Monday, March 9, 2020

Huawei P40 release date, news and leaks

While a Huawei P40 (and P40 Pro) release seemed a little dubious, for reasons we'll get into, it seems Huawei is going ahead with its products, as a launch event has been scheduled for March 26.

In fact, it has already launched the Huawei P40 Lite, ahead of the other two more exciting handsets.

Because of the ongoing Huawei ban, new smartphones from the company can't use any Google apps (including the Play Store), greatly restricting their capabilities and value versus other smartphones. That will likely include the Huawei P40 Pro in a similar way to how the Huawei Mate 30 Pro was impacted.

Despite the dubious future laid out for Huawei's handsets, we're eagerly anticipating the upcoming Huawei P40 smartphone. The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro from 2019 are some of our favorite phones, with the latter topping our best camera phones list for a long time thanks to its 5x optical zoom Periscope lens and great software. 

New phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 family as well as the rumored iPhone 12 are sure to be tough competition for Huawei and its P40 phones, so it'll be exciting to see what the company includes in 2020.

We’ve listed what we want to see in the Huawei P40 below, as well as what we already know or have heard rumored. We'll be constantly updating this article with all the latest Huawei P40 leaks and rumors as they happen, to bring you the best idea of what to expect ahead of the handset's official launch.

Update: a source has detailed many of the Huawei P40 Pro's possible camera specs, including a 10x optical zoom and a 52MP main lens.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The latest in Huawei's P range of smartphones
  • When is it out? Late March 2020
  • What will it cost? Probably a tiny bit more than the P30 series

Huawei P40 release date and price

Huawei has confirmed that the Huawei P40 will be announced in Paris at the end of March. It subsequently gave us a specific launch date: March 26.

This comes as no surprise, since the P30 and P30 Pro were unveiled in Paris in March 2019, and the P20 and P20 Pro launch event look place in March 2018. We had anticipated it being launched at MWC 2020, but that event has now been cancelled

March makes sense as Huawei likes to separate its phone launches from other big tech events like the Samsung Galaxy S20 launch. It had previously launched new P series handsets at MWC in Barcelona at the end of February, but that's a show which features a huge number of launches and it gets more exposure by delaying by a couple of weeks and holding its own event in March. MWC 2020 was also cancelled.

The Huawei P40 price is a more interesting conversation. At launch the Huawei P30 cost £699 / AU$1,099 (roughly $910), and the P30 Pro started at £899 (AU$1,599, around $1,140), which were both pricier than the previous year’s entries.

We've heard the Huawei P40 price could roughly match the P30, but the Pro model might actually be a little bit more affordable than its 2019 equivalent. The rumored Huawei P40 Pro Premium Edition is apparently going to set you back a whopping €1,200 (around $1,320, £1,015, AU$1,955), which is enough to rival the most pricey phones on the market.

One thing we’re not expecting though? For the Huawei P40 to be available in the US, as previous Huawei phones haven’t been.

Huawei P40 news and rumors

Here, we've collected everything we've heard about the Huawei P40 devices so far.

Design and display

A Huawei exec has said that the P40 will have a "never seen" design, suggesting big changes to the look, and that it will run Android 10 (without Google services), and have performance and photo quality improvements.

Leaked renders of the phone, and subsequent hands-on pictures, suggest it'll actually look pretty familiar, with a design that's incredibly similar to the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Honor View 30. It seems 2020 is the year all phones look the same. Those renders do show the different colors the phone could come in, from expected options like black and white to some more interesting tones like almond and blue-ish.

The design of the Huawei P40, at least the Pro model, might actually come without the curved screen of the P30 Pro, according to leaked screen renders. The leak seems tentative, so it might be wrong, but we could see the newer device be a little less top-end compared to its predecessor. We've seen screen protectors that suggest there will be a curved screen though, so the flat screen leak seems dubious.

