The Huawei P20 is now official and represents the newest premium device to come from the company following on from last year’s Huawei P10 line of smartphones. In contrast to last year’s offerings which were announced during MWC 2017, this year Huawei opted to forgo announcing the P20 at this year’s MWC event in favor of a separate and dedicated event which took place today in Paris, France. With this being the latest addition to a specific line of smartphones, the P20 does come with a number of design traits and features synonymous with the company’s “P” line, such as an emphasis on dual rear cameras and mobile photography in general. In addition, Huawei has followed up on last year’s dual model release - the Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus - with two different, but similar, models. Although this year’s options come in the form of the standard and “Pro” models, marking the first of the major changes between these new phones and their predecessors.
Besides the name-change of the second P model, the P20 line includes a number of notable changes compared to previous iterations, which collectively look to ensure these smartphones are in keeping with the rest of the Android scene in 2018. This is best summed up through aspects such as the inclusion of an all-screen display, as well as a now-infamous “notch” on the front panel. Although, some of these changes have resulted in additional and more minor design changes throughout these smartphones. While the P20 line has been heavily leaked in the past few weeks and months, Huawei has now provided in-depth confirmation on what the P20 offers. Starting off with the device’s main specs.
Huawei P20 Specs
The Huawei P20 is inferior to the Huawei P20 Pro when it comes to specs, although it does share a number of the same core specs as the P20, resulting in a fairly powerful phone overall. The Huawei P20. for example, is fueled by the same SoC as its sibling, the Kirin 970 64-bit octa-core processor - Huawei’s most powerful in-house SoC to date. The Huawei P20 sports a 5.8-inch IPS LCD display along with a 2240 x 1080 resolution. Compared to now-typical 18:9 aspect ratio, the Huawei P20 actually sports a 18.7:9 ratio due to the inclusion of the notch. In spite of the taller and thinner display ratio a fingerprint scanner has been included on the front of the phone. Both single SIM and dual SIM P20 models have been announced by the company, while the P20 comes with Bluetooth 4.2, and also an IR blaster.
The P20 features 4GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable native storage. The Huawei P20, unlike the P20 Pro, sports only two cameras on the back, with Leica's lenses. The finer details confirm one of the cameras employs a 12-megapixel (f/1.8 aperture, 1.55um pixel size) camera, with the other being a 20-megapixel (f/1.6 aperture) camera. It is also worth noting that the P20 features a laser autofocus system which enables its cameras to instantly focus on objects with motion prediction. The Huawei P20, much like the Galaxy S9, can shoot 720p super slow-motion video at 960fps, and a 24-megapixel camera can be found on the front. Android 8.1 (Oreo) comes pre-installed on the Huawei P20 overlaid with Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) 8.1 skin and splash-resistance is in effect, thanks to the inclusion of an IP53 rating. In terms of its physical dimensions, the Huawei P20 measures 149.1 x 70.8 x 7.65mm, and weighs 165 grams. Huawei had introduced four color variants of the Huawei P20, Twilight, Black, Midnight Blue and Pink Gold models.
Huawei P20 Battery
One area where Huawei continues to seek out excellence is with the battery, and battery life on the Huawei P20 shouldn’t disappoint as the device will come packed with a 3,400mAh capacity battery to help keep the device powered. Huawei stated that although it had a big focus on making the device as aesthetically pleasing as possible, another big focus was to make sure the device is as thin as possible while still accounting for a large enough battery. For example, in spite of the 3,400mAh capacity, the P20 is still only 7.65mm thin.
In addition to the larger battery, the Huawei P20 is also said to offer a similar level of battery life as is found on the Mate 10 series of devices, so users should be able to expect a phone that is capable of lasting throughout the day, if not longer. When it does come to recharging, the included 3,400 mAh non-removable battery supports Huawei’s ‘SuperCharge’ fast charging solution - which is said to be capable of charging the phone from 0 to 58-percent in roughly thirty minutes. Although this seems to be the extent to the advanced battery features as the P20 does not support aspects such as wireless charging, despite the fact it has a glass back.
P20 Hardware Design
Huawei’s P20 uses a newly-crafted design consisting of a new innovative glass design for the body that has a different look compared to last year’s P10 series smartphones. This has resulted in one of the fundamental differences between the two being the P20's use of a curved glass compared to the P10's full-metal unibody design. The use of glass alone results in a sleeker and more premium look and feel. Speaking of the curves, Huawei has designed the phone so that all four sides utilize a more rounded design, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also likely to make the phone feel more comfortable when held. The curved edges and sides also play nicely with the P20’s 5.8-inch display, so although this is bigger than some users may be accustomed to, the use of the 18.7:9 aspect ratio makes for more screen real estate with slimmer bezels, resulting in a smaller phone footprint overall. Therefore, in spite of the larger display the P20 will actually feel more like a smaller smartphone than it really is. This has become a growing trend of late for top-end devices, ever since since last year when LG and Samsung introduced their 2017 flagship smartphones, the LG G6 and Galaxy S8, respectively.
