Huawei P9 Plus

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Huawei is on the up and up in the UK with its lat­est flag­ships, the Huawei P9 and the larger P9 Plus. While the P9 launched shortly af­ter its an­nounce­ment in April, it has taken a bit longer for the P9 Plus to reach UK shores.

De­sign

Looks wise, the Huawei P9 Plus is sim­ply gor­geous – with a de­sign rem­i­nis­cent of the Huawei P8, the

curved metal uni­body of the P9 Plus is sleek and with vary­ing tex­tures and fin­ishes avail­able for the smart­phone, there’s some­thing for all tastes. The model we’ve used had a rather smooth, shiny fin­ish that ad­mit­tedly does pick up fin­ger­prints fairly easy, but if that’s not for you, you can also opt for a sand­blasted fin­ish which should stop grubby fin­ger­prints from ap­pear­ing as eas­ily. In terms of colour op­tions, you have four: Ce­ramic White, Rose Gold, Haze Gold and Quartz Grey.

As with the Sam­sung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the P9 Plus is the larger op­tion in Huawei’s 2016 flag­ship of­fer­ing with a 5.5in dis­play com­pared to the 5.2in dis­play of the Huawei P9. So if a 5.2in screen is too small then you’ll be bet­ter off with the P9 Plus here and we must ad­mit, we’re glad Huawei hasn’t gone for any­thing big­ger as it has done with pre­vi­ous smart­phone re­leases.

What’s im­pres­sive here is that de­spite the larger dis­play and all the tech­nol­ogy fea­tured in the flag­ship smart­phone, the P9 Plus is still very slen­der and light­weight – at 152.3x75.3x6.98mm and 162g. This makes the Huawei P9 Plus thin­ner and lighter than the iPhone 6s, and the im­pres­sive screen-to-body ra­tio of around 72.7 per­cent means the P9 Plus isn’t an un­wieldy hand­ful.

The bezels at the sides of the screen are just 1.7mm, mean­ing it’s not too hard to use one-handed al­though those with small hands may disagree. The curved edges of the smart­phone com­bined with the 2.5D glass also make the smart­phone com­fort­able to hold over long pe­ri­ods of time, with no com­plaints from us thus far.

Per­for­mance

So, what does the Huawei P9 Plus have to of­fer, and how does this com­pare to the Huawei P9 which costs around £100 less at £449? Let’s start with the screen; Huawei has opted for a 5.5in dis­play, which isn’t much big­ger than the P9’s 5.2in screen. That’s a good thing if you ask us fol­low­ing the mam­moth 6.8in P8 Max – hence the Plus brand­ing, in­stead of Max.

How­ever, if you as­sumed a big­ger dis­play would mean a higher res­o­lu­tion, you’d be wrong as the res­o­lu­tion is still Full HD (1080x1920), but the tech is Su­perAMOLED rather than IPS. While Su­perAMOLED dis­plays are al­ways a plus, it’s worth not­ing that the Sam­sung Galaxy S7 also has a Su­perAMOLED dis­play but with a higher res­o­lu­tion, 1440x2560. The Su­perAMOLED tech pro­vides users with a dis­play that’s crisp, bright and gen­er­ally gor­geous, al­though the con­trast is a lit­tle too high for our per­sonal taste – but on the other hand, it does make snaps taken on the phone look ex­tra vi­brant.

As well as this, the phone sup­ports Press Touch, which is es­sen­tially the same as Force Touch on the iPhone 6s. The P9 Plus can de­tect dif­fer­ent lev­els of pres­sure when you press it. How­ever, there were

only 18 sup­ported apps for Press Touch at launch, and none (as far as we can see) have been added since launch. This is, we as­sume, be­cause Huawei has to add sup­port it­self and isn’t some­thing that third-party de­vel­op­ers can add. And to be hon­est, with it not be­ing read­ily avail­able in cer­tain mar­kets, why would they bother?

Any­way, let’s look at the in­ter­nals of the P9 Plus. In­side, it fea­tures the same Kirin 955 pro­ces­sor (a 64-bit octa-core chip) as its smaller brother, the P9, but with a few no­table up­grades in­clud­ing more RAM at 4GB in­stead of 3GB, and a base stor­age of 64GB. The P9 also has a 64GB stor­age ca­pac­ity op­tion, but users will have to pay more for

the priv­i­lege. How­ever, it’s worth not­ing that the Huawei P9 Plus fea­tures a mi­croSD card slot which can ex­pand your in­ter­nal stor­age by up to 128GB.

