Technology: Huawei P9 camera review

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<em>Urbis</em> took Huawei's P9 for a photographic spin in the streets of London and Paris. Pictured here is Hyde Park in Mayfair.

Urbis took Huawei’s P9 for a photographic spin in the streets of London and Paris. Pictured here is Hyde Park in Mayfair. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Palace of Westminster.

Palace of Westminster. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans series at Halcyon Gallery.

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans series at Halcyon Gallery. Image: Federico Monsalve

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The Priory Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great.

The Priory Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Tube station.

Tube station. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Westminster tube station designed in 1999 by Hopkins Architects.

Westminster tube station designed in 1999 by Hopkins Architects. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Leadenhall Market.

Leadenhall Market. Image: Federico Monsalve

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<em>Untitled (Cravings White)</em>, by Lee Bul at Tate Modern.

Untitled (Cravings White), by Lee Bul at Tate Modern. Image: Federico Monsalve

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St Paul's Cathedral.

St Paul’s Cathedral. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Street scene using the P9's "impact" filter.

Street scene using the P9’s “impact” filter. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Street photography on low light levels.

Street photography on low light levels. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Night scene.

Night scene. Image: Federico Monsalve

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Telecommunications giant Huawei launched their latest premium handsets P9 and P9 Plus at a packed event in Battersea, London last April 6, 2016 and Urbis attended and took the P9 for a photographic spin.

The phone has many excellent features (screen resolution, long lasting battery, subtle and attractive design, etc) yet its pièce de résistance is, undoubtedly, its camera. The P9 Huawei has partnered with photography heavyweight Leica for the creation of one of the most exciting little phone “snappers” we have come across in a while. 

The P9 camera’s big bang comes in the shape of a dual lens. Yes, the phone has two lenses sitting side by side at the back – hence the Huawei’s clever hashtag #00. Using some of the basic principles of dual lens cameras from yesteryear (remember the beautiful, boxy and mighty heavy machines like the Rolleiflex and the Yashicas?) gives the camera a depth of field previously unimaginable for portable phones. The phone captures two images – one from a black and white lens and one from a colour lens – with one click. Its software then stitches them together in hopes of obtaining a crisper, more detailed image… and that, it does.

Leica co-engineered the lenses as well as assisted Huawei in producing the software to run it. As such, the phone has within it a few of the most recognisable and endearing quirks of the German brand: the somewhat retro sans serif fonts, the unique shutter sound of their SLRs and the “red dot” strategically placed in packaging.

The software also includes several interesting and undeniably fun touches. For the seasoned photographers, you can manually control aperture, ISO, speed, exposure value, focus and more. For the Instagram-ready generation it has an impressive series of filters that are easy to access and customise. Given the phone’s dedicated black and white lens, the monochrome setting brings some delicious tonalities and depth. The handset handles night images or those with high contrast better than many other phone cameras of a similar ilk. With the P9, Huawei has undoubtedly lifted the bar on mobile telephone cameras. 

To put the Leica camera to the test Huawei commissioned renowned photographers to capture images in places like Mexico, China, London and beyond. Likewise, Urbis was given a chance to test out this gadget around the streets of London and Paris and above are some of the images we captured. 

A full review of Huawei’s P9 phone will appear in the June 2016 issue of Urbis.


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