While much of the excitement at the Huawei booth at Mobile World Congress last week centered around the company's new foldable gadget, the Mate X, some in attendance were already focused on the next mainstream flagship. The Huawei P30 series will arrive at a launch event in Paris on March 26, and at a small closed-door meeting in Barcelona last week, the firm revealed to us the first details of the P30 Pro's camera setup.
The P30 may well leapfrog the competition, with closer zoom shots and even better low-light than the P20.
First, the big news: Huawei's VP of Global Product Marketing, Clement Wong, confirmed what has long been rumored: The top-end P30 will indeed feature a periscope-style zoom camera for "super-zoom" capabilities. The exact zoom level wasn't revealed, though the last year's P20 Pro featured 3X optical and up to 5X hybrid zoom, so a significant upgrade beyond that figure is likely in the new model.
The widely rumored figure is 10X zoom, though Wong wouldn't confirm this, instead prompting us to draw our own conclusions from a photo posted by Huawei CEO Richard Yu in recent weeks. The shot, published to Chinese social network Weibo with a watermark cheekily confirming a quad-camera setup, clearly shows details of the lunar surface. Wong tells us the pic was achieved on-device, handheld, with no additional help.
So it seems we can expect the P30 Pro to feature a zoom mechanism quite unlike the fixed lens setup of the P20 and Mate 20. Wong promised that the P30 Pro's camera would offer "something nobody (has done) before," which suggests the P30's periscope camera may include a powered, mechanical zoom lens. That would be an impressive technical feat, but, like moving parts of any kind, also a probable point of weakness if the phone is dropped.
In addition to enhanced zoom features, Huawei is also looking to build on the P20 Pro's excellent low-light performance. The company isn't getting into specifics, but Wong made it clear that his company sees its next-generation night camera as a major upgrade upon what was already an excellent low-light shooter.
Time will tell how well the P30 Pro will be able to compete with the Pixel 3's legendarily great night sight mode. That said, Wong suggested that the P30's night mode, developed in-house, would take a step beyond the "software-only" approach of rivals.
The bottom line from Wong is that the P30 Pro will apparently offer "revolutionary technology to rewrite rules of photography," both through AI and new and unique camera hardware. That's a bold claim considering the fierce competition and plentiful innovation in mobile photography right now. Meanwhile, he says, "all the good stuff" from the previous generation will be included too, which we're taking as a pretty strong hint that features like the Mate 20 Pro's impressive ultra-wide camera won't be going anywhere.
The Huawei P30 series will break cover at a launch event in Paris on March 26, and Android Central will be there with live hands-on coverage.