back to article Huawei joins Android elite with pricey, nocturnal 40MP flagship

Over the years, very few phone makers other than Samsung have produced a phone that might tempt an iPhone stalwart to switch to Android, but Huawei may have just joined the elite. Huawei’s new flagship threatens to match or best any rival with its photography - particularly in low light. The Chinese giant took the wraps off …

  1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    *Points in disappointment*

    It's got a bloody stupid notch!

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: *Points in disappointment*

      and it'll be £900

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: *Points in disappointment*

        I blame Brexit.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: *Points in disappointment*

        Currently

        P20 £599 (inc VAT)

        P20 Pro £799 (inc VAT)

        & free Bose QC35 II Headphones (via claim to Huawei)

        Carphone Warehouse (UK Residents only)

        Wish I was getting commission. :) :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *Points in disappointment*

      Tell me when the price is down to £150, then I will replace my old Nokia phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: *Points in disappointment*

        Can someone tell me how much a standalone compact camera, of similar size and with similar image quality, would cost?

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re:standalone camera

          and a GPS unit? and a media player? and a gaming console? and etc.?

        2. John Miles

          Re: *Points in disappointment*

          I have got some really nice photos from phones that none of my DSLRs could get, mainly because I always carry the phone and the DSLRs were at home at the time I saw the shot.

          Yes you can get better cameras than a phone one, but most of them will be more bulky than a phone and usually not around at the time and likely draw more attention than a phone when you take photos.

          1. Ian Entwistle

            Re: *Points in disappointment*

            +1000, back in 2005 I "invested" in one of the first ever megapixel ( well 1.3 ) camera phones a sanyo m570. the reason, was we'd just had our daughter and whilst I had a great camera I knew I'd always have my phone and I have hundreds of OK, not great quality pictures but i HAVE pictures that I wouldn't have if I'd set myself only to use my camera.

          2. sodium-light

            Re: *Points in disappointment*

            The eternal debate. Even with an excellent phone camera on my Samsung, it's not the same. You want RAW for the post-processing, and clean sharp natural DOF not software gubbins. I'm considering getting a G9X and committing to carrying it everywhere.

        3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: *Points in disappointment*

          What image quality? All I could see was a load of “specs” in the form of marketing mumbo-jumbo.

          A great Sony or similar with exchangeable optics will cost a lot less, but will be bigger.

        4. Law

          Re: *Points in disappointment*

          "Can someone tell me how much a standalone compact camera, of similar size and with similar image quality, would cost?"

          Well my SLR cost about the same, but that only gets taken out on special occasions or for deliberate photography sessions... The rest of the time it's my phone that's the main camera for photos of kids and random things when out and about.

          Like it or hate it, having a decent camera on your phone is extremely convenient and it's how most images are taken these days... People who rate that as an important feature are more likely to pay the extra... I'm not really one of those people anymore, most smartphone cameras are "good enough" to me now.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: *Points in disappointment*

            You could get a Four Thirds camera, or a Sony Nex-something, as a more compact snapper.

            I use a Nex-5 with the compact(ish) 16-50 lens. The Nikon DSLR get's more limited use.

        5. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: *Points in disappointment*

          A lot less cash

          .. Because physics

          Yes super sensitive and high density sensors can do amazing stuff with a small amount of light

          But a "proper camera" has a massive lens in comparison to a phone, so even with more "low tech" sensors and image processing the huge (in comparison) amount of light more than compensates - so as long as fairly recent tech in a new compact camera then it will be better, but beware compacts using old tech.

          But the image processing tech improvements do make a difference, especially when you compare old tech to new: I have a (very in tech change terms) old Nikon DSLR body and some very nice quality zoom lenses (that were back i the day used on a "film" SLR body).

          Over a year ago the camera was being put through its paces with a few days of wildlife photography (often the "targets" quite distant, moving at speed).

          I got some nice pics, but (at the time quite new) bridge camera was used by one of my friends (bridge has inbuilt (non changeable) lens, significantly smaller than smallest of my lenses, but as "new" (at the time) far better electronic "wizardry"): The resolution of comparable images was far better with his camera, as was focus / image stabilization on (hand shot - non tripod mounted) small targets at speed, showing that although light gathering is key (all things being equal) that the tech makes a difference and new tech can outperform low tech even when that low tech has better optics *.

          It is very impressive seeing the improvements in image processing tech in digital kit over the years

          * improvement more visible on JPEG images, as bridge had far beter conversion algorithm / tech, but bridge advantage still visible on RAW so not just an artifact of image format.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: *Points in disappointment*

          How does the image quality of a Sony W800 compare with this sort of top-end camera phone?

