(Pocket-lint) - At Mobile World Congress 2019 Huawei wanted to share. First it shared a supposed mock-up P30 handset with Digital Trends - important information because that site's photographs depict three cameras, not the four we were expecting.
Next, Huawei confirmed to Pocket-lint that the P30 series will feature a zoom camera - being the first device to market with a periscope lens solution, which we now know will be revealed in full on 26 March in Paris.
Pocket-lint was one of a handful of publications invited to a behind-closed-doors 'open discussion' session at MWC 2019. It was hosted by Clement Wong, Huawei's VP of global product marketing, in an on-the-record session. Although Wong refused to budge on certain details when pressed, we did manage to extract some interesting details about the new camera setup.
"Instead of treating [the P30] in a similar way as we did before [from P9 to P10 to P20] - increase the number of cameras, or [add/remove] the black and white module - we're going to introduce some really revolutionary technology," said Wong. "But it's not an obvious change unless you use the camera."
Which, to us, suggests the quad camera solution - as leaked by the company's own CEO, Richard Yu, in a shot of the moon on Weibo - might be realised with a three lens setup, treating the periscope as a multi-capable lens and deriving the 'quad' term from that. This would also corroborate with Digital Trends' hands-on pictures of the mock-up device, which depicts three lenses - although this looks different to the triple camera P30 Pro leak revealed by WinFuture.
Wong continues: "One of the things you're going to see is an amazing zoom. The picture of the moon [referring to Yu's Weibo post] was taken without any external camera. It's a revolutionary zoom technology in that way you take pictures."
Obviously Huawei isn't the first to realise such technology. We've already seen 5x in the Oppo Find X, while a 10x module was shown off at this year's MWC too.
So will Wong tell us just how capable this zoom is?
"We can tell you about the structure: you can say periscope. It's not new technology, it's been around for a long time. But the key is: who can make it commercial and high quality?
"On top of that we use AI [artificial intelligence], DSP [digital signal processing], ISP [image signal processing], we can make it even better. And the number... we can't tell you about the number.
If it's truly a first then, based on the fact Oppo already has a 5x camera in the market, Huawei's solution has to be greater - suggesting the 10x zoom, as widely rumoured.
Wong wasn't finished there, though, citing low-light photography as the other major area that Huawei is looking to best.
"What if technology can empower the good low-light quality? We can crack it. Not only the camera system but also the Kirin chipset will play a big role. That's the 'magic' inside; the recipe. A lot of companies [can use the same sensor as others but] cannot make a good picture because of that recipe. We've been improving a lot since P6 and, of course, Leica collaboration has a lot of influence. The lens, the chipset, the software and of course the camera system [all make a difference]. This time [for P30] we combine [all that] together.
Does that mean the P30 series will depend only on software improvements to better its solution?
"No," says Wong. "The low-light [improvement for P30] is not just software. If all companies were only using...AI or merging fusion technology - which we did previously - then how do we further improve that? We definitely need some [camera] hardware changes, that is what I'm saying."
So there we have it: the Huawei P30 series is confirmed to have a periscope zoom lens and be built on new camera hardware. But precisely what that will mean - from the zoom capability, to the sensor sizes and resolution, to the number of physical lenses used in the design - is something we'll have to wait until the Paris reveal to see. But we're now not expecting the quad camera solution to use more than three lenses.