Likewise, following another major trend of other big-name smartphone brands, Huawei is implementing the use of a notch in the P20’s design. This might appear to be just a visual trend but it does also serve some purpose, as it is one of the ways in which the P20 is now able to offer a greater degree of screen real estate for owners to make use of. The notch on the P20 is also smaller than on other devices, so for those who don’t like the notch design in general, there is at least less of it on show. Interestingly, while Huawei has opted for more of a display-first front panel on this year's model, the front panel still includes a physical button positioned at the bottom to house the fingerprint sensor.
Huawei P20 Cameras
The P20 ships with a new dual-camera setup made and optimized by Leica, the German optics firm that's been collaborating with Huawei for numerous years now. The two sensors are arranged in a vertical manner, positioned in the top left corner of the handset's rear plate, immediately above a dual-LED (dual-tone) flash unit. As has been the case with the majority of Huawei's dual-camera implementations, the system used by the P20 relies on a 12-megapixel RGB sensor tasked with capturing colors, and another 20-megapixel monochrome sensor solely dedicated to recording light and shadows. The smartphone's software combines the information of the two sensors together on the go, save for unique scenarios such as shooting black-and-white imagery. In that particular case, the device will solely rely on its monochrome module, thus delivering native black-and-white photos instead of having to rely on the application of filters.
The RGB sensor is mounted behind an f/1.8 lens, whereas the monochrome one is supported by a lens with an aperture of f/1.6. While the Galaxy S9 lineup still leads the segment with a record-breaking f/1.5 lens, Huawei asserted that its overall package beats Samsung's latest flagships in low-light conditions, citing early testing performed in-house. The company is attributing the self-proclaimed achievement to the 1.55µm RGB sensor which is larger than the 1.4µm average found on the majority of contemporary high-end smartphones, including Samsung's new series. The monochrome camera of the P20 is still understood to rely on a 1.4µm sensor but Huawei has yet to confirm this. In practice, a larger sensor can collect more light over any given period of time than a smaller one, meaning that actions like freezing motion without underexposing an image with the P20 should theoretically be easier than doing the same on most other ultra-premium handsets. Sensor size by itself still doesn't guarantee immediate improvements over the S9 but may be able to deliver them if Leica and Huawei software and other camera components are up to the task. The P20 isn't the first handset to experiment with such a pixel size; e.g. Huawei already released a handset with a comparably large sensor two and a half years ago, having debuted it in the the Nexus 6P. The slim top bezel of the P20 features a 24-megapixel camera whose exact specifications are yet to be disclosed, though it likely relies on an f/2.0 lens, much like all recent Huawei-made flagships. The Chinese phone maker has also confirmed the pre-loading of its default Camera app along with a wide variety of filters and effects meant to enhance the experience.
Huawei P20 Security
Huawei has joined the 'Face Unlock' camp with the P20, allowing users to unlock the device with their faces instead of having to rely on the fingerprint sensor. This is the first attempt at Face Unlock for Huawei, and it plans to continue to add features to it, as well as further tweaking the experience over time. It’ll also make its way to other series in Huawei’s portfolio in due course although specifics on this have not been provided yet. Huawei's implementation of face unlock uses 2D mapping which essentially means that although it is more than capable of unlocking the device, it is unlikely to be as secure as Apple’s Face ID found on the iPhone X. Huawei, did however, make the point that its solution works well in all conditions, including low-light scenarios. Huawei explains this is possible due to its software first illuminating the screen to add more light to the environment before attempting facial authentication.
While Huawei is certainly highlighting and pushing forward with facial recognition the P20 still includes a tried and tested fingerprint sensor either. As to be expected with year-over-year improvements the fingerprint sensor is said to now be faster, and also more accurate than before. Of course, these are just two of the security measures in place, with the P20 capable of authenticating a user's identity through multiple measures - whether that is using your face, your fingerprint, or entering a PIN/password.
Huawei P20 Variants
Although Huawei has now launched two new P20 smartphones, they are not the only P20 phones coming, as the company also has the P20 Lite heading to market. In contrast to the two new models, the P20 Lite is a mid-range handset and one that is expected to become available at a more affordable price point. To find out more about either the P20 Pro or the P20 Lite, visit the links below.
Huawei P20 Availability
Huawei said that the Huawei P20 will be available globally starting today, along with its siblings, the P20 Pro and PORSCHE DESIGN Mate RS. The company also said that the Huawei P20 will be priced at €649 in Europe, which means that it will cost the same as the Huawei P10 when it was launched last year. Vodafone, O2 and EE will carry the P20 when it comes to their availability in the UK (available soon). At this time, there has been no confirmation on whether the P20 will become available in the US. Based on past releases, the P series of devices tend not to become available in the US, with that honor typically reserved for the company's Mate line of smartphones.