Huawei P9 Hands On – Change the way you see the world #OO

Huawei P9 – Reinvent Smartphone Photography #OO

Pricing & Design

Huawei P9 is the latest flagship phone introduced early this year, along with P9 Lite & P9 Plus. Huawei is commonly known to be introducing flagship-standard phone at a much affordable price. P9 is no exception with its retail price of $768 during their first launch. It is one of the most affordable flagship when you consider the fact that it is the easiest entry to get yourself into the Leica bandwagon.

At 6.95mm, Huawei P9 is the slimmest flagship phone introduced this year so far. Consider it an achievement as Huawei managed to squeeze in a 3000mAh battery and managed to avoid the dreaded camera bump at the back of the phone.

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On the back of the P9, an additional fingerprint sensor was added, a great improvement from last year omission from Huawei P8 where fingerprint sensor are becoming mainstream on flagship devices.

5.2 inches display are vibrant and sharp despite only having the resolution of Full HD 1920×1080. At screen PPI of 423 pixels/inch, it is almost impossible to distinguish each pixel from a usual viewing length and angle.

Performance
Huawei is one of the only few companies that produce their own chipset for their devices, P9 is using brand new octa-core Kirin 955 CPU, an slight upgrade from previous Huawei Mate 8.

Daily usage proven to be smooth & responsive despite the fact that benchmarking are considerably lower than other flagship running on Snapdragon processor.

Huawei’s own power manager are able to identify the power-hunger application and shut it off when needed, along with Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Doze function. Users of Huawei P9 are able to get a decent amount of screen on time without reaching for the charger in the midday. Huawei P9 will be available with 32GB/3GB RAM & 64GB/4GB RAM version. With the help of Huawei’s Power Manager, I did not experience any occasion where application are forced close due to lack of memory. I am able to run multiple app at once without any lag.

Leica-certified Camera

Duo camera phone has been here for years, from 3D camera to purely creating bokeh effect, no one seems to have an idea what to do with the second rear camera. Unlike others phones where the second rear camera are often an assistance to create effects, Huawei P9’s second camera can actually work on its own. The co-development with Leica results in one of the most interesting duo camera set up so far – a pure monochrome camera.

Leica users should be familiar with their monochrome camera series that only shoot in B&W. Huawei P9 works exactly like that without a color filter array on the sensor, hence the sensor is able to take in as much lights as possible.

With the duo camera setup, P9 is said to be able to capture 270% more light than typical smartphone these days despite the fact that the F stop is at F2.2 for both 12 megapixels sensor.

Focusing is assisted by laser focus to provide fast focusing. Duo-LED flashlight are also here for your night shooting need, though I would not recommend using any flashlight for shooting on phone but the overall quality remains acceptable.

Monochrome camera

Only one word to describe the monochrome camera performance – Stunning. Details are kept to their best – as opposed to taking a color photo and covert it to B&W. Check out the monochrome photo sample below!

RGB camera

The usual camera benefits from the help of monochrome camera & laser focusing. Color turns out to be accurate and night time shot does not suffer from shutter lag.

Wide Aperture Mode

Huawei P9 make use of the duo camera set up to produce a realistic bokeh – RGB camera taking the usual shot while monochrome calculate the focal distance. With P9’s top tier processor & camera application, you are able to view the bokeh effect live while shooting photos without any lag. Noted that the effect can be best achieve within 2 meter distance.
 

Pro & Other Modes

The overall UI are different from usual Huawei phone we’ve seen so far. With the collaboration with Leica, the camera UI has been revamped with the standard Leica interfaces.

 

While the amount of different mode seems to be overkill, there are a good reason to it.

Pro mode is available for both RGB & monochrome camera. Photographers will appreciate the whole range of customizable setting similar to a standard DSLR.

Swiping left & right on the camera app will brings you to various mode (HDR,Night mode & time-lapse, to name a few)

I particularly love the light-painting mode. In light-painting mode, there are four different choices given – Trail lights, Light graffiti, Silky water & Star track. What sets P9 light-painting mode apart from pro mode is that P9 took the photo in right exposure first, and you are freely to add in any lighting effect for almost an unlimited time period without risking the photo being over-exposed.


(Trail lights)


(Light graffiti)


(Silky Water)

Conclusion

With the expectation of camera innovation raised so high this year. Huawei P9 has proven to be a worthy contender for this camera race for 2016. Along with the affordable price, slim design & Leica-certified camera, it is hard not to recommend Huawei P9 to everyone this year.

