Huawei P9 Review

We’ve seen dual camera setups before, but never one quite like what the Huawei P9 packs. The phone boasts two 12MP F2.2 snappers co-engineered with Leica – a company known for its high-quality cameras and optics. In essence, one of the modules takes color images, while the other shoots monochrome photos. The two images are then merged intelligently in software to produce a photo combining the colors of the regular sensor with the detail of the black-and-white one, or at least that’s the theory.

The stock camera application takes a few seconds to load, probably because it is packed with knobs and switches for us to tinker with. The default shooting mode is plain and simple, but a swipe up brings out manual camera controls for focus, white balance, ISO, and exposure time – handy for photography enthusiasts. There’s also a mode that adds a bokeh effect to the image, presumably by using visual data from both cameras. In plain words, the background is blurred to accentuate on the subject being photographed. HDR, Burst Mode, RAW output, and object tracking are also present. There’s no 4K video support, however.

As far as image quality goes, the Huawei P9 takes good photos. Really good, in fact, with faithful color representation, accurate white balance, plenty of detail in the shots, and well-controlled sharpness. Dynamic sceneries – where both bright and dark areas are within the frame – tend to look underexposed, however, so you might want to give these a little boost with a tap on the screen. The HDR mode is very modest with its intervention and rarely makes a striking difference.

At night, the Huawei P9 takes decent photos, but it doesn’t set a new standard in smartphone photography. We’d rank it on par with other high-ends in this respect. Its secret weapon – the monochrome camera – can be of some advantage in low light as it is more sensitive to light, but you’d be sacrificing color, obviously. Interestingly, the Night Mode can shoot excellent images – the best night shots you’ll ever see out of a phone – but a tripod is a must when using the feature, as it uses long exposure times, over 10 seconds at times.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Huawei P9 2.7
No data
No data
Apple iPhone 6s 1.7
Samsung Galaxy S7 1.5
LG G5 2.2

Then there are the gimmicks thrown in the P9’s camera app. As we mentioned, there’s a mode adding background blur to images, but we don’t see ourselves using it daily. True, it works really well in certain cases, but the effect looks artificial and forced in others. If you want to use it anyway, try to avoid setting its strength to the maximum. This can be done even after the photo has been taken, which is nice.

Video quality is average, both in daytime and low-light scenes. Details are lacking and the continuous autofocus takes a long while to kick in. At least the stereo sound being recorded is loud and clear.


Huawei P9 Review

The stock photo gallery on the Honor P9 is what you use to view and share images. It also holds a valuable cache of image editing tools – from basic cropping and rotating to highlights and shadows adjustment. Videos can be viewed in the same application, but you don’t get any more advanced tools, such as video trimming.

Sound comes out of a single loudspeaker placed at the Huawei P9’s bottom. Its quality can be best described as average, as it is sufficiently loud and doesn’t crackle, but lacks in depth. Besides, its position makes it prone to being covered while we’re holding the phone in landscape orientation. We’re not thrilled by the bundled set of Earpod-esque earphones, but they get the job done.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Huawei P9 0.32
Apple iPhone 6s 0.986
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.704
LG G5 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Huawei P9 76
Apple iPhone 6s 69.6
Samsung Galaxy S7 72.7
LG G5 73



1. xdza1979

Posts: 296; Member since: Aug 08, 2015


3. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

and HTC10 score wont be far from this one :D

12. Ashoaib

Posts: 3263; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Early reviews are suggesting that HTC again fall short of a good camera... so P9 should be scored higher than 10...

19. letosaw

Posts: 135; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

Almost every reviewer says that htc 10 has a really good and compelling camera. Unless you watched the verge's review which you absolutely shouldn't watch

28. MSi_GS70 unregistered

check that vid dislikes :DD

32. letosaw

Posts: 135; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

One of them is mine DD

31. maherk

Posts: 6686; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

True that, the verge's review was a joke. Didn't even bother watching the whole thing after the 1st minute. As for the other reviews, they did say the 10 has a very good camera, that can deliver astonishing results in day light, but not so much in challenging low light situations, and thats not what HTC promised us. Nothing still beats the S7 and G5's camera.

39. 2.5GHz

Posts: 270; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

Hey maherk! Here's a quote from Slashgear's review of the HTC 10's camera:Throw in the tendency for the "Laser auto focus blocked" warning to flash up, even when you'd swear you had no fingers, toes, or any other extremities anywhere near the lens - you have to wait a moment for the message to clear before you can try again - and the whole thing can be very hit-or-miss."


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

The reviews I watched were here and there. Some of the reviewers hadn't got the software update that fixed focusing speed and camera app quickness. Thus, some of them rate it pre-update. There are reviews that say it's pictures are more natural than the S7 and that its lowlight is nearly as good if not better in certain cases.

63. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

S7 lowlight is supposedly not that good.

65. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Its not that bad. Just that the software needs a little work...low light images still have the yellow tint in them

54. TerryTerius unregistered

I guess my fundamental question about the HTC 10, is whether or not simply making a phone that is as good as its rivals is enough. HTC needs sales more than anything else. It's hard for me to see a really compelling reason for the average consumer to choose the 10 over its biggest rival, really every android phone's biggest rival; the S7. You don't want to be equal, when going into battle with a juggernaut you want to be definitively better. Especially when you're outgunned in terms of marketing, brand cache, and brand loyalty. In no way am I trying to detract from the 10, most of what I've read about it says is a great phone and I think they've massively improved. If I didn't already have a 6S plus as a business line, I would probably be getting the 10. But with incredibly stiff competition from Samsung and to a slightly lesser degree LG, what does HTC have that will be a huge draw? I'm not really convinced boom sound, great build quality, a competitive camera and the refined interface is going to be enough to steal Samsung's thunder. And considering they will be competing head on in terms of price… It just makes me wonder whether or not they can pull it off. Convincing avid readers of tech sites is one thing. Swaying the market is another beast entirely. You don't want to be the alternative, you want to be the better choice.

73. Ashoaib

Posts: 3263; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

I don't know what you are reading... Almost every review shows that HTC 10's camera is trailing behind the competition. It is much better than before but not better than the competition... I will suggest you to go and see camera shoot out between G5, S7, 6p and HTC 10... You will find 6p in the top performers and HTC 10 in the tail end, despite having the same sensor... so, basically HTC f**ked the great im377 sensor...

27. MSi_GS70 unregistered

just people don't take this slut aple site seriously we know this site right ? just read its news ..

82. johnny_cypher

Posts: 10; Member since: Mar 19, 2014

It looks like you are totally wrong :D

17. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Damn 7.5...I guess we need to call state farm/all-statw

25. dimas

Posts: 3266; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Just fresh from the html oven, android pit have a different take and cons are only nitpicking things. I think $600 for huawei p9 is a good buy after all.

74. TerryTerius unregistered

It would probably be wise to average out the reviews and not just focus on one. Whether that's negative or positive.

83. ECPirate37

Posts: 291; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

I got the Huawei P9 the day it released in China, and I love it. Is it the best phone ever? Nope. But, I do enjoy it a lot. I currently use that, and the LG V10 (which I LOVE). I would get the P9 an 8.5. I haven't had to deal with the battery life, since I use my V10 for most things, so I can't speak to that. My battery usually only gets charged once every day or two. As far as the camera, I've taken GORGEOUS photos with the P9. I am a part time photographer, and when I sent friends photos from it, they thought I was using my Canon 70D. They're that good. Left out of the article, and something I find cool is the "Light Painting" option. That has the ability to do: Taillights, Moving Water, Light Graffiti, and Star Track". For example, taillights takes the photo with the cars moving, so you have the trail of taillights glowing. Very cool. The Moving water is awesome. It makes the rest of the photo still, but the water looks almost like glass. Also, for any that are overly vain, the depth of "beauty" options on the selfie cam is amazing. I keep that turned off because I like looking at me, haha but it is fun to play with! As for the screen having a bluish tint in the whites, I do not have that problem. In the display options, they have the option to chose warmer, normal, or cooler so I wonder if maybe the review unit PA has was set to cooler. And if you don't like any of those options, there is a color wheel and you can pick. When making phone calls, PA failed to mention Call record. That's a cool function. Especially for when you're making a business call. Turn that on, and you don't have to worry about remembering exactly what they said. The phone is beautiful, and when people here have seen it, they want to touch it. I don't think the 2 camera lens takes away from the beauty at all. If anything, it makes it more attention grabbing. Of course, that is personal opinion. One drawback that PA failed to mention is the phone doesn't rest well on your shoulder if you make a call (which I wouldn't expect them to test). It likes to slide down no matter how you prop it. I feel like there are a couple of other functions I really appreciate about the phone but can't think of right now. But seriously, I find 7.5 to be really low for this phone.

26. FoneAddict

Posts: 263; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

Why is there so much HATE for Chinese phones??

30. MSi_GS70 unregistered

because USA is failing.. there is no chance to ONLY ape hold smartphone throne .. the legs are breaking .. all sites are under apple steer wheel .. usa sites.. where else.. These days you must not believe NOTHING .. all is just LIE .. we living in HUGE WAST LIE ..

52. TerryTerius unregistered

Ha, alright.

33. MSi_GS70 unregistered

so crappy iphone SE got 8.8 ?? PA u wanna tell me now ip SE is better that P9 ? utaking piss PA right ?

55. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

I think for its price the SE is an excellent smartphone. That's why it got such a high score, and potential biased.

62. MSi_GS70 unregistered

no it has that score JUST because there is apple logo and says ''iphone''

68. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

But the 16gb shouldn't even be considered since you can't really record in 4k very long. So most websites state that you should really only consider the 32gb... Which puts it around $100 less than better phones and the Nexus 6P...

2. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I would never give away my $600-$650 to Leica camera marketing bubble and overall "just another phone". 7.5 is a very generous score for this price tag.

8. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

imagine if its that apple add that Leica camera to their iPhone.. their fans will go crazy over that mono and blur, lol..

34. maherk

Posts: 6686; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

In all fairness, Huawei admitted that Leica didn't help build the sensor nor the software, they simply endorsed the P9's camera, which is nothing but a marketing stunt.

57. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

thats the point.. and leica even slapping their name beside their camera.. leica have high brand value, and most of apple user love high brand value :D
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin, Octa-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(20h 3G talk time)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.