These days, the camera on your smartphone seems to be getting more of the focus than the phone itself. Case in point: the latest flagship phones from Huawei, which pack dual Leica-engineered cameras for pretty pics on the go.
Huawei hasn't announced U.S pricing and availability for its newly unveiled P9 and P9 Plus phones. But the new devices arrive in the first wave of countries on April 16, starting at €599 (about US$685).
Huawei isn't the first phone maker to put the camera front and center on its latest devices. Earlier this year, Samsung debuted dual pixel technology for the camera on its Galaxy S7 flagships, while LG showed off a cool dual-camera setup on the G5.
Unlike the LG G5, though, the P9's 12-megapixel dual-camera doesn't offer two different angles for you to shoot from. Instead, the second camera on the P9 captures detailed picture information in monochrome, whereas the primary RGB camera focuses on retaining color information. Huawei says the two cameras work together to effectively create one single image sensor with a pixel size equivalent to 1.76 microns. That's bigger than the S7, which touts larger pixels as the reason for its impressive low-light photos, and the Nexus 6P.
The combination should result in pictures with rich colors and excellent clarity, but we'll have to wait till we can test out the cameras for ourselves to decide if this works well.
Huawei also says the P9 comes with the company's Hybrid Focus technology to shoot with speed, accuracy and stability. Hybrid Focus uses laser, depth calculation and contrast focusing methods, then "automatically selects the one that yields the best result in any given environment." It's not clear if this means that the phone will decide which focus mode to use based on calculations about your shooting conditions, but that sounds like a time-consuming process.
Hybrid Focus should not be confused with Samsung's dual-pixel sensors on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which make for super speedy and accurate autofocus thanks to pixels that capture both image and focus information at once. Regardless, it looks like Huawei has a promising smartphone camera in the P9 and P9 Plus.
The phones themselves look like very promising, too. The P9 and P9 Plus are powered by Huawei's capable Kirin 955 CPU, run Android 6.0 (with the company's EMUI overlaid) and pack generous batteries (3,000mAh and 3,400 mAh for the P9 and P9 Plus, respectively). The P9 Plus also comes with Huawei's Press Touch technology that's similar to the iPhone's 3D Touch, using pressure-sensitive display tech to launch shortcuts. From what we've seen the P9 and P9 Plus look just as stunning as their predecessor, Huawei's P8.
Last year, the Huawei P8 (international version) wowed us with its sexy frame, gorgeous display and special camera features. Unfortunately, the version that eventually came to the U.S. was the P8 Lite, which was a disappointing alternative of the global variant. Here's hoping that Huawei will bring the premium version of the P9 stateside. Stay tuned for a full review once it does.