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Thank you for visiting my Scooby1970 blogspot. I update whenever I can and when I have something interesting to share. You will also find published work of mine at Gaming Illustrated. Gaming Illustrated is where most of my work now takes place, but I will transfer some of my more popular articles from there over to this blog, in extended format.

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:) Mark

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Huawei P9 Review

Every two years I have the arduous task of choosing a new mobile phone. Last time I had the choice of two phones, the Samsung S5 or Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I wanted a bigger screen and awesome specs, so went with the Note. The phone served me well, but this time I wanted something a little bit different, I wanted the best phone on the market for taking photos, with high specs and a market leading flagship. Oh, one more thing, I didn't want a Samsung

The logic behind my decision is twofold. Firstly having a Samsung every upgrade three of the last four upgrades (the other was a HTC) meant I didn't feel like I was having anything different, just a little upgrade each time and no excitement. Secondly,  I'd used my wife's Huawei Honor 7 and immediately fell in love with everything about it. It was different, it was quality and it ticked all the right boxes!

The Huawei P9 General Hardware Specs
Released on Three on Friday May 6th 2016, the phone comes on an unlimited calls and text plan with 2GB data for just £28 a month. My data usage used to be higher, however over recent months it has dropped dramatically.

The P9 has a 5.2 inch 1080p screen, and the dimensions are 152.3 x 75.3 x 6.8 mm (6.00 x 2.96 x 0.28 in). It is only 6.8mm thick, meaning it's thinner than a Samsung S7, but still manages to hold a 3000ma battery.

Powered by Huawei’s in-house Kiran 955 processor with 3GB of memory, it's a powerful handset which scores higher than 810 processors of other phones, but is slower than 820 processors in single core mode, and faster in multicore mode. Benchmarks are pointless as they never give true performance results. The phone is very fast, and an example of this is how quick it installs new software! Instantly in most cases.

Around the left of the phone there are no buttons, only a pinhole for the SIM card(s) and SD card slot. On the top of the phone is just a microphone for noise cancellation. On the right hand side of the phone is the volume rocker and a textured power button, while the bottom of the phone houses a USB C connection, headphone jack and mono speaker.

On the front of the phone there is a earpiece speaker, where there is a notification light built into which changes various colours depending on what the phone is telling you that you have missed.

The back of the phone houses two 12MP camera modules and Leica branding, a two tone flash and a fingerprint scanner.

The Screen
With a 1080p resolution screen, the Huawei P9 does not match the 4k screens of some other flagships. However, it's hard enough to spot differences on a 50” TV of 1080p vs 4k, so on a 5.2inch screen it's almost impossible. Side by side with a Samsung S7, it's impossible to see the pixel difference when in normal use.

The screen is very bright, and can easily be seen in bright sunlight. Unlike other makes, Huawei use LCD screen technology, which produces deep blacks, and more realistic colours. So many phones these days have over saturated colours, the Huawei has bold colours without local unnatural.

There are a myriad of options for changing the colour of the screen tones etc, to suit your personal needs. The screen also has auto brightness, which works better than on any phone I've ever used before.

The Camera
This is where the phone really shines. The P9 contains two 12MP Leica branded lenses. The Leica name is synonymous with high quality photography, so the P9 has a lot to live up to. Thankfully in use the P9 is simply awesome. Photographs look realistic, with grade contrast and colour. The P9 does not push to produce unreal popping colour photos similar to the Samsung S7, instead it focuses images that look exactly like they are seen with your eyes.

The two camera’s mean that the black and white sensor can be used to gather more light, and thus add more detail to photographs, it also can calculate depth of field, meaning you can take photos with the blur effect found on professional cameras. Thanks to some clever software, if you are not happy with the blur after you have taken the photo, then you can adjust the photos to your hearts content.

The black and white sensor can also be used to take balck and white images. This sensor alone is worth the price of the phone, and produces spectacular monochrome images, in a way only a camera can produce (as opposed to turning colour photos black and white).

The camera has loads of different options such as the mentioned black and white and normal camera, plus HDR, Beauty, Panorama, Night Shot, Light Painting,Time-Lapse, Slow-Mo, Watermark and more.

For fans of taking selfies, the P9 comes equipped with a 8MP front facing camera which knocks the spots off any of its competitors. Photos taken with this camera are bright and colourful, and full of detail. It even takes photos in Beauty Mode as standard, so you'll always look your best.

Where the phone loses to it’s contemporaries is its video mode, where its highest recording resolution is 1080p and 60 frames per second. There is software image stabilising which works well when filming.

The Software
Running Emotion UI 4.1, the Huawei P9 has a heavily modified Android skin that many people take a dislike to without even trying to get to know it.

HTC use Sense and Samsung UAE Touchwiz, EMUI is unlike either, and unlike stock Android in most respects. It has no app-drawer and takes a few of the best features of both Android and iOS. Usually I use Nova Launcher and tweak it to be a supes-up almost stock Android experience, but I find EMUI to be very respectable in what it does.

The UI is fast and responsive, and is really simple to use. It also looks really nice and has customisation features such as changing the home screen size and themes. It's all done in Huawei style, and when it works it fantastic.

The Sound
Housing a small speaker at the bottom right of the handset, the sound quality although mono is quite loud and has a fairly rich tone to it, with even a little bass to be heard.

When using headphones things are much better. Not mentioned in most reviews, the Huawei P9 uses DTS when headphone listening. Bass is nice and deep, mids and treble are rich, and the soundstage is really wide. Using the bundled headphones gives a nice sound even if the fitting is a little off for my ears, while using a pair of Sony over-the-head ZX-600’s gives amazing sound quality when listening to most music types.

The Fingerprint Scanner
A review of a Huawei phone cannot be complete without a review of the fingerprint scanner. Huawei are World leaders when it comes to this technology, the fingerprint scanner is a Class 4 scanner, meaning it can read even more information about your fingerprints than any other scanner.

Placed at the back, it's positioned exactly where your pointing finger lays, and it makes so much sense! Other companies place their scanner on the front, but that doesn’t make much sense, and it’s really inconvenient, something you’ll notice once you’ve used a back-situated fingerprint scanner!

It is instantaneous in use, and is accurate 100% of the time. It can be used for more than just unlocking your phone though, as you can pull down your notifications menu and scroll through the gallery with it. Really interactive, and something once used, you will miss when you go elsewhere.

Battery Life And Call Quality
With such a large battery it's easy to get a day's use out of the phone. With a combination of social media use, YouTube, some light game playing, a few minutes of calls and plenty of texts, along with using the camera and looking at photos I usually have around 30% left at the end of the day for night time browsing etc.

Making calls is easy with the dialling software included, and call quality is loud and rich. No calls have been lost as the P9 boasts a special three-way antenna system to improve calls.

The Huawei P9 won't appeal to many people for a couple of stupid reasons. The first reason is because many have not heard of Huawei (who happen to be the third largest mobile phone manufacturer), while the second reason is the phone isn't a Samsung!

Fear not though, the P9 is an extraordinary mobile device with a wealth of features. It has powerful battery saving features, is customisable out of the box, has stunning performance of its cameras, has great sound and video playback and is a lot cheaper than the closest spec'd Samsung or HTC.

Once you've used a Huawei device, it's hard to think about going back to what you were used to as the whole experience just grows on you quickly, and before you know it you're in love with the best phone of this generation.