5 things you need to know about the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro

Insane cameras, dazzling designs, and a notch – find out why these Android flagships are really quite exciting

Huawei didn't show its new flagship phones at MWC last month to avoid getting caught up in the hype bubble around the Samsung Galaxy S9. Good call, admittedly – but also, the just-announced P20 and P20 Pro can seemingly hold their own.

They're striking Android flagships with an Apple iPhone X-like full-screen-with-a-notch design, and the Pro packs a seemingly incredible bonus: three back cameras, with one of them hitting a whopping 40 megapixels. Yes, that actually is mad! But it's also quite stunning, based on our early impressions.

We've been hands-on with the phones, but if you're looking for a quick look at what's new and exciting about these handsets, here's everything you need to know right away.

1) They both have a notch

Huawei has been chided in the past for taking design pointers from Apple, and this one's unavoidable: both the P20 and P20 Pro feature an iPhone X-inspired notch at the top, which houses the front camera.

Love it or hate it, Apple's high-end phone is starting to influence Android design as well, and the P20 models similarly wrap the top of the extra-tall display around the camera module rather than leave a wide chunk of bezel to support it. At least this notch is a bit smaller than Apple's, since it doesn't have the same kinds of sensors in tow.

You'll get a 1080p display at 18.7:9 in both cases, at 5.8in (LCD) on the standard P20 and a smidge-larger 6.1in (OLED) on the P20 Pro. But size isn't the largest advantage seen with the Pro model…

2) The Pro has three back cameras

What, you thought a dual-camera array was cool? Well, Huawei is here to one-up the competition by putting a whopping three back cameras on the P20 Pro.

The P20 Pro has an 8-megapixel RGB lens and a 20MP monochrome one, but the star attraction is a staggering 40MP telephoto lens. With the 40MP one in tow, you'll be able to do 5x hybrid zoom, and the phone can automatically switch between modes to take the ideal shot.

In our brief hands-on testing, we found the P20 Pro's shots to be rather stunning, and the 5x zoom is hugely impressive. We'll need to spend much more time with it before we know if the P20 Pro can top Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but our first impression was very positive.

The standard P20, on the other hand, opts for a 12MP RGB and the 20MP black-and-white, which still ought to be plenty impressive even if the 2x zoom doesn't quite match up. But maybe it'll still land in the upper ranks of flagship shooters.

3) They're gorgeous, too

Leaked renders gave us a good idea of what to expect from the P20 and P20 Pro, but there's nothing quite like seeing and touching them for ourselves. They're sleek and slim numbers with glass on the back and a small chin on the front to accommodate the fingerprint sensor.

But what really caught our eye were the gradient colours. Huawei is selling the phones in Twilight and Pink Gold gradient colours that morph as you move the phone around, and the effects are dazzling. The Black and Champagne Gold versions don't wow as much, but with the screen-centric face and premium build, they're still attractive handsets.

4) They're on par with power

Huawei isn't using the launch of the P20 and P20 Pro to debut new hardware inside, unlike most of the other Androids launching this spring: both use the same Kirin 970 chip seen inside the Mate 10 Pro late last year.

That's not a complaint: the Kirin 970 is a super-fast chip capable of handling all manner of apps, games, and media, and the 4GB RAM in the P20 and 6GB RAM in the P20 Pro should both be plenty for your everyday needs.

Other chips, like Samsung's Exynos 9810 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, are a bit newer and might score higher on benchmark tests, but we don't anticipate much if any noticeable difference in daily usage.

As for battery life, you'll get a strong 3,400mAh pack in the P20 and an impressively large 4,000mAh in the P20 Pro, so they both ought to last more than a day with solid usage. And they both come with 128GB of built-in storage, although the lack of microSD expandability this time means you can't add to that tally.

5) And they're rolling out now but not in India

The Huawei P20 and the P20 Pro release on 6 April in Europe, Indian prices and availability is TBA.

We're especially excited by the Huawei P20 Pro, which our hands-on reviewer said is the most exciting handset he's seen so far this year. Have a look at his impressions for both that and the standard P20, and stay tuned for much more coverage of both handsets.