Another favourite mode of ours is the ‘shallow depth of field’ mode (we’re not sure that’s the official name, but that’s what it’s called in-app). The mode allows you to tweak the "aperture" settings and focus of a photo after it has been taken. This is nothing new - HTC got there first with the Duo camera on the One M8 - but the good news is that it works better. A lot better. Chances are you wouldn't know the photos below were taken on a smartphone.

All the photos below have been shot using the native camera app and some of the effects and controls on offer. No processing or sharpening has been applied - we've simply resized them (click the thumbnails to enlarge).

Huawei P9 review

Huawei P9 sample photos

Huawei P9 sample photos

Huawei P9 sample photos

Huawei P9 review - depth of field

At the front is an 8Mp camera, which doesn’t feature autofocus like the P9 Plus but offers a variety of photo and video modes, though not as many as the rear-facing camera. The photos taken with the front-facing camera were reasonably crisp, but we feel like it would really shine with autofocus capabilities.

Huawei P9 review - Selfie

For more on the P9's cameras and to see how it stacks up side by side with its main rivals, see best smartphone camera of 2016

Below you can see the depth of field effect in conjunction with the colour isolation option: it makes the out of focus parts black and white. However, the effect doesn't quite work on this phone box as you can see:

Huawei P9 sample photos

Huawei P9: video recording

Oddly, the P9 doesn't support video recording in 4K. Instead the highest resolution is 1080p, although it's nice you can shoot it at 60fps as well as 30fps. There's also no optical stabilisation, so while 60fps improves smoothness a little, it's still obvious that it's only software stabilisation. If video recording is one of your priorities, there are better choices.

Huawei P9 review: Software

No surprises here: the Huawei P9 ships with the latest version of Android, Marshmallow. More specifically, it will come with Android 6.0 in the box, but with the Emotion UI (or EMUI for short) overlay. This has extra features when compared to stock Android along with a heavily tweaked interface, including a redesigned notification centre that displays notifications in a timeline view. Essentially, it’s about as far from stock Android as it comes.

It also offers Wi-Fi+, a service that automatically analyses the quality of your internet connection and, if necessary, switch to a mobile data connection. Wi-Fi+ will also detect that you’re near a known Wi-Fi network and will toggle Wi-Fi on if switched off, and won’t connect to known Wi-Fi networks that have no Internet connection.

Huawei’s EMUI overlay does take a little bit of getting used to because, for example, the Settings menu has been redesigned and there's no quick access as you get with stock Android. Plus, there's no app tray, so all your apps have to sit on the home screen like iOS. With that being said, we think that even though it may take some getting used to, the extra features of Huawei’s EMUI make it worthwhile.

Specs

Huawei P9: Specs

  • 6.95mm thin
  • 145x70.9x6.95mm
  • 144g
  • Aluminium unibody
  • 5.2in FHD display
  • front facing 8Mp camera
  • Rear facing 12Mp dual-camera system
  • Rear-facing fingerprint sensor
  • USB-C enabled
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Emotion UI overlay
  • Oca-core Kirin 955 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • MicroSD card slot

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