          The Sony is 125g and 2cm thick, so if you have any sort of carry bag / handbag it wouldn't be hard to keep with you. And it's only £65.

      2. K Silver badge

        Re: *Points in disappointment*

        Take a look at the Honor 7x... its £200.. but great spec!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *Points in disappointment*

      Meanwhile, their rival were smart and went without the notch.

      gsmarena.com/xiaomi_mi_mix_2-8529.php

      at $489, nearly half their price.

    4. LewisRage

      Re: *Points in disappointment*

      why does every body get in such a tiz about a notch.

      You've got a screen that goes to the edge all the way round, surely thats preferable, even with a notch, to having 10% of the devices front wasted to plasticy bezel?

    5. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: *Points in disappointment*

      The Notch is optional. You can turn it off, it then looks like a phone with a very thin top bezel, rather than a phone with a very very thin top bezel and a Notch. Puzzles me why so many phone makers want to introduce a Notch just to lose one very.

  2. Lee D Silver badge

    It's like a rundown of everythingI don't care about in a phone.

    Even-more-stupendously-ridiculous camera features that I'll never use, and more cameras to use them on.

    Stupid display ratio and "follow the crowd" design nonsense.

    Slow-mo video, so people can piss about doing things that are totally useless for even more time.

    No removable storage or battery.

    No headphone jack.

    LUDICROUS price.

    1. djstardust Silver badge

      Agreed

      You would think they are deliberately copying Apple and their stupidly expensive iphone X with this. Hang on ........

      1. LochNessMonster

        Re: Agreed

        "You would think they are deliberately copying Apple and their stupidly expensive iphone X with this. Hang on ........"

        The P20 Pro will be on sale on the High St, SIM-free and unlocked, for £799, which is £200 cheaper than the X. So not quite so stupidly expensive, and it's hardly the only option out there. The P20 Pro is Huawei saying "look what we can do", and I for one see far more potential here than in animated turds or personalised emoji (*). This tech has useful real-world ramifications which will filter into mainstream devices in a couple of years.

        (*) Google's AR Stickers excepted, 'cos photographing your 6 year-old nephew next to an Imperial Stormtrooper makes you the best uncle evar! :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Agreed

          The P20 Pro will be on sale on the High St, SIM-free and unlocked, for £799, which is £200 cheaper than the X.

          £799. I can (and have) bought a decent secondhand car and a decent brand new phone for less than that. Being £200 cheaper than something that's already ludicrously overpriced is a fairly lukewarm achievement.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        Re: Agreed

        It seems that the telcos are no longer subsidizing the price of the phones and you're getting in to the true cost of the phone itself.

        1. Snorlax

          Re: Agreed

          @ian Michael Gumby:"... you're getting in to the true cost of the phone itself."

          Not even close. An iPhone X 64Gb that retails for $999 costs $370* to make. That's some SERIOUS markup but reports suggest that the X's sales are disappointing with Apple slashing production.

          The problem for Huawei is that if people can't be persuaded to spend a grand on a phone from a 'premium' brand like Apple, they're sure not gonna throw down 800 or 900 on a Huawei.

          *http://news.ihsmarkit.com/press-release/technology/iphone-x-costs-apple-370-materials-ihs-markit-teardown-reveals

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Agreed

            An iPhone X 64Gb that retails for $999 costs $370* to make.

            Does that include building and running the factory where it’s made, staff costs, and research and development for hardware as well as the software?

            I bet it’s a simple aggregate of guesstimate component costs.

    2. MrT

      For PLAID pricing...

      ... see Huawei's Porsche Design Mate RS, at somewhere between £1500 & £1850, depending on spec...

    3. Slef

      And we still do not know how well it makes telephone calls! more like a fecking advertorial than a review

      1. mrtom84

        R.E. “Not much of a review” - It wasn’t a review, as the final sentence points out.

      2. Dabooka Silver badge

        But it isn't a review

        It never claimed to be, it's an article on a press release. I'm sure they'll get a review out in good time, but this morning most other tech sites are leading with the same article in the same manner.

        I'm not sure what else you expect El Reg to do?

      3. bengoey49

        From what I have read Huawei as a company that manufactures cell phone radio transmitters/masts are rated highly as far as radio signal reception / antenna of their cell phones. Personally I have never used Huawei phones.

