Huawei P30 Pro – Full phone specifications & Review
HUAWEI P30 PRO REVIEW: CAMERA
With the P30 Pro, Huawei has taken the ideas that it introduced with the P20 Pro last year and run with them. The impressive 3x lossless optical zoom that helped the P20 Pro snatch a five-star review from us last year has been increased to 5x optical zoom. Not only that, but there’s also a 10x lossless hybrid zoom feature that uses the AI built-into the Kirin 980 chipset to sharpen up your shots and remove any blur from hand movements. It’s seriously impressive stuff.
Of course, since Huawei has simply increased the amount of zoom that you get out of the latest P series, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an unimaginative, or iterative update to the formula from last year.
But that would be selling the Huawei P30 Pro very short,
Huawei hasn’t stopped with improving the zoom capabilities. Instead, Huawei has rebuilt its entire camera system from the ground-up – a complete overhaul that starts with the sensor in the new quadruple-camera system. Rather than opting for an off-the-shelf RGB (Red-Green-Blue) sensor, like literally every other smartphone manufacturer on the planet, Huawei has decided to use a RYYB (Red-Yellow-Yellow-Blue) sensor in the P30 Pro. That’s because Yellow sensors can absorb twice as much light as their Green counterparts, which means they can gather a lot more information with every press of the shutter button.
All of this extra information is processed and crunched by Huawei’s onboard AI to improve zoom and low-light images. However, as you might expect, ditching the RGB configuration seen everywhere elsein the smartphone industry requires a pretty fundamental rethink on how to process information gathered by a camera. Huawei says they’ve been working on this change for years, but have only just managed to bring the solution to market. It also says that it’s one of the only companies that could engineer this type of change, since it builds the silicon and ISPs for its phones.
Moving to the RYYB sensor also required Huawei to rework how its Kirin 980 Image Signal Processor handles the input from the camera. The company clearly believes all this upheaval will result in more detailed images, better hybrid zoom, and improved low-light performance. And in our brief time with the handset, it’s already clear that this is a hugely-impressive and impossibly versatile camera.
Photographs are very sharp and burst with vibrant colours. Thankfully, the images aren’t quite as ziggyand over-saturated as the Samsung Galaxy S10 produces. As you’d expect from a modern flagship smartphone, there’s the ability to add bokeh-style blur behind the subject of your photograph. While this isn’t quite as refined and realistic as the iPhone XS, it stands toe-to-toe with the best from the Google Pixel 3XL and Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s also an ultra-wide lens that can create some thrillingly original shots (it can also be useful when sightseeing to squeeze an entire skyscraper into your family shot).
Finally, there’s the zoom functionality. This is easily the star of the show.
The lossless 5x optical zoom is phenomenal for capturing details in the distance which would otherwise be unseen. In our brief time with the P30 Pro, we were able to zoom into architectural features on the opposite side of the street with crystal-clear quality. This feature will transform your gig photography – whether you agree with people filming concerts is a debate for another time – and a whole host of other everyday shots. And that’s not even the most impressive zoom feature.
Huawei’s hybrid 10x zoom, which it also claims is completely lossless, uses AI to detect what is in the photo and enhance and sharpen any details that may have been lost in the digital zoom. It’s seriouslyimpressive stuff. Text works particularly well. For example, we were able to zoom into a small road sign using the 10x hybrid zoom at the other end of a busy London street – only to find the resulting image almost as sharp as if we were stood beside it when we pressed the shutter. Granted, not everything comes out as crystal-clear as pain text. Whatever algorithms are running behind-the-scenes in the hybrid zoom system made some of the people around the sign in our shot look a little over-sharpened and janky.
To achieve all of this impressive zoomage, Huawei is using a quadruple-camera system that combines a 40-megapixel f/1.6 wide-angle camera with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), a 20-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor, and a Time Of Flight (ToF) lens with a flood illuminator. The latter is used to dramatically improve the bokeh-style blur behind the subject of a portrait-style photograph. With future software updates, Huawei says the ToF will also be able to measure objects and people from within the viewfinder, similar to the Measure app built-into the latest versions of Apple’s iOS.
