This is the Huawei P9 Plus, the main thing that is going to pull you towards choosing this phone versus other smartphones is its dual camera system that sports the Leica badge.
The design for this is extremely premium, an all glass and aluminium construction. The front of the device is one seamless piece of glass which creates an extremely clean appearance to the front of the device. There is also the front facing 8-megapixel camera on the front as well as some Huawei branding on the chin of the device, which I don’t mind as it doesn’t appear obtrusive.
On the back and sides, the phone is wrapped in aluminium which helps deliver that premium appearance and feel, and keeps the device grippy. There is a glass band at the top of the device where the dual camera system is located which creates a nice contrast. Also on the back is the fingerprint reader, which works extremely quickly and is located where your finger would rest on the back of the device and will work even if the display is turned off.
The sides of the P9 Plus are extremely clean, with the buttons on the right hand side and SIM and microSD slot on the left hand side, so you can expand the 64GB of inbuilt storage. One of the subtlest things that I like is that the power button has a different texture compared to the volume button so you cannot get them mixed up.
The display on this phone is great, it’s extremely sharp and shows colours brilliantly with plenty of brightness. The display is a Super AMOLED 1080p and this helps colours to look extremely rich and for blacks to be extremely deep. Viewing angles are great, with the colours only distorting at extreme side angles.
I think it would have been nicer to see a 1440p display on the device, especially with the 5.5-inch screen size. It would be a lot nicer to have a few more pixels to have even sharper visuals on the screen.
The P9 Plus ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, running Huawei’s EMUI Android skin over the top. EMUI is quite a heavy skin and there’s very little original Android actually present. The skin feels, to me, very similar to iOS, there is no app drawer and the folder layout is identical to name some of the similarities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the skin isn’t slow but I feel like it could be a bit more to stock Android. Also, I can’t look at the notification drawer on the lock screen, which is a bit of an annoyance, as I only get details from some apps on the lock screen and some apps have to have their lock screen details enabled manually.
There are also some other built in features and apps, some of which are useful and some which feel like bloatware. There are some third party apps included, which you can remove immediately and there are some of Huawei’s apps, which are stuck on the device but duplicate some of the functionality of Google’s Apps. The most useful of the apps is probably the Health app, which works in the background to count your steps during the day and display your step count on the lock screen and the notification area.
The display is also pressure sensitive, so certain apps support extra functionality depending on how hard the screen is pressed. There aren’t many apps that support this, and as far as I could see only the Gallery app and the Notification Area supported it – but if more phones included the functionality then maybe it could see its way in 3rd party apps, but at the moment I don’t think the demand is quite there yet for it.
Performance on the P9 Plus is great, the device has 4GB of RAM so you don’t need to worry about having a lot of apps open in the background as multitasking works perfectly and smoothly. The experience of using the device is great, everything works smoothly and the phone has little to no lag and apps load very quickly.
Gaming on the device is also great, the platformer Leo’s Fortune plays perfectly and so does the more intense Asphalt 8. So if you’re planning a bit of casual gaming in your lunch break, you’ll have no problem with the P9 Plus, and the device stays cool, so you don’t need to worry about the phone heating up.
Now, the camera. The camera on the P9 Plus is the main selling point of this smartphone, but honestly I don’t think it’s ridiculously amazing compared to any other smartphone camera I’ve seen. Don’t get me wrong, the camera isn’t bad but it isn’t amazing, even if it has the Leica stamp on it.
The camera system on board the P9 Plus is a dual 12-megapixel camera. The second camera helps gather extra detail from a monochrome image taken, as well as to create a toggle able depth of field effect (similarly to the recently announced iPhone 7 Plus), as well as a full manual mode.
Photos overall look pretty good, the photos that I have taken look sharp and not over sharpened. Some of the photos do look a bit soft but overall the photo quality is good, I also tried out the camera in the evening, just after sunset, to see how it would perform in lower light situations and it performed quite well considering the lighting conditions. Daylight photos look great as well.
Video looked a bit soft and blurry in my opinion, considering it shoots 1080p video at 30 frames a second. But you can take a look for yourself.
The front facing camera carries an 8-megapixel sensor and the photo quality from that is fantastic, so if you really like taking selfies then you’ll like this phone.
Battery life on the P9 Plus is fantastic, thanks to a 3400 mAh battery which will easily get you through a day of usage. Another noticeable change on the P9 Plus is also the addition of a USB C port, this supports Huawei’s quick charge so you can charge your phone quickly.
Overall the Huawei P9 Plus is a great smartphone, with an excellent build quality and an excellent camera, but don’t have the mindset that you’re going to get Leica quality images from a smartphone sensor. So, I would recommend the P9 Plus, it’s nice to use and even though there are a few things that I don’t like, I still think it’s a great phone.