(Pocket-lint) - Huawei has become a brand to release the biggest and most attention-grabbing phones in recent years. The P30 Pro was hugely popular, but then the brakes were slammed on somewhat when the US enforced a trade ban that's led to Google Services not being available on new and future Huawei devices - such as the incoming P40 Pro.

That software aspect aside - which we'll come to in more detail in this article - what are the key differences between the Huawei P30 Pro and incoming P40 Pro? Here's everything we think we know ahead of the 26 March reveal date.

Design

  • P30 Pro: Teardrop notch for selfie camera
  • P40 Pro: Dual punch-hole for selfie camera
  • Both: Optical in-screen fingerprint scanner
  • Both: IP68 water- and dust-resistant
  • Both: No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • P40 Pro: Ceramic finish (TBC)

There have been leaks aplenty showing what the P40 Pro looks like. We've handled one (in a concealed box, so couldn't see it), so have some ideas about what to expect.

First thing's first: the P40 Pro is much chunkier than the P30 Pro. The exact dimensions we don't know, but it's gone down the OnePlus path in terms of opting for that thicker design to accommodate a larger battery capacity.

Both devices are absent of a 3.5mm headphone jack, both use in-screen fingerprint scanners, and both offer water- and dust-resistant finishes. There's a rumour that the P40 Pro will use additional materials for its finish, such as ceramic.

Display

  • P30 Pro: 6.47-inch OLED Huawei FullView Display
    • FHD+ resolution (2340 x 1080)
    • 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • P40 Pro:6.7-inch OLED Horizon Display
    • Quad HD+ resolution (2560 x 1440) (TBC)
    • 120Hz refresh rate

It's the display where the design begins to really differ. While the P30 Pro doesn't have a huge amount of bezel, the P40 Pro will be opting for a so-called Horizon Display, sometimes referred to as a Waterfall Display, to further minimise that side bezel.

Both panels are OLED, but the P40 Pro will up the refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz, and resolution from FHD+ to QHD+, it's thought. The P40 Pro's screen size isn't yet confirmed, but think big, as it's likely to be 6.7-inches on the diagonal.

Cameras

  • P30 Pro: Leica Quad Camera system
    • Main: 40MP, 27mm, f/1.6
    • Wide: 20MP, 16mm, f/2.2
    • Zoom: 8MP, 5x periscope zoom, 125mm, f/3.4
  • P40 Pro: Leica Penta Camera system
    • Main: 64MP, 24mm, f/1.8
    • Wide: 20MP, 18mm, aperture TBC
    • Zoom: 12MP, 10x periscope zoom, 240mm, f/4.0
    • Macro & Depth (ToF) expected (TBC)
  • P30 Pro: 32MP selfie camera in notch
  • P40 Pro: 52MP selfie camera & depth sensor in dual punch-hole

The P30 Pro set the bar when it came to camera technology, the P40 Pro looks to take that to the next level. The teaser reveal poster confirms that with its "#VisionaryPhotography" hashtag.

So what can you anticipate? The P40 Pro will be pushing into five cameras, one-upping the P30's four-camera setup. But it's what these cameras can do that'll be of most interest.

Main camera

First, the main camera: the P30 Pro introduced a SuperSensing technology, changing the usual red-green-blue make-up of an RGB sensor to a red-yellow-blue RYB sensor for enhanced light sensitivity. That camera was great in low-light conditions. The P40 Pro will likely be using the same technology, albeit on a different sensor.

The P40 Pro's main sensor is rumoured to be a Sony IMX686, which is a much larger-than-average sensor size, equipped with 64MP resolution. Expect four-in-one pixel processing for 16MP output as standard. The P30 Pro's 40MP sensor was no slouch, but Huawei is upping the resolution.

Wide-angle

The wide-angle sensor is also slightly less wide-angle in the P40 Pro (18mm equivalent) compared to the P30 Pro (16mm equiv.), meaning the new camera won't cram quite as much into a single frame. However, we suspect this is for quality reasons: very wide-angle lenses cause a lot of distortion and smoothness at the edges of the frame, which the newer camera is likely looking to avoid.

Zoom

The P30 Pro offered a 5x optical zoom (125mm), enabling much better resolve of detail for further-away subjects, shot as if they're closer. The P40 Pro is doubling that to 10x optical (240mm), for an even further-reaching potential.

How it will resolve the in-between zoom steps, however, we're yet to see. We're hopeful that the P40 Pro may also include a 3x or a 5x optical to help with such in-betweens, but that's yet to be confirmed.

Extras

The P30 Pro camera with a Time-of-Flight sensor, which reads depth data and distance to provide software with background-blurring abilities. We suspect the P40 Pro will also feature such a sensor.

The bigger question is what the P40 Pro's fifth sensor will be: will it be the in-between zoom, as we've touched on above, or will it be a macro, or altogether different optic? This we won't know until launch.

Hardware

  • P30 Pro: Kirin 980 processor, 8GB RAM
  • P40 Pro: Kirin 990 processor, RAM TBC
  • P30 Pro: 4,200mAh battery capacity
  • P40 Pro: 5,500mAh battery capacity
  • P30 Pro: 40W fast-charging
  • P40 Pro: 50W fast-charging
  • Both: Reverse wireless charging

Huawei manufactures its own chips so the P40 Pro will no doubt run on the latest Kirin processor - the Kirin 990 - which is the same as Huawei uses in its Mate 30. The P30 Pro uses last year's Kirin 980. Both handsets will be pushing artificial intelligence (AI) to the fore, via their neural processing units (NPUs).

The P40 Pro's additional thickness is likely to accommodate a larger battery capacity, too, with the rumour being a 5,500mAh cell. The fast-charging should also be quicker (at 50W) compared to the P30 Pro's speeds (40W). Reverse wireless charging will be possible on both handsets.

The P30 Pro arrived before 5G was a thing, so bypassed such connectivity. The P40 Pro, however, is expected to be 5G - as is the whole P40 range.

Software

  • P30 Pro: EMUI based on Android 10, with Google Services
  • P40 Pro: EMUI based on Android 10, without Google Services

Here's where things get a little tricky. While both P30 Pro and P40 Pro will be running Google's Android 10 operating system - well, sort of, both are skinned with Huawei's EMUI user interface - the P30 Pro will have access to Google Services, while the P40 Pro will not. 

That means the P30 Pro will give you Google Play Store and access to your usual apps, such as WhatsApp and Gmail, while the P40 Pro will give you access to Huawei App Gallery (on Huawei Mobile Services (HMS)), which doesn't as yet feature the full spectrum of apps that many European users will want to use.

In China the App Gallery has been a staple for many years. But elsewhere it's not yet found its feet. We know Huawei plans to move hundreds of staff to the UK to crack on with development and to entice developers into its ecosystem, but that will take time.

Writing by Mike Lowe.