All Of The Zoom Capabilities Of The Huawei P30 Pro …
Huawei is employing both Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and AI-powered digital stabilisation to remove any trace of a wobble from your stills and videos – something that is extremely important when you’re trying to line-up a shot in 10x zoom on a busy street, trust us.
This system also helps to remove blur from shots taken with the dedicated Night Mode, which keeps the shutter open for longer to draw-out as much possible light from the scene.
Speaking of night photography, Huawei is very proud of the low-light capabilities of its new P30 Pro, which it says has 409,600 levels of ISO sensitivity. For comparison, the P20 Pro had just 102,400. Obviously, we’ll have to spend some time with the device to see whether these impressive numbers actually translate into better low-light images, but Huawei seems to think Night Mode on the P30 Pro can “transform night into day”. Call us old-fashioned, but we’re not entirely convinced we want our night photos to be transformed into day. That’s why it’s called night photography.
HUAWEI P30 PRO REVIEW: DISPLAY, DESIGN
On the front of the P30, Huawei has slimmed down the small notch at the top of the display – very much like what OnePlus did when it moved from the OnePlus 6 to the 6T last year. This has enabled Huawei to increase the size of the screen from the 6.1-inch panel seen on the P20 Pro to a larger 6.47-inch FHD+ resolution OLED with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The display looks solid – it’s colourful and vibrant. That FHD+ resolution means this is far from the sharpest display on the market right now, but at normal viewing distances – namely, at the end of your arm – it’s absolutely fine.
For our money, it’s not as brilliant as the AMOLED panels on the Galaxy S10 range, which are genuinely jaw-dropping. That said, the display on the Huawei P30 Pro is much nicer than anything on the Google Pixel 3 range, which still has an unfriendly cold-look about it, and none of the pop of this panel.
Despite the smaller size of the notch, Huawei has managed to squeeze an impressive 32-megapixel front-facing camera into the cut-out. According to Huawei, the new selfie camera supports its Super HDR technology, which the Shenzhen-based company claims will preserve more details in the shadows and highlights – even when there is a harsh light source directly behind you. Unfortunately, this wasn’t something we were able to test in our time with the device.
When it comes to logging into the phone and authenticating secure apps and transactions, Huawei has opted for an in-display fingerprint scanner. Unfortunately, this isn’t the fancy ultrasonic variety you’ll find on the Galaxy S10 which works through rain and sweat, this is an optical sensor, like the ones used in the OnePlus 6T and Mate 20 Pro. Huawei says it’s more accurate and speedier than the latter, which seems to hold-up in our brief test, but it’s a shame the flagship P series isn’t using the same cutting-edge tech as its Android rivals.
As for the design of the phone itself, there’s no doubt that is a premium handset. The days of the tacky, hollow-feel to the aluminium on the likes of the Huawei P9 and P10 are long gone. The curved glass and metal chassis of the P30 Pro feels solid in the handset. That said, Huawei still lacks some of the refinement that you get with other manufacturers. The P30 Pro can’t quite muster the same refinement as the Galaxy S10 Plus, for example. And it’s a long way from the fit-and-finish you get with Apple products. It’s not an issue per se, but when Huawei is competing directly with these handsets on price, it’s definitely worth pointing out.
Finally, Huawei has also kept the stunning, shimmering “gradient” colour finishes it introduced with the P20 series last year – adding a slew of different options.
In total, the P30 Pro will be available in five finishes, known as Breathing Crystal, Amber Sunrise, Pearl White, Black, and Aurora. The new colourful cases on the P30 are absolutely stunning and really help it stand out from the sea of indistinguishable aluminium Android devices.
HUAWEI P30 PRO REVIEW: SOFTWARE, OTHER FEATURES
As you’d expect, the latest flagship smartphone from Huawei is running its latest operating system. Dubbed EMUI 9.1, the software is based on Android 9.0 Pie. It runs extremely well on the hardware and offers all the usual features you’d expect from a flagship smartphone in 2019, including the ability to copy something on your phone and paste it immediately using the standard “Ctrl + V” keyboard shortcut on your Huawei MateBook laptop, which is pretty nifty.
