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Mobile Communications

Huawei Launch: #OO look, the new P9

In true smartphone launch fashion, Huawei has been teasing us for the last couple of weeks in the lead up to their press event today at Battersea Park in London.

 

The rumour mill has of course been in full swing, with a number of images and specs for the P9 leaked, but some (myself included) wondered about other products, like the possibility of a VR headset…

Unlike the recent April Spring Launch, the event wasn’t live streamed, but all is not lost, because we were there and can fill you in on all you need to know.

 

Products

So the Huawei P9 was the ‘big one’, and we were expecting a family of three – the P9, P9 Lite and P9 Max.

Teasing tweets from @HuaweiDevice yesterday asked people for their predictions and most centred round the rumoured dual camera.

 

Details leaked yesterday on GFXBench indicated the P9 would have a 5.2-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution. Although other rumours suggested three different versions of the flagship phone – a Lite and a Max to go alongside the regular P9. The chip has long been rumoured to be Huawei’s own Kirin 955 HiSilicon octacore unit, with four ARM Cortex-A53 cores and four ARM Cortex-A72 cores. This would come with a Mali-T880 GPU and 3GB of RAM (which is 1GB less than Samsung’s new flagship the S7).

But the big rumour, particularly given the #OO hashtag and the themed invitations, was the dual camera. Further rumours expected a 12MP rear camera with Leica optics, an 8MP front camera, and support for 4K video.

So when it came down to it, what did we get?

Well today’s event saw Huawei launch two new phones – following the lead of Samsung and Apple – the Huawei P9 and the Huawei P9 Plus. The Chinese company also announced the new TalkBand B3.

Huawei P9

The Huawei P9 measures only 6.95mm thick with a bezel that measures just 1.7mm. It has a full metal unibody with curved edges for a comfortable hold. The P9 features a 5.2-inch display with a 1920×1080 resolution, (423 pixels per inch), while the P9 Plus display is 5.5-inches, with an AMOLED panel.

The chip was no great surprise, with confirmation of the Kirin 955, boasting an octa-core CPU configuration. The chip also features a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU – the most powerful graphics chip in a Huawei phone yet, though not quite rivalling the Samsung Galaxy S7’s Mali-T880 MP12. Two options of the P9 offer either 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Huawei P9 Plus only comes in an 4GB/64GB option. Both big brother and little brother feature a microSD card slot.

The big news, though not a surprise, was the dual camera. “Here to reinvent smartphone photography” was the claim, and with the P9 Huawei could just do it.

camera-1

The P9 has a dual 12MP rear camera with Leica SUMMARIT lenses, 1.25-micron pixel sizes, and a wide F/1.1 aperture, and an 8MP camera on the rear for selfie fans.

camera-2

The dual rear camera is a clever thing, and a world first, as Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Technologies Consumer Business Group, was quick to point out. One of the sensors is monochrome while the other is RGB. This allows for 300 percent better light capture and 50 percent more contrast with the monochrome sensor, improving the look and colours of your photos.

camera-3

The dedicated depth sensor processor uses a laser focusing module for short range focusing or information from two 12MP image sensors for longer range depth detection, and, with the dual sensors, post capture image refocusing is also possible – a feature that I happen to find very exciting in a smartphone. And that’s not all – there’s a professional camera mode, meaning you can take full control over ISO, exposure, shutter speed… Yu was also keen to make clear that the rear camera lenses on the Huawei P9 were completely flush – not like its rivals’ – saving any unfortunate scratches.

You can see the full specs on the Huawei site, but here’s the basics:

specs

TalkBand B3

Huawei’s TalkBand B3 is “the next generation of wearable devices”. With detachable Bluetooth headset (excellent), you’re pretty much covered in an scenario. The B3’s Gorilla Glass protects it from scratches and scrapes, and the 3D curve magnifies the appearance making it easier to read (which let’s face it, has been a problem with other smartwatches). It has a PMOLED screen with ambient light detection sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness to extend your battery life. It also apparently has “ergonomically-refined straps”, designed to ensure a comfortable fit, with the straps available is three options – leather, rubber, or stainless steel. Yu again was keen to share the features of the TalkBand B3 – one of which is its improved tracking abilities. I’ll admit this is not something that particularly appeals to me (the idea of tracking my sleeping, walking etc. seems daft to me since I’m quite aware of when I’m doing these things), however, I know this is something that appeals to the fitness buffs out there.  Perhaps one of the best features though, is the phone finder – “If your smartphone goes missing, TalkBand B3 helps you find it.” Handy.

And if all that wasn’t enough – Huawei have got Scarlett Johansson and Henry Cavill on board!

I have to confess, having been a long-standing Samsung fan, the Huawei P9 looks pretty impressive – specifically of course the new dual camera. It’s also a ‘tidy’ phone, and like the Samsung S7 and most of the iPhone range, you can feel that quality. Have Huawei done enough to compete with the smartphone giants? I’d certainly put them up there. They might not have the consumer fan base yet, but the Huawei P9 is easily an equal contender to Apple and Samsung’s flagships. I might even reconsider my allegiance…

 

P.S. I was wrong about a VR headset. Damn.

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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Editor of IDG Connect

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