It seems like each day new rumors and leaks come out for Huawei's upcoming P series devices. Everything from its name change to its specs has been leaked, sometimes with contradicting rumors. One of the biggest leaks is the inclusion of triple rear cameras, a first for smartphones.
While this rumor has been challenged, the latest leaks indicate that this will in fact be the case. Recent videos and images lend strong evidence that the P20 Pro will have the first triple camera array on a smartphone. While three cameras sound cool in principle, how it will assist in photography isn't known. Luckily, we do know a few things about this new camera beyond just the extra lens.
After months of speculations, we now know that the triple rear camera will be exclusive the P20 Pro variant. The other phones in the series, P20 and P20 Lite, will use dual cameras.
Multiple leaks of the official design of the P20 Pro have emerged confirming the orientation of the camera arrangement. Despite the confusion from sources such as leaked schematics and hints from Huawei Mobile, it looks like all variants will use a vertical arrangement for the rear cameras.
Slashleak leaked a promotional photo for the P20 series that backs up the leaks. In the leak (see below), the back cover of the P20 Pro is shown with vertically-arranged rear cameras and a similar gap between the two lenses and the bottom single lens.
According to WinFuture, the main camera sensor is capable of capturing 40 MP images. However, these lenses don't work independently. This lens is important as the amount of data collected for the image assists in achieving the 5x "hybrid zoom." While this isn't the first smartphone camera to take such high-resolution photos (the Nokia Lumia 1080 was able to take 41 MP photos), by using more lenses, the P20 Pro should be able to capture more detail than a single lens would allow.
In the NewRenassiance.com promotional video From Distance to Detail, Huawei highlights the P20's zooming capabilities. Evan Blass leaked this rumor a while back, saying the new P series devices would have a 5x "hybrid zoom."
The hybrid zoom is a combination of optical and digital zoom. According to WinFuture, the optical zoom portion comes from the second sensor, which is an 8 MP telephoto lens capable of 3x zoom. This information is combined with the additional image data captured by the 40 MP main shooter, which is then used to create the additional 2x digital zoom while maintaining clarity.
Huawei Mobile created a P20 teaser website called NewRenaissance.com, which has several videos including a series of abstract clips which hint at some of the new features available to the P20's camera. One of the videos includes the image below which highlights two things.
First, the red "A" and "I" alludes to machine learning image enhancements. Second, the title To Paint With Light (while showcasing a black and white photo) indicates the common monochrome and RGB lens setup of past Huawei's flagship will continue with the P20. By including a monochrome lens, Huawei devices are able to take breathtaking black and white photos, unlike most phones which achieve this using software.
Huawei smartphones have been known to employ the monochrome sensor, and the P20 series is no exception. According to WinFuture, the third camera sensor is a 20 MP monochrome lens which is used for depth effects and improved sharpness and contrast. While not confirmed, the expectation is that Huawei will also allow users to use the lens independently to capture black-and-white photos.
It looks like the trend started with Sony XZ Premium will be carried over to the P20 lineup. The super slow motion video (which can also be found on the Galaxy S9) looks to be making its way to the P20 series. A video tweeted by Ricciolo shows off the slow-motion capability. Based on the seven-second video, it looks like the P20 Pro's camera (and possibly the P20) will be capable of taking short videos at 960 fps.
According to the video To Steady Every Image, it looks like optical image stabilization (OIS) will be included on the rear camera. What we are not sure about is whether OIS will be included on all three cameras or just the main shooter. The video leads us to believe the former, as "to steady every image" suggests that monochrome, RGB, and telephoto pictures are all stabilized.
WinFuture mentioned the inclusion a new system called "Light Fusion." The new feature will be included in both the rear and front camera, although no other information is known about the new system.
Similar to many of Huawei's flagship devices, the P20 Pro's camera will be co-developed by Leica and therefore carry its branding. The German camera manufacturer has been assisting Huawei for years, and the P20 will be no exception. This was later confirmed in a series of YouTube videos by Huawei Mobile Netherlands which showed the contribution.
According to WinFuture, the P20 will have a f/1.6 aperture for its rear cameras. The P20 Pro will use the same aperture for its dual cameras, with the telephoto lens using a f/2.4.
Additionally, the focal length is fixed on the P20 at 27 mm, while the P20 Plus' third lens will have a focal length of 80mm (indicating a 3x optical zoom).
Out of all the rumors surrounding the capability of the P20's camera, machine learning enhancement is the one that we are definitely sure about.
First, the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro included machine learning (AI) enhancements to photography. Specifically, the Mate 10 would use object recognition to automatically adjust camera parameters for the best settings when capturing a particular object. And thanks to Kirin 970's Neural Processing Unit, the Mate 10 was able to apply machine learning quickly and efficiently.
In all the promotional videos released on the NewRenaissance.com, the letters "A" and "I" are highlighted in each title, emphasizing the inclusion of AI. Additionally, in one of the testimony videos (see below), Jessie states she wishes for smartphones to be "a bit quicker, more efficient, kind of more automatic," which indicates a larger role for machine learning in photography.
Based on the video From Darkness to Light, Huawei teases the P20's great low light performance. As with most of the videos, we don't see much, but we can infer that the camera will be able to handle low-light situations with ease.
Additionally, the video From Action To An Instant alludes to the P20 having a fast shutter speed, a necessary feature for great low light performance. Expect to be able to take out your P20 and quickly capture an image without fear of missing the moment.
The P20's rear camera will be a monumental moment in smartphone history. Like OIS and dual cameras before it, we hope that the increased capability and performance of an additional lens will lead to mass adoption by other OEMs.
But the P20 is much more than its rear camera. Check out the link below for all the latest rumors and news about Huawei's full P20 lineup, including a true Face ID competitor.