2016, 14:25   By Justin Schamotta

HUAWEI have unveiled two new phones boasting lenses co-developed by Leica, the renowned German optics firm.

The dual lenses found in both the P9 and P9 Plus enable the cameras to perform better in low light conditions, and allow users to refocus photos after they've been taken.

They also improve contrast by 50% and enable the creation of shallow depth-of-field shots - a feat normally only achievable with large aperture lenses.

Huawei hope the improved camera technology, together with a robust processor and slick metal body, will give the phones a headstart in the already crowded premium phone market.

The P9 smartphone is available for pre-order now, but won't be released in the UK until April 16th. The P9 Plus, meanwhile, is scheduled for release on May 20th.

huawei p9 mobile phone
Credit: Oleg Batrak/

Aesthetically pleasing

Both handsets are undeniably handsome, with curved-edge aluminium uni-bodies and an almost minimalist design; the two camera lenses are not only flush with the body but contained in a single strip at the top.

The P9 and the P9 Plus principally differ in display size, with the P9 having a 5.2-inch HD display, and the P9 Plus having a larger 5.5-inch display.

The colour schemes are slightly different too.

The P9 is available in Titanium Grey, Mystic Silver, Prestige Gold, Haze Gold, Rose Gold and Ceramic White; the P9 Plus comes in Ceramic White, Rose Gold, Haze Gold and Quartz Grey.

On the inside

Both models are powered by Huawei's in-house Kirin 955 2.5GHz processor.

In tests, this was found to be only marginally better than the Mate 8's Kirin 950, released earlier this year - but not really in the same league as chips from Qualcomm and Samsung.

Nevertheless, Huawei say that the P9 will run at the same speed after two years of use as on the day it was bought, as the phones contain software that defragments data to improve speed and performance.

The battery capacity of the P9 is a fairly standard 3,000mAh, though the P9 Plus offers a more respectable 3,400mAh and quick charge technology to boot.

As befits its larger size, the P9 plus comes with 64GB of internal memory compared with the 32GB built into the P9.

More storage can always be added via the microSD slot - which is handy, given that pictures taken with the dual lens camera will be data heavy compared with typical smartphone pics.

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This is because one of the lenses captures images in monochrome, which allows more light information to be recorded. The other lens is dedicated to red, green and blue, as normal.

Combined, the two 12-megapixel sensors capture far greater detail while providing improved contrast and performance in low-light conditions.

Most notable however, is the camera's ability to simulate wide-aperture photography by creating a shallow depth of field - this makes images at the forefront crisp, while blurring the background.

Furthermore, the relative fuzziness of the background and crispness of the foreground can be altered after the picture has been taken - thanks to the two lenses taking slightly different pictures.

Before we all get too excited, it's worth pointing out that the P9 is still a long way from providing the same image quality as a Leica camera.

Indeed, the lenses aren't even built by Leica - rather, they are "Leica certified", which doesn't really mean a great deal.


Huawei say a standalone P9 handset will cost €599 (around £484) for 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and €649 (roughly £524) for the model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

The larger P9 Plus will cost €749 (around £605).

All four main networks have said they will carry the P9 handset, but only O2 have said they will stock the P9 Plus.

There's not much to compare with price plans, as Vodafone are the only network to have released any details.

Plan Calls / texts Data Upfront cost Monthly cost
vodafone Standard 500MB 500 minutes / unlimited 500MB £99 £22
vodafone Standard 1GB 1,000 minutes / unlimited 1GB £29 £25
vodafone Red 2GB Unlimited 2GB £0 £30
vodafone Red Value 2GB Unlimited 2GB £29 £30
vodafone Red Value 4GB Unlimited 4GB £0 £35
vodafone Red 6GB Unlimited 6GB £0 £35
vodafone Red Value 8GB Unlimited 8GB £0 £40
vodafone Red 10GB Unlimited 10GB £0 £40
vodafone Red Value 15GB Unlimited 15GB £0 £45
vodafone Red Value 20GB Unlimited 20GB £0 £46
vodafone Red Value 25GB 1,000 minutes / unlimited 25GB £0 £51

These prices are based on getting the phone on a 24-month contract. See the latest mobile prices from Vodafone.

Vodafone are also offering a free Huawei W1 smartwatch and P9 flip case to customers pre-ordering the P9 from them.

And, as usual with the Red Value bundles with 4GB or more data, there's the choice of six months Spotify Premium, Sky Sports Mobile TV or NOW TV Entertainment free of charge.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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