I would argue that Huawei is about to launch a phone in the most dramatic circumstances ever. Covid-19 could be limiting the supply chain of parts required to build new phones while uncertainty remains around the U.S/China Google/Huawei proxy war. While I’ve already highlighted this could shift from being Huawei without Google to Google without Huawei, uncertainty remains around the launch of the P40 Series. Beyond the usual spec rumours, there are more questions around how many Google features the new phones will have and how this will be received. It’s time for a rumour-mill post. Here’s what we know and what we think we know so far.
When Does The Huawei P40 Series Launch?
This is confirmed.
— Huawei Mobile IE (@HuaweiMobileIE) March 10, 2020
Last month, it was confirmed at Huawei’s Barcelona event that the P40 Series would be launched on March 26th. It would also appear that the Chinese manufacturer will opt for an online video streamed launch event rather than the original planned Paris launch event.
Huawei confirmed that “due to growing public health concerns, the Huawei flagship product launch, originally scheduled to be held in Paris on March 26th, will now be delivered online”.
What Phones Will Huawei Launch?
This is an interesting question, partially confirmed. I’d expect to see Huawei launch the usual suspects:
- Huawei P40 Lite
- Huawei P40
- Huawei P40 Pro
You might be tempted to loosely map these to Samsung’s offerings:
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
It’s fairer to map the P40 to the Galaxy S20 and the P40 Pro to the Galaxy Ultra. The P40 Lite is really offering some brilliant specs for a bargain price.
The really interesting thing is that Huawei has already launched the P40 Lite in some markets. For example, you can buy the P40 Lite in Spain right now. My gut tells me this is to gauge interest in a non-Google Mobile Services phone. In the fine print, Huawei uses some interesting language including that Google Mobile Services doesn’t come “pre-installed” on the P40 Lite. I’ve been test-driving the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and can tell you that sideloading is fairly straight forward, even if Google doesn’t recommend you do it.
The beauty of the P40 Lite being launched is that we get to see some hints for what lies ahead for the rest of the P40 Series. I’m not going to go into the P40 Lite itself because it’s already on the market.
P40 Series: To Google Or Not To Google
The P40 Lite, as if we needed it, confirms that Huawei will not be shipping with Google Mobile Services. Instead, the focus from Huawei now is very much getting apps onto the Huawei AppGallery.
For some, this is going to be a deal-breaker. For the tech-savvy, it’s not. While Google advises against sideloading Google Mobile Services, the practice is quite straight forward. Once sideloaded, your phone will operate with the vast majority of Google apps and services. One exception being Google Pay, but Huawei is working on a solution to that problem too in Huawei Pay.
P40 Series Cameras
The “P” in the series name is believed to stand for photography. While I’ve been enjoying the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, the camera largely doesn’t cut it when it comes to a comparison with the P30 Pro. With the exception of some portrait shots, the P30 Pro reigns supreme. With that in mind, you can expect to see some pretty mind-blowing specs for the P40 Pro camera.
When Huawei launched the P20 Series, there was a shift in the market where Huawei earned a lot of clout. The amazing thing about that launch was Samsung launching the S9 with an ad campaign that heavily featured Samsung’s camera. Unfortunately for Samsung, their camera couldn’t stand up to that of the P20 Pro.
2020 could see the focus return to the camera. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra has a mighty camera and it’ll be this camera that the P40 Pro takes aim at. The public advertisement for Huawei’s launch event shows that the smartphone maker will be embracing quite a large camera array bump.
It looks like the P40 Pro will feature five lenses on the rear of the phone. As always, these will be engineered with Leica and as such should be incredible quality. In addition to the time-of-flight, main camera and an ultra-wide lens, I’d expect to see the return of Huawei’s periscope lens which led to the stunning zoom of the P30 Pro. Around the front, you’ll get two selfie camera. More on their setup a little later.
In addition to some pretty impressive hardware, Huawei’s AI-powered photo software is probably going to be market-leading again. The Kirin 990 chip allows for some incredible object and facial recognition and separation. The result is an incredible portrait and bokeh shots. All the rage these days.
Huawei P40 Series Display
This is one of the most interesting developments. From the leaks I’ve seen so far and also leaning on the P40 Lite, it looks like the P40 Series will have pin-hole selfie cameras in the screen. Overall, the screen probably won’t be as high quality as the likes of Samsung. From my experience, this is most noticeable in sunlight and in day-to-day usage doesn’t impact user experience that much.
5G As Standard
The P40 Series is rumoured to be 5G as standard. I’m not convinced the P40 Lite will follow suit, but it would make sense if this was the case for the P40 and P40 Pro. This would be a bonus for Vodafone and Eir customers as their networks currently support 5G in limited locations.
Unfortunately, that’s all we really know right now. Or all we think we know anyway. The launch of the P40 Series could very well bring with it plenty of surprises as Huawei battles to make a name for itself as even more of a competitor to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.