Throughout the years I’ve had the chance to own quite a number of mobile phones, and gotten my hands to try on even more. The one feature that has always interests me is the camera.
Ever since I had my very first “camera phone”, the next phone I looked at has always been the one with a superior camera. So when I had a chance to give the Huawei P9 a test drive, I was pretty excited.
You see, the P9 isn’t just any regular Android phone with a camera. It is the first that comes with a dual-camera sensor designed by Leica. For the uninitiated, Leica makes the most legendary cameras & lenses and almost every photographer would love to own a Leica in their arsenal, including myself. By having Huawei tapping into over 100 years of Leica photography expertise to design & optimize, the expectation of its performance is rather high.
The dual sensor set up at the rear is rather unique, one to pick up RGB (color) information, while the other monochrome (B&W) sensor picks up details. Information from both sensors are then combined using Leica’s merging algorithm to create an output that has the best of both worlds.
That is the technical aspect of the camera, two 12 megapixel sensors working together, but what really impressed me more was the user interface of the camera.
Most Android phones utilizes very simple camera UI, with some having a few modes or features accessible in the menu. What Huawei has done with P9’s camera UI is very sleek. Swiping left, right, up, and down reveals different sets of features/short cuts that allows anyone to take pictures just the way they want without having to fiddle with different settings which may require in depth photography knowledge.
Swiping to the right brings out the different shooting modes, such as monochrome, night shot, HDR, video, slow-mo, time lapse, and even Huawei’s signature “light painting”.
Swiping left shows the different camera settings, including adjustments for resolution, photo grid, GPS tag, different film modes, and so forth.
Bottom up brings out the PRO mode. This is a feature every serious photographer would appreciate. Here you can adjust shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and even focusing mode. These are features that used to only available on a semi-pro SLR set up.
On top of the camera UI screen have yet a few more short cuts allowing access to wide aperture effect (my favorite), flash settings, slow-mo video, and swapping for front camera.
In all, these make for very fast operation in getting to what you want the camera to do. There’s no fiddling with multiple levels within the menu to adjust one setting. Everything is available within a swipe and a click or two, to me this is the strongest point of the phone, one which I learned to really appreciate.
The photo quality from limited shots I took were pretty good, my favorite features of the camera were the “impact monochrome” and the “wide aperture” mode. The monochrome is very useful taking street photography while the latter allows simulated “bokeh” effect that can make a subject really standout in a photo, similar to one taken with expensive fast professional lenses on an SLR.
Since this is actually a phone and not just a camera, several other important specification you may be interested in are as follow:
- Screen: 5.2″ 1080 x 1920 pixels
- RAM: 4 GB
- Battery: 3000 mAh, fast charging
- OS: Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
- CPU: Quad-core 2.5 GHz Cortex-A72 & quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53
- Storage: 32 GB, microSD slot
- Connectivity: USB-C, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Sensors: fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass