May 30, 2016

When we first heard about the collaboration between Huawei and Leica, we thought it was very unusual, since one’s a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications company, while the other is a renowned German optics enterprise that’s highly regarded for its famous high-quality, lightweight rangefinder cameras. But they made it work and they’re hoping to reinvent smartphone photography by putting the best hardware and software together – from optical lenses and sensors to imaging processing algorithms – into the new P9 smartphone.

It’s important to do away with the stereotypical notion that Chinese branded smartphones have a “short lifespan” and are “cheap imitations” because from what I’ve gathered after using the  P9, it has its own strengths. Besides, Huawei is now the third best global smartphone player, running steadily behind Apple and Samsung, with the hopes of reaching its global target of shipping 140 million smartphones this year (that means they’re definitely doing something that sits well with their users).

The P9 is the first smartphone that’s co-engineered with the legendary global brand, Leica Camera AG. The key to its outstanding capabilities lies in the two 12-megapixel Sony sensors, each with a Leica SUMMARIT f/2.2 27mm lens. The RGB sensor captures colour while the monochrome sensor picks up image detail, and this allowed me to take very detailed and vivid images with a lot of depth. Also, the two sensors made the P9 pretty handy for shooting in low-light conditions because more light and detail is captured.

When shooting with the P9, you can select from three different film modes – Standard, Vivid Colours and Smooth Colours. Each one has been calibrated to render the authentic colours and timeless aesthetic you would get on a typical Leica camera. It also takes high quality black-and-white photos because you’re essentially shooting the P9’s native monochrome sensor camera. There’s also a neat “professional mode” that can be accessed by sliding up the horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen when you’re in the camera mode, which lets you adjust the ISO, shutter speed and other settings usually found on a conventional camera. It also has the ability to save the image in RAW format.

But apart from its photography prowess, the P9 is an overall gorgeous-looking device with state-of-the-art industrial design, similar to the minimal design DNA of its earlier products in their flagship P-series premium smartphones. It has a superior grade 2.5D gorilla glass that seamlessly blends into the diamond-cut curved edges of the phone’s aerospace-class aluminium unibody. The P9 comes with a 5.2-inch 1080p display, and is powered by the new Kirin 955 2.5GHz 64-bit ARM-based processor and a 3,000mAh high-density battery.


Huawei P9 (3GB RAM + 32GB storage), $768; P9 Deluxe (4GB RAM + 64GB storage), $888. Available at the Huawei Flagship Store.