REVIEW: Huawei P30 Pro
In 2018, at their global press event in Paris, Huawei launched the P20 and P20 Pro. The more impressive of the two models, the P20 Pro, packed more combined megapixels than any other flagship at the time and had impressive party tricks such as ‘Night Mode’ and 5X Hybrid zoom. Early camera results showed that Huawei had created something different and, more importantly, noticeably better than what the competition was capable of.
Fast forward to 2019 and, like an episode of ‘Russian Doll’, we found ourselves back in Paris last month for the launch of the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro. Again, Huawei wanted to show just how much they’d improved their 2018 P series range and, with live on-stage demos against the iPhone Xs and Galaxy S10+, where Huawei understandably came out on top (otherwise, why would they do them?), we got to see just how much of a step up this year’s P30 Pro really is.
The P30 Pro can be seen as a hybrid of both last year’s P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. Keeping its elongated (and slightly protruding) camera module, located on the left hand side of the back of the device, the new handset also includes the slightly curved display with a matching curve on the back, reminiscent of the Mate 20 Pro’s form factor.
The fingerprint scanner and earpiece speaker are now inside the screen
As with most flagships these days, the P30 Pro feels incredibly well built with its metal and Corning Gorilla Glass finish. Unfortunately for some, there’s no headphone jack but, for those of you who really must have one, the P30 handset actually has left it intact on the bottom of the device.
Up at the very top of the display, you’ll spot the ‘dewdrop’ notch for the 32MP Selfie camera which, to some, might actually be too high a pixel count for close ups! You’ll also see that there’s no actual earpiece speaker as Huawei is using magnetic levitation technology that actual turns the upper part of the display into a speaker for when you’re making calls. Sadly, this doesn’t allow the phone to have a stereo speaker set up like the Mate 20 Pro or P20 Pro as the only speaker on the device is located on the bottom right.
Also, something to note, there’s no longer a notification LED anywhere on the device but you do have the option for an ‘Always On’ display for checking in on any notifications you might have missed. One more thing: the P30 Pro is IP68 water protected, which translates into an ability to survive drops in water of up to 6 feet deep for as long as 30 minutes. There’s also and IR blaster on the top of the device for those of you who want to control your TV etc. with your phone.
Up front, we’ve got a massive 6.47″ curved OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution. Admittedly, we would have liked to have seen the Mate 20’s 1440p resolution make its way onto this device but, for most users, they wouldn’t even be able to spot the difference anyway.
Similar to last year’s Mate 20 Pro, the OnePlus 6t and Samsung’s latest S10 and S10+, Huawei has also included a in-screen fingerprint scanner. At the launch, Huawei claimed that they had made it 30% faster than what we tested in the Mate 20 Pro and, having use the device for over a week now, we have to agree with Huawei on this claim. The sensor is noticeably faster than what the Mate 20 Pro was capable of one of the fastest in-screen fingerprint scanners we’ve used to date.
The display is also HDR compatible and is quite a bit brighter at its peak brightness so HDR content pops just that little bit more. Viewing angles are spot on and watching videos or flicking through photos is a joy. Thankfully, both the Netflix and YouTube app are capable of displaying HDR content right out of the box but we’re still waiting for the Amazon Prime Video app to push out HDR compatibility on the handset also.
Like we said at the start, it’s in this particular department that Huawei has made the most significant improvements and it’s also probably the section you’re most interested in. Let’s just say it straight out, the Huawei P30 Pro has the most versatile smartphone camera available right now.
With a total of four cameras on the rear and a 32MP selfie camera up front, the P30 Pro is a powerhouse when it comes to its photographic capabilities. Before we get into things, below are the specs for each of the 5 cameras:
- 20MP ultra-wide 16mm, f/2.2 camera
- 40MP SuperSpectrum 27mm, f/1.6, OIS main shooter
- 8MP 5x telephoto w/ periscope 125mm, f/3.4, OIS
- ToF depth camera
- + 32MP f/2.0 front camera
The biggest addition to this year’s set up is the periscope style 5X optical zoom arrangement which is housed internally. The image above gives you can idea of how the lens is laid out and, to make sure you can capture as clear an image as possible, even at this focal length, both the 8MP sensor lens and the prism (which bounces the light into the sensor) are optically stabilised along with utilising Huawei’s own AI image stabilisation or AIS.
SuperSpectrum & Super Zoom!
Like last year’s model, Huawei have also included their ‘Hybrid Zoom’ technology which combines information from the periscope telephoto lens and the main 40MP SuperSpectrum sensor to allow you to capture images up to 10X zoom. You can also push it all the way up to 50X digital zoom but, admittedly, things start to become quite blurry. That being said, you can still make out a fair level of detail which is remarkable when you remember this is all being done on a phone.
No other phone on the market comes close to the P30 Pro when it comes to capturing ultra-low light shots.
Speaking of which, the main 40MP SuperSpectrum sensor has also had its f stop improved to f1.6 from last year’s f1.8 so you can capture even more light in low light scenarios with an ISO that can now go all the way up to an insane 409,600. It’s so good at capturing images in near pitch black environments, it almost makes the dedicated Night Mode redundant.
I say almost because the ‘Night Mode’ is still great at capturing low light shots with impressive dynamic range but you will need to hold the phone steady considerably longer to allow it to capture multiple exposures and stitch them together for one final ‘night’ shot. Both modes are very impressive and it just reinforces the fact that no other phone on the market comes close to the P30 Pro when it comes to capturing ultra-low light shots. Below are comparative shots between the Huawei P30 Pro’s main photo mode and OnePlus 6’s ‘Night Mode’.
