Huawei P30 Pro
Performance: HiSilicon Kirin
Storage: 256 GB
Camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP
Battery: 4200 mAh
Display: 6.47″ (16.43 cm)
Ram: 8 GB
Front Camera: 32MP
Huawei P30 Pro is the latest flagship from the Chinese telecommunications giant. Huawei’s P-series is all about photography. For the third year in a row now, the Chinese giant is aiming to outdo Apple, Samsung, and other players in the high-end smartphone space specifically in terms of camera quality and features. After experimenting with unique sensors, lenses and software features with the Huawei P10 and P20 families, we now have with us the brand new Huawei P30 Pro, the flagship of the new P30 lineup. The defining feature of this phone is its 5X optical zoom capability, which beats everything else on the market by a huge margin, and shows that Huawei’s R&D and manufacturing capabilities are among the best in the world.
One thing that Huawei has been vocal about is that all facets of the P30 Pro — from its external appearance to the selection of notification sounds — are supposed to have been inspired by nature. In particular, Huawei has taken inspiration from salt flats, natural desert-like expanses where dry mineral deposits glisten in the sunlight. Thanks to a nine-layer «nano-optical» coating, the glass rear panel of the Huawei P30 Pro exhibits swirling, shifting colours depending on how you look at it.
There are supposed to be three colour finishes with subtle colour gradients representing different times of the day, plus a neutral black, but only two are available in India. Breathing Crystal and Aurora both have blueish gradients, but the former is much lighter with white and lilac accents, while the latter is deep and saturated with teal at the top and dark purple at the bottom. The reddish-orange Amber Sunrise and plain black options have not been launched in India, which is a pity.
Multi-colour gradient finishes are currently all the rage with Chinese brands, and we’re not sure that everyone will want a phone that stands out so distinctively. Our Aurora version of the Huawei P30 Pro certainly grabbed attention, because of its colouring and also because of its sheer size and the distinctive camera modules on the rear.
The Huawei P30 Pro is big even by today’s standards. It measures 158mm tall, 73.4mm wide, and 8.41mm thick. Its weight at 192g will also be a bit too much for some people’s comfort. You won’t have an easy time if you try using this phone with one hand, and it will feel top-heavy when typing.
The front and back of the P30 Pro are made of glass. Curiously, Huawei has not stated anywhere that it’s toughened or reinforced, but the company told us the glass used is «high strength» and «tested extensively» for durability. Both glass panels are rounded at the sides, and they sandwich the phone’s metal frame between them in nearly perfect sweeping curves. The top and bottom of the phone are completely flat, in contrast. The Aurora version that we’re reviewing has a light blue frame that never quite matches any of the colours on the rear, and is faintly distracting when looking at the phone head-on.
On the front of the Huawei P30 Pro we have a 6.47-inch OLED panel with what might be this phone’s only non-cutting-edge feature: a notch at the top. This isn’t a bad thing, but other manufacturers are scoring points with all sorts of designs to liberate screen space, and since the Honor View 20 brought us a hole-punch camera months ago, it’s odd that Huawei didn’t try something of the sort here.
The company makes up for that by instead eliminating the earpiece. Rather than having a visible speaker, the entire upper half of the screen vibrates to produce sound. We were curious about how well this would work, and in practice it’s absolutely flawless.
Specifications and Software
The Huawei P30 Pro packs the same Kirin 980 processor that we first encountered in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and then saw in the relatively affordable Honor View 20 . Both these phones have posted impressive test scores so we know that our overall usage experience should be good. The Kirin 980 is built on a 7nm manufacturing process and features two high-powered ARM 2.6GHz Cortex-A76 cores, two more Cortex-A76 cores running at 1.92GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores for power efficiency. It also has an ARM Mali-G76 GPU, integrated LTE modem, and two «neural processing units» or AI accelerator blocks.
Huawei has launched the P30 Pro in India with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Internationally, there are also variants with 128GB and 512GB of storage, and it’s strange that the company has chosen not to offer options here, especially the most affordable one. Huawei announced a new file system called EROFS last year and the P30 Pro uses it for a claimed 20 percent better read speeds and more efficient usage of storage space.
There’s a 4200mAh battery, and the Huawei P30 Pro supports charging at up to 40W using the included charger and cable. Wireless fast charging is supported at up to 15W. You can also reverse-charge Qi-compatible devices such as wireless headphones, but this will be much slower.
For connectivity, the Huawei P30 Pro has Wi-Fi 802.11ac on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 5, dual-band GPS plus five other global satellite location services, NFC, and of course LTE with VoLTE on both SIMs.
