Opinion | The P40 series is likely to be another miss for Huawei
The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro are both excellent smartphones, while we went as far as to call the latter "close to perfection" in our review last year. Both have top-notch cameras and a rather understated design by 2019 standards. However, a lot has changed for Huawei since the release of the P30 series, and the Mate 30 Pro has largely proven a bust outside of China. The device will probably never arrive in most key markets either, although Huawei has introduced it into some European countries.
The case of the Mate 30 series has not deterred Huawei though, as it has pressed on with the P40 and P40 Pro. OnLeaks and 91mobiles gave us a glimpse of what the two devices may offer late last year, and now the latter has returned with a complete look at the P40. The website claims to have received a render from industry sources, but it is unclear whether it is the same one that it has published. Hence, some details of the render could be that of 91mobiles rather than its sources.
Regardless, the P40 broadly looks like its predecessor save for a few areas. Firstly, the render shows that Huawei has switched from a notched display to a punch-hole one this year, as many other OEMs have done too. The panel will have a flat rather curved finish to it, although the opposite will likely be true of the P40 Pro if the P30 series is anything to go by. Two front-facing cameras will sit behind the punch-hole, with the second likely being an ultra-wide-angle sensor. There will also be three rear-facing cameras, which will have between f/1.19 and f/2.4 apertures according to the render. The sensors will have between 17 mm and 80 mm focal lengths too.
The rear-facing camera housing looks unnecessarily large though, especially as most of it just contains an aperture for the LED flash. In our opinion, the design of the P40 reeks of Huawei merely moving with other OEMs rather than distinguishing themselves with eye-catching innovations. While most other manufacturers can get away with selling a derivative and incremental US$800-US$1,000 flagship smartphone, the absence of Google apps is a hurdle that Huawei will not be able to overcome with designs like this. At least the Mate 30 Pro was a leap of faith with its capacitive volume rocker and hyper-curved display. The P40 Pro will undoubtedly go further than the P40 will, but a curved display and an additional rear-facing camera will probably not go far enough to persuade people outside of China to part with close to US$1,000 for it.
Huawei is due to decamp to Paris in March to announce the P40 series.