Some time ago we reviewed the Huawei P9 smartphone, but Huawei has another version of that smartphone that we are going to review today.
Called the Huawei P9 Plus, it is a slightly larger version of the original Huawei P9 with some bigger features and extra additions.
It is available from a number of retailers worldwide, in the UK, you can pick it up from Vodafone on one of their pay monthly plans from £42 with a £15 upfront fee.
The P9 Plus still features a similar design to the Huawei P9, but with a slightly shinier finish than what you will find in the original device.
It is still made with the same aluminium material as the previous device, but it has been buffed to add that shiny finish. On top of that, the device also features glass at the front, and some plastic strips along the top and bottom of the devices to allow the antennas to work as they should.
This shinier finish does mean that the device will scratch and mark a little easier, so we would definitely recommend a case, but sadly this does mean that you have to cover up the back of the smartphone.
The device itself is just 7mm thick, so it’s extremely nice to carry around, add the bevelled and rounded edges and the device is really nice to use an old, without being too sharp, as some devices are.
It’s actually surprisingly nice to hold given that it has a 5.5-inch screen.
The whole package comes with a silver, gold, or pink finish, allowing you to grab the version that most suits your favourite colour, we do wish that more manufacturers would start launching black versions of their smartphones.
You don’t get any access to the battery of the P9 Plus, like many other smartphones, but as the SIM tray and memory card slot is accessible from the side, you can easily swap out the SIM and add in a microSD card if you want to expand on the phone’s inbuilt storage, which is 64GB.
Like almost all top-end handsets, there’s no access to the battery in the P9 Plus, and the SIM fits in a tray that pops out of one side of the device. The Huawei P9 Plus also has a memory card slot even though the phone has 64GB of inbuilt storage.
It also features an IR Blaster at the top which lets you control equipment like your TV, home receiver, DVD player or more, from your smartphone. It’s rather handy if you have a lot of equipment, and setting it up it pretty straight forward.
That 5-5 inch that we unveiled earlier is one of the best features of the P9 Plus, it is a Super AMOLED display that is capable of outputting a 1080p resolution, resulting in a great looking and sized screen that is great for playing games and watching the odd episode of House of Cards on Netflix.
Because it is an AMOLED, you get darker blacks than an LCD, as well as better viewing angles than what you might normally notice. On the P9 Plus, you get very good colour accuracy, it not a bit oversaturated, but not too much that you’ll notice a lot.
You are also able to customise the amount of colour temperature that you want on the smartphone, with options to choose between the default, warm or cold.
You can also choose the particular colour that you want to lean towards if you want.
There’s also the option to change the colour mode between normal and vivid, normal is a more balanced mode, whereas Vivid will pop the colours out a little more.
On top of all of this, you can even switch the rendering resolution from 1080p to 720p, which will save a bit more power.
Features and Software
On top of that fantastic display, the Huawei P9 Plus has a wide variety of features.
One of the best has to be that fingerprint scanner, as although it quite hard to get used to if you have been using a smartphone with a front-facing fingerprint scanner, it is quite intuitive to use, sitting in exactly the right spot for where your index finger would normally set.
It is also extremely quick to use, unlocking your smartphone pretty much straight after you place your finger on the pad.
The P9 Plus has a pressure-sensitive screen that is similar to that of Force Touch on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.
You can use this feature by hard pressing on a set of compatible icons from the home screen to bring up extra settings. For example, you could bring up the display features from the settings, or quickly access the Monochrome mode from the camera.
It’s definitely not as useful as the iPhone’s version, however, there are some neat features if you remember how to use them. such as zooming in and out of images in the gallery, however, because these are a part of Huawei’s custom interface, and not Android itself, the pressure sensitivity isn’t integrated with a lot of things, which is its major disadvantage between iOS.
Alongside Android 6.0.1, the Huawei P9 Plus has Emotion UI 4.1, which is the latest version of their custom interface, which adds a number of features to Android, whilst changing a few others elsewhere.
One of the main things you will notice about this is the lack of an app drawer and instead, it loads apps right onto the home screen like on iOS. You can still use app folders to manage these.
