Huawei announces world's first triple-camera P20 Pro smartphone

ST tech correspondent Vincent Chang has a hands-on look at the world's triple-rear camera smartphone, Huawei's latest offering P20 Pro.

PARIS - Huawei is raising the bar for smartphone cameras.

At a launch event held at the iconic Grand Palais building, the Chinese smartphone maker unveiled its latest P20 series of smartphones. Notably, the P20 Pro has three cameras at the rear while the P20 has a more typical dual-camera system.

The P20 Pro's triple-camera system is co-developed with German camera maker Leica. It consists of a 40-megapixel colour camera, a 20-megapixel monochrome camera and a 8-megapixel telephoto camera. In addition, it has a 24-megapixel front selfie camera.

Huawei claims that the P20 Pro has a highly-sensitive image sensor, which lets it take photos in extremely dark conditions. The camera also offers 5x magnification by combining digital zoom and optical zoom (from its telephoto lens). Like Samsung's latest Galaxy S9 series smartphones, the P20 Pro can shoot super-slow motion videos.

The P20 Pro sports a new camera interface that is easier to switch between camera modes. The default Auto mode is also said to be more intelligent. It uses the dedicated neural processing unit in Huawei's Kirin 970 chip to better understand the scene being taken, and adjusts the camera settings to produce the best image.

At around 7.8mm thick, the P20 Pro is relatively slim. It is covered with glass on both the front and the back with a metal frame in the middle. Unusually for a smartphone, the twilight and pink-gold colour options have a slight but striking colour gradient across its glass back.

Its 6.1-inch Oled screen is near bezel-less, but with a notch at the top for the front camera like the Apple iPhone X. Users can conceal the notch by toggling an option in the settings to add a black bar.

The Huawei P20 Pro (left) and the Huawei P20 (right) are the Chinese firm's latest high-end smartphones. ST PHOTO: VINCENT CHANG

The fingerprint sensor is now at the front, unlike the previous Huawei P10 series. The P20 Pro also lacks a microSD card. It has up to 128GB of internal storage. Another significant change is the removal of the headphone jack - a dongle for the phone's USB Type-C port will be required for those using older wired headphones.

The standard P20 comes with two rear cameras - a 12-megapixel colour camera and a 20-megapixel monochrome camera. It has a similar design as the P20 Pro, but with a smaller 5.8-inch LCD screen. The battery capacity is lowered to 3,400mAh from the Pro's 4,000mAh battery. The P20 also lacks the water and dust resistant present on the Pro.

The new Huawei P20 series smartphones have achieved a new high score in DXOMark. ST PHOTO: VINCENT CHANG

In addition, Huawei also showed off its third-generation Porsche Design Mate RS smartphone. A premium device designed with Porsche Design, it has the same Leica triple-camera system as the P20 Pro. Its unique feature: it has two fingerprint sensors - one at the rear and an in-screen fingerprint sensor underneath the display.

Otherwise, it has very similar specs as the P20 Pro, from its 4,000mAh battery to its IP67-rated water and dust resistance.

The P20 series smartphones will be available at major consumer electronics stores on Apr 7, though consumers can pre-order the devices from Apr 2, 10am.

The P20 (with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage) is priced at $898. Colour options include black, midnight blue and pink gold versions.

The P20 Pro (with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage) costs $1,148 and comes in black, midnight blue and Twilight. However, the Twilight version will be available only at the end of April.

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS will be available in Singapore in May, though the pricing has not been announced.