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Huawei P30 Pro review: The camera alone is reason enough

By James Lu - 21 Apr 2019
Prices:

Overview, Design, Display, Audio & Software


Advancing your expectations of camera phones

Huawei's Mate 20 Pro was one of the best phones of 2018 - in fact, it was our pick for best smartphone of the year, in no small part due to its amazing triple camera setup. Huawei could have easily used the same camera system for this year's P series and called it a day, but instead, they've raised the stakes again with an innovative new quad camera setup.

The new and improved main lens now has a 40-megapixel Sony sensor with improved low-light performance and better optical image stabilization, while the 8-megapixel telephoto lens has been improved with an innovative new periscopic build that gives it 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom, and an incredible 50x digital zoom. The third lens is the same ultra-wide 20-megapixel lens found in the Mate 20 Pro, and the fourth is a ToF (Time of Flight) 3D lens, which allows for some interesting 3D applications and even better Portrait photography. 

Is all of this enough to crown the P30 Pro as the new smartphone king? Let's find out, right after this video intro of the phone:-

 

  Huawei P30 Pro
  Huawei P30 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From S$1398
Latest Price
  • From S$840
Operating system
  • Android 9.0 with EMUI 9.1
Processor
  • Hisilicon Kirin 980 octa-core (2 x 2.6GHz Cortex-A76 & 2 x 1.92GHz Cortex-A76 & 4 x 1.8GHz Cortex-A55)
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB RAM
Display
  • 6.47-inches 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (398 ppi) OLED 19.5:9 ratio
  • Always-On Display
Camera
  • Rear: Quad: 40-megapixel f/1.6 wide with SuperSpectrum sensor, 20-megapixel f/2.2 ultra wide, 8-megapixel f/3.4 telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom and 10x Hybrid zoom, and Time-of-Flight (ToF) 3D lens
  • Front: 32-megapixel, f/2.0
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE-A (3CA) Cat 21 (up to 1400Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth v5, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, USB 3.1 Type-C
Storage Type
  • 256GB internal storage
  • Huawei Nano Memory expansion (up to 256GB)
Battery
  • 4,200mAh
  • 40W Huawei SuperCharge
  • 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge (Qi wireless charging)
  • Reverse wireless charging
Dimensions
  • 158 x 73.4 x 8.4 mm
Weight
  • 192g

 

Design

The look of the P30 Pro is one area where Huawei hasn't tried to reinvent the wheel. You get a metal and glass build with curved edges on the front and back and a tiny teardrop notch at the top of the display. The dual curved edge display makes the phone look a lot like Samsung's flagship phones.

The notch in the display houses the selfie camera and nothing else. Unlike the Mate 20 Pro, you don't get advanced facial recognition, and there isn't even an LED flash or speaker here.

Instead of an earpiece speaker, the P30 Pro uses 'Acoustic Display' bone conduction technology. This isn't the first time we've seen this technology in a phone, as Xiaomi's first Mi Mix smartphone also used something similar. There's an audio coil under the display that creates vibrations, essentially allowing the entire display to act as an earpiece when you're making a phone call. The coil is located just under the notch - in fact, the P30 Pro will play an animation to show you where to place your ear for the best experience. It sounds strange, but it works really well - calls are loud, with crisp, clear audio.

The 6.47-inch display is the largest Huawei has ever put on a P series phone, which is really starting to blur the lines between the P series and the traditionally larger Mate series. The phone is actually very similar in size to the Mate 20 Pro, measuring 158 x 73.4 x 8.41. It's also nearly the same weight, coming in at 192g, just 3g heavier than the Mate 20 Pro.

Like the Mate 20 Pro, the phone has an in-display fingerprint scanner. The scanner is optical rather than ultrasonic like on the Samsung Galaxy S10, but it works well, with fast, reliable detection. There's a Face Unlock option too, but it only uses the selfie camera, which means it's much less secure and can potentially be fooled by a picture. It's really just there for convenience, but the fingerprint unlock is so fast and reliable, you're better off using that.