How does that trans­late to real world use? The P9 Plus is a speedy beast, that’s for sure. It’s ex­tremely re­spon­sive, apps open al­most in­stantly and the smart­phone can go from standby to cap­tur­ing a photo in 1.3 sec­onds (on av­er­age, any­way!). In our ex­pe­ri­ence the P9 Plus can han­dle pretty much any­thing we throw at it – es­pe­cially when it comes to gam­ing, as we’ve played a num­ber of games and not re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced any lag or screen tear­ing. But the real ques­tion is “how did it per­form in our bench­marks?” Be­fore we go any fur­ther we’d just like to ex­plain that in all of our Bench­mark tests, the higher re­sult, the bet­ter. Let’s start with Geek­bench 3, which tests the pro­cess­ing power of the smart­phone – it scored 1853 in sin­glecore mode and 6682 in multi-core mode. To com­pare, it’s slightly more pow­er­ful than Sam­sung’s Galaxy S7 in terms of multi-core per­for­mance, which scored 2128 and 6466 re­spec­tively.

How­ever, while the P9 Plus was the leader in our Geek­bench 3 re­sults, it wasn’t the case when we ran our GFXBench tests. We ran four tests – T-Rex, Man­hat­tan, Man­hat­tan 3.1 and Car Chase – which vary greatly in terms of graph­ics, with each de­signed to test the graph­i­cal power of the smart­phone. While the Huawei P9 Plus man­aged a

re­spectable 44fps in T-Rex, 20fps in Man­hat­tan, 11fps in Man­hat­tan 3.1 and 7fps in Car Chase, the Galaxy S7 wins by a long shot with 53fps, 27fps, 15fps and 8fps re­spec­tively. De­spite this, it’s worth not­ing that both smart­phones fea­ture high-end GPUs and are more than ca­pa­ble of high-qual­ity mo­bile game­play.

Lastly, we ran the JetStream bench­mark, which tests the speed of the mo­bile browser of the smart­phone. Sur­pris­ingly, Huawei’s P9 Plus bested the Galaxy S7 in this as­pect, achiev­ing a score of 67 com­pared to 61, of­fer­ing fast load­ing times when brows­ing the In­ter­net on the smart­phone. You can see our re­sults be­low, which com­pare the Huawei P9 Plus with the P9 along with sim­i­larly priced smart­phones.

Con­nec­tiv­ity is top-notch with 11ac Wi-Fi, and in­frared trans­mit­ter (or IR blaster, which is not on the stan­dard P9). Of course, the phone sup­ports 4G LTE net­works, too. Al­though there is a Dual-SIM model, it’s not what we’re get­ting in the UK.

A fin­ger­print scan­ner fea­tures on both the P9 and P9 Plus and sits on the back, be­low the cam­era. The fin­ger­print scan­ner is in­cred­i­bly fast and can un­lock your smart­phone al­most in­stantly, and can also be used for ges­tures, like swip­ing down to ac­cess the no­ti­fi­ca­tion cen­ter and swip­ing left to right to swipe be­tween pho­tos.

Since the phone it­self is larger than its smaller brother, there’s more space for the bat­tery. The P9 Plus fea­tures a 3400mAh bat­tery in­stead of 3000mAh, which Huawei claims will pro­vide up to 14 hours’ video play­back. While we found the bat­tery life to be gen­er­ally good and last all day

with av­er­age use, we’re not sure it’ll pro­vide 14 hours of con­stant video play­back.

The bat­tery is non-re­mov­able, but the P9 Plus fea­tures re­versible USB Type-C and dual-IC Rapid Charg­ing to get you un­teth­ered quicker.

Cam­eras

Like the Huawei P9, the main sell­ing point is the dual-cam­era Le­ica-cer­ti­fied set up, which con­sists of two 12Mp sen­sors. One is a reg­u­lar BGR while the other is mono­chrome. Why? Huawei says that the cam­eras can com­bine the two sep­a­rate im­ages to pro­duce bet­ter qual­ity im­ages with 300 per­cent more light and 50 per­cent bet­ter con­trast. That’s not all ei­ther – the Huawei P9 Plus also takes in­cred­i­ble black and white fil­ters be­cause un­like most smart­phones, it fea­tures a black and white lens in­stead of ap­ply­ing a black and white fil­ter over a colour photo. There’s also an 8Mp front snap­per for selfie lovers and video chat­ters.