Bonus

Do you know that Huawei is the first to introducing a warranty scheme that last more than one year?

You are able to get up to two year of prestige warranty for your Huawei P9, along with one year of free screen protect (changing of screen within one year due to screen crack). Huawei also provided a Google app called HiCare (installed on P9) that can provide you with more tips & contacting services to ensure you that Huawei is always there for you when you required assistance.

Review: Zenfone Zoom – Delivers Genuine Zoom in Compact Body

The Zenfone Zoom is special – there’s real optical zoom, not the digital enlarge typically found in other phones. Basically, most other phones are just cropping away the unnecessary pixels. Another feat is that ASUS achieves this in a relatively compact phone size, with their best ever specs in the Zenfone 2 series.

Design

ASUS delivers a polished and sleek look to their Zenfone series with aluminium side trimming and a leather back. The camera cover dominates the removable back, as the Zoom is not shy to emphasize that this phone is all about the camera. The ridge on the back is also a nice inclusion, as it provides a better grip, as your fingers naturally rest on it when attempting to take a landscape shot. The ridge actually is to allow the phone to rest flat, to compensate for the camera bump. On removing the back cover, you can access the SIM slot and micro SD. The 3000 mAH battery is not replaceable.

At 158.9 x 78.84 x 11.95mm, and 185g, it’s a little bulkier than others in this category, but the phone feels solid and well made. However, like the other Zenfone 2 series, the Zoom features hardware capacitive buttons, WITHOUT backlight. It’s especially irritating when you are trying to use the phone at night. For a flagship phone, the least ASUS could do is to throw is some simple LEDs.

Btw, the Zenfone Zoom design video is pretty good.

Specs

The Zoom is powered by the Intel Z3590 2.5 GHz chip, 4 GB of RAM, and a generous 64 or 128 GB storage. The storage comes in handy especially if you plan to take many photos. The display is a 5.5″ 1080P IPS, with good colours and brightness. However, the auto brightness could do some tweaking as it seems to under compensate most times in outdoor or low light settings.

The Zoom runs on Android 5.0 software, and during my review, the system software was upgraded twice. There was an initial period where the software was a little buggy which prevented the camera from turning on (restart required), but that has since been addressed with the latest software. ASUS uses it’s own Zen UI which is generally OK, but purists would find the bloatware disturbing. That being said, it has been greatly reduced since the original Zenfone days, when there were a ton of Taiwanese apps. All the additional apps can be uninstalled though.

Camera

The Zoom uses a Hoya-designed lens with a 13-megapixel Panasonic sensor (f/2.7-f/4.8 aperture lens). If you have been following recent news, Samsung is offering a f/1.7 lens in the latest S7, which offers better low light performance. There’s laser autofocus, which is a nice inclusion for near-instant picture focus, especially in poor lighting conditions. Unfortunately, video recording is limited to 1080P on the Zenfone Zoom, which is strange, since 4K recording shoul have been standard. Standalone controls are offered through dedicated shutter and video buttons on the lower right side of the phone. They are very useful to have, tactile, responsive, with the typical half-shutter focus like a normal camera. The volume controls double up as Zoom In / Out controls but you are better off just pinching on the screen directly. Unlike other phones, you would notice a distinct lag when zooming, due to the actual lens moving inside. In fact, if you spin the phone around, you can see the lens sliding around.

Optical zoom trumps digital zoom anyday. A typical 12MP image (say taken with an iPhone) at 3x digital zoom is only 1.3MP in terms of resolution. You get much clearer definition with the optical zoom. With the focus on the camera, ASUS doesn’t disappoint with quite an impressive camera app, with manual control of aperture, shutter speed, exposure, etc possible through the app.

Here’s an image I took at Keppel Bay zoomed out, and subsequently zoomed in.

But that being said – image quality is absolutely important to the target audience. Unfortunately, that’s a little hit and miss with the Zenfone Zoom. In bright day conditions, I was quite happy with the images I took – accurate colours, good balance between highlights and shadows.

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It’s low light conditions that the Zenfone Zoom struggles. Colour tends to be more washed out, and the higher f-stop means shutter speeds tend to be a little longer, and images captured had a tendency to be blurred, despite having OIS onboard.

