Huawei has today officially announced the Huawei P30 Pro smartphone. There is a new Huawei SoC, an optical fingerprint reader on the screen and many other high-end features. The highlight, however, is definitely the optical zoom of the camera, which is up to 5x. No digital zoom. Real optical zoom.
Most modern high-end smartphones, such as the iPhone XS and the Galaxy S10, only ever get a 2x optical zoom. Usually these are available in a second sensor and a lens on the back of the phone, so you can choose between the standard 1x lens or the 2x extra lens. The reason why smartphones usually do not get large zoom multipliers is because zoom lenses take up space. A zoom lens has a series of smaller lenses, some of which move within the lens body to change the focal length. A larger distance between the lenses results in a higher zoom multiplier, and in real cameras this distance can be several meters.
For smartphones, the course is of course particularly important. Imagine a smartphone that would sit upside down and you would need to mount a vertical stack of display, CMOS sensor and lens at about 8mm height. There just is not much room.
But what if we did not have to stack all components vertically? The trick for Huawei's 5x optical zoom is that it uses a periscope design. From the outside, it looks like a normal camera setup, but with a funky square camera opening. Internally, however, the components make a 90 degree clockwise rotation after the lens cover, and the zoom lens components and the CMOS sensor are arranged horizontally. Now, instead of stuffing a bunch of lenses and the CMOS chip into an 8mm vertical phone room, we have to play one hectare of horizontal phone room to play. We've seen prototypes of Oppo's periscope cameras, but as far as commercial devices are concerned, the Huawei P30 Pro is the first.
While optical zoom is the big new camera feature, there are four cameras on the back of the P30 Pro. A 40MP main camera, a 20MP wide-angle, 8MP 5X telephoto and a time-of-flight depth-detection camera. The 40MP main camera uses a 1 / 1.7-inch sensor, which makes it 32 percent larger in diagonal measurement than the 1 / 2.55-inch sensors of the Galaxy S10 or iPhone XS. I think the largest sensor in a smartphone so far is still the Nokia 808 Pureview, which had a 1 / 1.2-inch type.
Huawei has also made a big deal with the new "RYYB" pixel layout in its camera sensor. Normally, CMOS sensors are "RGGB", a red pixel, two green and one blue. By changing the green pixels to yellow, Huawei can capture 40 percent more light because the yellow filter detects green and red light. Of course, this will make the color unfavorable, but Huawei claims to be able to correct this in software.
The front has a fairly standardized notch design with a single 32-megapixel camera in the center of the screen. The display is a 6.47-inch OLED with curved sides and a resolution of 2340 × 1080. An optical fingerprint reader is embedded in the display, and you will find nowhere a headphone, as it is also embedded in the display. Huawei does not explain the function any further than calling it "Huawei Acoustic Display Technology," but after the video the company released, it seems like an electromagnet vibrates the screen to produce sound.
The SoC is a Huawei Kirin 980 processor. This is a 7 nm chip with two Cortex-A76-based cores running at 2.6 GHz, two more running at 1.92 GHz, and four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 cores. You can get a P30 Pro with 6 or 8GB of RAM, and the storage options are 128GB, 265GB or 512GB. The phone has water and dust resistance to IP68, NFC, wireless charging, charging with 40W (!) And a 4200 mAh battery.
If you want to immerse yourself in the Huawei P30 Pro, it is available today from 999 €).
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