Huawei P9 and P9 Plus smartphones boast Leica dual-aperture science

Huawei launches P9 and P9 Plus smartphones. Camera certified by Leica, whatever that means.

Huawei P9 Smartphones Leica
Credit: Huawei

The Huawei P9 and P9 Plus smartphones get a release date of April 16, and have a thin, dual-aperture, Leica-branded camera. The rest of the innards are also flagship-worthy.

Huawei using the Leica brand on its new smartphones might seem disingenuous, but the pictures from the devices are impressive in testers' first stabs. Anyway, in IT Blogwatch, bloggers think this cake is great (and that's no lie). Not to mention: That song

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. [Developing story: Updated 5:35 am PT with more comment]

What’s the craic? Luke Westaway says the Huawei P9 bets two cameras are better than one:

Chinese tech firm Huawei hopes it can sell you a phone based on the imaging prowess of...two cameras and the prestigious Leica brand. ... Huawei has only announced European pricing, with the P9 starting at...$680...and its big brother the P9 Plus costs...$850. ... It will likely only be sold online in the US.

The P9's headline feature is its dual-camera system. ... Both cameras have 12-megapixel sensors, is an...RGB sensor, while the other is black and white. ... Two cameras working in tandem will bring more light to your photos [and] lets the phone do a better job of gauging how far you are from your subject. ... Leica is a respected photography brand, but it hasn't actually built these cameras.

The P9 has a 5.2-inch display, but...Huawei's also going to be selling the P9 Plus. [It] has a 5.5-inch screen, [4GB] RAM, [and 64GB] storage. ... It also has...3400 acknowledgement of the fact that the bigger display is likely to suck down more juice.

So is it any good? Well, Andrew Orlowski thinks There's a lot to Leica:

Huawei has cracked it with the P9. [It] is easily the best Chinese phone yet.

It's the Leica partnership that steals the show, adding a lot of quality to the imaging. ... The dual sensor...offers practical benefits such as great low light results, wide aperture bokeh...and depth focussing. ... They're identical and exceptionally strong sensors. ... The camera doesn't jut out. ... Not a bit. And the case is already as slim as any rival.

The thin bezel and slim design [make] the current iPhone...look clunky. ... The screen really dazzles with a full HD OLED and rapid response.

The P9 also bucks the trend of dispensing with infra-red blasters. ... Huawei will bundle a universal remote app.

The software is the weakest link. ... I don't mind EMUI. ... But the quality of the software...falls short. ... Lots of work to do.

Wait, did you say there's no camera bump? Jacob Kastrenakes and Vlad Savov bring us back down to Earth, without a bump—Huawei P9's dual-camera system:

In the past, dual-camera systems have been used for...gimmicks. But Huawei has taken a different approach.

A monochrome sensor can capture more detail from a scene. ... RGB sensors have to filter out light. ... In doing so, they lose detail. ... The color camera is critical for producing the standard color photo. ... But by combining [it] with the richer detail...of the monochrome image, you get a result that...looks a lot better.

If you want better photos, that typically means using a bigger camera...which can capture more light. ... But smartphones are getting the choice increasingly looks like: add a camera bump, or find a clever workaround.

Leica may be involved, but don't expect...lenses meeting Leica's legendary quality. [It] has lenses that are being called "Leica certified." ... But Leica has a habit of slapping its name on other companies' cameras. ... Don't put too much stock in it.

It's all going swimmingly. Maurizio Pesce talks of chips (but no fish): [You're fired -Ed.]

The new phones were unveiled at a press event here in London. ... Things are powered by the Huawei’s own Kirin 955 octa-core system-on-a-chip.

The P9 will be offered in...two different configurations: 32GB of storage with 3GB of RAM, [or] 64GB of memory and 4GB of RAM. Both have microSD slots. ... The P9 Plus [has] Press Touch, Huawei’s in-house version of Apple’s 3D Touch [and] stereo speakers.

My first impressions were very positive. ... I found it very small and light, and easy to handle.  

Availability will start in 10 days across Europe and Middle East.

Update: What about a true photographer's review? Mike Tomkins focuses on Twin Leica lenses and a lust for low-light:

"Hwah-way"...has grown its presence in the smartphone market at an enviable rate [now] trailing only Samsung and Apple by unit sales. ... The Huawei P9 and...P9 Plus also take aim at the problem of low-light...a traditional bugbear of the tiny-sensored smartphone.

The way in which it takes advantage of the dual 27mm f/2.2 Leica Summarit H ASPH-branded optics is quite unusual. ... According to Huawei, the monochrome...Sony IMX286 image sensor...can gather around 300% more light...providing a clearer, brighter image with lower noise levels.

The Huawei P9...can use the secondary image sensor to help build a depth map. ... This allows for a pseudo-depth-of-field blur to be applied. [There's an] ISP used solely for calculating the depth map...which the company says will allow double the performance. [It's] also used for long-range focus adjustment, as a supplement to...contrast detection.

And Finally…

That song, in Rock Band
[Veronica Belmont, Merlin Mann and Leo Laporte back Jonathan Coulton]

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by , who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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