If you closely follow your tech news, you’d have seen the specs of the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro. And these have basically been confirmed by last night’s launch. The two smartphones, as expected, are vying for the title of the ultimate camera phones, which is where the biggest battle seems to be these days. Let’s roundup the features of the two new flagship phones.

An eye-catcher

For those who want a phone that shows off more personality, Huawei has introduced a new interesting shade for the P20 and P20 Pro. Called “Twilight,” it reminds us of a mood ring with its shades of blue and purple that shift depending on where the light hits it or what angle you look at it. It caught our eye instantly. Huawei used non-conductive vacuum metalizing to create this striking gradient finish. We have to warn you, though, it is a fingerprint magnet. And if that’s too flashy for you, the two devices also come in Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, and Graphite Black.

The P20 and P20 Pro have the looks of a 2018 smartphone. The notch is there but Huawei boasts that it’s smaller, with it just housing the earpiece and front camera. And if it bothers you as much, there’s a software setting that darkens the screen around it and makes it seem like the notch isn’t there. It is kind of counterintuitive if you ask us, but you got to do what you got to do.

This phone is all curves and smooth edges with the glass blending seamlessly with the metal frame. Huawei keeps the glass back clean with the camera sensors, Leica-branded label, and Huawei logo aligned to the top left of the device, giving it the illusion of a sleek point-and-shoot camera. This simple design will effectively draw your attention to the striking colors of the phone.

The fingerprint scanner has been moved to the front of the device and introducing some iPhone X-like gestures to this fingerprint scanner/home button combo. If you press lightly on the main button, it’ll serve as the back button, a longer press will take you back to the home screen. Huawei will let you hide the onscreen buttons and navigate the device with the fingerprint sensor so you can make the most out 18:9 displays on both devices. The P20 sports a 5.8-inch Full HD+ LCD screen, while the P20 Pro rocks a 6.1-inch Full HD+ OLED screen.

Top-of-the-line specs

As expected, the P20 and P20 Pro pack in the best Huawei has to offer. These run on a Kirin 970 processor, 128GB internal storage (no microSD expansion here, unfortunately), and the latest Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with the latest version of Huawei’s EMUI. According to The Verge, we can expect dual-SIM versions on this device, which a lot of users here appreciate. Unfortunately, keeping up with smartphone trend of going headphone jack-less, these two devices follow suit. You’re going to have to go the Bluetooth headphone with this one. The phone does support LDAC for higher bitrate Bluetooth audio streaming, if that’s a consolation.

The P20 Pro and P20 differ in terms of RAM, water- and dust-resistance rating, camera, and battery. The P20 Pro comes with 6GB RAM, IP67 rating, 4,000mAh battery capacity, and as PocketNow points out it also has an IR blaster. The P20, on the other hand, runs on 4GB of RAM and has an IP53 rating, 3,400mAh battery, and no IR blaster.  There is still no wireless charging here, though.

The star of the show

Looks aren’t the only major selling point of the P20 and P20 Pro. What people have been talking about since the leaks came out is more related to the smartphone photography prowess of the two devices. And these two promise to deliver, the P20 Pro specifically.

Huawei wasn’t shy about comparing the capabilities of its devices with its competitors. In fact, they want the world to know that it’s produced its best work yet, even having camera sensor testing company DxO Mark confirm these pronouncements.

The P20 comes with what is standard to 2018 flagships and one we’ve expected from Huawei phones: a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and a 12-megapixel RGB dual camera.

The P20 Pro, on the other hand, takes this up a notch (or should we say three notches) with it being the first premium flagship from a major brand to have a three-camera system. The main one enters Nokia Lumia 1020 territory with its 40-megapixel main sensor with A.I. Image Stabilization (AIS), a second sensor is the 8-megapixel optically stabilized telephoto camera, and the third is the 20-megapixel mono lens. These get different apertures ranging from f/1.6 for the 20-megapixel sensor to f/1.8 for the 40-megapixel RGB sensor to f/2.4 for the telephoto lens, meaning you’re promised good shots in different lighting conditions.

To keep things in focus, Huawei combines this with a 4-way hybrid autofocus system comprised of laser, depth, contrast, and phase detection. The company also does away with optical image stabilization for its two main sensors and opts for what they call AIS, claiming that this proprietary technology works on the basis of object recognition and knowing the outlines of shapes to make sure these stay consistent from one frame to another. AIS supposedly also works in video and supports a maximum of 5x zoom. This feature we have to see in person to see if the claims are true.

One of the biggest things Huawei was boasting about this new setup is the improved low light performance of these phones. The company makes a bold claim of being able to “see more” than the eye can see when in extremely dark conditions. The broad aperture rang promises this but at the same time, Huawei introduces a new Light Fusion system that has been used by the likes of the Lumia 1020. It can combine data from four adjacent pixels to create clearer and brighter 10-megapixel shots. Huawei bumps up the pixel size in the P20 Pro from 1µm to 2µm so combining four of these could give you impressive photos. This is combined with the P20 Pro’s impressive maximum ISO of 102,400. For context, the Google Pixel 2, which is touted as having one of the best smartphone cameras, comes with 1.4µm pixels and the P20 with its 12-megapixel main sensor has 1.55µm pixels. Plus the max ISO of the newest Apple and Samsung flagships top out at 6,400.

All these numbers hold a promise of taking in as much light as it can even in impossibly dark conditions. These photos won’t get as much detail or sharpness under normal conditions. But with that possibility, imagine what you can do in other lighting situations. Huawei makes full use of these capabilities to let you take long exposure shots at night without a tripod. Huawei says the P20 Pro can take handheld long exposure snaps for up to four seconds.

Aside from its low-light capabilities, the standalone telephoto lens allows for a 3x optical zoom you can toggle by either pinching on the screen or using the circular zoom button in the camera app. On top of this, you can digitally magnify the image by another 5x.

Some of the other features include an ultra snapshot feature, super slow motion HD video shooting at 960 frames per second, and improvements to scene detection for those who don’t want to tinker around with the phone too much before taking a shot. Ultra snapshot lets you take a photo even when the screen is off. It’ll take it in just 0.3 seconds so you don’t miss those precious, fleeting moments. Super slow-mo in the P20 is similar to Samsung’s implementation in that it can record in short slow motion bursts. The P20 Pro is also said to support six more AI-recognized scenes than the Mate 10.

The front shooters on these two phones aren’t slouches either with 24-megapixel sensor that makes use of Light Fusion as well. And it introduces Face Unlock into the Huawei P-series as well.

What will it cost you?

The Huawei P20 Lite comes at P15,990, while the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro retails at P34,990 and P44,990. These are coming to the Philippines on April 28. You can find out more details here.

About The Author

Nicole Batac
Managing Editor

Nicole calls herself an accidental techie that has learned to love all things consumer tech since she started with this line of work around seven years ago. In her spare time, she devours books, TV shows, movies, and a large amount of Japan-related entertainment.

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