The day iPhone 7 came out I bought a Huawei P9

A long-time user of iOS, I found myself disappointed by Apple’s sales techniques and moved on to an Android device. Despite initial fear and hesitation, my time on Android and more specifically with the P9 has been surprisingly pleasurable with a marvelous experience in photography.

I discovered Apple on the launch of the iPhone 3G, an aesthetically and screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-22-41-51aerodynamically seductive device. Its orginality and smoothness, setting it apart from the clunky, key-ridden mobiles at the time marveled me; I felt unique with my glossy-white, sharply curved, full-touch iOS device in hand. To top it off, Steve Jobs’ charism and elegance-oriented vision to technology made belonging to Apple even more desirable.

Despite these bells and whistles, my infatuation with the Cupertino company dwindled with every annual keynote, each spilling over with ever more of the same seamlessly advanced reinvented superlatives lushly hushed in Jonny Ive’s exquisite Brit voice-over.

Apple’s planned obsolescence, selective updates and manipulative marketing conivingly ushered me into a purchase frenzy, convincing me that the latest was the greatest, and I needed the best. I naively fell into the vicious cycle [shame on me].

Enter iPhone 7 Plus

I headed off to the Apple store to buy the jackless [really?!] iPhone 7 Plus with its dual camera. And as every year, I was greeted with the “already – out – of – stock” message. At the ninth iPhone, I expected Apple to have invested in a significantly superior supply chain team which clearly is not the case. “How was it possible for a mobile empire such as Apple to be out of stock?” I sadly thought.

I took this as a sign.

Goodbye for now, iPhone.

An avid reader of technology news, I’d stumbled, a few months back, upon articles announcing a Leica-branded mobile with a dual camera, one of which a dedicated monochrome. This novelty sparked my curiosity, and off I went and bought the P9!

Enter Huawei’s P9.

On Android, the P9’s EMUI imitates the iOS interface so well that a stray iSheep, such as I, would have no difficulty adopting the device and downloading from the Google Play Store all the apps available on iOS, and a bit more!  Three months down the road and from a pure user standpoint, I feel no significant difference between Android and iOS, aside the fact that Android provides for more flexibility: I’m now enjoying the full power of widgets. Friends and articles warned of a sluggish experience, short battery life, evil rogue apps, freezing screens and crashing devices… I have encountered none of these nightmares. The P9 experience is brisk, smooth, lagless, responsive and succinct. Battery life stands out as exemplary. I can get a full day, and then some, of personal and work email, messaging, media and fun on one charge. Huawei’s P9 is an all around reliable mobile.

The P9’s unique raison d’être resides in its photography offerings. Huawei provides via its device a very large number of photography modes from a simple point-and-shoot HDR option to fully manual DSLR-like settings, allowing to set ISO, aperture speed, photos in RAW…

The shallow-depth-of-field option stands out as unique and, when it works [sorry, img_20161116_221250Huawei], provides for outstanding images with the creamiest of bokeh. I do hope that future updates will improve on the aperture mode, letting the user touch up the unsuccessful out-of-focus zones.

The dedicated 12MP monochrome camera takes vibrant black and white shots which prove superior to a standard color photo transformed to monochrome.

A large number of post-production editing modes, adjustments and filters allow the user to improve all aspects of screenshot_2016-11-16-22-06-09both color and B&W photos. When focusing on one area, the P9 intelligently allows to choose separately another area in the composition for brightness, correcting the full lighting of the shot.

I have read here and there that the two cameras work in synergy. I have tested this by covering each camera separately and have deducted no difference; this would lead to believe that only one camera functions at time.

The lack of picture stabilisation (OIS), equally absent in the Leica M8 [the only point Leica and the P9 share IMHO] weakens the quality of the camera, obliging the user to stay as still as possible when taking a shot.  This absence makes for a larger than usual number of unsuccessful shots and does reserve the device for a true photographer-at-heart approach. img_20161116_220734

From a mobile persepective, the Huawei P9 proves a dependable device with reassuring battery life. It creates a marvelous feeling of newly found freedom for the iOS veteran and offers unlimited creative photography ability, with a bit of patience and a steady hand, currently unheard of on other devices. The price is about half the cost of an iPhone 7 with no loss of quality or pleasure.

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