Huawei P9 Review
The announcement of the Huawei P9 was met with much fanfare surrounding the inclusion of Leica branding. The Huawei P9 features a dual camera set-up, which was claimed to have been designed in conjunction with the historic camera manufacturer. There has since been doubts cast on the exact involvement of Leica, but none-the-less the Leica branding is found on the back of the P9. Both of the cameras on the back of the Huawei P9 are 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensors, with f/2.2 max aperture lenses. One of the cameras has a colour (RGB) sensor, while the other only shoots monochrome. Huawei says that this means the dual set-up can capture more light and detail than a standard single-camera setup. Although there’s two cameras, only one image is captured at a time. On the front of the Huawei P9 is an 8MP f/2.4 camera. Other features include compatibility with micro SD cards and Android 6.0.
Ease of Use
The Huawei P9 ships with Android 6.0, so if you’re coming across from another Android phone that uses the same OS, you should be very at home with the P9. If perhaps you’re coming from an iPhone or Windows phone, you may need to spend a little time readjusting, but it’s pretty easy to use.
On the back of the Huawei P9, towards the top and middle of the phone, is a fingerprint sensor. If you set this up, it allows you to unlock the phone without entering your passcode or pattern. If however you only want to use the camera, you can simply press the unlock button on the side of the phone, and swipe up on the screen from the bottom right hand corner. You can open the camera app once you’ve unlocked the phone by tapping on the appropriate icon, too.
|Front of the Huawei P9|
You should see that the camera launches in whatever configuration you were last using it in. You will also see that the fonts and terminology used are the same as in Leica cameras, a nod to the partnership with the famous brand.
In order to move between the different modes and options that are available to you, you can utilise a swiping action. You can use “Pro” mode by swiping up from the bottom of the camera area. This will allow you to control various aspects of the camera - we’ll go over this in more detail shortly. If you swipe from the left you can choose a different shooting mode - the default is called simply “Photo”, while the there’s also options such as HDR, Slow-Mo, Night Shot and Beauty available. Swipe from the right and you can alter some of the camera’s settings, including switching on the ability to shoot in raw format and image resolution size. If you’re not shooting in Pro mode, you won’t be able to switch on raw format shooting.
|Rear of the Huawei P9|
Let’s assume you’re shooting in standard Photo mode without the Pro section swiped up. Along the top of the screen (or left hand side if you have the phone in landscape orientation), you’ll see some icons. There’s a flash icon, which you can switch to automatic, always on, always off or lightbulb mode.
Just next to this is a lens icon, which allows you to switch on one of the Huawei P9’s most talked about features, the shallow depth of field effect mode. With this switched on, you select an aperture on the screen, and the camera will shoot as if you were using a very wide aperture lens. You can even change the focus point and aperture after you’ve taken the shot, since this is an effect added post-shot, rather than actually utilising a real wide aperture. If you are using this feature, you need to switch it off again before you can go back to using Pro mode.
To go back to the icons at the top of the main screen, there’s three circles overlapping each other, which activates the different digital filters that you can use, including “Valencia”, “Nostalgia”, “Dawn” and “Halo”. The final icon on the top of the screen allows you to switch between using the rear cameras and the front camera.
|The Huawei P9 - Camera Settings|
At the bottom of the screen, you can tap to look at images you’ve already taken. If you’re opening the camera from the lock screen, you’ll only be able to look at images you’ve taken in the current session, but if you’re opening the camera from the main menu, you’ll be able to look at all the photos you’ve taken. On the opposite side at the bottom is an icon for switching to video recording.
Now to go back to the Pro mode. Once you have this activated, you’ll see a range of changeable options along the bottom (or right hand side if you're holding in landscape format). To make changes to the settings, you tap on whichever setting you want to change, and then using the slider which appears to move to the position you need. The options here are metering, ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, AF mode and white balance. ISO, shutter speed and white balance all have automatic options, which you can leave them in if you prefer. It’s not possible to set aperture, which is a shame.
|The Huawei P9 In-hand|
In the top right hand corner, you’ll see that there’s a sun icon which sometimes appears. This is if you’ve made changes to settings which the camera thinks will result in an incorrectly exposed image. If you tap it, all of the settings will return to the automatic defaults, or, in other words, what the camera thinks is best for the situation. It’s a handy tool which helps you to know whether or not you have made the right settings changes, but it can be confused in some situations - such as using a very long shutter speed.
Although there’s not anywhere near the level of control afforded if you shoot in the standard Photo mode, you can change exposure compensation - after you’ve tapped an autofocus point you’ll see there’s a small sun icon appear - if you drag your finger up and down near the AF point box, you’ll be able to add or remove brightness.
In order to actually take a photo, you have a couple of options. You can use the virtual shutter release which appears on the screen when you’re using the camera in any mode. Alternatively, you can set up the physical volume button on the side of the camera to take a shot. This is a little awkwardly placed to take the shot with your right hand, so you’ll probably find you use your left hand - something which takes a bit of getting used to if you’re used to using a standard camera where your right hand controls the shutter release.