    4. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Points to Huawei though for placing the camera lens in a place that won't always be under a sticky finger. My LG G4 has the lens right on top of the power and up down buttons, middle of the back of the phone. It's impossible to use without mucking up the lens.

    5. the Jim bloke Silver badge

      The only thing they could have done to make it worse

      is include an obnoxious intrusive "assistant" ... unless there was one there but the reviewer couldnt get to it because of the user interface ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only thing they could have done to make it worse

        "an obnoxious intrusive "assistant""

        Great news! Microsoft sold the rights to Clippy to Huawei, and it's to be included in this phone first. More details here.

    6. teknopaul Bronze badge

      Hold your horses

      Top feature of Huawei phones is it comes without Facebook.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    INterpolation?

    >The gobsmacking photos it can take in low light are partly down to the hardware, and partly down to “AI image stabilisation”, with the phone taking an eight-second exposure then weeding out artefacts and blur. I’m not sure why it’s called AI when really it’s interpolation, but that’s modern tech marketing for you.

    The reason is that before you interpolate you really should align the separate pictures, otherwise your interpolation becomes just another blur. You need to identify and then align common points or landmarks. This process is called stacking and has been used in astro-photography for years and year. The aligning is hard, otherwise all phone cameras would have had this the last 15 years. And this is where an AI might do the job.

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Re: INterpolation?

      Andrew Orlowski is obviously limited in his technology experience.

    2. Whitter
      Boffin

      Re: INterpolation?

      To do the job well, the alignment of common points should be performed after upsampling via bandlimited interpolation (see https://technick.net/guides/theory/dar/001/) in order to avoid sub-sample jitter/blur.

  4. Teiwaz Silver badge

    A.I?

    I suppose it's too late to make the use of the term without actually referring to something self-aware a imprisonable offence? *

    * We can add 'self-driving' to that as well.

  5. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    strange to drop SD card with 2 SIM slots

    If it has two sim slots, seems fairly common for phones in Asia to offer two SIM slots with the 2nd slot doubling as SD card slot if you don't want to use a 2nd SIM.

    I could understand more dropping SD card if they lacked the 2nd SIM slot entirely. 128GB of storage may be passable for not having SD card.

    My ~4 year old Note 3s which are my daily drivers have 128GB and 256GB SD cards. Storing thousands of pictures on those SD cards is slow but for tons of HD video it works well in combination with MHL for HDMI TVs when traveling(I have a Note 4 that I bring along on travel as well with another 256GB SD card). To think the phone I had before the Note 3 with (at the time) 96GB total flash(32GB base + 64GB SD), was a HP Pre3 with 8GB total flash(no SD card).

    My SD cards, like my removable batteries aren't things that are swapped often, I change batteries probably once per year(to new battery), and SD card at this rate every 2 years(to larger size).

  6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Well, how about Apple themselves?

    "...very few phone makers other than Samsung have produced a phone that might tempt an iPhone stalwart to switch to Android..."

    Apple themselves did.

    Their iPhone 7 caused me to replace the iPhone 4S with a lovely Asus Zenfone 3.

    I wouldn't have even looked at the Android ecosystem if the iPhone 7 hadn't omitted the headphone socket.

    Thank you Apple. I had no idea that the transition was so painless and the grass so green.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Well, how about Apple themselves?

      PS: To be clear, it is noted that that this Huawei also lacks a headphone socket. I was responding only to the quoted quotation that I quoted.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Snorlax

    Delusions of grandeur...

    €900 for a Huawei?

    Not on your nelly. I don’t care how good the camera is.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Delusions of grandeur...

      We said the same about Samsung a few years back...

      Heck, 900€ for a damned phone that is expected to last 2 years? No way!

      1. jeffdyer

        Re: Delusions of grandeur...

        My Xperia Z2 will be 4 years old this summer, and still works fine. I think the waterproofing and "magnetic" charging connector as opposed to a tiny USB have helped.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Die bad phones! Die!

    No microSD card, no replaceable battery, and no headphone jack yet there's room for FOUR CAMERAS.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Die bad phones! Die!

      KM complained, "...no headphone jack yet there's room for FOUR CAMERAS."

      The iPhone 7 actually does have room for a headphone socket, as so convincingly demonstrated by the wonderful 'Strange Parts' gentleman on YouTube who, as an individual geek, retrofitted a headphone socket into the iPhone in a perfectly professional manner.

      Point being, if he can do it, then Apple could have done it.

