Huawei unveils a phone with three cameras

 
 
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Huawei unveils a phone with three cameras
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Mar 27, 2018

12:58PM
Countdown
13:02PM
Event starting now!
13:04PM
The bit with the numbers
13:08PM
Huawei's hashtag hints at what's to come
13:09PM
Carriers
13:12PM
"Today, we launch the P20 and P20 Pro!"
13:14PM
Yeah, it has a notch
13:16PM
Four colors
13:18PM
Closer look at twilight P20
13:20PM
The bottom bezel
13:24PM
About that notch...
13:27PM
DxOMark score is in...
13:27PM
Selfie!
13:30PM
Triple camera
13:33PM
Impressive lighting performance
13:35PM
Quick shot photos
13:38PM
Artificial intelligence
13:39PM
This is what I was trying to say about the notch
13:40PM
More on the low light performance
13:50PM
Leica camera
13:53PM
Professional photos
13:56PM
Huawei touting AI capabilities
13:59PM
Examples of AI used in P20
14:03PM
Google introducing Android 8.1
14:05PM
Android Messages
14:07PM
I'm back to talk about the notch again
14:13PM
Huawei shows off face unlock
14:16PM
Dolby Atmos and dual SIM
14:19PM
Plenty of accessories
14:23PM
Porsche Design
14:31PM
The differences
14:32PM
Two fingerprint sensors?
14:36PM
The prices
14:54PM
And it's over!
12:58PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Countdown

We're ready and waiting for Huawei to announce a new set of flagship phones. Five minutes until the event will start at the Grand Palais in Paris.

13:02PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Event starting now!

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, takes the stage. Here we go...

13:04PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

The bit with the numbers

No matter what company it is, every keynote begins the same way: With numbers!

Richard Yu is talking about Huawei's rapid growth in the last few years, as it consolidates its spot as one of the top three smartphone makers in the world.

He's also talking up Huawei's R&D spending at facilities across the world.

13:08PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Huawei's hashtag hints at what's to come

If you're wondering what to expect today, Huawei's Twitter account says it'll be the P20. And the hashtag, #SeeMooore? The triple O there hints that the rumors are correct, and this phone will  have three cameras.

 

13:09PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Carriers

Huawei is showing a video about its "global partnerships" featuring carriers like Orange, Telefonica, Vodafone -- notably absent are any US carriers who have spurned the company.

13:12PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

"Today, we launch the P20 and P20 Pro!"

Richard Yu starts by touting Huawei's camera technology, which leads to... the P20 and P20 Pro! Yu says it's "master photography powered by AI."

13:14PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Yeah, it has a notch

Yup, the P20 has a notch. It's smaller than the iPhone X's notch, presumably because it doesn't have the array of Face ID sensors on Apple's phone.

Yu is talking up how symmetrical the phone is, suggesting it's inspired by Chinese architecture.

13:16PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Four colors

Graphite black, midnight blue, pink gold and twilight.

The twilight phone actually has a color gradient -- it shifts color from blue on one end to purple on the other.

13:18PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Closer look at twilight P20

13:20PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

The bottom bezel

The bottom bezel houses a fingerprint sensor which doubles as a navigation device for the phone. Short tap to go home, long tap to go home and swipe left or right.

13:24PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

About that notch...

Richard Yu is comparing the notch on the P20 and iPhone X, touting how much smaller Huawei's notch is.

Worth noting of course that the iPhone's notch has the Face ID facial unlock in there -- while Huawei's phone retains a fingerprint sensor on the bottom.

Interesting too that of the big smartphone makers unveiling flagships recently, Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei all announced phones without in-screen fingerprint sensors. Vivo appears to be the only one making handsets with in-screen fingerprint sensors so far.

13:27PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

DxOMark score is in...

Phone companies often boast about the DxOMark, which measures camera quality. Much has been said about how accurate it is -- or isn't -- but something about it caught our eye.

Earlier today, Xiaomi boasted that the Mi MIX 2S had the highest DxOMark score ever: 101.

Just a few hours later, Huawei unveiled their score... 102.

That won't go down too well with Xiaomi.

13:27PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Selfie!

Huawei claims the P20 will help you take better selfies -- thanks to the P20's 24-megapixel selfie camera and editing capability.

 

13:30PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Triple camera

As expected, the premium P20 Pro features three rear cameras.

13:33PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Impressive lighting performance

Differing lighting conditions are some of the trickiest spots for smartphone photography. Huawei's camera seems to perform well in darkness -- but also in situations with strong backlighting. You know how sometimes people are too dark in pictures when they're standing in front of something bright? Huawei's phones seem to deal with this really well.

Having three cameras also allows the P20 to have an optical "zoom" -- switching to the telephoto camera for greater detail.

13:35PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Quick shot photos

Here's something really cool: Double-click the volume down key while the phone is locked and it'll snap a photo within 0.3 seconds.

They also showed off 960fps super-slow-mo, just like the Samsung Galaxy S9.

13:38PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Artificial intelligence

Richard Yu says the device uses AI in over 500 scenarios to help the phone identify different shooting scenarios, including -- a cat, food, documents, waterfall and flowers.

