Huawei’s done a lot right over the last 12 months. They’ve slimmed down their product portfolio, pushed the solid P8 Lite down into borderline impulse buy territory and helped launch the Nexus 6P – the first Nexus phone made by a Chinese manufacturer. All of those things have helped revitalise the brand image of the world’s third biggest phone manufacturer (no, seriously), but there’s still work to be done. Enter the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus.

To look at the P9, you might not think it’s much of a radical reinvention of the formula laid down by the P8. It’s slightly more rounded than the almost aggressively squared design of its forbearer and is just slightly thicker at 6.95mm (the P8 is 6.4mm). Other than that, we’ve got the same incredibly high build quality, aluminium clad exterior, 5.2″ 1080p display, near edge-to-edge display and comfortable size that P8 fans love about their phones. That’s not to say it leaves everything unchanged though.

There’s now a rear mounted fingerprint scanner like the 6P and a USB Type-C port at the bottom, and most notably of all, there’s two rear mounted cameras, complemented by that most magic of words – Leica. But more about that later.

The powerplant in the P9 is the very latest Kirin 955 octa-core processor, paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Alternatively, there’s a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, but both phones have expandable memory that supports cards up to 128GB. Keeping all that running is Android 6.0 and a 3,000mAh battery, which Huawei sau will run a full day and a half.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: why two cameras, and what did Leica actually do here? We first heard about Leica’s partnership with Huawei back in February. At that time, we speculated that Leica might have a hand in designing the optics for the mobile sensors, but in the P9, we don’t even get that. What we do get is “Leica-approved” lenses and a set of colour tone options designed by Leica. It’s likely that the Leica partnership came just too late in development for the German brand to have any kind of impact, and that’s a shame. However, you will have a phone with ‘Leica’ written on it, so, swings and roundabouts.

As for the dual-camera set up, Huawei have a very good reason. We’ve seen these kinds of systems before in phones like the HTC One, but in those it was largely used for gimmicks. Here, the two 12-megapixel sensors (with 1.25µm pixels) serve a real purpose. One is monochrome and one is colour. That means that any black and white pictures you take are more natural than digitally altered pictures, but it also means that colour imges have extra contrast and lighting information.

By pairing the two, Huawei says that contrast is improved by 50% and light capture by 300%, making for hugely improved low light photography and cleaner images in the day time. All of this is supported by laser assisted focusing.

Moving on to the P9 Plus, we find much of the same features of its smaller sibling, including matching internals. What you do get, however. is a larger 5.5″ Super AMOLED 1080p display, a bigger 3,400mAh battery, an IR blaster for controlling your TV, built in stereo speakers, a pressure sensitive display and rapid charging. This one comes in only one configuration with 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM.

The P9 with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage will be available from the 16th of April for around £450 sim free. Jumping up to the 4GB/64GB model will cost you around £520. There are six colour options, ranging from ceramic white to titanium gray via haze gold, rose gold and mystic silver and ‘prestige gold’. That’s a lot of gold.

The P9 Plus launches on the 20th of May for around £600 sim free, and comes in either ceramic white, rose gold, haze gold or quartz gray. All the phones will be available from your network of choice in the UK.

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Ten fingers, five senses, one man, loads of Chinese smartphones.

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