Huawei, which has not had much luck in India in the last two years, is set to launch the P9 — a sophisticated camera phone in the same price range as the Xiaomi Mi5 and Le Max 2 — early next month.
The P9 is the first dual-camera phone to come to the Indian market after HTC M8 back in 2014, and has been developed in association with camera and imaging company Leica.
Both back cameras come with identical resolution and a generous pixel size of 1.25 micrometer.
While one of the cameras snaps the picture in full color, the other one is used primarily capture non-color information such as depth and detail.
The data from the secondary camera is used to make the primary picture better, as well as for bringing onboard special effects such as changing the object in focus and so on.
According to the company, the set up allows the phone to capture 50% more contrast data and 300% more light compared to a regular set up. There is also laser-assisted focus, but no optical image stabilization like in the Xiaomi Mi5 and Le Max2.
“Blending superior hardware and software with Leica dual lenses, the Huawei P9 enables you to capture high quality pictures without compromising on the handset’s sleek and compact style,” the company says in its introduction to the model.
The sensors used in the dual cameras — Sony IMX 286 — are also among the most advanced in the world.
In addition to supporting both color and ‘black and white’ modes, they have among the biggest sensors in terms of individual pixel size.
Each individual sensor on the IMX 286 has a size of 1.25 micrometer by 1.25 micrometer. The higher the individual pixel size, the slimmer the chances of ‘grains’ in low-light conditions.
For comparison, the Xiaomi Mi5 comes with the 16 MP Sony IMX 298 sensor with a pixel size of 1.12 micrometer. Only the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a clearly superior camera from a sensor pitch perspective. It comes with a 12 MP IMX 260 sensor, where each pixel is 1.4 μm x 1.4 μm in size. However, while the Galaxy S7 costs about Rs 49,000 in India, the Huawei P9 will be priced between Rs 26,000-30,000, most likely in the Rs 29,000 range.
NOT JUST A CAMERA PHONE
The P9 is not just about its camera.
It also comes with the high-end HiSilicon Kirin 955 chipset and 3 GB of RAM. Though the chipset supports DDR4 memory, the P9 will come with DDR3 version — one of the reasons why it is not priced in the Rs 40,000 range. The other models in this price range come with DDR4 memory.
The Kirin 955 is comparable to Snapdragon 820 found inside its competitors. The Snapdragon 820 found inside the Mi5 and Le Max 2 are made on 14 nm process, while the Kirin 955 is manufactured on the 16 nm process, and runs at 2.5 GHz.
Initial benchmarks of the chipset, however, give it a score of around 1,900 in single-core mode on Geekbench, while the Snapdragon 820 scores about 2,200. However, the chipset definitely outputs more power on multi-core mode as it has eight cores to fall back on compared to just four on the SD 820.
While the SD 820 has four cores based on the Cortex A72 design, the Kirin 955 comes with eight cores, four of which are based on the Cortex A72 design and the remaining on the Cortex A53.
The battery is a standard 3 Ah, which is what you get on most of the flagships including the Mi5 and Le Max2.
The chipset also supports Category 6 LTE, which is somewhat below the capabilities of SD 820, but should do plenty well in a market like India where operator support is still at Cat 4.
Built-in storage memory on the P9 is 32 GB, while the full-HD display measures 5.2 inch across.
In conclusion, we will recommend the phone to those who take a lot of snaps using their phones. However, if imaging is not your priority, then the P9 may not justify the extra cost if it is priced around Rs 29,000 as expected.
However, if priced at the same level as the Mi5, we believe the phone offers a compelling option even for regular buyers.
Another factor to keep in mind is that Meizu is expected to launch its MX6 in India over the next one month. The 5.5-inch phone is likely to be priced in the Rs 22,000 price range in India and will come with the 10-core MediaTek Helio X20 chipset, 4 GB of RAM and a 12 MP camera with a similar pixel pitch.