UPDATE: The P20 and its variants are officially available now. However, there's no official North American variant. You can purchase the international version of the P20 Pro or P20 Lite on Amazon, but be aware that it may not work perfectly on US carriers.
As we approach the end of Q1 2018, rumors are swirling around Huawei's next P series devices. This year might be different, though. Not only because rumors indicate an industry-first feature, but there's also a possibility that this year's P series will be the first to officially launch in the US.
For our US readers unfamiliar with Huawei's lineup, the company releases two flagships each year, the P series and the Mate series. Similar to Samsung with its Note and Galaxy S flagships, the Mate series is more for enthusiasts, while the P series is a more approachable flagship that focuses on appealing design, great cameras, and slightly smaller screens. There are three P series phones coming this year, so we gathered all the rumors currently and listed them down below.
A Name Change
Up until now, the P series naming convention has been simple — after the P9 in 2016, last year's model was the P10, for example. But this year, the name will increase by ten instead of one, meaning the 2018 models will go by the P20 moniker. This change was confirmed by reputable leaker Roland Quandt, then reaffirmed by a trademark application from Huawei.
However, the device codenamed "Charlotte" was later changed to the P20 Pro instead. This was confirmed by Evan Blass and Roland Quandt in later tweets. It was also confirmed in the video below by Huawei Mobile Netherlands.
Triple Camera Array with a 40 MP Main Shooter (P20 Pro)
Probably the most exciting news surrounding this device is the rumored triple lens setup for the rear camera. The Leica lenses include a 40 MP main shooter that will also assist in its 5x "hybrid zoom." Not only would this be an industry first, but a game changer. Depending on the success of the Huawei P20 Pro, manufacturers may soon flock to including the same feature into their own devices, similar to how the industry quickly adopted the dual camera setup.
While we don't know everything, we do know quite a bit about the new triple rear cameras. We rounded up all the information we could find on the P20's new triple camera, so check out the link below for more information.
As for the P20, a recent leak from CNMO (which also reveals the OnePlus 6's pricing) showed off the rear camera configuration for the main variant in the series. Based on the leak, past Huawei devices, and what we know about the P20 Pro, expect the main lens to be a 12 MP RGB sensor with f/1.6 aperture, with the second lens being a 20 MP f/1.6 monochrome sensor.
24 MP Front Facing Camera (P20 & P20 Pro)
One of the more polarizing additions to the P20 series is the inclusion of a notch in the display (similar to the iPhone X). This notch will house the earpiece, proximity and brightness sensors, and a 24 MP front-facing camera for the P20 and P20 Pro variants. The P20 Lite will be downgraded to 16 MP. Unfortunately, this means that the facial recognition rumored to included won't be as groundbreaking as previously thought (more on that below).
Kirin 970 with NPU (P20 & P20 Pro)
According to rumors, the P20 and P20 Pro will be powered by the Kirin 970, the same flagship SoC found in the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. This chipset is more than capable of providing top-notch flagship performance while only being bested by the A11 Bionic and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chipset.
One the more notable features of this chipset is the fact that it has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit. We discussed the benefits of the NPU at the link below, but the cliffs notes version is that an NPU allows for machine learning enhanced photography.
At launch in Europe, the P20 will be paired with 4 GB of Ram and 128 GB of storage, while its bigger brother will increase the RAM to 6 GB. While this is the only configuration for Europe, Huawei will have more configuration options elsewhere, as RAM will be available up to 8 GB while storage will range from 64 GB to 256 GB. The upcoming devices are rumored to use UFS for fast transfer speeds.
With these specs, the P20 Pro was able to achieve a rumored 1921 single core and 6729 multi-core Geekbench rating, putting it around the Galaxy Note 8 in both categories.
As for the P20 Lite, the SoC will downgrade a little to the Kirin 659. The is a powerful midrange SoC which is also powering the Honor 7x. According to testing by NotebookCheck, expect performance to be similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625.
6" OLED Display (P20 Pro)
The P20 Lite will have a 5.84" LCD screen, but as for the other variants, we aren't so sure. Even the resolution isn't confirmed, as we only know it won't be a traditional resolution thanks to the inclusion of the notch.