Having said that, a site got hands on with a prototype of one of the models, believed to be the standard Huawei P40, and it claimed that the screen curved at all sides, albeit less dramatically than the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

You can see a hands-on image of the phone from the back below, revealing that it also has a camera bump, a blue finish, a glass back, and a metal frame. The source claims the phone is a similar size to the 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm Huawei P30 Pro, but slightly thicker, curvier and more comfortable to hold. The fingerprint scanner is apparently built into the screen, and there's no headphone port.

This source seems very convincing, but being a prototype it's possible that design elements will change.

We've also seen a leaked image of the Huawei P40 camera bump. The rear lump seems to be in the top-left of the phone's back, same as in the Huawei P30, and it doesn't seem too intrusive either, at least compared to devices from other companies. A leaked render gives us a different angle, and it looks like the bump could be just as long, but much wider, than the P30's.

Camera and battery life

We know what you really want to know, what photography will be like, and we've heard many rumors of the Huawei P40 Pro camera specs.

The device - according to some sources - is said to have a five-camera array consisting of a 64MP main snapper, 12MP zoom camera (which is supposed to facilitate up to 10x optical zoom, which would match the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra as the best in a smartphone), and ultra-wide, depth sensing and macro cameras of unspecified resolution.

Saying that, a separate leak suggests the main camera will be a 52MP snapper, and the fact that leaks are contradicting each other suggests we shouldn't take any of them as gospel just yet.

That 52MP claim has been made several times, with a source adding that it would use 'Quad Quad Bayer' tech to combine 16 pixels into 1, resulting in snaps of just 3.25MP, but with a massive pixel size which would likely allow for superb low light shots.

Of course, you wouldn't have to shoot at 3.25MP, as it's also rumored to support 4-in-1 pixels for 13MP shots, and would likely allow you to shoot in full 52MP quality as well.

That source also reiterated the claims of a 10x zoom lens, saying that this would be possible by using two prisms in the mechanism, rather than the single prism that current periscope lenses on smartphones use.

We've also heard these things put forward in another detailed camera specs leak, which you can see in full below.

It points to a 52MP main lens that can take 16-in-1 shots, a 40MP ultra-wide secondary lens, and up to 10x optical zoom. Given that we've heard the 52MP and 10x optical zoom claims numerous times now, those two aspects seem likely.

One of the above sources also stated that the base Huawei P40 would have four rear cameras, dropping one of the Pro's cameras, but another rumor suggests the Huawei P40 will have the same three cameras as the Huawei P30

We've got our reservations about that, because it wouldn't make sense for a device that will put such an emphasis on photography to not innovate in the camera department, but perhaps Huawei has something else up its sleeves, like new software tricks.

Another render (shown above) showed three rear cameras on the Huawei P40, but two front-facing cameras, so it seems there could be improvements for selfies but not for typical pictures.

Having said that, a different leak (this time hands-on and very convincing) showed four rear lenses on what's believed to be the Huawei P40, so our best guess is still that it will have four, one of which looks like a periscope zoom lens.

At least one of the models may well have two front-facing cameras though, as a leaked image supposedly showing the Huawei P40 Pro includes a large dual-lens camera cut-out, as you can see below. A render above also shows two lenses.

Features and specs

The Huawei P40 and P40 Pro could both be 5G phones, as a listing for a Chinese regulatory body suggests. This makes sense as they're expected to run on the Kirin 990 chipset which supports that next-gen connectivity.

We'll leave you with some bizarre information that we're not sure what to make of. A rumor has suggested that as well as the Huawei P40, P40 Pro and P40 Lite, there could be a Huawei P40 Pro Premium Edition, with the most top-end specs of the lot. That's a strange name, and it seems weird that Huawei would add yet another phone to a line that might not be available in many places (if the Mate 30 series is anything to go by) which is why we're not totally sold just yet.

What we want to see

1. A new camera lens

When the Huawei P30 Pro came out with four lenses, it was one of the first smartphones to do so, and even the P30’s three were impressive.

But now more affordable smartphones have four cameras, like the Honor 20, so one way for Huawei to continue its photography dominance, and distinguish itself from the competition, would be to add yet another lens.

Our top choice for this extra lens would be a Motorola One Action-style 'Action Cam' for recording video, as video-specific cameras are things we haven’t seen too much in cameras. 

