The Huawei 40MP P20 Pro Has Landed: Is This the Best Cameraphone Ever?
In a packed Grand Palais in the heart of Paris, Huawei launched their new flagship smartphones, the P20 and the P20 Pro
It really says something about the importance that a manufacturer places on a product launch when they cram over 2000 representatives from the global press arena into a venue the scale of Paris’ Grand Palais.
Key Features: P20 Pro
- Leica Triple Camera
- 40 Megapixel Light Fusion
- 20 Megapixel Black & White
- F1,8 + F1.6 8MP Telephoto F2.4
- Front Camera: 24 Megapixel F2.0
- 6.1 inch OLED screen
- Runs EMUI 8.1/Android 8.1 Oreo
- 4000mAh SuperCharge battery
- Dustproof and water-resistant to 1 metre
- Available in Black, Midnight Blue and Twilight colours
Key Features: P20
- Leica Dual Camera
- 20 Megapixel Mono
- 12 Megapixel RGB F1.6 + F2.0
- Front Camera: 24MP F2.0
- 5.8 inch LCD screen
- Runs EMUI 8.1/Android 8.1 Oreo
- 3400mAh SuperCharge battery
Since Huawei ramped up their presence in the mobile phone market, they’ve really set about ruffling the feathers of their competition, and have seemingly spent a very long time considering where they put the weight of their R&D in order to develop market-leading tech solutions.
They have also laid the same level of consideration to their choice of development partners, and with the relationship they have developed with imaging authorities, Leica, photography has been increasingly front and centre of their products; most notably with the advent of the Mate 10 Pro mobile device.
Leica & Huawei Partnership
As reported on PhotoBite previously, [but worth readdressing] the partnership between Huawei and Leica is just that. The duo has co-launched numerous research and development facilities across the globe and Leica has been integral in the development of what could just be the best camera/phone on the market today.
This R&D is funded [in part] by a full 10% of Huawei’s annual revenue, which the company continues to re-invest into its tech development each year, and the results of this have manifested in the powerful camera technology, paired with powerful processors and artificial intelligence [AI].
It’s no secret that the camera function of any smartphone, is important for the user, [just consider how mobile devices have decimated the compact camera market in the last few years, for example] making the ‘proper’ alliance with Leica, a really smart move.
The P20 Pro Camera
The camera system in the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro has been developed in a clear attempt to outdo the competition. Realising that almost 90 percent of smartphone users are after an onboard camera that can offer a strong zoom option, [without losing image clarity] and a handy, readily-available camera that gives sharp images in low light conditions.
the collaboration with Leica results in a camera that presents itself as the most advanced camera you’ll find in any smartphone
The result of the collaboration with Leica results in a camera that presents itself, [and on paper, at least it is] as the most advanced camera you’ll find in any smartphone.
The P20 Pro’s triple Leica camera set up is a world first for smartphone and features a telephoto lens, which gives 5x hybrid zoom and a groundbreaking 40 megapixels, which are delivered by Huawei’s proprietary ‘Light Fusion’ technology.
It’s this Light Fusion tech that Huawei and Leica have co-engineered for the new flagship camera-phone, that promises crystal-clear images with less noise, grain and with better detail and contrast.
The new Leica Triple-Camera has an f/1.6 smartphone aperture, which we think basically means that it’s powered by the onboard AI, rather than being a physical camera aperture. Either way, it’s especially useful for shooting in low light conditions, giving a shallower depth of field and brighter images.
Processor & AI
One of Huawei’s killer plus points is the exceptional battery power that they’ve been embedding in their smartphones of late and it’s this power that drives the Kirin 970 NPU [Neural Network Processing Unit] bringing around its impressive speed and responsiveness.
The NPU delivers the AI in the P20 Pro and it’s the combination of this clever tech, combined with Leica’s excellent imaging know-how, that makes the onboard camera so powerful.
More on photo features:
- AIS [AI Image Stabilisation] Optimisation to assist hand-held low light photography
Shot-ready within just 0.3 seconds
Industry-leading scene recognition, [19 scenes and object modes]
Real-time mode selection
Quick 4D Predictive Focus [for capturing moving subjects]
AI assisted composition
Up to 960fps super-slow-mo video capability, assisted by AI
Huawei’s research led them to the conclusion that 72% of smartphone users would like their device to capture fewer attempts to capture the best shots and a whopping 77% are keen to achieve sharp night photography without the need of a tripod.
Due to this, the AI-assisted functions have been designed to ease the ability to capture great images, whether you’re a complete photo-novice or switching to ‘Pro’ mode, which gives greater control over the camera’s functions.
Using it’s AI capability, the P20 Pro comprehends any given scenario, in real time, automatically adjusting its camera settings to utilise the most appropriate elements at the point of shooting. Examples of this include the recognition of landscape scenes, where the device will automatically pop a horizon line, and with group shots, the camera/phone will suggest the best composition along with bokeh and studio lighting effects.
Zero Shutter Lag & Action Detection
The Huawei P20 Pro’s ability to fire into action is impressive. It delivers zero shutter lag and its native action detection helps in capturing ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ moments. The camera can be up and running in just 0.3 seconds, which in our opinion, is quick enough for just about anyone.
With regards to video, Huawei’s AIS [AI image Stabilisation] promises to compensate for camera-shake and stabilising footage shot up to 30fps at 1080p resolution. We’ve already been playing with the Super-Slow-Mo video function and it really is quite incredible.
Testing the function, as we did at the Huawei P20 pre-briefing, we were treated to shoot two Olympic fencers. The tips at the end of the fencer’s lances are the second-fastest-moving objects at the games, second only to the bullets in the rifle ranges, so we were struck by the fact that in super-slow-mode [960 frames per second], the tips of the lances were clearly visible throughout their demo striking manoeuvres.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take the footage with us at that stage, so you’ll have to hold for our video review, [which will follow shortly after this post]. Take our word for it in the meantime, though, it was quite simply, stunning.
Pricing and availability
The Huawei P20 is available now. If you choose to buy the handset outright, i.e. without a contract, it will currently set you back £599.99.
The Huawei P20 Pro follows shortly after the P20 and will be available from the 6th April  at a cost of 899 [Euros, so likely around £850 at launch].
Watch our initial review of the Huawei P20 Pro by clicking through to our YouTube page HERE