Huawei beats iPhone 7, launches dual cameras on phone

Huawei yesterday unveiled the P9 and P9 Plus in Dubai, its 2016 flagships that sport two rear-facing camera lenses.

In doing so, it beats Apple’s iPhone 7, which is also rumoured to come with the dual-camera technology. But while Apple’s launch is, well, a pie in the sky at the moment, Huawei went ahead and launched the devices globally earlier this month – and regionally yesterday.

Both the devices are available immediately across the region, with the 5.2-inch P9 available for Dh1,799 and the 5.5-inch P9 Plus for Dh2,219.

Huawei has collaborated with premium camera manufacturer Leica to offer the dual-lens P9, which the Chinese firm says “sets a new standard in smartphone photography”.

At the presentation held at the Dubai Design District, Huawei’s focus was clearly on the dual-camera technology and less about the other features of the smartphone.

What did Huawei really launch – a phone with dual cameras or other way round?

During yesterday’s launch in Dubai, Huawei focused extensively on the camera capabilities of the devices. So much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking that Huawei launched flagship cameras – and not flagship smartphones.

The launch venue was adorned with portraits shot by Dubai-based professional photographer Ayaad Damouni on the P9 and the P9 Plus.

Attendees at the event were offered three workshops: ‘How to take a selfie’, ‘How to take the best shot’ and ‘How to take the best fashion shot’.

Jiao Jian, President of Huawei Consumer Business Group in the Middle East, gave a brief introduction about Huawei, followed by George Al Kafrouni, Regional Manager of Product Marketing & Training for Huawei in the Middle East, talking about the features (mostly camera) of the new devices.

Damouni, Founder of UAE-based Capital D Studios, was invited on stage along with Huawei’s management to talk about the power of, well, the dual cameras.

Myriam Benaroya, Regional Marketing Director, Huawei Middle East, made a presentation about how contemporary artist Hassan Hajjaj, the ‘Andy Warhol of Marrakech,’ is now a huge fan of the P9’s camera abilities and will be using the smartphone for some of his upcoming work.

Damouni, on the other hand, shared his experience with the Huawei P9 as he travelled and shot captivating imagery from London to Dubai.

“Huawei is excited to give P9 users the best smartphone photography experience by leveraging the unrivalled capabilities of Leica, the leader in the world of imaging for more than 100 years,” said Jian Jiao.

“Consumers around the world use their smartphones to take billions of pictures each year, making photography critical to user experience. P9 users can now capture images with unmatched clarity, richness and authenticity, with a masterfully designed and powerful smartphone that looks and feels incredible,” he said.

The firm also brandished testimonials from other professional photographers, including National Geographic’s David Guttenfelder, who said he was “really impressed by the speed and responsiveness of the P9 camera”.

So what’s so great about the dual camera anyways?

For starters, the two cameras are differently equipped – one has a colour lens while the other sports a monochrome one – and therein lies their power. The two work independently to capture colour and detail separately, and then merge the results in one shot.

Huawei claims that, with the dual-camera design allowing more light and detail to be captured, the cameras work great in low-light conditions. In addition, it leads to the sharper contrast and better depth of field than more traditional lenses, the company claimed.

The lenses work in harmony to create a composite 12MP image, and they don’t protrude out of the back, pointed out Al Kafrouni, unlike the competition (read: the iPhone 6s Plus and the Galaxy S7).

Is there anything else new in the devices?

In two words, not much. The processor does get an upgrade though. Both devices sport the indigenous Kirin 955 (64-bit) Octa-core processor (4 x 2.5 GHz A72+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53).

In addition, the metallic unibody comes with curved edges for a better grip, we were told. But we’ve heard that one before.

The phones are slimmer than the previous flagship – the P9 is 6.95mm while the P9 Plus is 6.98mm thick. By contrast, the iPhone 6s (7.1mm) and the iPhone 6s Plus (7.3mm) look a bit overfed. The Galaxy S7 (7.9mm) and the Galaxy S7 edge (7.7mm), on the other hand, clearly have some holiday weight to lose.

Unlike Apple, which unveils one or at most two devices a year, Huawei is following the Samsung strategy, rapidly unveiling flagship models to capture a share of every segment of the market.

In January this year, Huawei unveiled the Mate 8 at CES 2016, and then quickly launched it globally, with Dubai being one of the launch cities.

Read: Huawei launches flagship Mate 8 in Dubai

Huawei who?

As Jiao Jian pointed out during his opening presentation, for most of the world outside China, “Huawei remains a mystery.”

Huawei (could be pronounced ‘who are we’) is the world’s third largest manufacturer of smartphones (after Apple and Samsung), and arguably the best known Chinese brand.

It is the first Chinese brand to have broken into Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands, and is ranked at No. 88 in the latest rankings (up from No. 94 in the previous year’s rankings).

“So, who are we,” asked Jian, and answered: “We call it a global innovation hive.” He went on to explain the company’s management philosophy – it is owned 98.6 per cent by its employees, with the only the remaining 1.4 per cent held by its founder.

In addition, the firm follows a ‘rotating CEO strategy’ wherein three deputy chairmen take turns to act as the company’s CEO for six months each. This, said Jian, helps the firm to “stay fresh.”