Every few months, my fellow smartphone enthusiast peers and I will reminisce on social media about the Huawei P20 Pro, the 2018 phone that virtually everyone (including Huawei internally) believe to be the company’s breakout product on the global stage. It launched at the time the first triple camera system in a phone that was capable of uncanny night photos and the best zoom photos. Prior to the P20 Pro, Huawei was just a major Chinese phone brand. Afterward, Huawei became a major phone brand, period.
Of course, smartphone fans likely know what happened after the P20 Pro. Huawei began a quick ascend and was on the verge of overtaking Samsung as the world’s top phone brand by units sold before U.S. sanctions severely crippled the appeal of its mobile products.
But here’s the thing, Huawei didn’t stop making great smartphones. It still has a healthy domestic market, and despite very limited appeal outside of China, the tech giant continues to release phones globally, in markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe.
And the Huawei P60 Pro is yet another reminder of Huawei’s hardware prowess, and also brings back memories of the P20 Pro, because this is another breakthrough in mobile photography the way the P20 Pro was.
The Huawei P60 Pro features a main camera with a 10-stop aperture, a physical shutter that allows the camera lens to control how much light it takes in, as well as manipulate the depth of field. The only other phone brands to have even attempted such an ambitious move was Samsung in 2019 and Xiaomi this year, and both have less than half the stops.
That’s not all, the P60 Pro’s zoom lens, a 3.5x periscope camera, can capture virtually lossless 10x zoom and double as a macro sensor, meaning I can capture photos of things up close, without needing to stick the camera lens right up to the subject or object.
These are photos I shot without changing position or moving the phone at all.
That variable aperture allows photos with drastically different depth of field and perspectives.
The magic behind the cameras’ jaw-dropping capabilities is more than just camera hardware, but also Huawei’s “Xmage” engine, a software processing algorithm developed by Huawei to handle image processing.
Elsewhere, the P60 Pro has a gorgeous quad-curved 120Hz OLED display, and weighing only 200g at a time when most flagship phones go well over that mark, the P60 Pro is a very comfortable phone to hold. Battery life is tremendous as is always the case with Huawei phones. But unfortunately, the P60 Pro does have some expected limitations.
The ongoing sanctions prevents the P60 Pro from running Google’s core apps, and also from being able to use 5G networks. As a result, the phone runs on a one-year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip without 5G support. A glaring hardware omission for sure, but one that is due to outside factors and not due to lack of willingness or ability on Huawei’s part.
It’s a shame, because the P60 Pro reminded me again why the P20 Pro is still to this day a highly regarded phone, one that phone geeks look back on fondly. If sanctions and politics hadn’t thrown roadblocks Huawei’s way, the P60 Pro would almost certainly be the best overall smartphone right now.