Huawei P9 review: Ascension

Ascension

GSMArena team, 15 April, 2016.

Unboxing the Huawei P9

The P9 box is rather big, but houses just the necessities - a 5V/2A wall plug, a USB Type-C cable, and a pair of EarPod-like headphones with a remote. We appreciate the nice packaging - it surely feels premium.

If you want to rapid (quick) charge your battery, you will have to purchase Huawei's original Quick Charger 9V/2A for about $20.

The contents of the Huawei P9's retail box - Huawei P9 review The contents of the Huawei P9's retail box - Huawei P9 review
The contents of the Huawei P9's retail box

Huawei P9 360-degree spin

Huawei P9 spreads at 145 x 70.9 x 7 mm, which is about the same as the P8, or rather 1.3 mm narrower to be more precise. The P9 weighs the same as the P8 at 144g.

Design and build quality

Huawei has upped the attention to detail to a new high with the P9 flagship. There are two flavors of the P9 - the ceramic white, and the metal one made of aerospace-class aluminum.

Huawei P9 review

The ceramic white edition, obviously, has a ceramic unibody, which is highly glossy but far from slippery. The white flavor is not prone to fingerprints and smudges, but that's not the best part of it. Huawei claims the ceramic is "smoother than the painted bodywork of premium cars." It bends light to create an ever-changing show of color as ambient light changes and we can confirm the effect is nothing short of stunning.

Unfortunately, we handled the ceramic version only at the announcement event and we can't show you any pictures for now.

There is another flavor, made of brushed hairline aluminum, only available in Haze Gold paintjob. It has a very similar feel of the HTC One M9, which was also made of brushed aluminum.

And we have the aluminum model with sandblast finish, Titanium Grey paintjob, and it's equally beautiful. The other available color options for the sandblasted models are Prestige Gold, Rose Gold, and Mystic Silver.

Huawei P9 - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 - Huawei P9 review
Huawei P9

So, our Huawei P9 is clothed in 2.5D glass and aerospace-class aluminum. The industrial design is continuation of the P-series while its sandblasted finish makes for a rather premium matte look, secure grip, and is very pleasant to touch.

The metal frame is part of the chassis but is accented with chamfered edges all the way on both sides.

The chamfered edges - Huawei P9 review The chamfered edges - Huawei P9 review
The chamfered edges

You have probably noticed the two plastic strips on the back - currently that's the solution to cover the antenna bands, and the P9 has three of those (antennas not strips) to make sure death grips never happen.

Huawei P9 review

The top plastic strip is rather insignificant though, as it is mostly hidden under the luxurious camera plating. For the titanium gray model, the panel is made of black glass with discreet gray line pattern. It's an excellent accent on the dual 12MP snappers and the Leica logo sits great on the opposite side.

The top plastic strip - Huawei P9 review
The top plastic strip

The Huawei P9 is one of the most beautiful smartphones we've handled lately, and is a pleasure to work and shoot with. It's slim and lightweight but of a sturdy and solid build, and thanks to the sandblasted finish the grip is very secure.

The Huawei P9 next to the Galaxy S7 - Huawei P9 review The Huawei P9 next to the Galaxy S7 - Huawei P9 review The Huawei P9 next to the Galaxy S7 - Huawei P9 review
The Huawei P9 next to the Galaxy S7

Finally, the P9 is compact enough and easy to operate with just one hand. Your index finger should fall perfectly on the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The sensor is always-on and unlocks the P9 immediately upon touch, no need to wake it up first. It's rated as Level 4 of fingerprint recognition security, which makes it one of the most secure scanners available on a phone.

Handling the P9 - Huawei P9 review It has a slim profile - Huawei P9 review The fingerprint scanner on the back - Huawei P9 review The sensor is always-on - Huawei P9 review
Handling the P9 • It has a slim profile • The fingerprint scanner on the back • The sensor is always-on

Controls

Above the 5.2" display is the earpiece which has an embedded notification light underneath and you can see it only when active. The 8MP selfie shooter and a couple of sensors are also around.

There is nothing but the Huawei logo below the screen.

A peek above the display - Huawei P9 review The earpiece - Huawei P9 review
A peek above the display • The earpiece

The left side has the SIM/SD tray which requires a small pin to pop out. It could either house a nano-SIM and a microSD card, or two nano-SIM cards if you got the dual-SIM P9 flavor. This model uses a hybrid slot, so you can choose to either have a microSD or a second SIM.

The metal volume rocker and power/lock key are on the right.

The left side - Huawei P9 review the SIM tray - Huawei P9 review the right side - Huawei P9 review the power key - Huawei P9 review
The left side • the SIM tray • the right side • the power key

The top of the phone has nothing but the secondary mic. The bottom is pretty crowded though - here are the USB Type-C port, the loudspeaker grille, the primary mic, and the audio jack.

The top side - Huawei P9 review the bottom - Huawei P9 review the USB Type-C port - Huawei P9 review
The top side • the bottom • the USB Type-C port

The Huawei P9 features two 12MP sensors on the back, one is fairly standard and captures color photographs while the other is monochrome (black&white). Leica designed three modes - Standard, Vivid Colors and Smooth Color, which promise to recreate the Leica film camera experience. We'll talk about this later on.

The camera setup is completed with a dual-tone LED flash and the laser AF hidden beneath.

The back of the Huawei P9 - Huawei P9 review the Leica camera setup - Huawei P9 review
The back of the Huawei P9 • the Leica camera setup

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

My device is not working on bluetooth n opening WiFi

  • LUIS FLORES

I still have the phone and in my opinion it is very good, the bad thing is that I only have 3GB of RAM and 32 ROM. It is the main reason why I want to change it, since if I had more ram and rom I would still be perfect. The 3000 mAh battery also s...

  • AnonD-899411

That just means you need to get a battery replacement. Once you have a quality replacement, camera and other functions work as expected.