The Huawei P story: How the flagship that could became the flagship of choice and rewrote the rules of photography

As we countdown the days to the highly anticipated P30 launch event happening at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall this April 13, 2019, let’s take a look back at the story of the Huawei P series—starting with its “Ascend” origins, the photography innovations it introduced such as lightpainting, nightmode, aperture modes to its gamechanging partnership with Leica and how this flagship wannabe became the flagship of choice in just a few years as it continues to #RewriteTheRules of Photography. 

The P story began in 2012, when the first “Ascend P1” smartphone arrived as the company’s “flagship.” Back then, Huawei was more known for its telecom equipments and that same year Huawei overtook Sweden as the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker. But when it comes to smartphones the company was still virtually unknown. The Ascend P1 had a 4.3-inch display, with a 960 x 540 resolution, a dual-core 1.5ghz cortex A9 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, which ran on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It had a price tag of PHP 19,980. In comparison Samsung had just outed the Samsung SIII and the Note 2.

For some reason, Huawei opted to skip the Ascend P3, P4, and P5 brandings, and jumped straight to the Ascend P6 in 2013. The Ascend P6 came out with a thinner design, a 4.7-inch screen 720x1280pixel, quad-core chipset, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, 2,000mAh battery, and runs on Android Jellybean. It replaced capacitive buttons with on-screen ones. The phone was actually quite sleek-looking when it launched, and it managed to intrigued people mainly due to its design. It established the look which would become the design language of the P series for the next couple of years. It launched with a price of PHP 18,990.

The Ascend P7 was my first encounter with a Huawei phone, I remember it being given as a prize to a contest that was being sponsored by one of our clients. It still looked like the P6 just with improved specs like a bigger 5-inch Full HD screen 1080×1920, a hisiliconKirin 910T quad-core chipset, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, and is powered by a 2,500mAh battery. It ran Android KitKat out of the box and was priced at PHP 20,990.

Huawei P8 and the Huawei P30

2015 was the year I finally switched to Huawei because of the Huawei P8 it was also the same year that Huawei dropped the Ascend moniker just called it the P series. I remember being part of the Asia launch event held in Singapore and after hearing Richard Yu speak about the phone I knew it was going to be the next big thing. The Huawei P8 was considerably different-looking phone to the Ascend P7 and the device was made out of metal

Huawei P8 and the Huawei P30

The P8 had two versions the standard P8 which had a 5.2-inch screen, Kirin 930 octa-core chip, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, 2,680mAh battery, and a price tag of PHP 21,990.

Then there’s the budget P8 Lite which had the same design but a smaller 5-inch screen, Kirin 620 octa-core chip, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, 2,200mAh battery and a price tag of PHP 9,990.

The main photography feature it introduced was lightpainting mode.

Huawei P9 Plus and the Huawei P30

The Huawei P9 was probably the turning point of the P series because of its partnership with Leica. Huawei introduced two flagships as part of its P9 series, the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus and both of them were made out of metal. The P9 and P9 Plus were also the first phones to have two rear-facing cameras and the first to include fingerprint scanners. The two devices look identical, but were different in terms of size.

Huawei P9 Plus and the Huawei P30

The Huawei P9 featured a 5.2-inch fullHD LCD display, while the P9 Plus included a 5.5-inch full HD Super AMOLED panel. The Huawei P9 arrived in 3GB / 4GB RAM variants, while the P9 Plus was released in a 4GB RAM option only. 

The P9 was priced at PHP 23,990, while the P9 plus which had a bigger 3400 battery nearly broke the P30K price point.

There was also a third lite version which had a 5.2-inch display with Full HD resolution, Kirin 650 octa-core CPU, 2GB / 3GB RAM, 3,000mAh battery, and a price tag of PHP 12,490.

Then came the Huawei P10 aka the Pia Wurtzbach phone in 2017 and focused on portrait photography and the tagline “Make Every Shot a Cover Shot” The P10 again came in two variants the P10 and the P10 Pro. 

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The Huawei P10 series of smartphones was announced in February 2017. The P10 had a 5.1-inch full HD LCD display, Kirin 960 chip, 4GB of RAM, up to 64GB of storage, 20MP + 12MP dual Leica rear cameras, 8MP front camera, 3,200mAh battery, 

Huawei P10 Plus and the Huawei P30

The P10 Plus, on the other hand had a larger 5.5-inch screen QHD LCD panel, the very first flagship from the company to sport a QHD display., Kirin 960 chip, 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, 20MP + 12MP dual Leica rear cameras, 8MP front camera, 3,750mAh battery, and Android Nougat. 

The P10 was priced at PHP 28,990 while the P10 Plus 64GB cost PHP 34,990  and the 128gb at PHP 36,990. 

Huawei P20 and the Huawei P30

Huawei finally captured the world’s attention with the P20, mainly because of its Leica triple camera and the introduction of a gradient finish, the most popular being Twilight. While other brands have had their own gradient versions, Huawei’s for me, still has the best color finish. Designed to make you #SeeMore it introduced handheld night mode, and Master AI photography that allows it to adjust the colors depending on your subject.

Both devices included a (hideable) notch, and were almost identical in terms of the design, except for the rear camera counts. The Huawei P20 arrived with two rear-facing cameras (12MP+20MP), while the P20 Pro included three cameras on the back 40MP + 20MP + 8MP. 

The Huawei P20 included a 5.8-inch full HD+ (2240 x 1080) LCD display, while the P20 Pro sported a 6.1-inch full HD+ AMOLED panel. Both phones had a Kirin 970 64-bit octa-core processor.  The Huawei P20 shipped with 4GB of RAM, while the P20 Pro included 6GB of RAM Both devices offered fast battery charging, and non-removable batteries 3400mAh on the P20 and 4000mAh on the P20 Pro.

And now we’ve finally arrived at the current King of Smartphone photography. Earning the highest score of from DXO the P30 has dethroned its predecessor and has yet to receive a worthy challenger as of date. 

The P30, P30 Pro and P30 Lite were announced in March 2019 in Paris, and again both share the same design but differ in the number of rear cameras and display. The Huawei P30 is smaller and it comes with a flat display, while the P30 Pro includes a curved display. Both devices come with fullHD+ OLED panels, though.

The Huawei P30 features a 6.1-inch display, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It has a 40MP + 16MP + 8MP  triple Leica camera setup. 

The Huawei P30 Pro, on the other hand, includes a 6.47-inch panel, 6GB / 8GB of RAM and 128GB / 256GB / 512GB of storage. It is also the first first Huawei phone to have a quad camera setup 40MP+ 16MP+ 8MP and a Time of Flight camera. It also boasts of a periscope camera which has 10x optical zoom and a 50x max digital zoom.

Class Picture: Huawei P8, P9 Plus, P10 Plus, P20 and the P30

Both have 32 MP front cameras as well and is powered by Huawei’s Kirin 980 64-bit octa-core processor. These two phones come with 3,650mAh and 4,200mAh batteries, respectively.

The P30 is priced at P36,990 while the P30 Pro will sell for P50,990.

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