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HUAWEI Mate 40 tipped to offer 'freeform' lens, but what does that mean?

Huawei's next major flagship could offer a rather radical take on camera technology.

Published onApril 9, 2020

HUAWEI Logo Mate 30 Pro version 2

The HUAWEI Mate 40 series is set to arrive in the second half of the year, following the manufacturer’s long-standing release tradition. The phone is still some time away from its expected release window, but a new leak may have given us our first major details.

According to noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities (h/t: MyDrivers), the HUAWEI Mate 40 series will be equipped with a “freeform lens” to reduce wide-angle distortion.

So what’s a freeform lens, exactly?

“FreeForm Optical refractive surfaces are defined by complex mathematical equations, allowing radical and unique light bending capability,” reads an explanation by optical firm DynaOptics, likening freeform optics to a can of Pringles.

“Optical uses that require high resolution, wide field of view, low aberration, segmented field of view, low light performance and other optical parameters are achieved in superior fashion with FreeForm Optical Technology,” reads the website, noting that it offers a thinner design too.

FreeForm optics according to DynaOptics.
An example of FreeForm optics. DynaOptics

Kuo also reports that the Mate 40 series will bring a new, 5nm Kirin processor (as is tradition for the Mate series). The analyst says the new chip is codenamed “Baltimore” and will offer a major CPU boost by adopting Arm’s Cortex-A77 or unannounced Cortex-A78 CPU cores.

It’s also believed that the new Kirin processor could deliver a year-on-year improvement of up to 50% — not unexpected as the Kirin 990 uses Cortex-A76 cores previously seen in 2018’s Kirin 980. Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 865 and MediaTek Dimensity 1000 chips use Arm’s latest Cortex-A77 CPU.

It goes without saying that the HUAWEI Mate 40 series won’t have Google Mobile Services if the current US trade ban situation remains. But will a powerful processor and a radical camera system be enough to sway consumers?