Another year, another nice Huawei phone. Am I becoming a Huawei fanboy? Seems so.
The P9, the successor to last year’s P8 which I reviewed, is a gorgeous phone. It’s a smidgen smaller (I had to look up the specs to just to confirm), and thankfully the power and volume buttons are still in the same place. Gone is the separate memory card/second SIM slot; this is now integrated into one, and is now on the top left of the phone.
P8 on the left; P9 on the right.
Headphone socket is now on the bottom (not a fan), taking over what was the second speaker grill. As a user of the Nexus 6P, it’s nice to see this phone inherit the USB Type-C charging/data port and the fingerprint reader located centrally on the rear of the phone. Once you get used to unlocking a phone with your fingerprint, everything else seems so antiquated.
A lot of the online reviews really don’t like the Emotion UI (EMUI) that Huawei ships with their phones, but I’ve always liked it. It’s strict around allowing apps to run when the screen is off, and you can force close all apps with just a few taps. Android is not known for amazing battery life, however with these features, you can extend your time online greatly. You do need to allow a few apps, such as Google Maps, otherwise it resets everytime the screen switches off.
The phone is responsive and quick, and common complaints about the low res screen (when compared to the other similar phones, such as the Samsung S7) weren’t an issue for me. I think it’s because I’m not after ultra high res on such a small screen (again, compared to my ginormous 6P).
The biggest change in hardware is the camera, or cameras (which sit flush with the back of the phone). Huawei have partnered with Leica, and the phone features two 12 megapixel lenses. The camera app also has a myriad of different camera settings, which are well above the skillset of this simple user.
For me, the best phones will take the best photos in low light, and man, does the P9 take some cracker low light photos:
The last photo, for me, shows how good the camera is. On my street at home, at night, with no flash on. Very impressive.
Another great offering from Huawei, and a nice upgrade from last year’s model.
Continuing on in my Huawei fanboyism (last blog post was about the Huawei G8), I couldn’t help but also review the Nexus 6P, which seems to have been crowned the best Android phone on the market right now. Much to my surprise, all the online reviews I read raved about this phone, so I had to see what all the fuss was about.
First thing you notice about this phone: it’s big. At 5.7” it’s definitely a phablet, and a smidgen bigger than the iPhone 6s Plus (5.5”). Screen is AMOLED, protected by Gorilla Glass 4, with a resolution of 1440 x 2560 (518 ppi). Unlike Huawei’s other phones, this one runs pure Android (Marshmellow). Processor is a quad-core 1.55 Ghz Cortex-A53 with 3GB RAM. Camera is 12.3MP, and powering the show is a massive 3,450mAh battery.
Boring specs out of the way, what’s the good stuff this phone has to offer?
Speed. Coming from Samsung’s TouchWiz and Huawei’s Emotion UI, the pure Android experience is dreamy. Camera opens quickly, swapping between apps is quick, and turning WiFI, mobile data and any of the other features on and off is quick. If you switch developer options on, you can make the animations even shorter.
Camera. Best camera I’ve ever used, especially in low light. This photo I took at New Years, and even after I’d had a beer or six, it’s pretty clear.
One annoying feature of the camera is if you swipe right to turn on the camera, after you finish recording a video, the phone takes you back to photo mode.
Finger print reader. This is located on the back centre just under the camera. It’s pretty quick to respond, and its much better than typing in a pin or swiping a pattern to unlock your phone. You can also setup smart unlock, which means the phone won’t require a finger print if you’re at the office or at home.
Power. This phone doesn’t have your stock standard micro USB, but has an USB Type-C connector. At the moment, this is a double edged sword: on one hand, you can get up to seven hours of use after 10 minutes of charge (haven’t test this yet, though it’s all over their marketing collateral). The downside is because it’s not so common, if you forget your charger, you’re not going to be able to find someone who has a spare.
