We’re nearing the end of 2017, and that means it’s time to look forward to the smartphones that will be announced during Q1 2018. The much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S9 is due to make an appearance during Q1, though it may not be at CES as initially reported. If rumors are true, the Galaxy S9 may not be much of an upgrade over the Galaxy S8. On the other hand, another major player is set to unveil a new smartphone in Q1: Huawei. The phone, expected to be the Huawei P11, may be radical departure from its predecessor, the Huawei P10. According to our source, a new Huawei flagship smartphone is in the works, likely the Huawei P11, and it may end up featuring a nearly bezel-less design with an iPhone X or Essential Phone style notch.
Although we do not have any renders or live photographs of the device to share, our information comes from a reliable source: firmware files. I obtained firmware files for this device with assistance from FunkyHuawei.club, a service which lets you install pre-release Huawei firmwares, recover bricked devices, and rebrand/convert phones to different variants/regions.
Our biggest clue that this smartphone will feature an iPhone X/Essential Phone style notch is the existence of an overlay image, which we have re-created below. This overlay image is referenced in a configuration file that defines the “RoundCornerDisplay.” There are multiple files that are associated with this configuration file, all of which seem to assist in obscuring parts of the screen to accommodate the display’s unusual configuration.
In another configuration file, one of the system build properties explicitly references a “notch.” The system property is called “
ro.config.hw_notch_size” and its value is set to “
258,84,411,27.” I believe that the value may represent left, top, right, and bottom offsets that assist in moving screen content around.
I suspect that the overlay file and the system property is part of Huawei’s internal testing to mimic how their software might look on the actual, final model before it’s ready, though I’m not entirely sure how far along in production this device is. Still, the existence of these overlays is quite curious—we’ll keep a look out for further evidence of the device, likely the Huawei P11, having a notch.
Besides the notch image and system property, there are several pieces of corroborating evidence that point to an unusual aspect ratio littered throughout the firmware. Consider that the Huawei Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro/Honor V10 have a 2560×1440 (16:9) and a 2160×1080 (18:9) display respectively.
On the other hand, this device physically has a 6.01″ Samsung EA8074 CMD TFT 2160×1080 LCD screen according to a configuration file, but the boot animation, charging images, and a system property (
ro.config.hw_screen_aspect=2244:1996:1080) all indicate that it has a 2244×1080 resolution as presented in Android. I believe that this discrepancy has to do with the notch, which makes sense considering how the Essential Phone has wasted space above the status bar unless an app is optimized for its screen.
Again, while we don’t have definitive evidence that this device is indeed the Huawei P11, it very likely is in fact the P11. There are several reasons that we believe this to be true: the timing, the specifications, and the software.
For starters, let’s consider the timing. A Huawei flagship device is expected to be announced at Mobile World Congress which takes place at the end of February in 2018. The firmware we obtained, which has the markings of a Huawei flagship device all over it, is likely related to that device. Furthermore, the flagship device most outlets expect to be announced at MWC is the Huawei P11.
Next, let’s look at the specifications of this mystery device. This device will feature the HiSilicon Kirin 970, the same SoC found in Huawei’s most recent flagship devices including the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, and Honor V10. The Kirin 970 is the company’s latest, high-end SoC and is expected to ship only on flagship devices.
As for the software, it is running Android 8.0 Oreo with a slightly upgraded version of EMUI: version 8.0.1. The current version of EMUI found on the Mate 10 series and the Honor V10 is EMUI 8.0.0. I’m not really sure if there are any differences with such a minor point upgrade, but at the very least it is running a newer version of EMUI. We also know that the device supports Huawei’s Easy Projection feature as the device’s firmware seems to include the APKs for it. That also means the device should support USB 3.1 over its Type C port, unlike the Honor V10 (thanks to @rquandt for confirming that).
Lastly, there are some minor details we can share. The device’s code name is “EMILY” and so far we have found these variants: EML-AL00, EML-L09, EML-L29, and EML-TL00. We believe that a single and dual SIM variant will come to European markets, but we don’t have any other information on pricing or availability.
Thus, there is strong evidence to support the fact that this upcoming device is indeed a Huawei flagship and that it has a notch like the iPhone X or Essential Phone. Strong circumstantial evidence points to this device being the Huawei P11, too. Unless Huawei blindsides us with an unexpected flagship model, we expect to learn more about the upcoming Huawei P11 in the coming weeks.