Huawei's new smartphone targets Instagram users

Huawei’s new smartphones, the P20 and P20 Pro, have leapfrogged Samsung and Apple’s offerings — with high-quality camera capabilities the clincher, writes Carolyn Moore.

Huawei's new smartphone targets Instagram users

Huawei’s new smartphones, the P20 and P20 Pro, have leapfrogged Samsung and Apple’s offerings — with high-quality camera capabilities the clincher, writes Carolyn Moore.

At the global launch last month for its latest smartphone, Chinese company Huawei pulled out all the stops to show when it comes to their new P20 and P20 Pro models, they’ve put the focus firmly on the camera.

This is nothing new. As smartphones have evolved into devices we rely on for a multitude of functions that go beyond simply making a voice call, it should come as no surprise to anyone who no longer owns (or needs) a standalone camera that the camera has emerged as the final frontier in the battle for smartphone supremacy. Sales of digital cameras have dropped from 121m to just 13m since the start of this decade, and with social media use turning us all into prolific photographers, it’s estimated that more photographs were taken last year than in the entire history of analogue photography.

With precious little to improve upon at this stage in terms of the basic functionality of phones, smartphone cameras have become their chief selling point. A glance at DxOMark’s mobile camera rating (the industry standard for measuring camera quality) reveals the top brands leapfrogging up the rankings, one point at a time — until last month, when Huawei surpassed its nearest rival, Samsung’s Galaxy 9 Plus, by an astonishing three and ten points with its P20 and P20 Pro, respectively.

At the launch, Huawei chief executive Richard Yu explained it didn’t call the P10’s successor the P11 because jumping from 10 to 11 simply didn’t reflect the giant leap its technology had taken.

As a trained but now hobby photographer, having tried the P20 Pro, I have to acknowledge it goes beyond anything I imagined a camera phone would be capable of.

Partnering with lens masters Leica again, Huawei has spared no effort in ensuring the P20 Pro leaves its competitors in the dust. But as it hits the market at €899 — comparable to a decent DSLR camera, an iPhone X, or the aforementioned S9 — the question is, is it worth it?

If photography is your thing (and these days, photography is everyone’s thing), the answer is yes. As a fashion journalist, global tech launches are not my regular beat, but as fashion bloggers, influencers, and YouTubers joined the assembled tech media at the press conference last month — in no less a venue than the Grand Palais in Paris, home to Chanel fashion shows and the prestigious annual Paris Photo fair — you could easily have mistaken it for a fashion event.

Photography used to be the preserve of a very few. Now we can all take pictures and see the world through so many people’s eyes

That’s because, with this launch, Huawei has the vast and ever-growing Instagram community in its sights, and boy does that cohort love a point-and-shoot camera that lets them edit, perfect, filter, and upload speedily and without the use of external apps. While the cameras on both models pack a serious punch, the P20 Pro goes the extra mile to put a host of professional-level DSLR capabilities into your pocket.

To prove this, it announced, at the launch, a collaboration with supermodel-turned-photographer Helena Christensen (who boasts 330k Instagram followers), and had fashion and celebrity photographer Mel Bles take to the stage to reveal a portfolio of images shot on the P20 Pro. “Photography used to be the preserve of a very few,” she observed. “Now we can all take pictures and see the world through so many people’s eyes.”

Nowhere is our newfound enthusiasm for sharing images more apparent than on Instagram, and for wannabe influencers, budding photographers, or casual users alike, the latest generation of smartphone cameras increasingly come pre-packed as standard with a host of features designed to help you seriously up your Instagram game.

“With a breakthrough triple camera on the Huawei P20 Pro, an advanced dual camera on the Huawei P20, and powerful artificial intelligence on both, today’s most vibrant consumers can capture and share the brilliance of the world around them,” said Yu.

And how brilliantly they can capture it! Both models boast a 40MP lens plus an 8MP telephoto lens for extraordinary zoom capability, while the Pro has a 20MP mono lens to boot. Pro mode allows for manual shooting, but powerful AI assistance makes even point-and-shoot photography a breeze, assessing and optimising performance for hundreds of scenarios, from cats to waterfalls.

Additionally, light sensors to rival Canon’s 5D, along with ground-breaking image stabilisation technology, make for outstanding low light performance from the P20 Pro. Never again will you have to struggle with the flash/no flash dilemma in a bid to capture the perfect #foodgram in a dimly lit restaurant; and outdoors too, the level of detail captured in low light conditions is astonishing.

Meanwhile, the 24MP front-facing camera offers unparalleled quality for those all-important selfies, and with optional portrait lighting, Bokeh effects and AI beautification, each one looks like a professional head shot.

As every avid Instagrammer knows, all that capability is nothing without a good battery, and the P20 Pro delivers here too, with a turbocharge option to fuel up to 50% in 30 minutes.

This Instagram-addicted iPhone-devotee is converted — one flawless selfie and you could be too.

The Huawei P20 (RRP €649) and P20 Pro (RRP €899) are on sale now

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