Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Most of the photos I took during my last year’s summer holidays were taken with a Huawei P20 Pro (Check on Amazon.com). In my opinion, that smartphone had the best camera module of all its competitors. After almost a year, despite the fact that the P20 Pro still has one of the best cameras around, there is a new top “camera phone”. I’m talking about the Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com).
Read more: Huawei P20 Pro review: almost perfect
The Huawei P30 Pro package includes a USB/USB-C cable, a pair of good quality “Apple-style” USB-C headphones (with inline remote control) and a 10V/4A power adapter for very fast charging. In addition, we also find a silicone case.
Design, materials, and ergonomics
Improved design and ergonomics are certainly some of the aspects that I most appreciated in this P30 Pro. The build quality is impeccable since Huawei used quality materials, like the curved glass both on the front and back that allow for a firm grip. I also enjoyed the ease of use with one hand, despite this phone’s dimensions. And if you want, you can further reduce the interface with a simple gesture on the display. The power and volume buttons are on the right side, in a very convenient position.
A peculiarity of this phone’s design is represented by the flattened edges both on the top and bottom. On the top, you can see the second microphone and an infrared transmitter that lets you use the smartphone as a remote control, while on the bottom we find the main microphone, the USB 3.1 Type-C port, the single speaker and the tray that can accommodate two SIMs or a nano-SIM and a Huawei NM Card for memory expansion.
The 3.5mm audio jack and the classic ear capsule are both gone. In fact, the P30 Pro uses the display in order to amplify the sound, but call quality is decidedly good, with a rich and full-bodied sound, even in a noisy environment.
Underneath the display, there is an integrated fingerprint sensor, which is way better than the one used on the Mate 20 Pro (Check on Amazon.com). Unlocking the device is almost immediate and finger detection is always very accurate. The 2D face recognition is still here and although less secure, it’s still extremely handy. Last but not least this phone has an IP68 certification for dust and water resistance.
Kirin 980, 8GB of RAM and EMUI 9.1
The Kirin 980 is definitely one of the best SoCs currently available, among the first to be realized with a 7nm production process. This is an octa-core processor with 2 Cortex A76 2.6GHz cores, 2 Cortex A76 1.92GHz cores, and 4 Cortex A55 1.8GHz cores, paired with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. The GPU is the powerful Mali-G76 MP10.
The performance is top-notch and using this P30 Pro is a true pleasure. Applications open almost instantaneously and run buttery smooth. Even the most challenging games always run on maximum performance both in terms of fluidity and frame rate and even after long gaming sessions the temperature is never particularly high. This fact demonstrates the effectiveness of Huawei’s new cooling system that distributes the heat along the entire back.
You can also connect the P30 Pro to an external monitor either via the Type-C port or wirelessly to work in a desktop environment using an external mouse and keyboard. A feature that can prove very handy in some circumstances.
The Huawei P30 Pro is a Dual SIM Dual Standby phone with LTE Cat.21 support. The reception is excellent. Connectivity-wise it sports Wi-Fi 802.11 ac dual-band, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC with Google Pay support, and the GPS has support for Galileo satellites. The only thing missing is the FM radio.
Everything runs smoothly with the new EMUI 9.1 that is based on Android 9 Pie. Although not the best skin in terms of aesthetics, this interface has been further improved thanks to the adoption of a new file system, called EROFS, that in addition to increasing the speed in Random Reading, also reduced install space by about 2GB.
All the classic features are still here, like the convenient gestures for navigation, the private space for safekeeping sensitive files, information, and other data. There is also the ability to duplicate some messaging apps in order to use more than one account.
It is here that Huawei concentrated the bulk of its efforts. We have four cameras. A 40-megapixel ƒ/1.6 optically stabilized (finally) main sensor, a 20-megapixel ƒ/2.2 super-wide-angle lens and an 8-megapixel ƒ/3.4 5x zoom lens with optical stabilization. The fourth camera sports a ToF sensor that can measure the distance between objects and thus create a much more realistic blur effect, even in videos. The photos are beautiful and although it is highly likely that the Leica branding on the smartphone’s body is more marketing than substance, it cannot be denied that the photos were taken with this P30 Pro sit on the very top of the smartphone photographic sector.
It is now possible to enable and disable the Artificial Intelligence on the fly. Overall, the images with AI aid are less distorted than in the past and appear a bit “flatter” than those taken by the competition. Some might point out that flat means more natural-looking. It depends on personal taste, but the sure thing is that they don’t lack quality.
The 5x optical zoom is extremely convenient. The hybrid 10x zoom is also handy, and it is way better than digital zoom. Everything beyond that (like the advertised 50x digital zoom) is just for fun since the photos aren’t in any way usable.
Switching to software, we have a great Portrait mode (among the most realistic in circulation), a stunning Super Macro mode and maybe the best Night mode. Keep in mind, however, that using the Automatic mode with AI-enabled in total darkness will produce even better results.
The 32 megapixel selfie camera is also good and will make you forget the last year’s disappointment. Images have good definition, the HDR works well and so does the blur effect. Videos are also quite good, and can go up to 4K resolution but “only” at 30fps. The stabilization is also very good, but it doesn’t reach the level of other top-of-the-range smartphones, such as the Galaxy S10 (Check on Amazon.com) or Pixel 3 (Check on Amazon.com).
This phone uses a 6.47 inch curved AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution in the 19.5:9 ratio, with HDR support and has a waterdrop notch that houses the selfie camera.
This panel, therefore, is less defined than the one used on the Mate 20 Pro but on the other hand it sports remarkable color accuracy and excellent visibility under every light condition.
Since the P30 Pro chose to do without the notification LED, it gives us the option to illuminate the display at each new notification, or activate the Always On Display, that can now show third-party app notifications as well.
Autonomy is the other main strength of this P30 Pro. The battery is a 4200mAh unit that will easily last more than a day. It supports “SuperCharge” fast charging that allows you to get to 70% in about 30 minutes and 90% in 45 minutes. It also supports fast wireless charging and reverse charging in order to wirelessly charge other Qi-compatible smartphones or accessories.
The Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) has a premium price in line with that of competing flagship models.
With this P30 Pro, Huawei confirmed its leadership regarding camera phones. It is the photographic quality, in my opinion, the main motivation behind choosing this smartphone compared to the other top of the range, a choice that is further supported by the excellent autonomy and top-notch performance.
These features, partly compensate for some shortcomings like the mono audio, the lack of 4K videos at 60fps and also the absence of the audio jack that I personally still find extremely useful. I also dislike Huawei’s choice in imposing a proprietary format for memory expansion.