Another day, another leak. This time it’s Huawei having its parade rained upon and proving how impossible it is to keep details of new smartphones secret. Images of the new P20 range of devices Huawei’s launching at an event in Paris on 27 March have made their way online, and as expected, it looks like we can expect three devices with the fanciest of the trio touting three rear cameras.
The camera setup isn’t news, though. It was obvious from Huawei’s none-too-subtle event teaser that suggested consumers could “See Mooore with AI”. The leak comes from serial smartphone-launch-event-limelight-stealer, Evan Blass, which is why we’re dispensing with words like “alleged” and “claimed”. Blass’s leaks have consistently been on the mark, so if these aren’t the new Huawei’s we’ll be astounded. The leaked image shows three handsets, the triple camera-carrying P20 Pro, the regular P20 and the P20 Lite.
What Huawei plans to do with that third camera on the Pro remains to be seen — aside from, you know, thumbing its nose at Apple, Samsung and company with their paltry dual rear cameras. We’d like to see some clever, software-augmented zoom capabilities, or at least one of the cameras offering the 2x optical zoom now standard on the rival flagship handsets Huawei most wants to challenge (and most likes to ape). We fear we might instead get some AI-powered, half-baked solution to a photographic problem we don’t actually have. Nonetheless, we live in hope.
So, what else do the images reveal? Huawei’s partnership with Leica continues, at least where the P20 Pro and P20 cameras are concerned (the P20 Lite doesn’t get the prestigious German marque on its posterior), all three devices have a fingerprint sensor — with the P20 Lite putting it around the back — and all three handsets get a chin beneath the screen like a Samsung (not too bad), and a notch at the top of it like an iPhone X (dreadful).
Really, we’ve got Apple to blame for the notch, though. Its design decisions are always going to get copied (and not just by Huawei), so it should’ve known better than to introduce something as unsightly as the notch. But it didn’t, and now we’re going to have to contend with one on myriad other handsets (the Essential and new Asus ZenFone, for starters) until someone has the sense to go back to an edge-to-edge top bezel, or figures out how to hide the front-facing camera and neighbouring sensors within a display.
Nonetheless, curious design decisions aside (why, if the P20 Lite has its fingerprint sensor on the rear does its display need a chin?) we’re pretty excited to handle the new Huawei flagships. With its excellent specifications, solid camera performance and limited bloatware, the Huawei P10 was the closest we’ve come to abandoning our Samsung and Apple handsets. The mighty Mate 10 Pro had us tempted, too. And the P10 Lite was our favourite mid-range smartphone of last year. In short, we’re expecting great things from the P20 brood.
We’ll have to wait until the end of the month for details on the key specifications of the forthcoming devices (or, you know, until the next leak), but it’s safe to expect incremental updates to the key features: faster processors, more RAM, etc. and changes to the less key ones, like a selection of new colour. Really, it’s that new third eye’s purpose we’re interested in, though. That and whether or not Huawei’s managed to find a use for its onboard AI beyond it recognising we’re about to take a picture of a dog to a bowl of spaghetti. Blessedly, we don’t have too long to wait to find out.