An anamorphic lens would also be great for recording video, as that type of lens is used by professional film-makers as it letterboxes the footage and captures lens flare, with other perks too.

2. Wireless charging

This is something we ask for in every new phone, as it’s a feature that’s becoming bigger over time, but wireless charging on the Huawei P40 would be a really useful feature that would fit its premium status.

We’re hopeful this feature will be added – the Huawei P30 Pro had wireless charging, as did the Mate 20 Pro, so it’s probably on a matter of time before Huawei brings the feature to its non-pro phones. 

The P30 Pro

3. Improved display technology

If we were to sum up the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro displays, it’d be ‘good not great’ – the OLED are HDR10, which is fine for viewing content, but nothing on competitors with QuadHD or even 4K displays.

Huawei is always trying to be competitive in the camera department, and to view increasingly amazing pictures you’re going to need better and better displays, so it would make sense for Huawei to update its range. 

Perhaps by fitting the Huawei P40 with AMOLED tech in the screen, with QuadHD or even 4K, Huawei could stay ahead of the competition.

4. Keep the notch

We’d like the Huawei P40 to keep the notch of the P30. This is something of a controversial stance, so stay with us here – but we don’t want Huawei to follow the trend of increasingly bizarre and gimmicky notch alternatives.

The reason for this is that, currently, there are no better solutions to the front-facing camera problem. Punch-hole cut-outs take up as much, if not more space, and pop-up cameras are a gimmick that can be an inconvenience when done well, and very annoying when not.

It’d be good if Huawei could shrink the P30 Pro’s notch, which is rather thick, but the P30’s is slim and inoffensive compared to that of many other phones. Better to imitate this than try something different, that ends up backfiring.

5. A redesigned user interface

This is going to be less of a controversial opinion – we’d like Huawei to redesign EMUI, its own-brand user interface, in time for the Huawei P40.

EMUI

Currently, EMUI is arguably rather bright (some would call it garish), and it comes with quite a bit of bloatware that you’ll find yourself uninstalling straight away. Chinese phone manufacturers frequently have UIs that are popular in China, but not as much elsewhere, and EMUI is a prime example.

If Huawei could dust up this UI for the Huawei P40 (which may be a simple task if the phone runs on Harmony OS), it’d certainly be much more pleasant to use.

6. Even further camera zoom distance

One of the most impressive Huawei P30 features was the digital and optical zoom available on the camera, but we’d like to be wowed again if the Huawei P40 zoom saw an upgrade.

The Huawei P30 allowed for 3x optical zoom and 30x digital, and the P30 Pro saw up to 5x optical and 50x digital – that’s pretty impressive sight. But now that smartphones like the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom support a crazy 60x zoom (despite the name), Huawei is going to have to pull out the big guns to keep competitive.

Perhaps we could see an improved telephoto lens in the P40 and P40 Pro, as well as a better megapixel count so that digital zoom creates less grainy results.

7. Dual-lens front camera

Huawei’s smartphones are noted for their rear camera arrays, but we’d like to see the Huawei P40 cameras on the front to also allow for competition-crushing pictures, and the best way for Huawei to achieve this would be by having multiple front-facing cameras.

We’ve already seen this done in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, which has two cameras on the front which ‘see’ depth in order to add appropriate ‘bokeh’ background blur. If there was something similar in Huawei’s upcoming phones, even just the Huawei P40 Pro, it’d give the device a competitive edge.

8. Increased IP protection rating

While the Huawei P30 Pro had IP68 protection, making it pretty much accident-proof (it means it’s dust resistant, and can be submerged up to 2 metres for half an hour), the P30 was had only an IP53 rating, so it was dust and splash protected, but if you dunk it in the bath along with your P30 Pro, it’s not turning on afterwards.

We’d like the Huawei P40 to have resistance to match its P40 Pro counterpart – we don’t like having to worry about the safety of our smartphone at all times, and if the P40 could match the P30 Pro’s protection, it’d help us sleep safe and sound at night (and by bodies of water).

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