PAT PILCHER ponders rumours and facts around the looming launch of Huawei’s latest non-Google phone.
Huawei’s P30 Pro wowed a lot of people (me included) when it launched. It packed an insanely good camera featuring a massive optical/digital hybrid zoom and a crazily good night shooting mode. Add to this wireless charging, waterproofing, and an under-screen fingerprint sensor, and there was plenty to like.
Now, a year later, it’s almost that time of the year again when Huawei will announce the latest P series phone, the P40 and P40 Pro.
This time around, the launch could be quite exciting. Because of moves by the US to place Huawei on an entity list, Huawei is barred from dealing with US companies. This means they cannot use US components, software or services in any smartphones. This restriction covers Google apps (including the Play Store), which some say could restrict the utility of Huawei phones.
Either way, the smartphone market is an ultra-competitive place, and new phones are constantly launching and bringing with them tonnes of new features. Standing still means being left behind, so Huawei’s P40 and Huawei P40 Pro are going to need some compelling features if they’re to stand out in a noisy and crowded smartphone market.
Speculation aside, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, told French journalists that the P40 range is to be launched at the end of March at an event in Paris.
While Yu didn’t confirm specific dates, he did drop a few tantalising details of the P40’s specs.
A French launch in March isn’t a huge surprise. The P30 range launched in Paris last March and the P20 in March the previous year. By launching the P40 range after Mobile World Congress makes a lot of sense for Huawei. Holding a standalone event means that Huawei can maximise media coverage instead of having to compete against the steady stream of announcements coming out of MWC.
Although no one has talked about a firm price for the P40 Pro, based on the leaks to date, it is fair to assume that it will probably sell at around the $1500 to $1900 price point.
The elephant in the room few are talking about is the US trade ban on Huawei. Rumour has it that even if the US ban is still underway when the P40 range is released, its launch will go ahead, even if that means that the P40 will come without Google apps. However, I expect that like the Mate 30, getting google apps onto the P40 will be a fairly simple process.
Yu also said that the P40 is going to have a “never seen” design. While this sounds a lot like marketing hyperbole, it could also indicate a step-change in Huawei’s design language. The P40 will come with Android 10, and Yu also hinted at big performance and camera improvements.
Being a P series phone, the P40 will, of course, be mostly about photography/videography. The big news is a rumoured 128MP image sensor, which could generate XXL sized photos. Leaked images of its camera bump from side-on have surfaced. According to these, the P40’s cameras will be on the top-left of the P40’s rear. Industry scuttlebutt has it that the P40 will come with five cameras (like a mullet, there will be four on the back and one on the front).
Early indications are that the P40 Pro could come with a 10x optical zoom, which reflects the need to surpass the zoom capabilities of other smartphones and for the P series to win the camera crown. On the memory front, the rumour mill says we can expect 12GB of RAM and up to a whopping 1TB of storage.
Last but by no means least, the P40 range is also likely to be 5G capable. At the press event, Yu confirmed that the P40 is to use Huawei’s in-house developed Kirin 990 CPU, which has a built-in Balong 5G modem. Integrated low-cost 5G on Huawei’s 2020 hardware could give Huawei an early lead in the 5G space. 5G is likely to be a big selling point this year.
Either way, we can’t wait to see what gadgety goodness Huawei is cooking up. Expect the P40 in New Zealand sometime in April.