Huawei P9 review: Ascension

GSMArena team, 15 April, 2016.

Camera (continued)

Huawei P9 uses two 12MP Sony IMX286 sensors, the monochrome one lacks a Bayer filter, which is a normal part of any modern camera sensor. The image quality produced by both sensors is theoretically the same, though the absence of the color filter and thus the brighter sensor gives the monochrome pictures an edge over the color ones.

Anyway, we saw the balck&white samples are quite impressive, now it's time to see what the color snapper can do. And it doesn't disappoint at all. The 12MP color samples came out with more than enough resolved detail, high dynamic range, and spot-on colors. The contrast is great, too.

Just like the iPhone's 12MP images, the P9's could have benefitted from a little more detail and little less noise, but they still tick all the necessary boxes to be considered flagship grade. And thanks to the high dynamic range we found it unnecessary to use the HDR mode.

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Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review
Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review
Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review Huawei P9 12MP camera samples - Huawei P9 review
Huawei P9 12MP camera samples

And here come two HDR samples.

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HDR off HDR on HDR off HDR on

These are the rest of the Vivid and Smooth shots we captured.

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Vivid camera samples

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Smooth camera samples

The panorama mode is one of the better implementations on the market, switching automatically between portrait and landscape. When shooting in portrait, panoramic images turn out a bit taller than 3,000 pixels and the samples below are more than 22MP, while being far from a 180-degree sweep (about 30MP). Stitching is good, exposure is even, it's just that the captured detail is a notch less than on the still images. You can enable Vivid or Smooth modes for the Panorama mode, if you like.

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Huawei P9 panoramic images - Huawei P9 review
Huawei P9 panoramic images

The front camera of the P9 is an 8MP unit shooting images at 3,264 x 2,448 pixels. It's paired with a relatively dim by today's standards f/2.4 lens. There is the obligatory beautification feature, which attempts to mask skin blemishes.

If you go for a regular photo, the resolved detail is quite satisfactory, the colors and contrast are great, too. It's one of the better selfie snappers we've met, it also supports screen flash and shoot pleasant selfies most of the time.

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8MP selfie samples

You can check out how the Huawei P9's primary camera stacks up against the competition in our Photo compare tool.

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Huawei P9 in our Photo Compare Tool

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Huawei P9's monochrome camera in our Photo Compare Tool

Video recording capped at 1080p

One of the major flaws of the P9 is that it doesn't support 2160p video recording, when it has become the de facto standard resolution for high-end smartphone camcorders. A lot of users will live just fine without it, but they shouldn't have to at this price point.

The smartphone does support 1080p@60fps, so at least, there's that. Additionally, you get a slow motion mode, where video is recorded at 120fps, but the resolution is just 720p.

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The camcorder settings

The 1080p@60fps videos come out with a bitrate of 34Mbps while the 30fps ones are exactly half that. In either case, audio is recorded in stereo at 192kbps.

There isn't much room for praise in the video department. They lack the detail you'd expect from that resolution and the dynamic range is mediocre. The colors are once again spot-on and the contrast is very good. There isn't any annoying focus hunting either.

Note that you can have the Vivid and Smooth modes in videos, too. It's a pity you can't use the monochrome snapper for capturing videos though.

The first playlist shows Standard, Vivid, and Smooth videos captured by the Huawei P9 mounted on a tripod.

This second playlist is of handheld videos we shot around London.

Here is a 60fps video clip.

And finally, a low-light handheld video.

As usual, we've provided unedited samples straight out of the camera for you to download (1080p@30fps (10s, 23MB), 1080p@60fps (12s, 54MB)).

Be sure to head over to our video compare tool to check where the P9 stands against the rest.

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Huawei P9 in our Video Compare Tool