Mobile Technology

Meet the P20 and the P20 Pro, Huawei's camera-focused flagship phones for 2018

Meet the P20 and the P20 Pro, ...
The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro flagships are official
The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro flagships are official
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The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro flagships are official
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The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro flagships are official
The cheaper P20 has a dual-lens camera and a 5.8-inch screen
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The cheaper P20 has a dual-lens camera and a 5.8-inch screen
Huawei is going all-in with its camera technology, with AI enhancements to reduce camera shake and improve low light performance
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Huawei is going all-in with its camera technology, with AI enhancements to reduce camera shake and improve low light performance

Huawei is the latest of the major smartphone makers to unveil its flagship phones for 2018, showing off the P20 and the P20 Pro at a special launch event in Paris today. Have these new handsets got what it takes to take on the likes of the iPhone X, the Pixel 2, and the Samsung Galaxy S9?

For a number of years, Huawei has focused on cameras and camera quality as the main selling points of its phones, and it was no different today. The Huawei P20 Pro is the first handset to feature three lenses and 3x optical zoom on its rear camera, combining an 8MP telephoto lens, a 20 MP monochrome lens, and a 40 MP main lens.

For the photography geeks, the P20 Pro boasts a large 1/1.7-inch image sensor and large 2 µm pixel size – in theory letting in more light with less distortion, and outstripping every other smartphone camera on the market, in terms of those key specs at least.

Ultimately, image quality depends on a host of factors besides the lens spec, but the photos Huawei showed off at its demos today certainly looked impressive. The P20 Pro camera has also been classed the best smartphone camera on the market right now by independent evaluator DxOMark, if you're keeping track of their scores.

The P20 Pro comes with a 6.1-inch, 2240 x 1080 pixel display, while the P20 drops that down to a 5.8-inch display with the same resolution. The P20 makes do with just two lenses on its rear camera, a 12 MP color lens and a 20 MP monochrome one – but it's still capable of taking some premium, professional-looking photos (it actually takes second place in the DxOMark scoring).

There are other differences: the top-end P20 Pro also swaps LCD for an OLED panel, which should mean better contrast and more vibrant colors for the display, and comes with an IP67 dust and waterproof rating that the P20 doesn't have. The P20 Pro features 6 GB of RAM, while the P20 sticks with 4 GB.

Huawei is going all-in with its camera technology, with AI enhancements to reduce camera shake and improve low light performance
Huawei is going all-in with its camera technology, with AI enhancements to reduce camera shake and improve low light performance

As with previous handsets, the cameras are "co-engineered" in partnership with Leica, though this time around Huawei has added some extra artificial intelligence on the software side, powered in part by its latest Kirin 970 system chip.

That means the ability to recognize more than 500 different scenarios across 19 categories, Huawei says, so your photos are finely tuned before you even tap the shutter button – whether you're shooting fireworks or pets, the camera will adapt. AI techniques are also applied to help compose shots, reduce camera shake, and bring out details in low light.

Around the front of the P20 and P20 Pro is a fingerprint reader built into the bottom bezel, and a notch up at the top of the display, housing a front-facing 24 MP selfie camera.

Both phones appear well-designed and carefully crafted, as you would expect from Huawei by now – the new blue-purple Twilight gradient color looks especially eye-catching – and from our first impressions at least, it seems Huawei has really pulled out all the stops with the camera technology this year.

Huawei has yet to confirm worldwide pricing and availability on its new phones, but has revealed the handsets will go on sale in Europe from April for €649 for the P20 and €899 for the P20 Pro. Both phones are available in Graphite Black, Midnight Blue, Pink Gold, and Twilight colors.

Product pages: Huawei P20, Huawei P20 Pro

2 comments
GrahamRawolle
With no 3.5mm earphone port, no FM radio, and more expensive than the new Samsung S9 and S9 Pro, I won't be buying one and suspect not many others will either.
mike_edward
Considering some three letter U.S. gov't agencies have advised against using this company's phones, due to possible built-in back door monitoring hardware, I doubt anyone will get to use them. Best Buy, the U.S.A.'s largest electronic retailer, has decided not to carry any of their phones anymore. I wouldn't doubt this will be followed by other retailers as well. With all the astounding revelations of privacy violations on social media (Facebook for one) online, people are very wary of anything that compromises their privacy. And to own a device which has suspected 'snooping hardware' built into it, I don't see these products from Huawei making any kind of serious impact on the phone market, world wide.