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P9

by Huawei

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Connectivity Technologies

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Huawei P9- The First Pure Huawei Flagship USB Type-C Phone Doesn't Support Any Form of Quick Charging

Starting with the Huawei P8, Huawei started to seriously position itself as the main high end brand in China offering best in class features in a well designed body and at premium prices that go head to head with Apple.   

The Huawei P9 continues this positioning further reinforced with a branding partnership with Leica, the premium German camera brand.  Through this partnership the Huawei P9 has come up with 2 cameras similar to the LG G5.  However, unlike the LG G5 which uses the 2 cameras for normal and wide-angle shooting, the Huawei P9 is the first to use the 2 cameras to work together and provide better picture quality.  While both cameras are 12 MP, f/2.2, 27 mm, the Huawei P9 is also the first to have one camera that uses a monochrome sensor to provide better pixel quality and low light sensitivity and appeal to Leica leaning users that like black and white photography.

On the interface technology side, Huawei was also one of the first companies out with a USB Type-C phone when it partnered with Google on the Huawei Google Nexus 6P.  The Huawei Google Nexus 6P used the Qualcomm chipset but had Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology disabled.  With the Huawei P9 using Huawei owned HiSilicon Kirin 955 chipset, Huawei doesn't automatically come with Qualcomm Quick Charge like many other phones that use Qualcomm chipsets.  

In fact, Huawei didn't seem to have learned much from working with Google on the Huawei Google Nexus 6P, and for some reason chose not to implement USB Power Delivery let alone just simple 15 Watts charging enabled by USB Type-C.  The Huawei Google Nexus 6P used the USB Type-C spec's new base power levels of 1.5 Amps and 3.0 Amps through simple Rp resistor advertisement to allow for 15 Watts Charging (5 Volts @ 3 Amps) but Huawei only chose to allow the Huawei P9 to charge at a slower 10 Watts (5 Volts @ 2 Amps).  What a waste for a premium flagship phone!

Other flagship phones released this year like the HTC 10LeEco Le Max 2 , and LG G5 make full use of the USB Type-C features such as USB Power Delivery for quick charging and DisplayPort video over USB Type-C, while also supporting Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.  The Huawei P9 has none of these.  This lack of features over USB Type-C puts the premium Huawei P9 more in line with the economy product brands like the OnePlus 2.  Even the ultimate economy brand Xiaomi with the Xiaomi Mi 5 at least supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 over USB Type-C.  

I purchased the Huawei P9 in Shanghai, China at the China Mobile store in the South Railway Station where there were a lot of USB Type-C phones.  Although in a high traffic location, there weren't a lot of customers in this store perhaps because of it recently moved there.

China Mobile was launching a promotion with the new release of the Huawei P9 with discounted talk fees given along with the purchase of the phone.

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The Huawei P9 was one of several models with USB Type-C in the store and many of the phone brands offered would be unrecognizable to foreign, especially US, visitors.

The Huawei P9 box is flat like the Huawei Google Nexus 6P's unlike the Huawei P8 box's more innovative bookshelf style.  The box also boldly advertises the Leica partnership and 4G LTE support.

The main accessories that come with the Huawei P9 include earbuds, power charger, plastic phone cover, and USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable.  Each accessory has its own mini case in the P9 box.

The Huawei P9 phone itself has a comfortable size and just the right weight to feel light and portable to hold.

The P9 has a metal back but white plastic front that looks a lot like the recent iPhone styling.

The top of the Huawei P9 proudly displays the Leica Summarit branded H 1:2.2/27 lenses (f/2.2 aperture, 27 mm focal length).  Given that Leica Germany factories are unlikely to be cost effective in making cell phone components, don't expect the Huawei P9 camera module to be made in Germany either.  Rather, the camera module are made by a ODM partner in China for Huawei/Leica similar to the way most consumer electronics and PC products today use their own brand but are actually designed and manufactured by a Chinese ODM partner.

I inserted the China Mobile SIM card using the SIM card opening pin that came with the Huawei P9.

The Huawei P9 charger is a measly 10 Watts (5 Volts @ 5 Amps) since it doesn't support USB Power Delivery or Qualcomm Quick Charge based quick battery charging.

Like many other Chinese phones, the Huawei P9 also comes with a free plastic cover.

Huawei is definitely going for the premium feel with Hollywood stars like Scarlett Johansson and Henry Cavill promoting the Huawei P9.  While there is good progress with the camera technology, it's unfortunate that Huawei decided not to enable advanced USB Type-C features such as USB Power Delivery, Qualcomm Quick Charge, USB 3.1, or DisplayPort found on other flagship and even lower end phones.  Perhaps this is due to Huawei relying on its HiSilicon subsidiary rather than other partners like Google, Qualcomm, or specialized IC vendors to support advanced USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery based features.  Still, this would have been a good chance for Huawei to introduce the first USB-IF "legal" phone which supported only USB Power Delivery and not Qualcomm Quick Charge over the USB Type-C connector.

Still, the Huawei P9 is a classy phone with looks to kill.  Clearly Huawei is aiming for Apple's lofty position in the market and perhaps whatever Apple does next with USB technology will influence Huawei to move in that direction as well.

The following are the startup screenshots for the Huawei P9.

  

  

  

   

The initial setup screens are relatively painless and you can get to the main home screen in no time.

Although the Huawei P9 didn't implement any of the fast charge capabilities found on the Huawei Google Nexus 6P, it does have a similar graphical power consumption view although it doesn't estimate a charging trajectory on the graph.

 

The dual camera is the key feature of the Huawei P9 and once you start the camera App, you'll get a quick introduction on how to access all the controls and features of the camera App.

  

  

More to come later comparing the dual camera setup of the LG G5 versus the Huawei P9.

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