Back in April, five months before the iPhone 7 launch, Huawei launched a phone with dual rear 12-megapixel cameras, the Huawei P9. Huawei's approach turned out to be different than Apple's. Instead of focusing on zoom, its secondary camera only took monochrome photos that were combined with the other camera's color photos for enhanced sharpness and details. Now, at an event in Munich, the company showed the evolution of that concept with its new phablet flagship, the Huawei Mate 9. The 5.9-inch phone has a dual rear camera with the main sensor taking 12-megapixel color photos, which are then combined with the monochrome photo taken by the other rear camera, which has a resolution of 20 megapixels.
I've said this many times: Huawei makes great phones. They're built to last and their software won't cause you many headaches after you get used to it. All the Huawei phones I've tested in the last couple of years worked very well, even after I've been using them a while (which can't be said for many Android phones). But while the company's latest flagship, the Huawei P10, follows in that path, it has one pretty big flaw: it's boring. It doesn't bring any truly exciting features, and it's not even keeping pace with competitors.
The smartphone landscape is changing so fast that what worked a year ago would be a disaster today. Every manufacturer deals with it in its own way: Apple is moving at its own pace, careful to add one marquee feature in each new iPhone. Samsung seems to love tossing in a dozen odd features in the hopes something will stick (although the company's toned down the gimmicks this year). The up and coming Chinese manufacturers just try to make a good looking, powerful phone and sell it cheap. With its latest flagship P9 (and P9 Plus), Chinese smartphone maker Huawei -- the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world according to IDC -- is trying to out-Apple Apple.
Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work. In April 2016, Huawei launched a smartphone with a dual rear camera -- the P9 -- nearly half a year before Apple's iPhone 7 Plus launched with a dual camera of its own. The fact that a Chinese smartphone maker is trying to out-Apple Apple wasn't that surprising, but I didn't expect the P9's rear dual-camera system to be as good as it was. Several flagship iterations later, Huawei now has the P20 Pro, a phone that absolutely destroys all other phones in terms of sheer photography firepower with its triple rear camera and a 24-megapixel selfie camera.
The IFA electronics trade show in Berlin didn't see too many flagship smartphone launches this year. Some companies, such as LG, opted for separate events weeks before or after the show, and most of the new phones we've seen, like Huawei's nova and nova plus, were mid-rangers. But a mid-range phone these days is an odd beast. Once, the loosely defined category mostly meant a phone that's slightly weaker than top-of-the-line devices in nearly every department. Recently, however, these devices have been catching up with flagships in terms of features, while keeping prices down, with Chinese companies such as Xiaomi launching powerful flagships that cost less than most mid-rangers.