But, when you put all of it together, EMUI is actually really simple to use and it adds a lot of great features to the phone that are extremely handy. You can customise the home screens to show more than four icons, change the screen transition, add your own themes and even add extra screens to the springboard, or change the home screen.
And it doesn’t feel weighed down by those customizations and the phone still feels snappy in use.
Speaking of performance, the P9 Plus’ HiSilicon Kirin 955 does a good job at keeping things running snappy. It also comes paired with a total of 4GB of RAM for even more performance benefits.
The Kirin 955 is an octa-core CPU, containing a total of four Cortex-A72 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores.
In Geekbench 3, this duo results in a total multi-core score of 6444 in Geekbench 3 and a 1737 single-core score int he same app, which makes it a very powerful processor, at a similar level to that of the Galaxy S7.
In Geekbench 4, the phone achieved a slightly lower 5430 multi-core score and a higher 1839 single-core score, but Geekbench 4 is a little more strict.
The GPU of the Huawei P9 Plus is a Mali T880 MP4 graphics chip, which is a four-core version of the 12-core chipset used in the Galaxy S7, that means that it will far less powerful that of the Adreno 530.
This shows in our testing, where it received a score of just 954 in the 3DMark Sling Shot test, which means that despite it having an awesome processor, the graphical power of the P9 Plus when gaming is not going to amaze.
To make up for that, the P9 Plus comes with a decently large 3,400mAh battery.
This results in an awesome amount of battery life, with light use, the P9 Plus would definitely last a couple of days, and even with fairly heavy use, it would last a good day of use.
In our testing, we played one of the most extensive battery draining games, Pokemon Go.
We started at around midday and the battery still had around 40% at 8PM, that’s pretty good performance for that app, there aren’t many smartphones that would provide you with that kind of life.
The Huawei P9 Plus charges via a USB-C connector, with support for fast charging that almost doubles its potential power transfer for uber fast charging via compatible chargers.
The camera on the Huawei P9 Plus is particularly interesting, it is similar to the normal Huawei P9 in that it features a dual rear-facing camera setup.
Designed by Lecia, the dual-camera setup features one sensor to capture the coloured image data, with all of the detail, whilst the second is a black-and-white camera that captures the depth information, allowing the camera to show bokeh (a blurry background) much like a DSLR.
Both of these sensors feature 12MP Sony IMX286 sensor chips.
While having this bokeh effect is pretty cool in itself, the advantage of having a separate monochrome sensors is that you can get a completely separate monochrome effect, without the need of any filters.
In practice, the Huawei P9 Plus is a serious shooter, its colour reproduction is fantastic, and the auto mode is fantastic for anyone who wants to manually change settings, or just have an easy life.
That said, the included camera app does have a lot of manual control features, with modes to change exposures, shutter speed and more.
It also has HDR shooting, but sadly there’s no optical image stabilisation, this means that you might find that the Huawei P9 Plus’ shots might look a little blurry if your hands aren’t extremely still.
On top of that, the lenses have an aperture of only f/2.2, which is pretty darn slow given the phone’s focus on its cameras.
On the front, there’s also an 8-megapixel sensor with a f/1.9 lens.
Check out some of our sample shots below.
If you are looking for a new smartphone that has a good camera than the Huawei P9 Plus is a good option to look at.
It features a fantastic looking design that feels nice to hold, as well as very sturdy that makes it feel very premium, whilst being a good phone to use daily.
There’s also a great-looking display on the Huawei P9 Plus, which can be optimised to your particular needs.
There are some problems with the P9 Plus though, mainly being the lack of optical image stabilisation on the camera, which is a real sore point for a phone that aims to focus on its camera abilities, which puts it in a weird section given that the iPhone 7 Plus has just been announced with a similar camera setup, with OIS.
Huawei has also customised the Android operating system, which may be quite annoying to some people who prefer stock, that said, it has been done quite gracefully when compared to what we are used to, and the phone still remains very snappy.
Disclosure: Vodafone sent us a sample of the Huawei P9 Plus for the purposes of this review.