According to Roland Quandt, the P20 will be equipped with a 5.8" display with previous rumors indicating the use of an LCD panel. The resolution is rumored to be 2280 x 1080 because of the inclusion of the notch. The P20 Pro (according to WinFuture) will be equipped with a 6.1" 2240 x 1080 OLED display. Both models will house the fingerprint reader below the display.
Android 8.1 Oreo
It looks like Huawei will be one of the first phones to launch with the latest stable version of Android (8.1 Oreo). According to XDA, the firmware files of the Huawei Pro leaked, confirming the OS version of the device. EMUI, Huawei's skin, will also be upgraded to 8.1.
This should come to no surprise as the Huawei Mate 10 was the first non-Pixel phone to ship with Android 8.0 Oreo, so it is only right they repeat the feat with 8.1.
Like the Mate 10 (and Mate 10 Pro), the P20 series will include Huawei's SuperCharge technology, providing fast charge times for the smartphones. SuperCharge is the first fast charge system to receive a TÜV Rheinland safety certification, validating its safe usage over the life of the phone. 20 watts (4.5 amps/5 volts) charger will be used to charge the rumored 3,400 mAh and 4,000 mAh batteries of the P20 and P20 Pro, respectively.
Dual-SIM, USB-C, IP67 (P20 Pro)
One of the more alarming tidbits from WinFuture's leak was the loss of support for micro SD cards. Neither the P20 nor P20 Pro will include a micro SD card slot (similar to Huawei Mate 10 Pro), opting to include dual nano SIM slots instead. Fortunately, the P20 Lite will retain the expansion slot.
According to XDA, the P20 and P20 Pro will use USB 3.1 over USB Type-C. This means that data transfer via USB will be quick at 10 Gbps. Additionally, the same port supports DisplayPort, hinting that the upcoming devices will also support Huawei's new desktop mode. No rumors have leaked indicating if this will extend to the Lite version.
WinFuture also revealed that the P20 Pro will be IP67 rated. We don't know if this will extend to the rest of the lineup, especially after the various water resistance ratings of the Mate 10 series. While we expect the P20 to include some form of IP rating, it may not have a rating as high.
Pricing & Availability
We expect Huawei to announce these P20 models on March 27, 2018, at their event in Paris, France. This was later confirmed by their series of videos which showcase the new phone and the official date for its announcement (link below for more information).
During an event in Israel, Huawei's roadmap for 2018 was leaked, which revealed the three variants of the phones and their projected release dates. P20, P20 Pro, and P20 Lite are slated for release in Q2 2018, which would ideally mean a release closer to April 2018 if they are announced in March.
Journalist Roland Quandt tweeted the European pricing for the lineup. Based on our research of past smartphones, European pricing (which includes sales tax) is typically 30% higher than US pricing before converting currencies. Considering that, we expect a price tag of approximately $600 for the P20, $750 for the P20 Pro, and $350 for the P20 Lite.
The €679 pricing above is for the P20 with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, while the €899 is for the P20 Pro with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. While Europe isn't getting any other variants, rumors indicate that both models will be available in different markets with different RAM and storage configurations ranging up to 8 GB of RAM and starting at 64 GB of storage. Therefore, the starting pricing should be cheaper for markets (possibly the US) receiving the 64 GB storage option.
As for the potential US availability, the evidence is sketchy, but the most promising in years. As mentioned previously, rumors indicate the P20 reveal was delayed due to the US government interfering with Huawei's partnership with AT&T and Verizon. We do know that the P20 and P20 Pro variant will support 31 LTE bands, which broadens its usability, but nothing is confirmed as of now.
In addition, Huawei has shown a stronger desire to enter the American market as they see it as the best pathway to becoming the number one smartphone OEM. Recently, they surpassed Apple for the number two spot, achieving this with little to no US presence. While success without carrier support (and the US government recommending to not use their devices) would be difficult, it is possible that Huawei could follow their past strategy of using Amazon and Best Buy as a way deal with these problems.
With P20 and its variants, this might the first time Americans get a worthy Android competitor to Samsung's Galaxy S series. Not only does it offer fast performance with its Kirin 970 SoC, but potentially game-changing camera performance with its three-lens array. Are you excited about the Huawei P20 line-up? Let us know in the comment below.
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