Just to set the scene, let’s see what we need to be grateful for when it comes to Huawei’s camera contributions to the smartphone world:
So, what’s the point I’m trying to make? Well, Huawei sets the bar when it comes to photography on smartphones. It’s been the case for a long, long time. Although, surely some of this tech would have made its way into Apple, Samsung, Google, and other devices anyway, Huawei’s role was to disrupt the market, and push it about two steps/years ahead.
That’s why the Huawei P50 series might turn out to be more important (for the industry and the consumer) than you think.
Huawei P50, P50 Pro and P50 Pro+: What is the “new era of mobile imaging” all about?
Official sample from the Huawei P50, posted on Huawei’s Weibo page with a promise that the P50 series can freeze every decisive moment.
It’s very easy to say that the camera is the priority of Huawei phones, but exactly which parts of the camera experience are we talking about? What will help is the patterns observed on previous Huawei devices, or in other words – what Huawei’s done so far with the ”P” series, as well as some leaked information we have.
Huawei P series
- Low-light photography (Night Mode, RYYB sensors, wide apertures, etc.)
- Zoom – 3x,5x,10x, 20x, 30x, 50x, 100x thanks to telephoto cameras, periscope cameras, and double-bent telephoto cameras
- Huge camera sensors for gathering more light and creating better depth in photos (bokeh)
Huawei Mate series
- Video capabilities – dedicated video/cine camera; portrait video; low-light video enhancements
- Also, often everything from the “P” series
Huawei P50, P50 Pro & P50 Pro+ camera specs
It’s about as powerful of a camera system as it gets…
- Huawei P50: 50MP IMX 707 (4in1 bixel binning) 1/1.28, f1.7 main sensor + 3x optical zoom + ultra-wide
- Huawei P50 Pro: Sony IMX800 1/1.18 sensor – main and/or ultra-wide + zoom camera
- Huawei P50 Pro+: Sony IMX800 1/1.18 sensor – main and/or ultra-wide + zoom camera
We can’t confirm the information is 100% reliable. However, it does align with previous rumors. In fact, the Sony 707 sensor information about the P50 is new, while the Sony IMX800 leaks started back in 2020.
Anyway… Here’s what stands out from those leaked/rumored specs:
- No 1-inch camera sensor for the P50 series
- Possibly the best ultra-wide-angle camera on the market thanks to a huge sensor, which gathers a lot more light
- Huawei is hiding something special
Although the Sony IMX 800 is going to be the biggest sensor available on a smartphone outside of Japan, it’s still not a 1-inch sensor, so Huawei can’t claim that record – it belongs to the Sharp Aquos R6.
Given that Huawei is supposedly going to skip on a 1-inch camera sensor, and silently upgrade its ultra-wide-angle cameras to make them some of the best ones on the market, what could that “new era of smartphone imaging” claim be related to?
Get closer: Huawei’s love for zoom
The “P” series pioneered 3x,5x and 10x optical zoom cameras with double the “hybrid zoom” capabilities for lossless quality at greater magnification. So, unless the Chinese tech giant has something completely different to surprise us with, we place our bets on zoom!
From all the images, renders, and the official video teasers for the Huawei P50 series, it’s pretty much certain that the phone we have been seeing all along is the Huawei P50 Pro. We can tell that the bottom plate of the P50 Pro is extraordinarily big – as big as the top camera plate which houses a total of three sensors!
Therefore, it only makes sense that the bottom one is reserved for a special zooming system – perhaps a 5x periscope zoom camera, which is kind of confirmed by the official teaser video that reads:
In other words – f1.8-f3.4 aperture (ultra-wide to periscope camera) and 16-125mm focal length (ultra-wide to periscope camera). Bear in mind that this includes the main camera, as well as the mid-range zoom camera, but their specs are still a secret.
Huawei P50 Pro+: A new era of mobile imaging with 20x optical / 10x continuous zoom?
As we know, the vanilla P50 will be a slight downgrade compared to the P50 Pro – this has always been the case. But what we also know is that for the past two years Huawei has always been keeping the best for its most expensive flagship – the “+” model – remember the Huawei P40 Pro+, and Huawei Mate 40 Pro+?
Clearly, Huawei’s been keeping the Plus model under wraps for a reason. Since the Chinese company is going to refer to this as the “new era of mobile imaging”, we most certainly are in for a big surprise.
How about “continuous zoom”? Too ambitious? Possibly. Possible? If you’re as ambitious as Huawei, probably yes! In fact, Sony already did it! Well… almost.
Sony’s Xperia 1III introduced a unique optical element that physically moves inside the camera system, switching between two focal lengths – 70mm-105mm, or simply 3x – 4.4x optical magnification. What this actually does on the Xperia 1III is to eliminate the need for two telephoto cameras. Pay attention – it does not offer continuous zoom between the two focal lengths, as some might think!
This is rather confusing, for one important reason – Sony’s marketing material for the Xperia 1III actually shows a moving element in the zoom camera, like periscope lenses that move smoothly. However, the Xperia 1III switches from 3x to 4.4x just like any other smartphone. We aren’t sure what Sony did there, but it sort of looks as if they were about to do continuous zoom but then they… didn’t?!
Anyway, we think there might be a similar affair taking place inside the Huawei P50 Pro+. What would the zoom exactly be like? Well, a recent hot leak from Weibo says… 20x optical zoom and 200x digital zoom.
Either way, Huawei’s definitely going to need all the space in the world to make this happen, as the smartphone body is quite small to accommodate such ambitious tech. Again, don’t forget that no one thought Huawei could bring 5x and 10x optical zoom on a smartphone either, but they did!
Regardless, even the possibility of this tech becoming a reality makes sounds really exciting! A 20x optical zoom or a continuous zoom at a shorter distance would be as close to a dedicated camera tech as smartphones have ever come, and I’m so looking forward to finding out if it’s going to become a reality.
Meanwhile, Samsung, Apple, and Google will definitely have a lot to think about if Huawei manages to pull this off. As a Samsung customer, for example, I wouldn’t be happy to miss out on such an innovative feature.
- Pixel 6 Pro/XL: 50MP main camera, 5x periscope camera, ultra-wide-angle camera
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 12MP main camera, 2.5x telephoto camera, improved ultra-wide-angle camera
Will the big dogs change their plans because of Huawei? We’ve seen it happen before. While it’s too late for the Pixel 6 Pro/XL and iPhone 13 Pro Max, we certainly think Samsung is looking forward to seeing Huawei’s new phone in case, you know… it does something crazy.