However, EMUI still isn’t an attractive operating system by any stretch of the imagination. The cartoon-ish design (and not in a charming way, either) looks outdated and infantile. When compared to the Android experience offered on the likes of the Google Pixel, OnePlus, or the new OneUI software powering the latest-generation of Samsung Galaxy handsets, EMUI looks astonishingly subpar.
P30 Pro also boasts fast-wired and fast-wireless charging, as well as the reverse wireless charging that debuted with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro last year. The latter lets you charge other Qi-compatible devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Buds or second-generation Apple AirPods, on the rear case of the smartphone.
Thankfully there’s a hefty 4,200mAh battery cell underneath the bonnet. According to Huawei, the advances in AI and battery management brought about by the Kirin 980 and the latest Android OS mean the P30 Pro will manage even better than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which floored us with its stamina when we reviewed it last year.
Clearly, we’ll need to spend some serious time sending emails, answering texts, checking social media, and all the other daily battery drains to get a real sense about the battery life, but based on what we’ve seen from previous Huawei-branded flagship devices, this looks very promising.
HUAWEI P30 PRO REVIEW: OUR EARLY VERDICT
The P30 Pro is an impressive piece of kit. It has a gorgeous dual-curved design on the front and back that makes the mammoth 6.47-inch OLED display almost manageable in one-hand. And while it doesn’t match the Galaxy S10 or iPhone XS in terms of fit-and-finish, there’s no doubt this is a well-made smartphone.
There’s also improved battery life, IP68 water and dust resistance, reverse wireless charging, a faster and more accurate in-display fingerprint scanner, the flagship Kirin 980 chipset, more case colours than before, and more … let’s be honest, the P30 Pro is really all about the camera. And what a camera it is!
The quadruple-camera throws down the gauntlet to other smartphone manufacturers. Yes, there’s the usual bokeh-boasting portrait modes and ultra-wide angles seen on rival handsets, but the improved optical and hybrid zoom are the real stars here. In a nutshell, the Huawei P30 Pro lets you capture photos that you simply wouldn’t be able to get with any other phone.
It’s impressive stuff, although we’ll have to spend some serious time putting the camera through its paces before we even think about adjusting our prestigious list of the best Android smartphones available right now. Especially since the specs on the P30 Pro doesn’t quite match with what we’ve seen from the likes of OnePlus and Samsung, and (unlike the P30) the 3.5mm headphone port hasn’t made a miraculous return on the Pro model. And you’ll still have to live with EMUI every day.
For now, all we can say it that Huawei has created a fitting successor to its P20 Pro. And given how bowled-over we were with the Huawei P20 Pro, that’s very high praise.
• Huawei P30 Pro will be available in three different configurations: 8GB of RAM / 128GB storage for £899 SIM-free. A version with 8GB / 512GB will be available at a later date. Pre-orders started March 26, 2019. P30 Pro ships April 5, 2019
HUAWEI P30 PRO NEWS, UPDATES
29 March 2019: As well as being available to pre-order in the UK (here are the best Huawei P30 Pro UK deals), the P30 Pro is now up for pre-order in Canada. Customers who pre-order the P30 Pro will get a free Huawei Watch GT. The pre-order time period is from 11AM EST March 26th, 2019 to midnight EST Wednesday April 10th, 2019, although Huawei notes that the pre-order time period may vary by retailer, and that the watches are only available “while supplies last”.
Pre-orders have also gone live in Australia, with handsets being delivered from 16 April. The Huawei P30 Pro in its 256GB configuration is priced at $1,599, while you’ll also get a bonus Sonos One smart speaker valued at $299 with any P30 Pro pre-order, which is a pretty sweet deal.
1 April 2019: Huawei is rolling out its first software update for the P30 Pro as an OTA (over the air) update. The Huawei P30 Pro update brings EMUI up to version 126.96.36.199 with build number C431E4R2P2. It’s just over 400MB in size.
The update upgrades the ‘Always on Display’ feature to enable notifications from third-party apps when the screen is off. The update also “optimises camera performance certain scenarios”, fixes an audio issue that affects playback of Instagram videos, and improves fingerprint unlock performance. Additionally, the update includes March 2019 Google security patches. It’s great that Huawei is pushing out updates event before widespread availability of the handset even if it does mean that one of the first things you’ll be doing when you set up your P30 Pro is installing the update.