      The *only* reason left standing is that Apple would prefer to have the several billions of dollars in wireless earbuds sales revenue to stash in the Cayman Islands.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Hawei,

    You're NOT Apple. You don't get to charge 1000+ Euro for an Android Phone. Maybe someday, when world+dog associates your name with magical, revolutionary and Huawei Flagship Experience Stores.

    But not today. Please check your delusions of grandeur at the door.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Dear Hawei,

      Not just Hauwei, Apple and Samsung as well. No phone with a designed live of 2 years is worth 1000€.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Dear Hawei,

        iPhones tend to get updated for quite a long time, and fetch good money on the second hand market (provided you have taken care of it).

        For example, my 4S recently got an update. (It's backup phone, sometimes iPod substitute.)

    2. Michael Strorm

      Re: Dear Hawei,

      It's quite probable that this *is* part of a strategy to move the brand upmarket. Even if it doesn't itself sell in silly quantities, it might have a "halo" effect on their other, lower-end models and in turn let them get away with charging more for them.

      Unfortunately, that bloody notch- which was stupid on the iPhone X in the first place- just makes it look like a wannabe.

  11. Timmy B Silver badge

    Nope. Been stung once and not again by Huawei. Too few rom updates (I have a media pad tablet that has had none - not one since purchase) and terrible after sales support. Compare this to OnePlus who are still putting out updates for the OP3 on a very regular basis months after they stopped selling them.

    1. Chz

      They've improved. My Honor 8 is up to the Feb. security patch and I can see that the March patch is in testing. We're supposed to get Oreo by May, which while it is slow isn't much slower than any other non-Google vendor for a phone that's over a year old.

      I can always wish for more and faster updates, but by the (poor) standards of the general Android marketplace, they're not bad. Not great either, mind.

  12. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Someone needs to do a shootout between a real camera and a "hyper megapixel" phone camera.

    One thing I have noticed with most phone cameras is that they do extreme jpeg compression, thus rendering those megapixels almost useless. My photos from ca 2003 taken with an EOS 300D still look better than mobile phone images.

    A lot of trickery is used, such as stacking to increase signal-to-noise, but that only works for certain types of subjects. Like HDR which sometimes works, sometimes not, depending on what moves between images.

    It's hard to beat a large APS-C sensor.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      RE: EOS 300D

      Agreed totally. When I bought my camera I was told that only a small part is the sensor/body and it's the glass that really matters. Spent far more on lenses than body and still get great pictures from my 5 year old EOS 1000D.

      1. Snorlax

        Re: RE: EOS 300D

        @Timmy B:"Agreed totally. When I bought my camera I was told that only a small part is the sensor/body and it's the glass that really matters. Spent far more on lenses than body and still get great pictures from my 5 year old EOS 1000D."

        And what's the call quality like on your camera Timmy?

        1. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: RE: EOS 300D

          "And what's the call quality like on your camera Timmy?"

          As good as I need it to be.

    2. juice Bronze badge

      I suspect you'd be pleasantly surprised...

      "One thing I have noticed with most phone cameras is that they do extreme jpeg compression, thus rendering those megapixels almost useless. My photos from ca 2003 taken with an EOS 300D still look better than mobile phone images."

      Apple iPhones and most Android flagship phones now offer the ability to shoot in RAW.

      Between the sensor size and the quality of the lens, DSLR will always have the edge over a phone camera, but even so, the gap is narrowing. E.g. https://www.phonearena.com/news/Galaxy-S8-vs-2000-mirrorless-camera-and-DSLR-Ultimate-camera-face-off_id94035

      Generally, we're at the point where mobile phone photos are generally Good Enough, especially a) the truism about "the best camera is the one you have with you" is definitely true and b) these days most photos are uploaded to a social media platform where they'll be downsampled to 2MP and then squinted at on a mobile phone's screen.

  13. Ryan Clark

    Current Huawei owner

    I have a P10 plus and don't see any problems with some of the features complained about. The EMUI is no better or worse than other Android skins or native Android. I don't have any problems using it or things that annoy me about it.

    I don't have a problem with the fingerprint sensor where it is either. Never had a problem unlocking or dropping the phone while trying to unlock. Having one round the back seems odd as you would have to pick up the phone to use it.

    Mine does have an SD card slot, but with 128Gb onboard, I still have 90Gb free after a year of use and plenty of photos, videos and music stored. I am not seeing the loss of that slot as such an issue as it was when phones only had 8Gb storage.