Performance and battery life
As expected for a phone that costs so much, there are no issues at all with performance in day-to-day usage. Multitasking on the Huawei P30 Pro is a breeze and apps seem to load quickly. Knuckle gestures are recognised immediately. In terms of usability, the slight delay when using the in-display fingerprint sensor is the only downside here.
When we first started using this phone, we got annoyed by the sheer number of «helpful» tips that Huawei thinks it’s necessary to display. These included notifications as well as full-screen popups that interrupted what we were doing. Hopefully, this will only be a problem for a little while.
The screen on the Huawei P30 Pro is crisp, though a QHD+ resolution would have been preferable for one this size. We did have a little trouble with reflections outdoors in the daytime, especially at the edges thanks to the curved glass. Colours are vibrant and pop nicely. The single speaker is loud and clear, but music lacks punch and there’s hardly any bass at all.
The Huawei P30 Pro lets you choose between the default Vivid colour profile and a Standard mode which looked too pale and lifeless to us in comparison. You can also tweak the white balance using a colour wheel, which is a more granular level of control than anyone should really need.
Most videos played with a black band masking the front camera notch, which is fine. Games and video clips looked great, with smooth motion and excellent contrast. HDR was evident in YouTube videos.
Great Cameras Combo
Huawei has gone all-out with the cameras on this smartphone, and has already managed to win DxOMark’s highest ever score for still photography. The 40-megapixel primary camera has a unique «SuperSpectrum» sensor with an R-Y-Y-B filter for each pixel. The company says this allows 40 percent more light to hit the sensor than standard R-G-G-B filters. The ISO level goes up to 409,600, and the sensor itself measures 1/1.7 inches with an f/1.6 aperture and optical stabilisation. All of this means that low-light shots should be stunning.
The second camera on the Huawei P30 Pro is an ultra-wide-angle 20-megapixel f/2.2 unit which you can use to capture panoramas and large group shots, or objects you’re standing very close to. While nice to have, it doesn’t offer anything out of the ordinary.
The real star of the show is an incredibly clever bit of engineering — Huawei’s periscopic optical zoom camera. This brings a whole new level of photographic capability to smartphones, and it’s currently unmatched by anyone else, including heavy hitters Apple, Samsung, and Google. Not only do you get 5X optical zoom, but also 10X «hybrid» and up to 50X digital zoom, though this last capability is arguably not of much value.
The telephoto camera on the Huawei P30 Pro also has optical stabilisation which is handy since every slight hand movement is amplified more and more as you zoom in. The tradeoffs are that the resolution is only 8 megapixels, and the aperture is a disappointing f/3.4 making this camera useless at night. In fact, the camera app will use digital zoom through the primary camera and simply not switch to this one if it detects even a slight drop in ambient light, and that includes indoors in the daytime. There’s no indication to the user of when this is happening, but we learnt to spot the difference.
The final rear camera is a Time-of-Flight depth sensor that is used to create a 3D map of a scene in order to separate backgrounds and foregrounds to a high degree of accuracy. It works quickly and has uses in AR, 3D object scanning and gaming that Huawei says it will explore with future software updates. An AR app that will let users map and measure objects and spaces has been promised to Huawei P30 Pro buyers for early May.
The single front camera on the Huawei P30 Pro is a relatively simple affair with a 32-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. There are some beautification options and effects that you can apply, but you can’t preview before taking a shot.
Huawei also touts its AI features, enabled by the Kirin 980 SoC. AI is enabled by default and can recognise objects in a scene, and also take multiple exposures for HDR processing. HiVision is a feature that attempts to identify objects, landmarks, text, and more. You can get automatic translations, search online shopping sites, and even estimate the calorie counts of meals.
The Huawei P30 Pro camera app layout is fairly standard, with a carousel on the bottom to switch modes and quick toggles on
Final Call / Verdict
Huawei has delivered a set of cameras that far surpass Apple, Samsung, and Google’s current flagships in terms of features and capabilities. The 5X optical zoom is a game-changer, and low-light shots are a class apart. However, as our detailed camera comparison has already shown, there are some cases when the P30 Pro does not deliver the best shot, and some cases when you might subjectively prefer another option.
Other than its cameras, the Huawei P30 Pro is strong, but so are its competitors. You’ll get a great-looking phone with good battery life and top-notch build quality no matter which way you decide to go.
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- Useful 5X optical and 10X hybrid zoom
- Superb low-light photo quality
- Lots of storage and RAM
- Great overall performance
- Very good battery life
- Slightly underwhelming display
- Limited flexibility with EMUI 9.1
- Optical zoom doesn’t work in low light
Specification: Huawei P30 Pro