A little while ago Huawei reached out to me with an opportunity to review the new Huawei P9, ailment co-engineered with Leica. About to head north for a wedding and mid-year break, click I accepted the challenge of putting the so-called best smartphone camera on the market to the test abroad, drugstore Mediterranean blues and magenta hues in mind. I apologise in advance for the photo-overload. If you hate photographs or the ocean, Cyprus or Greece, then look away now. I’ve split this post into 3 sections: the review, the trip, the giveaway.
Huawei P9 Review
I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical given I’m primarily an Apple user and was nervous of the Android operating system, so I schlepped my trusty DSLR along for the holiday to take special photographs with. I started shooting with the Huawei P9 immediately and my DSLR never left her case. To be fair, my DSLR lens isn’t right for scenic shots, landscape photography or low-light, so the P9 filled in for her short-falls and blew me away in the process. If you follow me on Instagram you would’ve seen some of my photographs of the trip; I had followers asking what lens I was using which to me is testament to quality of this phone and its camera. The Leica lenses on this smartphone truly handle colour and light in a unique way and deliver photographs that are crisp, detailed and vibrant.
My favourite feature of the Huawei P9 camera is the option to toggle between standard user mode and professional mode with a simple swipe upwards, which allows you to manipulate the shutter speed, ISO, aperture and white balance, as you would with a DLSR. For anyone with a desire to take better photographs or to dabble in photography, this is huge. The double 12 megapixel rear Leica lenses are (one RGB and one monochrome, 27mm lens equivalent, f2.2 apertures) powerful and I think this collaboration between Leica & Huawei is a bold and smart one and the proof is in the photographs. In all the reviews I’ve read and watched, the Huawei P9 only appears to fall short in the video category, which doesn’t really bother me as I’m not big on video, and shooting in low light. I’ve intentionally included a few low light shots in my post to demonstrate its capability, which I think is better than what the reviews say.
A swipe from the left reveals a selection of modes: photo, monochrome, beauty video, HDR, beauty video, panorama night shot, light painting, time lapse, slow-mo and watermark. Let’s face it (pun intended), the proliferation of apps like SnapChat have made the infamous selfie more popular than ever and the Huawei P9’s 8 megapixel front-facing camera, along with beauty mode, make for an epic selfie. Selfie-taking automatically activates beauty mode which allows the user to up the effect, or to lose it. The pic of me with the watermelon in my review was taken on level 5, which was a mistake as it’s a little high for my liking, but if you’re after the flawless Photoshopped effect, then you’ll probably like levels 5 upwards.
I’ve not really used the phone for anything other than its camera and operating applications, so I can’t vouch for things like call quality, although it does boast a triple antenna, which I’m guessing, improves signal quality. A couple things I noticed which I do like are the positioning of the fingerprint unlock sensor which is at the back, where you logically put your index finger when you pick up your phone, and also the battery (3000 mAh) seems to last really long. What I can say for sure is the Huawei P9 is everything it claims to be from a photographic perspective and is by far the best smartphone camera I’ve used. I’d hazard a guess and say this collaboration is going to force competitors to have to up their hardware and software games if they want to stay in the photography race, a non-negotiable amongst the youth and heavy photography users.
A Mediterranean Adventure: Cyprus, Mykonos & Athens
A wedding in Cyprus spawned a mini Mediterranean adventure and we decided to take a couple weeks out of life and enjoy all that Cyprus, Mykonos and Athens had to offer. I’m so glad our friends decided to say their forevers in Cyprus, because it meant a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip to an area called Polis Chrysochous on the western tip of the island of Cyprus. Nestled at the foot of the Akamas Peninsula National Park is the Anassa, the breathtaking hotel where the wedding took place, where Zeibekiko was performed beneath the fairy lights al fresco and where we anointed this magical union with a lot of Ouzo. The area is beautiful, unspoilt, what I’d imagine Greece’s popular islands to have been like 20 years ago. And where your Euro goes a fair deal further. We rented a villa on AirBnB, just a two minute drive from the Anassa. All in all a great experience, I only wish we’d dedicated more than 3 nights to it. Here’s Cyprus in pictures:
We hopped on a flight from Paphos to Athens to catch our ferry to Mykonos the next morning. Now, for the life of me, I don’t know why I decided to book the ferry instead of a flight, and I didn’t live this decision down all holiday. Deservedly. Okay, so the Ferry was E40pp each way and was spacious and luxurious, and you get to check out some cool little islands along the way, but the journey was 5 hours vs. a 35 minute flight which I would’ve gladly spent the E180 on to save on travel time. So take my advice: fly.
