Huawei announces flagship P9 featuring Leica-certified dual rear cameras

Shawn Knight

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Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on Wednesday introduced its latest flagship, the Huawei P9. The handset is noteworthy as it packs a pair of rear-mounted cameras in a configuration we haven’t seen before.

The Huawei P9 features a 5.2-inch full HD display (1,920 x 1,080) that is powered by its homegrown Kirin 955 octa-core SoC (4x 2.5GHz Cortex-A72 + 4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53), a slightly better version of the chip it unveiled back in November. There is also 3GB of RAM in play if you go with the 32GB model or 4GB should you spring for the larger-capacity 64GB variant.

The real star of the show, however, is the aforementioned dual camera setup around back.

The Huawei P9 is equipped with two 12-megapixel rear-facing, Leica-branded cameras with laser autofocus. One of the cameras is dedicated to capturing color while the other works in monochrome. Together, they combine to produce an image that Huawei says exhibits vivid colors, excellent depth and great detail, even in low-light settings.

The dual camera approach also affords adjustability after the fact, letting you tweak the focus points after you’ve taken a picture - similar to Lytro’s approach.

If you recall, Huawei and Leica announced a strategic partnership a couple of months back in which they promised to “reinvent” smartphone photography. The P9 and its twin camera approach is the result of that partnership although as The Verge points out, Leica’s actual contribution is a bit of a mystery.

When probed for details, the publication was told that the two cameras have Leica certification. Asking what that meant, Huawei said that they were developed through a co-engineering process. When asked what that meant, the company said they worked together.

It is certainly intriguing but we’ll wait until we get to test them in person before proclaiming this is the smartphone to beat for camera-conscious buyers.

Elsewhere, the P9 features USB Type-C charging, a fingerprint sensor on the rear, a microSD card slot in Europe / a second SIM slot in China and other Asian markets and an 8-megapixel front-facing selfie cam. A 3,000mAh battery supplies juice while away from a charger.

Huawei also announced a P9 Plus with a slightly larger 5.5-inch display and a 3,400mAh battery pack. Both phones will ship running Android 6.0 Marshmallow wrapped in Huawei’s own EMUI 4.1 user interface.

The smartphones will arrive in China as well as select European and Middle East markets on April 16. Pricing starts at €599 ($680) for the standard P9 and €749 ($850) for its bigger brother. Buyers can choose from six color options on the P9 and four for the larger Plus version. No word yet on whether or not Huawei will bring its latest flagships to the US.

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