Flip the phone over and you'll immediately notice the unique quad-camera setup. Like last year's P20 Pro, the wordmarks on the phone are oriented horizontally, to mimic the look of a camera. While the Mate 20 Pro had a square camera setup, the P30 Pro has its three main lenses lined up in the upper left corner. The top lens is the 20-megapixel ultrawide lens, the middle lens is the 40-megapixel wide angle lens, and finally, the unusual 8-megapixel periscope zoom lens is at the bottom. Next to the main triple-camera setup is the dual-tone LED flash and ToF camera. 

On the bottom, you'll find a downward-firing speaker, a USB-C port, and the hybrid SIM/Nano SD card slot. Unfortunately, unlike the regular P30, the P30 Pro does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The power button and volume rocker can both be found on the right side.

Huawei was one of the first brands to experiment with gradient colors and that continues with the P30 Pro. There's a new Aurora color that's inspired by the Aurora Borealis and has a beautiful blue-green color gradient, or if you prefer something completely unique, there's a new Breathing Crystal color that has multiple hues all mixed into one - sometimes it looks white, other times blue, and other times purple. Alternatively, there's always Black. 

The P30 Pro in Aurora (back) and Breathing Crystal (front).

Finally, the P30 Pro has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

 

Display and Audio

The P30 Pro has a 6.47-inch AMOLED display with a 2,340 x 1,080 pixels resolution (~339ppi) and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The Full HD+ resolution is actually rather low for a display of this size, but the screen is sharp enough unless you really scrutinize it. The screen is fairly bright, maxing out at 600nits, although it could certainly be brighter. The screen has two color modes: Normal and Vivid, each of which also has three sub-modes, default, warm, and cold, which adjusts the color temperature accordingly. As expected, colors are more accurate under the Normal default mode (which is the default anyway) but if you want things to pop Vivid warm actually looks really good.

The display is HDR10 certified, and compatible with HDR shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Unfortunately, unlike the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, the P30 Pro lacks stereo speakers. Previously, the earpiece doubled as a second speaker, but the 'Acoustic Display' technology makes this impossible. Instead, all audio on the phone comes out of the single downward firing speaker. Having said that, the downward firing speaker is remarkably loud and boasts an impressive amount of bass. You only really notice the lack of a second speaker when you're watching content in landscape mode, as it becomes very obvious that the sound is only coming from one side of the phone.

 

User Interface

    

The P30 Pro runs on Android 9.0 Pie with Huawei's own EMUI 9.1 on top of it. There aren't many visual changes from what we saw on the Mate 20 Pro, but under the hood EMUI 9.1 includes a new file system called EROFS that Huawei says offers 3x faster read speeds, 10 percent improvement in app startup speeds, and 20 percent less space required by system files. All of this should make the P30 Pro snappier and faster, and with more available internal storage space. 

The rest of EMUI is pretty much the same as the Mate 20 Pro. That means there's no app drawer, and all of your apps sit on the home screen, although you can restore the app drawer if you prefer a more stock Android look.

There's an option to hide the notch if you prefer, but this masks it with a larger black bar that covers the entire top part of the screen and is much more obtrusive. I imagine only the most die-hard of notch haters will choose this option.

Like the Mate 20 Pro, there's also gesture-based navigation if you want to get rid of the onscreen navigation keys: swipe up for Home, swipe up and long press for the task switcher, or swipe from the left or right edge of the screen for Back.

 

9.0
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 9
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Versatile quad camera setup with incredible image performance
Up to 50x digital zoom
Longest battery life around
Super fast 40W charging and 15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Gorgeous curved AMOLED display with tiny notch
Bone conduction "Acoustic Display" speaker
Fast and reliable in-display fingerprint scanner
The Bad
Only Full HD+ resolution
No stereo speakers
No headphone jack
Proprietary memory card
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