There must be some bad stuff: You can’t remove the battery, and you can’t add a memory card to get more storage. Some reviews have talked about not liking the protruding camera on the back (I don’t think it’s much of an issue) and the fact it doesn’t support wireless charging.
All in all, I think this is the perfect Android phone. The formula that’s been a success if a good form factor, speedy hardware with a big battery, paired with pure, no frills Android.
I liked it so much that I bought my own 64GB version the day I returned the review unit back to Huawei.
No more phone reviews after this I promise.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that dropping and thereby smashing your smartphone screen is not a smart move; this, however, is what I did with my Huawei P8 that I received at the Singapore launch back in June this year. The Huawei free screen repair really saved my bacon, and after sweet talking their PR department, I was able to try a new G8 while my phone was in the shop.
When pictured next to my P8 (left), the G8 doesn’t seem much bigger, but it definitely is. Sporting a 5.5 inch full HD screen, pixel density of 401ppi, it’s a crisp, clear screen. The screen sort of curves up from the chassis of the phone, which I don’t personally like; I prefer the much more flush design of the P8.
It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop which Huawei’s Emotion UI sitting on top. Reading a few of the other online reviews, I can see a lot of angst against this, however, I’m very comfortable with this, though it took a lot of getting used to having been in TouchWiz (Samsung) for so long.
On the back is a fingerprint reader, which at first glance seems to be a silly place to put (Nexus 5 users would obviously disagree), however it’s naturally where your index finger goes when picking up the phone. The reader is super quick, and super accurate – trying it on a few friends, their were no false positive reads.
Great battery life (3000mAh) and the power saving functions of Emotion UI means I was easily able to get a full day’s use. I did find that the phone would slow down when lots of apps were in use, however it’s unfair to expect the G8 to perform similarily to the top end phones.
Price point is fantastic. At $575 from Noel Leeming, it’s only a little smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, but nearly half the price.
For the average Android user, this is the perfect first foray into a phablet. Not sure if I’ll be happy going back to my smaller P8.
For the last two weeks I’ve been using the Huawei watch, my first foray into the smartwatch arena (I don’t even wear a watch normally). For my first experience with a smartwatch, I’ve been pretty impressed and would happily return to wearing a watch every day.
The watch definitely is on the larger size, featuring a 3.6mm AMOLED display. With a stainless steel body and a sapphire crystal watch face, I’m confident it could put up with the wear and tear of every day use. Definitely not a ladies watch, it didn’t look oversized on my wrist, however I’m a big guy.
The watch I received had the stock standard leather watch, and if I was buying this for myself, I’d definitely go for a metal band (personal preference). It does have stock standard watch pins, so you could add your own favourite, non-Huawei supplied band.
It comes with 40 different watch faces, which when paired with Android wear on your smartphone, you can quickly and easily change.
The alerts are a nice touch, especially when in a meeting or driving; a quick glance at your wrist and you can see an email or text message. You can also reply from the watch by tapping on the face, and using Google Now, your speech is transcribed and sent as a reply.
One of the big features is the power saving mode. Even with the watch in it’s lower power mode, I can still see the time, which is, surprisingly, a big feature for a watch.
There’s no product that’s perfect so I did have a few gripes with the watch. Firstly, I could really only get two days of use out of it (although fellow blogger Bill Bennett could get three days). Secondly, even with it’s magneting charging base, I could still put the watch on wrong and it wouldn’t charge. Having a standard micro-USB port on the watch would mean you could charge it when away from home.
I was a little anxious wearing this watch at the movies (nothing more annoying than a smartphone glow from other patrons), but it does have a theatre mode which switches the screen off completely; a quick tap on the crown turns the screen back on.
To finish up, the feature I like the most about this smart watch is it looks just like a regular watch. While I was wearing it in meetings and at a few bars, no-one noticed it until an alert would popup on the screen. I think the key to mainstream adoption of this technology is hiding all the complexity behind a simple watch face.
My thanks to Huawei NZ for providing this unit for review.