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By 8 September 2016 | Categories: sponsored content

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As a tech website that focuses primarily on the consumer device space, we're often asked what's the best product within a particular category. As such, “What's the best flagship smartphone?” is a query we hear quite often.

With so many stand out flagship devices released so far this year, it's tough to give a straightforward answer, and Apple's recent unveiling of the iPhone 7 presents yet another candidate (a big one nonetheless) in a strong lineup of contenders.

How does Apple's new flagship compare to Huawei's P9 then? Noting that we haven’t yet had our hands on the 7, we stack the two against one another based pretty much on our review of the P9 and the specs of the iPhone 7 coming from the launch event.

For the sake of objectivity (as well as not trying to anger their respective fan bases), we've thrown the Android and iOS operating systems out of the equation. Instead, we're focusing on design, display, camera, performance and price.

1. Design

Compared to their previous iterations, neither the iPhone 7 nor Huawei P9 has changed much in terms of design. Instead, both the American and Chinese manufacturers have opted to refine the look of their respective flagships. In our opinion though, the P9 wins on this count due to Apple's strange omission on the iPhone 7. Easily, the most divisive change on the new iPhone is the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which could not only alienate consumers, but also frustrate accessory manufacturers. While change is always good, sometimes it's best to stick with the tried and tested.

Not to forget, however, is the new iPhone’s waterproof unibody - certainly much needed if you’ve ever found your device splashing away at the bottom of the pool. Can we call a tie on round one?

2. Display

The display category is far more hotly contested, however. The two devices have far different screen sizes, with Huawei's measuring 5.2" diagonally and Apple's at 4.7". In terms of size it comes down to a matter of preference, with the difference between 5.2” and 4.7” quite noticeable in the pocket.

In terms of screen quality though, a stronger distinction can be made. Both displays are IPS LCD in nature, but Huawei offers a higher resolution and pixel density at 1080x1920 and 423 ppi, compared to the iPhone 7's mark of 750x1334 and 326 ppi. On this front then, Huawei gets the point.

3. Camera

As we flip both phones over, the P9 is sporting a dual lens setup which also comes Leica certified. The iPhone 7, however, has only been slightly refined and is not dual lens in nature, unlike the larger iPhone 7 Plus. That said, the 12 MP iSight camera has always proved a superb shooter in a number of scenarios, now with improved aperture and hybrid autofocus.

The Huawei’s dual lens does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve, and as far as photography and post processing are concerned, the P9 offers pretty much a complete package. For smartphone users who are also on the lookout for a comprehensive photography tool, the Huawei P9 is tough to top at the moment.   

4. Performance

One place where Apple rarely falters is on the performance front. For this new iteration, Apple has introduced a new quad-core A10 Fusion CPU to take care of the heavy lifting. The Cupertino-based company says it’s the most powerful processor it has ever placed in an iPhone and we have no reason to doubt them.

Contrastingly, out-and-out performance has always been something Huawei struggled with. For the P9 they opted for the Kirin 955 chipset, featuring two quad-cores clocked at 2.5 GHz and 1.8 GHz respectively. Although you still have a good overall performance on the device, it simply couldn’t match the performance from the top dogs from Samsung, Xiaomi and LG on the benchmarking front.    

5. Price

Pricing has never been Apple's forte, and it appears the iPhone 7 will be no different. The base 32 GB model is set to retail for $649, which is the same price the iPhone 6s sold for when it debuted last year. As such, we can expect the iPhone 7 to cost between R14 000 and R16 000 when it arrives locally (expect it round about October), with more than enough fans willing to pay the price.

Conversely, the 32 GB P9 will cost an estimated R12 000, with a microSD slot for up to an additional 256 GB taking care of onboard storage concerns. Although it’s higher than last year’s P8, it still comes in lower than Samsung’s and LG’s top offering. For smartphone consumers that place a premium on pricing, the P9 is the clear winner for this category.

The Winner is…

With both Huawei and Apple strong in certain categories, and maybe less so in others, for many it will boil down to personal preference. Our recommendation - go to your closest shopping mall and try each out for yourself. The feature that will attract you most might just one we’ve not touched on here. Happy hunting.

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