The Huawei P9 is the successor to the superb and very popular Huawei P8, and it might just be the fastest Android phone we’ve ever seen. But how else does it improve on its already excellent predecessor? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s pit them head to head in our Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8 comparison.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: design and build quality
The P8 is a good-looking phone without any major design flourishes or failures: it’s simple, stylish and straightforward. The P9 is similarly flounce-free, with great attention to detail including shiny chamfered edges, a rounded rectangle for the fingerprint scanner and the beautiful engineering we’ve come to expect from Huawei devices.
The P9 isn’t dramatically different from its predecessor, but that’s OK: nobody gets upset when Mercedes’ new S-Classes look and feel as great as the ones they’re replacing. One welcome change is a USB-C port, which means much faster charging.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: display
The P8 has a 5.2-inch LCD display delivering 1920 x 1080 pixels at 424 ppi. Huawei hasn’t clambered on the 4K bandwagon for the P9: once again it’s 1080p, 5.2 inches and 1920 x 1080. It’s a nice display with eye-popping color and a good brightness. The display was vivid when we tested the P9 and is an improvement over its predecessor, if by just a bit.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: processor and storage
The P8 has a quad-core Kirin 930 processor backed with 3 GB of RAM, and internal storage is 16 GB or 32 GB and expandable by microSD. It’s quick, but the P9 is even quicker: its Kirin 955 processor is even faster than Samsung’s Exynos 7420, which means the P9 is one of the fastest Android phones around. The P9 has 32 GB of storage and a microSD slot.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: camera
The P8’s rear camera is 13 MP and the front 8, and the main camera has a dual-LED flash. While it’s perfectly decent it’s nothing to get particularly excited about. The P9, on the other hand, has a 12 MP dual camera system. Those twin lenses should enable interesting features such as post-capture re-focus, aperture adjustment and filtering to deliver more DSLR-style images.
If that sounds familiar it’s because similar cameras are in the Honor 6 Plus, but the P9 does offers some additional features that the Honor doesn’t. The software of the P9 has some features that will be of interest to photo enthusiasts included a manual exposure and focus.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: software
The P8 shipped with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Huawei’s own Emotion UI, while the P9 will have Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Emotion 4.1 right out of the box. Marshmallow delivers lots of worthwhile improvements, not least improved power management and Doze mode. While the Emotion UI is technically interesting it also sacrifices key features and annoys us quite a lot. If the P9 has an Achilles Heel, the Emotion UI is it.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: battery
The P8’s 2,680 mAh battery delivered surprisingly good battery life despite its relatively small size, and we easily achieved 1.5 days of normal use from a single charge. Which makes the 3,000 mAh battery in the P9 a decent prospect, because it's a bit larger. Factor in Marshmallow's battery improvements and you're looking at a phone whose battery will last longer than the P8.
The company promises faster charging with the P9 but we'll have to wait until we have more testing time to determine whether this is true.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P8: price bringing it down
We really like the P8: while the camera isn’t the best we love the design, the camera does have some fun features, battery life is good and the processor is powerful. We gave it four and a half stars out of a possible five.
Does the P9 improve upon the P8? From what we’ve seen so far, it does. The Honor-style dual cameras open up all kinds of creative possibilities, the processor’s even faster, there’s more memory and the battery is bigger too. The Huawei P9 very impressive indeed but with a price of around $650 we might have expected a bit more.
What do you think? Is Huawei living up to its labeling as 'the Apple of China'? Let us know in the comments.