Huawei P21: what we want to see

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The Huawei P20 is a strong phone and the Huawei P20 Pro is even better, rivalling the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.

We want to see the Huawei P21 (or the Huawei P30, as it may be called) build on that momentum and we’ve come up with a list of things that would help that happen.

But before that here’s what we know and suspect about the phone so far. There aren’t any rumors yet, but we’ll be sure to add them in as soon as we hear any.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The successor to the Huawei P20
  • When is it out? Probably early 2019
  • What will it cost? Likely upwards of £599 (roughly $790, AU$1,070)

Huawei P21 release date and price

The Huawei P21 (or P30) is likely to land in early 2019, given that the Huawei P20 was announced in March 2018 and the Huawei P10 was revealed in February 2017.

The latter was announced at MWC 2017, so it’s possible that the Huawei P21 will be announced at MWC 2019, which takes place from 25-28 February, but given that the P20 skipped MWC we wouldn’t count on it.

Note also that if you’re in the US you might not be able to buy it, as the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro didn’t land in the US.

As for the price, it’s likely to be at least as expensive as the £599 (roughly $790, AU$1,070) Huawei P20, but will likely land alongside an even pricier Huawei P21 Pro.

The P21 may undercut some flagships but it might not launch in the US

The P21 may undercut some flagships but it might not launch in the US

Huawei P21 news and rumors

We don’t know anything about the Huawei P21 yet, but we can take some guesses. For one thing, it will probably use whatever the most high-end HiSilicon Kirin chipset is at the time, which is likely to be the Kirin 980, given that the P20 range uses the Kirin 970.

This might not be a brand-new chip though as it will probably make its debut on the Huawei Mate 11 and Huawei Mate 11 Pro later this year.

And speaking of the Mate 11 range, that’s rumored to have an in-screen fingerprint scanner, which could mean the Huawei P21 will have one as well, especially given that the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS already has one.

It’s also likely that at least one of the Huawei P21 (or Huawei P30) models will have a triple-lens camera, since Huawei only recently debuted a triple lens snapper on one of its phones.

What we want to see

We expect to learn much more about the Huawei P21 (including whether it'll actually be called the Huawei P30) soon, but in the meantime, this is what we want from it.

1. A sharper screen

The Huawei P20's screen isn't quite as sharp as we'd expect a flagship to be

The Huawei P20's screen isn't quite as sharp as we'd expect a flagship to be

Huawei has stuck with a Full HD+ screen on its current flagships, but with Samsung, Sony and others upping the resolution it’s time Huawei did the same.

So for the Huawei P21 we want a QHD resolution. There’s probably no need for more than that, but given the likely large screen size a resolution of around 1440 x 2960 really would make a difference.

2. Bring back the headphone jack

Many phones – including the Huawei P20 range – are now ditching headphone jacks, but we’re still not convinced the tech is at the point where everyone will be happy to go wireless, so we’d like to see this brought back for the Huawei P21.

It’s unlikely to happen as it could be seen as a step backwards, or as admitting that removing it was a mistake, but it would be nice.

3. Wireless charging

All flagships should really support wireless charging

All flagships should really support wireless charging

While the Huawei P20 range has good battery life and fast charging it lacks wireless charging, which is a feature we’d expect to see come as standard on flagship phones.

So hopefully it’s something that the Huawei P21 - or at least the Huawei P21 Pro - will offer.

4. Three cameras on all models

Huawei has only just moved on to triple-lens cameras with the Huawei P20 Pro so we’re not in any hurry for that to change, but we do want to see three lenses on the standard Huawei P21, rather than the feature being reserved for the P21 Pro.

And while we definitely don’t need more than three lenses on the back we would like to see some improvements to them as well, perhaps for example improvements to the AI scene recognition.

5. An in-screen fingerprint scanner

Building the scanner into the screen would give the P21 a big selling point

Building the scanner into the screen would give the P21 a big selling point

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and even the Honor 10 (made by a Huawei sub-brand) has an under-glass scanner, so it actually wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Huawei P21 had an in-screen scanner of its own.

And it would be a good thing too, since it’s the sort of high-tech feature that would help the phone stand apart from many other handsets, not to mention allowing it to keep the bezels small without resorting to having a scanner on the back.

6. A top-end chipset

The Huawei P20 range uses the Kirin 970 chipset, which is high-end, but it’s older and less powerful than the latest Snapdragon and Exynos chipsets.

For the Huawei P21 and P21 Pro we’d really like Huawei to use a brand-new chipset that makes its debut on those phones and can truly compete with the best around, rather than what it will probably actually do, which is equip them with a slightly older chip that first appears in the Huawei Mate 20.

7. No notch or bezels

Like so many of 2018’s phones, the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro each have a notch in the screen, and while you can somewhat hide it with software we’d rather there was no notch at all.

But we don’t want a strip of bezel either, instead we want a truly bezel-free front. If Huawei does build the fingerprint scanner into the screen on the P21/P30 then it could be well on the way to achieving that, so it’s possible, though it will need to hide the likes of the front-facing camera somewhere too.