Leica gets in the smartphone game again

by Goh De No
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Have you seen the Panasonic DMC-CM1 smartphone around? No? Neither have I.

I was pretty excited when that was launched, seeing as it was a Lumix branded Android smartphone with a Leica DC Elmarit Lens, as after all, owning a Leica would mean forking out somewhere north of $5,000.

Enter Huawei’s follow up to the P8, the latest P9 and the biggest catch, the Leica brand on the back with two camera lenses.

Sure HTC’s One M8 and LG’s G5 has two camera’s on the back, but with Leica’s in- volvement in the P9, Huawei has made a combination of one black and white camera, and the other with colour.

Why? Huawei says that a monochrome sensor lets in more light than one that picks up colour, so the monochrome camera allows in 200 per cent more light than normal.

The rear dual cameras on the P9 are a pair of 12-megapixels, f/2.2 27mm “Leica optics” with dual LED flash. Image courtesy of Huawei.

The result is far better low-light photography, and if you do need colour, that’s where the other lens comes in. This dual-camera setup also allows you to adjust focus points after the picture is taken.

At a single tap of where you want to adjust the focus point to, the phone instantly adjusts, and it shows you what aperture the current focus is at, where you can adjust by swiping upwards or downwards on the screen, increasing or decreasing the blur of the background/foreground as you choose.

The rear cameras are a pair of 12-megapixels, f/2.2 27mm “Leica optics” with dual LED flash. The camera, however, doesn’t have Opitcal Image Stailibsation (OIS) and maxes out at 1080p video.

The front facing camera is a fixed focal length 8.0-megapixel f/2.4.

Besides the Leica optics, the Germans were reportedly involved in the engineering, creation and tuning of the camera. The involvement goes as deep as the software, font, icons and even shutter sound when you take a snap.

Enter the camera application and you get a minimalist layout, which is very Leica also. The ISO, shutter speed, aperture and colour balance are all at the very bottom. Swipe left, and you get numerous shooting modes, which look exactly like a Leica camera. Swipe right, you get a variety of different camera settings such as grid view, shot format and so on. Again, this all looks like an actual Leica camera as well.

As for the rest of the phone, the inside is Huawei’s own Kirin CPU 955 chip, an upgraded chip from the Mate 8.

It is a power-efficient processor with increased clock speeds of up to 2.5 GHz for its main four cores, and up to 1.8 GHz for the lower-power other four cores.

Connectivity is done right, with the USB Type-C which will be the on-going trend with new devices this year as most manufacturers switch to the new USB.

Huawei teamed up with German camera maker Leica to create the P9. Image courtesy of Huawei.

Screen size is at 5.2-inch full HD with a sleek and sharp packaged exterior and fingerprint scanner on the back. The body is just 6.95mm, thinner than most of its competitors. On the SIM tray there is also a micro SD slot, allowing expandable storage to 128GB. However, in Asia, users can look forward to the Huawei P9 in a dual-SIM offering, which immediately puts it on my radar.

Like the G5, Huawei’s software (Android 6.0) also removes the app drawer, and I do not know whether there is an option to put it back unlike the LG. The look is slightly flat, which I am not a big fan of actually.

All this is packaged with a 3GB RAM offering, and a 3,000 mAh battery.

Those looking for a bigger screen can wait for the P9 Plus which is a 5.5-inch variant and that gives you 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage. The battery of this unit would be 3,400 mAh and Huawei has an In- fraRed blaster that allows you to control your home appliances like TV’s.

Both phones have a nice power saving feature, which moves the phone from 1080p to 720p, that conserves battery power without rebooting. The P9 is listed at approximately 599 euros ($898), and the P9 Plus is listed at 749 euros.


Huawei is actually the third largest manufacturer in the world right now behind Apple and Samsung. However, it is up to users to create an even bigger hype than the one that is happening with the P9 especially with the camera.

Huawei’s camera now proves that it can play along with the big boys, but whether or not the hardware and software will hold up over the next year is still hard to say.

I know I definitely have my eye on a dual-SIM version right now.

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