Fewer companies have grown in stature as rapidly as Huawei. On a global scale, it's gone from being a company that builds devices for other companies, to being its own brand - with its own popular sub-brand (Honor) - within a few short years, and one which is competing with Apple and Samsung on sales.
A lot of this success has come down to a wide range of products to suit a number of different people and markets. There's the low-end Honor phones that offer amazing bang for buck, then there are devices like the Mate series with big screens and big batteries.
But if there's one collection of phones that's your more traditional flagship, it's the P-series, and we're fast approaching the time of year when Huawei would normally announce a new model.
Huawei P20/P11: Name?
- Jump to P20 rumoured
- Plus and Lite models are likely
You may have gathered already, there seems to be some doubt about what the next P-series will be called. While P11 would follow on sequentially from P8, P9 and P10, there's been some suggestion that this year, we're going to see the numbering skip from P10 to P20.
This information was let slip during a Huawei event, when the CEO Rami Hazan informed his listeners that this next phone will be called the P20.
- Huawei P10 Plus review: Plenty of plusses from Huawei's colourful 5.5-inch phone
- Huawei P10 review: Android's iPhone-killer, or flawed imitator?
It seems likely the company will continue with its big-phone/small-phone pairing, so expect to see a phone called the P20 Plus as well. We'll also likely see a smaller, more affordable "Lite" model at some point, making a trio of different phones.
Huawei P20/P11: Design
- Minimal bezels on the front
- Glass back like Mate 10
It's probably no surprise - given the trends of 2017 - to see rumours that Huawei will opt for a bezel-free screen with its P20 this year. The company has already adopted a minimal bezel display on the Mate series and in a couple of the Honor-branded mid-range phones. It's fast becoming the norm.
The leaked schematics that have appeared so far suggest this to be the case. In fact, the design looks very similar to that of the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. That's to say - if true - we'll see near to no bezel on the sides of the screen, but very slight framing on the top and the bottom, with a narrow fingerprint sensor squeezed on to the bottom bezel, beneath the display.
Interestingly, these schematics also showed off a "Pro" model with an iPhone X-like notch at the top of the screen and a fingerprint sensor on the back.
Corroborating with these schematics, a sketchy-looking digital render of the device has shown up, indicating a similar design, with three cameras built in to a glass back.
Huawei P20/P11: Display
Last year's 16:9 ratio screen were fairly traditional sizes. That's to say, the diagonal measurements were 5.5-inches for the plus model and 5.1-inches for the smaller one. If Huawei switches to 18:9 displays, which is likely, those measurements would go up, due to the longer nature of the screens.
If we were to speculate, that would be something like 5.7-inches for the smaller one and 6.0-inches for the larger one, that's pretty much the standard sizing for small and larger 18:9 screens.
Although it's difficult to confirm its authenticity, there has been one leaked benchmark at HTMLTest, found by PhoneArena, which suggests we could see a 1080 x 2244 resolution screen, which means it might not be exactly 18:9, but rather 18.7:9.
Furthermore, a screen protector has been listed on Amazon.co.uk which suggests the P20 might have an iPhone X-like notch at the top for the earpiece and the front facing camera.
Huawei P20/P11: Software
While the P20 is undoubtedly going to be running Android Oreo based software, it will be interesting to see what new features the EMUI-skinned software will add. Huawei typically tweaks the visuals between each model, and we could see further changes made.
In the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, we find Android Oreo running behind the custom EMUI 8.0 user interface, so - again - it's likely, although not confirmed, that we'll see basically the same software running on the new P-series.
Huawei P20/P11: Cameras
- 40MP triple-lens system
- 23MP front camera
- 5x "Hybrid Zoom" on main cameras
Huawei's recent high-end phones have seen the manufacturer partner with Leica to develop the optics, and that's set to continue. According to Evan Blass, it appears as though the P20 and/or P20 Plus will be equipped with a 40-megapixel, triple-camera setup built in co-operation with Leica.
It sounds rather unbelievable, and is said to be capable of 5x "Hybrid zoom", and partnered by a selfie camera on the front with a 24-megapixel sensor.
Given the size of lens required to make a 40-megapixel sensor even close to good, it's more likely that Huawei's three-camera system builds the 40-megapixel image together, somehow. Of course, that's just speculation.
All we know for sure is that if it really is a 40 million pixels on one sensor, that's a huge jump from the current P10's 20-megapixel. Let's not forget, the last 40+ megapixel camera came in a Nokia PureView smartphone years ago, and that had a huge protrusion at the back.
Huawei P20/P11: Hardware and performance
For Huawei, this next generation of phones is all about AI, or machine learning. Given the recent nature of the Kirin 970's launch in the Mate 10 series, we think this is likely to return in the P20 and P20 Plus, complete with its "Neural Processing Unit".
No specific rumours or leaks have confirmed this, but it seems a safe bet to have the current flagship chipset powering the next generation flagship phone. Especially given how much of a big deal they made about it.
Huawei P20/P11: Launch and release date
- Retail launch scheduled for Q2
- Announcement in February at MWC is possible
Last year, Huawei launched the P10 and P10 Plus at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it's not too crazy to assume the company will do the same thing again in 2018. After all, Huawei is one of the trade show's biggest sponsors, and has a huge presence there every year.
In an interview with Android Central last year, company VP Bruce Lee stated they would "probably" launch the phones at MWC in 2018, but a lot can happen over the course of a few months to alter schedules and release plans. So it's certainly not set in stone.
With that said, last year was the first time in a few years that the P-series was launched there. Both the P8 and P9 were launched a few weeks afterwards at their own events in London.
As for when they phones will actually be available to buy, a leaked roadmap seems to indicate that this year's P-series phones will launch in the second quarter, which lines up nicely with what the company has done in the past.