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Huawei launches new 68-megapixel triple camera smartphone it claims is 'much better' than iPhone X

Key Points
  • Huawei launched its P20 and P20 Pro smartphones on Tuesday.
  • The P20 packs a triple camera with artificial intelligence capabilities, super-slow motion video recording, and extreme low-light functionality.
  • Other key specs include an almost bezeless display, no headphone jack, and the Kirin 970 chip.
  • Huawei will be hoping the phone will help it overcome recent issues in the U.S. where a deal to sell its Mate 10 Pro smartphone via AT&T fell through.
The Huawei P20 Pro on display in London during a briefing about the device ahead of the official launch which took place on March 27, 2018 in Paris.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Huawei launched its P20 smartphone Tuesday as the Chinese firm looks to overcome a recent setback in the U.S. and continue its challenge to Apple and Samsung.

There are two versions of the device — the 5.8-inch P20 and 6.1-inch P20 Pro. The smartphones are Huawei's mid-priced offerings and are expected to cost less than its flagship Mate 10 Pro.

Key features include:

  • Huawei's Kirin 970 artificial intelligence chip
  • A dual camera on the P20
  • Almost bezeless display
  • No headphone jack
  • Fingerprint sensor and home button

Huawei talked up the handset's camera capabilities, particularly on the P20 which boasts a triple-sensor camera made in partnership with Leica. The lenses collectively mean the main camera packs a 68 megapixel punch. The selfie camera is 24 megapixels.

The Huawei P20 Pro packs a triple sensor camera that is collectively 40 megapixels.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

The AI capabilities in the device automatically adjust the camera to make it take a good picture depending on the subject. So, if you're looking to take a picture of your meal, Huawei's camera will detect food and adjust lighting and composition, for example. The camera also performed well when used in extreme low-light. During a demonstration Huawei showed how the camera managed to brighten an image despite it being very dark.

Huawei's P20 also has a super-slow motion feature and a portrait mode, similar to Apple's latest iPhones.

The Huawei P20 has a "hyper zoom" feature that lets you take zoomed in pictures without distorting the quality of the image. In this demonstration, the zoom was used to capture an image of letters down a tunnel.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

The Chinese technology firm is looking to offer a device that competes with the likes of the iPhone X and Samsung's recently-released S9 and S9+, but at a lower price. Apple and Samsung both focused heavily on the camera which continues to be a strong area where companies can differentiate their devices from each other, in a sea of very similar looking phones.

Huawei is not afraid to refer to itself as an upstart in the smartphone world, and Richard Yu, the head of the company's consumer business, is often heard bashing the competition. In a recent briefing with reporters, Yu said the upcoming P20 will be "much better" than the iPhone X. Yu claimed Huawei, which is the third-biggest smartphone player by market share, could become the second-largest "within one to two years."

The tech giant will be hoping the latest device will help it move past its recent issues in the U.S. Huawei was supposed to sell its Mate 10 Pro through AT&T in the U.S. but the deal eventually fell through with intelligence officials warning consumers not to buy any devices made by the Chinese company. Best Buy is also reportedly going to cut ties with Huawei.

In response to a CNBC question in February, Yu claimed that Huawei's competitors were using politics to kick the company out of the U.S. Yu's comments were off-script and Huawei later distanced itself from the executive's remarks.

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