Needless to say that the Chinese manufacturer of smartphones Huawei is a huge player in the mobile phone market and swiftly increases its market share on the European market where more and more consumers are aware that the brand offers a lot of bang for the buck. Enough said: let’s get started with a feature in which we are particularly interested: the Huawei P9 dual camera system and the camera app. Apparently LG was first with its G5 to launch a dual camera smartphone system, so it seems. In its slipstream Huawei was quick to follow with a smartphone also equipped with dual cameras. But we have to nuance that runner up idea: the camera system that sits on the LG G5 is not really a dual camera system. The secondary module essentially acts as a wide-angle extension. On the contrary, with the Huawei P9 we have a real dual camera system on our hands. Bam ! Glad we got that out of the way.
Huawei co-engineered its dual camera system for the P9 with the German camera manufacturer Leica. Under the hood sits a 12MP RGB main sensor which is in the good company of a 12MP monochrome chip which power two F2.2. lenses. For those who scratch their heads: that kind of light sensitivity on a (flagship) smartphone is pretty awesome. Following the peeps over at Huawei, combining image information from both sensors makes the P9 camera 100% more light-sensitive than conventional smartphone cameras. Moreover, with the dual camera system, the P9 has some more tricks up its sleeve such as shallow-depth-of-field. Wow, it starts to look like this smartphone has some semi-professional features on board. Bummer, we couldn’t find any image stabilisation. Oh well, as diehards perhaps we’re asking too much. There’s even a third camera on board: at the front of the device there is an 8MP F2.2 camera for the occasional self-portrait or video-chat. Nice !
Like most current smartphones the Huawei P9 does not have a dedicated camera button. Such a pity because there are smartphones out there, like the LG G5, where pictures can be made by pushing the volume up button on the rear side of the camera. To us, that looks and feels pretty much like a semi-dedicated camera button. Unfortunately, not the case with P9. The Huawei P9 camera app comes with a layout that you might find on most smartphones such as a virtual shutter button in the middle on the bottom side of the screen and a photo/video mode button. Swiping up from the bottom opens up the camera mode tray. Here’ll you find panorama, HDR and monochrome modes among others. Swiping down from the top edge opens the settings. Here you can change the image resolution, activate the grid and fine-tune saturation and adjust brightness among a plethora of other options. In manual mode this smartphone becomes a camera beast with all things seasoned photographers are acquinted with: aperture, shutter speed, iso. Hell, you can even shoot in raw and consecutively fine tune your picture in Photoshop if you want to. Kudoos !
Within the P9 camera app, we especially like the filters option. A tap on the filter button on the left edge of the main screen opens up the filter selection screen that gives you live-view thumbnails of all eight filters plus the original image. In addition the P9 comes with a dedicated Monochrome mode. When activated the camera only uses image data captured by the monochrome sensor in the dual-camera system and discards the color information recorded by the RGB sensor. To our opinion, that results in superior black & white image detail. With a real life picture, these are the results.
Original | Blue filter
Nostalgia filter | Sentimental filter
Impact filter | ND filter
Valencia filter | Dawn filter
Wanna know what other little marvels the Huawei P9 contains beside a humongous photographic toolbox ? Then stay tuned for the sequel of the WOW* P9 review which wille be released pretty soon !