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Huawei P40 Pro: we've held the phone early, but we weren't allowed to see it

Huawei P30 Pro
The Huawei P30 Pro from 2019 (Image credit: Future)

The Huawei P40 Pro leaks and rumors have been going wild of late, but what's better than hearsay? Information from the source, and, better yet, getting our hands on a P40 Pro ourselves – with one caveat: no peeking. 

After an under-wraps session during which a Huawei product expert revealed design and camera highlights of the upcoming flagship, we can confirm that Huawei’s upcoming P40-series phones are set to take on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and its 100x Space Zoom with gusto. There's a new sensor, and an upgraded telephoto camera with a 'periscope' zoom lens. 

Design: curves every which way

Since the Huawei P8, the company has been pushing the envelope with its design, colors, materials and finishes. The P40 Pro looks set to be no exception, with the Huawei product expert all but confirming that the phone would use materials that haven't been used on smartphones before – although exactly what those materials are is currently unclear. 

Additionally, we were allowed to touch the unreleased phone – however, it was kept out of sight, in a mysterious box shrouded in cloth. We fondled the device and it felt curvier than expected – it was rounded on the sides, suggesting a curved display, and interestingly it felt similarly curved the same at the top and bottom of the screen, meaning it was almost pebble-like. 

Additionally, we can confirm that the Huawei P40 Pro will not feature a headphone jack. There's also no tactile speaker grille, and it has a rectangular camera block around the back, similar to the one on the Galaxy S20. The body feels like glass or ceramic, but we can't confirm what the material is yet.

Upgrades to the camera

In the words of Huawei, the “P series is about photography”.

“Each time we have a new iteration of the P family, we’re taking a technology, and we’re advancing it,“ the company says. The Huawei P30 had a 1/1.7-inch sensor, so what about the P40 Pro? Huawei claims it'll have a “market-leading sensor technology specifically designed to set new records”. 

As for the zoom, the term ‘Super-Visual’ image system flashed on screen as the product expert dodged questions about optical zoom specifics, although we do know it’s going to come with a new periscope zoom.

Huawei seems to be going in the same direction that Samsung and Oppo have taken in recent weeks, not disclosing focal lengths on their 2020 flagship periscope cameras. Instead, they're focusing on the results achieved by hybrid zooms, combining optical and digital zoom. 

This may sound like marketing spiel, but the Huawei product expert's anecdote whet our appetites: "An eagle can spot a rabbit at around 3km away – its eye is designed around resolution and clarity... we’re going to break through into a new generation of zoom capabilities." 

This wasn't confirmed in the briefing, but it seems like the P40 Pro will feature a next evolution Red Yellow Yellow Blue subpixel formation sensor. When quizzed on the subject, the specialist said “all that investment, we wouldn’t want it to go to waste”. 

You won't have to wait too long for the specifics, and information about the P40-series' battery, screen and specs. The phone is set to launch on March 26, but it will be an online-only event, as the company has cancelled its scheduled Paris launch due to coronavirus.