What does this trans­late to in real-world use? Pho­tos taken on the Huawei P9 Plus gen­er­ally cap­ture a great amount of de­tail in well-lit con­di­tions with vi­brant colour re­pro­duc­tion, how­ever de­spite the abil­ity to cap­ture 300 per­cent more light than a stan­dard one-lens setup, the Huawei P9 Plus starts to fall over in low-light en­vi­ron­ments. As with many smart­phones, the lev­els of noise be­gan to rise and colours be­came flat as the light in the en­vi­ron­ment dropped. You can see one of the pho­tos we took on the Huawei P9 Plus op­po­site.

One fea­ture that Huawei does of­fer with the cam­eras of the P9 Plus, as with the P9, is plenty

of con­trol with dif­fer­ent modes, in­clud­ing a pro op­tion. Huawei even of­fers a Le­ica UI, fonts and shut­ter sound for the cam­era which is a nice touch. It can per­form tricks like we’ve seen on other du­al­cam­era phones such as re­fo­cus­ing a shot af­ter it’s been taken and ad­just­ing the depth of field, adding a pro­fes­sional feel to even sim­ple self­ies.

There’s no op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (OIS) as Huawei says the cam­era takes pic­tures so quickly that it doesn’t need it, al­though we’re left won­der­ing if Huawei for­got about the ben­e­fits for video. An­other thing lack­ing on the video side is no op­tion to shoot in 4K res­o­lu­tion, which is strange as it’s a fea­ture of many other 2016 flag­ships (and a few 2015s, too). The Huawei P9 Plus fea­tures the abil­ity to record at a max­i­mum of 1080p@30fps, quite sur­pris­ing when the com­pany in­vested so heav­ily in the cam­era setup.

Soft­ware

As you’d ex­pect from a 2016 flag­ship phone, the Huawei P9 Plus runs on An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low. It’s also not a sur­prise that Huawei adds its own soft­ware user in­ter­face, Emo­tion UI (or EMUI) 4.1 this time around, which the firm says it’s fully com­mit­ted to with a team of de­vel­op­ers con­stantly work­ing on im­prov­ing the UI.

As with pre­vi­ous Huawei P de­vices, the soft­ware is a weaker el­e­ment to the ex­pe­ri­ence with choices like the lack of an app menu/tray. It re­sults in an iOS-like setup with app icons all dis­played on the home­screen, which may be a plus for those re­cently jump­ing the iOS ship, but not for long-time An­droid fans.

There are many other tweaks through­out in­clud­ing the no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar which is laid out like a time­line of no­ti­fi­ca­tions rather than a list, and it doesn’t feel as ‘An­droidy’ as many ri­vals. Un­for­tu­nately, as with other Huawei smart­phones, the de­vice comes packed with bloat­ware – much of it Huawei branded, but also with apps it thinks you’d like in­clud­ing Face­book, Twit­ter and demos of paid-for games. We’re not re­ally a fan of pre­loaded apps as we’d like to make the choices our­selves straight out of the box, but Huawei does let you re­move many of the pre­in­stalled apps (al­though not the Huawei-branded ones).

Ver­dict

If you’re in the mar­ket for a sleek, premium ph­ablet with a great dual-cam­era setup, the Huawei P9 Plus is a great op­tion. The 5.5in Su­perAMOLED FHD dis­play is bright and crisp, and shows off

the de­tailed pho­tos taken by the rear-fac­ing dual 12Mp snap­pers. The pro­ces­sor is strong enough to com­pete with Sam­sung’s Galaxy S7, al­though it doesn’t quite com­pare in terms of graph­i­cal power. How­ever, it’s worth not­ing that there aren’t huge dif­fer­ences be­tween the P9 Plus and the flag­ship P9 so de­pend­ing on what you want from the smart­phone, it may be worth tak­ing a look at the £100 cheaper Huawei P9. Other­wise, it’s a de­cent premium flag­ship that we’re im­pressed with. Lewis Painter

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low with EMIU 4.1 5.5in (1080x1920, 401ppi) IPS Su­perAMOLED Full HD screen Kirin 955 octa-core pro­ces­sor Mali-T880 MP4 GPU 4GB RAM 64GB stor­age Mi­croSD up to 128GB Dual-12Mp rear cam­eras with Le­ica lenses 8Mp front cam­era 11ac Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.2 IR blaster USB-C 4G LTE Cat 6 3400mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery 75x152x6.98mm 162g

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