    1. juice Bronze badge

      Re: Current Huawei owner

      As with computers, internal storage (and RAM, to a similar degree) is increasingly pretty much the only thing which can be trimmed by OEMs looking to cut costs. Still, the march of progress has meant that even budget Android phones have a relatively decent amount of built in storage.

      Over in Apple land though, it's still overly expensive to upgrade iPhone storage. Looking at mymemory.co.uk, branded 64GB cards cost around £17 while branded 128GB cards cost around £25.

      Meanwhile, it currently costs £150 to upgrade from 64GB to 256GB - or roughly three to four times as much as the same amount of storage on SDXC cards.

      Admittedly, it's not an exact comparison - interestingly, it looks like most of the major Android OEMs have stopped offering multiple storage-size options, at least on the CW website. But I doubt that there's any technical reasons which justify such a high markup!

    2. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Current Huawei owner

      "I have a P10 plus and don't see any problems with some of the features complained about. "

      What version of Android are you on and when did you last get updates? Just curious to see if other people have had a better experience.

  14. juice Bronze badge

    Features or gimmicks?

    1) A night-photo setting where you have to keep the camera (and the subject(s)!) stationary for 8 seconds.

    2) 960fps slo-mo filming at 720p.

    Are those really useful features, or just gimmicks that'll be used once or twice and then forgotten about?

    Equally: a 3x optical zoom feature on a dedicated 8MP lens. Is this really needed? You'd be able to get nearly the same level of "optical" zoom by cropping the 40MP image, as Nokia did with the Lumia 1020[*]

    It does feel like phone "innovations" are increasingly shallow, and driven by marketing rather than actual technological developments.

    That said, I did just pick up an LG V30, precisely because it has an 120-degree ultra-wide lens. And this weekend, I was in London indulging in two of my preferred vices - drinking beer in obscure pubs and hunting down interesting street art.

    So, lots of photos. And while I haven't done a scientific comparison, a rough breakdown would be:

    * 60% with the 16mp main camera on the V30

    * 30% with the 13mp 120mm lens on the V30

    * 5% with the Nikon at 1x zoom - it has a slightly wider FoV than the 16mp main camera on the V30

    * 5% with the Nikon at a higher zoom level

    So yeah, in an urban/social-drinking setting, the wide angle lens was definitely more useful than optical zoom. In fact, I'm mildly surprised that other phone companies haven't gone down the ultra-wide route, especially for the "selfie" front camera!

    [*] a quick beer-mat calculation indicates you're going from ~8000x6000 to 3200x2400, so it'd be the equivalent of ~2.5x zoom. And yes, I know the two lenses have differing f-stops, and there's other factors such as bokeh, etc. But it still feels like an overly expensive solution looking for a problem...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data Slurp

    Mmmm ... Very hi res images slurped back to china , what could go wrong ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data Slurp

      Are you seriously under the impression that a mobile phone is a secure device?!?

      Most people can't even properly lock down a PC, let alone a wannabe computer.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pixel 2

    "The price, as with Google’s Pixel 2"

    My 64gb pixel 2 cost me £450 and destroys an iPhone costing over twice that (or 3x that on contract)

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Pixel 2

      "My 64gb pixel 2 cost me £450 and destroys an iPhone costing over twice that"

      Still quite a lot of money for a phone. As we know just too well, the different in cost is payed by you being sold by Google. I still think around £500 is a lot to pay for that privilege.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A throwaway phone for £900.

    What a bargain!

  18. Poncey McPonceface
    Thumb Up

    Poor Huawei

    To the commentards here who are like, "who the hell are Huawei" or "Huawei have no brand recognition" or "Huawei have no tech expertise" or "Huawei/Android never get any updates"

    Third largest smartphone manufacturer after Apple and Samsung.

    All Android phones released now come with Oreo = project treble = more timely updates and more of them and the possibility to install LineageOS

    These are the specs for the P20 pro, I'll leave it up to you to figure out if they're worth €900. (I think they are.)

    https://www.gsmarena.com/huawei_p20_pro-9106.php

    Huawei are one of the few that design their own SoC I believe, here's how it stacks up against the competition:

    https://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/huawei-kirin-970-soc-launched-heres-how-it-compares-with-qualcomm-snapdragon-835-apple-a10x-fusion-and-others-4005973.html

    disclaimer: have a Huawei Mate 9, just got Oreo, it rocks, do not see what the fuss over EMUI is at all

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Poor Huawei

      I’m sure it’s impressive, but does it include embedded Chinese Trojan firmware?

      There will always be that little niggling doubt.

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