Huawei targets high end with flagship P20 Pro smartphone featuring Leica triple camera

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 9:34pm

Huawei Technologies, the largest Chinese smartphone vendor, has unveiled a flagship smartphone featuring the world’s first Leica triple camera in a move designed to better compete with global rivals Samsung and Apple.

The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro announced in Paris on Tuesday both feature an Apple X-style notch at the top of the touch screen, ultra-thin bezels and large screen-to-body ratios. While the P20 has two Leica cameras mounted on the back of the handset, the larger P20 Pro is equipped with an unprecedented triple camera as the Shenzhen company pushes to narrow the gap with Samsung and Apple outside its home turf.

“The Huawei P20 Series builds on the legacy of our collaboration with Leica,” Richard Yu, CEO of the Huawei Consumer Business Group, said in a press release.

Huawei shipped 90.9 million handsets in mainland China last year, accounting for just over one fifth of the market. Globally it ranks No 3 with 10.4 per cent of sales behind Samsung and Apple, according to IDC figures, but the Chinese company’s global ambitions took a hit earlier this year when a deal with US carrier AT&T fell through due to pressure from the US government over national security concerns.

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Huawei’s collaboration with high-end German camera maker Leica began in 2016 when the two companies co-engineered a dual camera for the P9 smartphone models launched that year, which helped elevate the Chinese company’s brand awareness and positioned it as a high-end smartphone vendor, mainly targeting handsets priced above US$500.

“To many consumers who do not use professional camera equipment like DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras, the quality of photos shot on their smartphones is still a crucial factor to take into consideration when they are choosing a handset,” said Zhao Ziming, senior analyst at Beijing-based consultancy Cyzone.

The Huawei P20 Pro features the highest total pixel count for a smartphone currently available in the market. The camera configuration is comprised of a 40 megapixel (MP) RGB lens, a 20 MP monochrome lens and an 8 MP telephoto lens.

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The two P20 models are also equipped with a 24 MP selfie camera with so-called AI beautification and 3D portrait lighting, which are said to produce selfies with “healthy-looking skin tones, delicately outlined facial details and realistic 3D feature enhancements”, according to the company. Both devices incorporate Huawei’s self-made artificial intelligence chip.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February, Yu told reporters that the Chinese company was aiming to surpass Cupertino-based Apple in just one or two years.