The inclusion of a Time of Flight or TOF sensor also means the bokeh effects on your rear camera portraits are considerably better and more natural looking than what the competition is offering.
Finally, Huawei also included the ultra-wide angle lens we first saw in last year’s Mate 20 Pro which not only allows you capture some impressive panoramic style landscape shots but also lets you get up close and personal for some ‘Super Macro’ shots.
Below are some sample images we’ve captured with the P30 Pro to show off the different cameras and modes available with the telephoto zoom lens impressing us the most.
Testing out the zooming capabilities on the new @HuaweiMobileIE P30 Pro with its ‘periscope’ lens:
▪️5X optical zoom
▪️10X Hybrid zoom
▪️50X digital zoom 🤯#HuaweiP30Pro #RewriteTheRules @HuaweiMobile #Dublin #Huawei pic.twitter.com/QkQ0rLhX7I
— John Reilly (@Johnrei11y) March 27, 2019
Thanks to the increased ISO of the SuperSpectrum sensor, the P30 Pro is also capable of capturing very high levels of detail when recording low light video with both the 4K mode and telephoto lens also supporting OIS video recording as well. Being able to zoom up to 5X in 4K/30fps video and still have usable footage, thanks to the OIS and AIS, really is an impressive feat for a smartphone. Sadly, we still can’t record in 4K60fps but hopefully it’s something Huawei can introduce with a software update.
Something that IS set to come via a firmware update though is Huawei’s ‘Dual View Video’ capture mode. This will allow you to record video on two of the rear cameras at once, allowing you to capture a scene at normal focal length whilst also recording a much closer version of the action using the telephoto lens. When you’d actually use this, we’re not entirely sure, but it will be fun to mess around with when the update arrives in the coming months.
As we stated above, the selfie camera is a monstrous 32MP sensor and also allows users to capture photos and videos in HDR. Again, we wish there was the option to record in 4K like the Galaxy S10 but we’re impressed by what’s being offered here all the same.
Like last year’s models, Huawei has also included their AI Mode in the camera app which is now even easier to toggle on or off. Personally, we prefer to leave it off as it gave us a better room to play with the image in an editing app before Huawei had applied any filters etc. but it’s still a nice addition for users who want their smartphone to make taking an impressive looking photo that bit easier.
In the end, when you take all the various lenses, modes and sensors into consideration, what Huawei has created here is a telescope, digital microscope, GoPro style video recorder and night vision camera kit; all packed inside a smartphone. It really is in another league to everything else on the market.
Running all of the camera wizardry and everything else you do on the phone is Android 9.0, EMUI 9.1, which has gotten a small bit of a facelift but still might not be to everyone’s liking, and Huawei’s own Kirin 980 7nm processor, their Dual AI NPUs and 8GB of RAM.
We simply couldn’t slow this thing down.
If you think that all of this sounds impressively powerful, you’d be right. We simply couldn’t slow this thing down. With the 256GB of storage as well in the model we were testing, this phone could handle pretty much anything we threw at it.
Storage is expandable also but you’ll need to hunt down one of Huawei’s own propreitary Nano Memory cards but we feel even the base 128GB model is more than enough storage for most users.
‘Leading smartphone photography’ is something Huawei has quickly become synonymous with but I argue they should be equally as famous for their class-leading battery performance. The Huawei P30 Pro packs a massive 4200mAh which is only matched by last year’s Mate 20 Pro in the flagship category of smartphones.
It just won’t die!
Now, with the reduced screen resolution and improved battery management software tweaks in EMUI 9.1, the Huawei P30 Pro is the smartphone battery champ. We could easily get through a 16 hour day of intensive use and still have 20-30% battery left.
If you do manage to run it down to near zero, Huawei has also included their 40W super fast charging tech which can get the battery from 0% to 70% in just 30 minutes. There’s also 15W fast wireless charging via Huawei’s own wireless charging pad and, like the Mate 20 Pro and now the Galaxy S10+, you can wirelessly reverse charge your friend’s wireless charging enabled phone/headphones etc. it’s only at 2.5Watts so it’s more of a party trick/last minute resort than something you’d use every day but it’s still cool to have nonetheless.
We’ve been using the P30 Pro for well over a week now and we’re still addicted to playing with its camera. We love testing out the zooming and low light capabilities and showing them off to anyone who’s listening!
Something this phone gives us over pretty much any other phone we’ve tested is a quiet confidence/ borderline smugness knowing that the new quad camera set up will allow us to capture pretty much any scenario.
With industry-leading zoom and low light capabilities thanks to its SuperSpectum and telephoto lens, improved bokeh effects thanks to its TOF sensor and the versatility of its ultra-wide angle lens, the Huawei P30 Pro’s camera department is the most featured packed on any smartphone available right now.
Pair that with is virtually ‘unkillable’ battery, glorious full-screen display and buttery smooth performance and Huawei may have taken the crown of ‘Best Flagship of 2019’ and it’s only April.
Pricing and Availability
You can pick up a P30 Pro for €79.99 on Bill Pay or €999 sim free and it’s available on Vodafone, Three, eir, Carphone warehouse, Virgin and Harvey Norman in either Black or Breathing Crystal.
Huawei has also added a very nice incentive for people looking to pre-order the P30 Pro before its release tomorrow. Anyone who pre-orders the device before midnight tonight can claim a free SONOS One Speaker worth €229 and you can also pick up a free SONOS speaker if you buy the phone in any of the above listed retail stores tomorrow as well.
A Huawei P30 Pro (8GB/256GB) review unit was supplied to TheEffect.Net by Huawei PR Ireland.