Review all kinds of gadgets: Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops, etc.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Huawei’s flagship phone is an unexpected surprise.
I’M the type of person who picks the same flavour of ice-cream every time – pralines and cream – because it’s my favourite. I use a bag until it is well-worn, seams splitting at the sides, before I am forced to get a new one. I have lived in the same house for the last 16 years, and I have clothes dating back to the 1980s. Why change if you’re happy with what you’ve got, I ask? And so for the last three years I had been content using my iPhone 5. Though battered and bruised (not to mention, ghastly out of date), I never had the urge to run out – let alone queue up – for the next big thing on the mobile phone market.
But here I am now with the new Huawei P9 nestled comfortably in the palm of my right hand. And I am astonishingly happy.
The Huawei P9 is nice and slim at 0.28in. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star
I wasn’t expecting much, truth be told. This is, after all, a China-made handphone.
But right off the bat – or out of the box, to be more precise – I was surprised. Even the packaging has a minimalist chic to it – the P9 comes in an elegant white textured box with both Huawei and Leica branding on it.
And once I got to the phone – neatly fitted in a protective wrap – again I was bowled over. The mobile phone’s Titanium Grey body is instantly captivating. And Huawei has very thoughtfully included a clear phone case along with the other usual suspects – headset, charger, a high speed USB cable, eject tool and quick start guide – all very compactly packaged, and is easy to unbox and setup.
The phone is made up of what looks like just glass and metal, much like modernist architecture, and its curved edges add to this appeal.
It’s a snap
You’ll have heard of how the P9 is set to “reinvent photography”. The phone is co-engineered with German camera company Leica and features two cameras, its main selling point.
The Huawei P9 carries the German Leica camera branding on the top right hand corner. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star
The camera reputedly captures more light because it has two sensors, one RGB and one monochrome, that work together to create higher detail. I especially like the fact that these sensors are flush with the phone’s back – not just so grime doesn’t get in, but that it adds to the overall sophistication of design.
I like taking photos with my phone camera and the P9 gives you all the confidence you need to take great photos. The phone comes with pro features, but I am content using the auto-mode. Night-time photography turned out fine, and the colours in the day are super vibrant. Even the black and white photographs look much sharper.
Check out the one I took of my cat Bobby – you can see his whiskers in all their glory and even trace out the cornea of his eye.
A photo of my cat Bobby taken using the monochrome mode indoors, at night. — ANN MARIE CHANDY/The Star
There’s also a range of modes and filters to mess around with, and a really cool wide aperture feature which allows you to take a photo with a shallow depth of field (the object must be at least within 2m of you and, more importantly, must be clearly defined). What this feature does is it blurs out everything else in the background. Then there’s the 8-megapixel selfie shooter, which you can also trigger from the back of the phone, but more on that in a little while.
Speaking of selfies, I’m not sure I enjoy the beauty tips the camera suggests (make your face thinner, smoothen out that rough skin, darken this bit or that – the phone actually identifies a “beauty level” that suits you if you let it!) – I like my face as is, thank you very much.
Fit for a spy
Okay, so fingerprint sensors on phones may have been around for the last three years, but this is the first time I have had the pleasure of testing one out. Did I feel like James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever? Well yes and no. Yes, because after a quick six touches to recognise my pointer finger, the P9 now calls me master and is happy to do my bidding. (No, because I didn’t have to resort to chopping someone’s finger off.)
At the bottom of the P9, you’ll find the Type C connector, loudspeaker, jack and microphone. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star
The pattern or pincode method works just as well, so if the phone is lying on its back, fret not, you can resort to less spy-like tactics to unlock your device.
Oh and yes, I can even take photos using this function which makes it a cinch, especially for selfies.
Does size really matter?
I am just barely over five feet and so I’ve never ever liked to think that if something were bigger, it would equate to it being better. But I have to say, the 5.2in full HD screen on the P9 has made a convert out of me. If this review came with background music, you’d be hearing Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now.
Reading messages, watching YouTube videos, playing Candy Crush (the Jelly Version) have all just become so much more breezy on the P9. — AFP
Reading messages, watching YouTube videos, playing Candy Crush (the Jelly Version) have all just become so much more breezy. And while I previously used to gawk at people who used such LARGE handsets, in just three days I’ve grown so accustomed to lugging the P9 around. Of course, there will be those more used to a 6in screen who find this too small!
It’s a wrap
The battery life seems good enough – it lasts me throughout the day, and takes about an hour and a half to fully charge up at night. The phone also comes equipped with a large range of free downloadable themes which are quick to install.
The P9 is not just sleek, it's got Leica on its side when it comes to taking photos. — Huawei
There are lots of cool details which I find very helpful – for instance, the volume rocker comes with individual settings so you can customise different sound levels for ringtone, media, alarm and calls. Also the power button is textured which makes it easy to identify, even while it’s buried in your handbag.
Enough gushing then. Is there anything I don’t like about this phone? There are a few minor niggling details here and there.
No. 1 is that the phone comes with its fair share of bloatware – there are just so many apps here that I would never use, and I thought they could easily have been left out.
I also wasn’t a fan of the Huawei keypad, and kept hitting all the wrong buttons. But it was easy enough for me to switch to Google.
The home buttons appear on the screen rather than the body, and this takes a bit of getting used to. — AFP
The home buttons also appear on the screen, rather than the body, and this takes a bit of getting used to. On WhatsApp, I find I am hitting the photo icons instead of opening messages, but that’s just me being used to how the iPhone works I think.
All in all, I’m quite smitten with the P9. And it’s fast becoming a favourite, like pralines and cream.
Pros: Camera has many modes and takes great photos; sleek design; speedy fingerprint sensor.
Cons: Bloatware; average battery life.
P9 (Huawei) Android smartphone Operating system: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) Network: 4G LTE Display: 5.2in (1,080 x 1,920 pixels) Processor: Octa-core (4 x 2.5GHz A72+ 4 x 1.8GHz A53) Kirin 955 Camera: Two 12 megapixels cameras (rear); 8 megapixels (front) Memory: 32GB internal memory Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; WiFi Direct; USB Type C Battery: 3,000mAh lithium-ion Size: 45 x 70.9 x 6.95mm Weight: 144g Price: RM2,099 Rating: 4 stars Review unit courtesy of Huawei Technologies Malaysia, 1800-22-3366