Gadgets for humans

Huawei launches 2 new phones in partnership with Leica, but they don’t have Leica lenses

Huawei has launched its latest high-end handsets at an event today in London that sees the first products from its long-term collaboration with Leica – the P9 and P9 Plus.

The devices are the company’s latest salvo to become more of a household name in European markets – a strategy its been executing against since 2010.

As part of that focus, European and UK-bound devices will offer up a slightly different spec list to the models offered in Asia.

The P9 has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 3000mAh battery and an Octa-core processor, which is a pairing of  2.5GHz and 1.8GHz Kirin 955 chips. The version headed to the Far East is also dual-SIM, but the European model will offer just one. There’s also a regular P9 model in 128GB variants, but this isn’t headed to Europe.

Credit: Ben Woods/TNW

The P9 Plus model offers 4GB of RAM, a larger screen at 5.5-inches (still full HD, however) and more internal storage as standard – 64GB or 128GB – and a larger 3,400mAh battery pack.

Both devices do support microSD cards however, so adding more room for your pics, videos, apps or anything else shouldn’t be too much of a problem.


The devices keep the same aluminium chassis approach of previous handsets like the P8, but switch across to using USB Type C for connecting to other devices and charging.


Of course, the most notable aspect of the devices is the camera – or more specifically, cameras.

Credit: Ben Woods/TNW

Rather than using a single sensor, as most smartphones would, the Leica collaboration has resulted in a dual 12-megapixel sensor setup – with one regular RGB one, and one monochrome, which the company says allows for superior photos, whether in color or in black and white.

The partnership has also spurred a redesigned camera UI – though much of  the rest of Huawei’s EMUI looks unchanged at a quick glance. You’ll also find the regular range of photo-related options that you’d expect to see in a Leica-branded device, like a Pro mode (which arrived first on the Mate S) and things like movie mode, vivid color settings and a range of post-capture options.


One thing you won’t find on either device, however, is an actual Leica-manufactured camera setup. While the company “co-engineered” the lenses, Huawei took care of all the manufacturing, which will likely disappoint some readers.

That’s not to say the cameras won’t perform admirably – we’ll have to wait for a full review to find out – but it won’t be a Leica lens or module you’re using.


Huawei hasn’t confirmed whether or not the device will be headed to the US, but it’s expected to go on sale in Europe and the UK before the end of April, with the P9 Plus arriving before the end of May. Pricing hadn’t been confirmed at the time of writing.

Published April 6, 2016 — 13:30 UTC