Mykonos is small, full and the tourist to taxi ratio is terrible. If you stay on the arse-end of the island and you’re relying on taxis all the time you’re going to spend a fortune on travel, so be sure to stay somewhere central. I did a ton of research and we ended up staying in Platis Gialos which was a great call as our hotel was on the beach and within walking distance of restaurants/clubs like Nammos, Scorpios, Jumeirah, Kalua and the Platis Gialos strip. You’re going to spend a fair deal of your time in Mykonos eating, drinking and dancing, so position yourself accordingly. There’s also a public bus that stops at Platis Gialos beach half-hourly and heads into Mykonos Town, which is a great change of scenery.
I absolutely loved Mykonos town and caught the bus in a few times on my own to explore its quaint maze-like cobbled streets and picturesque and unexpected vistas. Some of the little shops and restaurants along the coastal-side are perched upon the rocks with breathtaking views and a roaring ocean beneath their balconies; magic. Mykonos town looks exactly like what you’d imagine a Greek island village to look like: uneven white concrete shops and houses with doors and shutters in blue and red, pink bougain villea punctuating turns, lazy Greek cats keeping watch upon doorsteps. Don’t settle for the tourist traps, go deeper and you’ll discover some beautiful boutiques and delicious local fare. Our favourite meal was happenstance at an Italian restaurant called Casa di Giorgio where dining is al fresco and they’re making fresh pasta in the alley as you enter the restaurant. Might as well be a bullseye. I had high hopes for another restaurant called Mamalouka which boasted an impressive modern garden setting, but I was underwhelmed and think it would’ve been better suited to drinks and live music.
The sexy beach bars and restaurants Mykonos is synonymous with blew my mind. The organic architecture and impeccable use of texture kept my jaw to the floor throughout our trip. After seeing what Mykonos has to offer I’m sorry to say South Africa has a long way to go to. My three favourites, in order:
Alemagou and Scorpios bear similarity when it comes to design and décor and both use a lot of natural shapes, colour and texture. Alemagou had a slightly more relaxed feel and a better beach. We spent the day there swimming, eating, drinking and being merry to the beat of a phenomenal DJ. I treated myself to a massage on the beach and we left when the sun went down. Our day at Alemagou was one of my favourites of our trip and I’m sad we saved it for last because, in hind sight, there’s a lot I would have foregone for another day or two there; Elia beach, for example. Sneaky Sundays at Scorpios are huge and not for the faint hearted; I’ve never seen so little clothing in all my life. The setting is ideal; a little hidden gem camouflaged by vegetation and rockery on an apparently unassuming peninsula. Oh, you’re in for a treat. Nammos is Nammos: fabulous.
Jumeirah – Best Greek Salad in Mykonos
We stayed at an unassuming hotel on the beach called Acrogiali which was great for its beach-frontage, but I think a better option would be to stay at it’s sister-hotel The George, a stone’s throw away. Being slightly back from the buzz of the beach, The George offers a little more peace and quiet, as well as an impressive view of the bay, particularly at night. One day when I’m big I’ll stay at Nissaki, just around the corner. This phenomenal boutique hotel offers the best views of Psarou bay (where Nammos is) and everything about this little gem is classic, classy, white and perfectly Myconian.
After Mykonos we took our sad wallets and livers to Athens for a couple nights in this, one of my favourite cities in the world. I feel Athens is a lot like Johannesburg in that it gets bad PR, mostly from from ignoramuses (ignorami?) who’ve not spent enough time in the city and don’t know all it has to offer. Through researching the city’s best rooftop bars, I stumbled upon the Herodion Hotel at the base of the Acropolis in the heart of the old town on Rovertou Galli. The rooftop bar and restaurant did not disappoint and you’re in for some of the best cocktails and views you’ve ever had in your life. This trip we visited the Acropolis Museum but hired a private tour guide (recommended through the Herodion); well worth the E20 pp she charged for the two hours she guided us through the museum and it’s artefacts. Walking up the Acropolis itself has little significance without the rich history and context you gain at the museum.
Take the red bus to acquaint yourself with the city on your first day. Walk as much as you can, especially areas like Plaka, Monastiraki, Kolonaki, Excharia and Psiri. Don’t spend all your time in Glyfada on the beach. Walk up to Mount Lycabettus (don’t take the funicular). And visit the Acropolis and its museum, of course.
Pretty impressive for a smartphone camera, right?
Okay, so here’s the sexy part you’ve been waiting for, the part where you get to stand your paws the chance to win a Huawei P9 valued at R11 000. To enter I need you to comment on this blog post and tell me two simple things:
- What do you like most about the Huawei P9 co-engineered with Leica?
- What’s your dream adventure destination?
Don’t worry, the details you submit when you comment on this post are private and will not be published. Entries close midnight on Wednesday August 31 and I will announce the winner the following day, Thursday 1 September 2016.