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For the full image gallery: https://goo.gl/photos/i98tTAoaFYKupeuVA

The Zenfone Zoom is priced at US$399. Like the Zenfone 2, it offers great value, and offers a unique proposition in delivering Optical Zoom to smartphones. However, it is not the best phone camera out there, which falls short, especially for those who are looking for real optical zoom in a phone.

Conclusion

It’s a great piece of technology, offering actual optical zoom in a compact phone body, without the need for any protruding lens. I am impressed with ASUS for delivering the world’s thinnest 3X optical zoom smartphone. It’s a promising showcase of what the Zenfone 3 might have to offer. But it begets the question of whether optical zoom an important criteria? For most, the answer is likely no, and that limits the audience that might be interested in such a phone, which is unfortunately not helped by the average camera performance.

That being said, the Zoom is still worth considering, given the specs, build quality and price point.

Sony RX100 IV and RX10 II Singapore Launch

Sony announced two of their Cyber-shot cameras, the compact RX100 IV and high-zoom RX10 II cameras, with impressive capabilities that include 40x super slow motion video capture at up to 960fps, an ultra-fast Anti-Distortion Shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000 second, high-resolution 4K movie shooting and more. Both would be available in Singapore in July.

Such features were once limited to professional grade cameras, but now made possible with the world’s first 1.0 type stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor with advanced signal processing and an attached DRAM memory chip. The high speed signal processing and DRAM memory chip work together to enable more than five times the readout rate of image data.

At the media event, Sony demonstrated the slow motion video capture, and ultra fast shooting (up to 16 fps!). Very impressive shots, especially the slow motion capture, which with sufficient lighting, can produce very beautiful effects. There’s also a buffer mode such that as long you are in standby mode, you can still record the previous 2 secs after you click the record button. Like it’s predecessor, the RX100 IV is undoubtedly the best compact camera you can buy right now.

The RX10 II sports a few more improvements. The body is now made of magnesium alloy and is dust and moisture resistant. The RX10 II has a 28-200mm f2.8 lens, mic input and headphone output, faster AF focus among others.

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Xiaomi to Sell GoPro Camera Clone?

Xiaomi will be revealing a new mystery product on March 2nd.

Check out their website for the teaser video which gives away a hint of an action camera, similar to the GoPro or HTC Re. The website keywords used are 极限运动,旅行,潜水,轻量级新品,新品, which means Extreme sports, travel, diving, lightweight, new. So it looks to be lightweight, waterproof, and durable. Excellent. In addition, it is definitely small as the video ends up with a picture of a matchbox filled with the video contents.

Keep refreshing the website for the various teasers.

Based on the file name, it could be called the Xiaomi Go.

Here’s one of them.

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It is most likely going to be an action camera which have been a booming business. Go Pro cameras are the undoubted market leaders now but they are definitely expensive at around $400-$500. China have produced other Go Pro competitors like the SJ4000, but has not really taken off. Xiaomi is no stranger to such a scenario and their aggressive pricing strategy as well as quality products could see them do well in this growing market.

Definitely one to watch and while it most likely wouldn’t be coming to Singapore shores soon, you could buy it off resellers on Taobao.

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HTC RE Camera Review

We often experience life through many fleeting beautiful moments, bu more often than not, our instinct is to take a photo or video to capture that instance. However, we spend so much time viewing the world through these viewfinders that we stop experiencing life and the beauty for all it has to offer. Life should not be viewed behind a screen. HTC wants to change that with the RE, still helping you capture the moment, but letting you experience the beauty with your own eyes first.

Gotta admit, the whole concept is pretty revolutionary. A camera without a viewfinder and offered in a unique preiscope design pretty much spells atypical. HTC thrown in some useful and considerate features too, good ergonomics in terms of button placement, good grip, and waterproof capabilities. Personally, I think HTC’s newest camera is one of the more interesting gadgets in 2014. It went against norm, designing a camera that doesn’t look like a camera.

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Canon S110 Review & Canon Privilege Purchase Program

The recently launched Canon S110 looks almost identical to the S100, and with only a few subtle differences. Pocket cameras are losing market share with phone cameras fast improving and in a recent comparison to new mobile phone cameras like the iPhone 5 or HTC One X+, the advantages of a dedicated point and shoot camera are fast eroding. Read more to find out about comparisons with the S110 and its unique selling points as well a great Canon camera “lobang” (discount).
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