A surprise feature was the ability for the phone to help you compose a photo, for example including everyone when taking a group photo.

13:39PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

This is what I was trying to say about the notch

But Avi Greengart said it better...

13:40PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

More on the low light performance

13:50PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Leica camera

Professional photographer Mel Bles is on stage talking about using the P20 for shooting. Some of the shots -- particularly the black and white photos -- are quite impressive.

13:53PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Professional photos

Mel Bles says none of these photos were retouched on a computer.

13:56PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Huawei touting AI capabilities

Along with photography, Huawei's other big selling point is always AI. Now they're talking up the capabilities of the Kirin 970 chipset, which includes a Neural Processing Unit dedicated to AI.

13:59PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Examples of AI used in P20

Huawei gave some specific examples where the NPU in the Kirin 970 makes the P20 faster than other phones. They showed image filter app Prisma working three times as quickly on Huawei's handset than the iPhone X, and even showed AI filtering out background noise in phone calls. Pretty impressive stuff.

14:03PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Google introducing Android 8.1

A Google VP from France is talking about Android Oreo 8.1, which will ship on the P20 and P20 Pro. (The way he pronounces Oreo with his French accent is spectacular and I am jealous.)

14:05PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Android Messages

Google announces the P20 lineup will feature Android Messages -- a new default messaging app with features that tap into the NPU with Snapchat-esque AI features.

14:07PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

I'm back to talk about the notch again

Sorry to bring up the notch again, but here's a great spot from Twitter: You can "hide" the notch on the P20 by turning the areas on either side of it black. With an OLED display, the deep black of the screen is virtually indistinguishable from the notch.

14:13PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Huawei shows off face unlock

Richard Yu returns to the stage to talk -- briefly -- about "360˚ Face Unlock Even in the Dark."

He says it takes just 0.6 seconds, but no word on how it works, and whether it can be fooled by a photo -- like Samsung's was in the past. The picture, showing a flash, suggests it doesn't use infra-red sensors for a 3D map of your face like the iPhone X.

14:16PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Dolby Atmos and dual SIM

The P20 and P20 both support Dolby Atmos and a dual SIM.

14:19PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Plenty of accessories

Huawei are showing off a whole suite of accessories now, ranging from the mundane (cases!) to the expected (Bluetooth earbuds!) to the bizarre (a selfie stick! with a built-in flash! in 2018!)

14:23PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

Porsche Design

Huawei also announces the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS available in black and bright red.

14:31PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

The differences

The Mate RS is distinct from the P20 and P20 Pro with bezels on both the top and the bottom and a fingerprint sensor on the rear.

14:32PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

Two fingerprint sensors?

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS actually has TWO fingerprint sensors, including one embedded in the screen.

The in-screen sensor can unlock the phone without a touch: Huawei says just holding your finger above the screen will unlock the phone.

But there's also a second fingerprint sensor on the back, which Huawei says can "access a second, secure space." Not sure entirely what that means, to be honest.

14:36PM
Mar 27 by Andrew Barclay

The prices

The P20 will cost US$805 (€649)

The P20 Pro will sell for US$1114 (€889)

The Porsche Design Mate RS start at US$2101 (€1695) and go up to $2597 (€2095)

We have given the US prices for reference... it will likely be quite hard to get your hands on one in the country given Huawei's recent difficulties.

14:54PM
Mar 27 by Ravi Hiranand

And it's over!

The event is over, so let's recap what we saw today.

P20 & P20 Pro

The two phones looked a lot like the leaks we saw: Thin bezels, a notch, a fingerprint sensor on the bottom chin, and on the Pro, three cameras.

Huawei emphasized both the quality of the camera and the AI capabilities of the phones. And the camera was certainly worth boasting about: The P20 Pro looked incredible in low-light conditions, picking up details in what looked like darkness on other devices. The way it balanced light in shots with strong backlighting was also impressive to see.

They also talked about specific ways in which the phone's NPU will enhance AI processing on the device, including removing background noise during phone calls.

The phones will come in black, midnight blue, pink gold and "twilight" -- which features a gradient, starting with a blue-ish colour on one end and slowly becoming more purple at the other end. It's certainly unique: I don't think I've ever seen a handset like it.

The P20 will cost around US$805, while the P20 Pro will sell for around US$1114.

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS

Huawei also showed off a different handset in collaboration with Porsche Design: The Mate RS, which mobile chief Richard Yu says stands for "racing sport".

It's a distinctly different handset to the P20 line, with the same curved screen as Samsung's Galaxy handsets and a chin at the top and bottom (to show off that big Porsche Design logo).

What's interesting is that the phone has two fingerprint sensors. One is embedded in the screen, but you don't need to touch the screen at all: Huawei says it can unlock the phone while your finger is still hovering over it. There's also a second sensor on the back, which the company says can "access a second, secure space."

Befitting the premium positioning, the phone has an extremely premium price: The base model costs US$2101, while the top-of-the-line Mate RS is US$2597.

Accessories

Huawei also showed off a number of accessories, including Free Buds: Wireless earphones that are their answer to Apple's AirPods and Google's Pixel Buds.

They also, bizarrely, showed off a new selfie stick with a built-in flash. Who knew companies still made selfie sticks?