How good is the Huawei P20 Pro, world's first phone with three cameras at the back?

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 28, 2018 17:33 hrs
Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei has released the first mainstream phone to feature three cameras - the Huawei P20 Pro.

The flagship phone sports another first - a new gradient colour finish, which, the company claims and early reviewers confirm, offers it a unique "luminescent colour progression".

155 millimetres high and 73.9 millimetres wide, the P20 Pro with a 6.1-inch OLED display weighs about 180 grams. It is powered by Huawei's 2017 flagship processor, the Kirin 970, and runs the Android 8.1-based EMUI. A 4000 mAh battery fuels it.

The main sensor on the Leica branded camera setup sports a whopping 40 megapixels (MP) resolution. In contrast, the Google Pixel 2 has a 12.2 MP shooter at the back, while both the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9+ sport primary cameras with a 12 MP resolution.

Huawei marketing manager Peter Gauden explained the rationale behind this high megapixel count on the primary sensor to the BBC: "If you had an area of a table and put 40 little buckets on top and it was raining, it would take a longer time to get an inch-worth of rain in the bottom of each than it would if you had 10 buckets four times the size.

"And that's essentially what we are doing. Using light fusion to combine four smaller pixels together to make a much larger pixel, and therefore enhance our capability of absorbing light into the sensor," he went on to add.

The secondary camera has a 20MP black-and-white sensor that can capture black-and-white shots or provide depth info.

The third is an 8MP telephoto shooter offering a hardware-stabilised 3x optical zoom lens, and which can produce 5x hybrid zoom shots too.

The full camera details:

Triple rear-camera system: 40 MP (f/1.8, 1/1.7", OIS) + 20 MP (f/1.6) + 8 MP (f/2.4), Leica optics, 3x optical zoom, phase detection and laser autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash; Offers geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR and panorama

Video features: 2160p@30fps, 1080p, 720p@960fps

Front camera system: 24 MP, autofocus, f/2.0, 1080p

A three lens rear camera setup to grab headlines is all fine, but what about real-world results?

DxO mark, which ranks smartphone, at least was gushing in its praise.

"We are used to every new smartphone camera generation being slightly better than the previous one, but looking at the images and test results from the P20 Pro, it seems Huawei has skipped one or two generations. The results are simply that good. The P20 Pro’s triple camera setup is the biggest innovation we have seen in mobile imaging for quite some time and is a real game changer," its review of the phone's cameras noted.

"Being able to pick the best camera for a specific shooting situation and computationally merge the image data from all three sensors means that the new Huawei beats the competition in virtually every category, taking the number one spots in both our Photo and Video rankings. The P20 Pro is particularly good in low light, when zooming, and for bokeh simulation, blowing its direct rivals out of the water. If you are looking for the current best camera in a smartphone, look no further," it went on to note.

Marqus Brownlee, among the finest tech reviewers on YouTube, was piqued enough to tweet:

TechChap, a Youtube tech reviewer from the UK, where the phone will be released, had this observation to make:

A look at an early unboxing by the UK-based Arul Mani:

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