Today Huawei unveiled its new flagship smartphone series for a lifestyle-oriented target group and «Techgarage» was fortunate enough to snag some front row seats at the event in Paris, France. The newly introduced Huawei P30 and the Huawei P30 Pro are designed to beat competitors Apple and Samsung by offering strong camera features coupled with vibrant device colors. After we’ve spent some quality time with both new devices, we’re happy to provide you with an early review of the P30 and the P30 Pro – so read on to find out whether the chinese tech giant was right to go all-in on advanced camera features.
Huawei has been very successful with last year’s high-end smartphones P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, having sold over 10 Million units of the Mate 20 series by the end of the year. Consumers seemed to particularly dig the camera features which also helped pushing the Mate 20 Pro into the top smartphone tier in our very own reviews.
But the competition doesn’t sleep, either and many other manufacturers have since upped their smartphone camera game. So how is Huawei supposed to defend its camera crown among the android-powered smartphones this year? The answer apparently is: The new Huawei P30 and P30 Pro.
The Design: Fresh, but still familiar
Upon a first glance, the Huawei P30 strongly reminds me of the Mate 20 the company introduced in the fall of 2018: A flat sheet of glass with a symmetrical border around.
The P30 Pro in contrast looks much more like the Mate 20 Pro, with the slight difference of the notch now being a lot smaller thanks to the new «teardrop» design. Both models feature a single 32 Megapixel (MP) camera up front which is at the same time used for unlocking the device via face unlock.
The main differences between the two models lie in the size of the screen, where the P30 Pro trumps its smaller sibling with its 6,47-inch LCD display compared to the slightly smaller 6,1-inch display built into the P30. The slightly bent side edges on the Pro’s display make for a smaller bezel, whereas the bezels on the non-Pro seem a bit more prominent. Being a bit more compact in its measurements, the P30 is also a tad lighter than the P30 Pro.
Both variants will be available in the color variants «Midnight Black», «Breathing Crystal», «Aurora» (Green/Blue gradient), Pearl White and the most spectacular color – in my opinion – «Amber Sunrise».
As has been tried and tested in the Mate 20 Pro, you’ll be able to unlock the devices via a fingerprint scanner built into the touchscreen. And while you’ll find a loudspeaker above the P30’s screen, the P30 Pro omits a loudspeaker for a cleaner exterior design and instead incorporates what Huawei calls «Acoustic Display Technology» where the sound is emitted through by setting the whole display into vibration.
Fans of the classical audio jack will be delighted to find a 3,5mm cinch connector built into the P30, while the P30 Pro is apparently too advanced for this kind of ancient hardware interface.
Both P30 models sport the same Kirin 980-SoC already known from the Mate 20 Pro which should give the devices enough speed for all daily tasks. The Pro-model gets 8 GB of RAM with a choice of 128, 256 or 512 on-board storage while the P30 will only get one variant with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of memory. Both versions will however accept external storage cards in the «Nano Memory Card» (NMC) format. And while this particular format is not Huawei-proprietary, NMCs are still not common.
More parallels between the P30 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro become apparent when comparing the battery capacity: The P30 Pro gets a 4’200 mAh battery while the P30 has to make to with 3’650 mAh. Both devices support a fast charging function with 40 Watts of power and come bundled with a suitable charger.
Both devices run on Android 9.0 Pie with Huawei’s own EMUI 9.1 installed on top.
Camera: Zooming in to another title?
As should be known by now, the «P»-Series from Huawei is usually the series that gets the new camera upgrades first. This year, this upgrade means a mighty zoom. Both models sport a high-resolution triple camera setup which has been developed in cooperation with Leica.
The P30 has a 40 Megapixel (MP) main sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, and in addition to that a 16 MP wide angle lens as well as a 8 MP, f2.8 zoom lens. This constellation allows for a 3x optical and 5x hybrid zoom function on the P30.
The P30 Pro on the other hand also has a 40 MP main sensor, but this one has a faster lens of f/1.6, which makes it more suitable for low-light situations. It also trades the wide-angle lens for one with a resolution of 20 MP and tops things off with a 8 MP zoom lens with a f/3.4 aperture. The latter is built upon a periscope-style system that made its debut on an Oppo device. This allows for a 10x hybrid zoom, while the 5x zoom is optical on the P30 Pro, whereas it is a hybrid zoom on the P30 non-Pro.
As usual with Huawei, images will be optimized using artificial Intelligence: «Huawei AI HDR+» for example will combine successive shots in order to optimize pictures in difficult lighting conditions.
Digital 50x-Zoom: Just a gizmo?
This is not something ambitious photographers will rejoice about, but the P30 Pro sports a 50x digital zoom, while competitors mostly max out at around 10x. I know it’s a stretch to push such numbers, because you can basically digitally zoom into every picture at the expense of picture quality. But I must admit it’s an impressive view to see objects zoomed in so close on a smartphone screen. May you use it for the occasional fun picture or experiments on social media – but at least try maxing out the zoom function at least once.
More sensors for even better image quality
In addition to its cooperation with Leica, Huawei is also making an exclusive deal with Sony. The japanese company will be provding a SuperSpectrum IMX 650 sensor which will apparently improve color reproduction by rendering the pictures in RYYB (red – yellow – yellow – blue) instead of RGBW (red – green – blue – white) as was an earlier standard.
The P30 Pro also has a ToF (Time-of-Flight) sensor that collects depth information – which should in turn improve results from the portrait mode or the «Live Bokeh» feature in video footage.
We didn’t expect the P30 Pro’s camera to be anything but great and it mostly fulfills our expectations. Once you get to the 10x SuperZoom-Mode though, you’ll notice how beneficial a steady hand can be while shooting pictures and video. The built-in image stabilizer is excellent, but nonetheless it’s not able to compensate for every moment. Try using a tripod for those deep zoom shots.
Furthermore, the picture quality varies with the lighting conditions. The more structure is in a picture or the more differences in lighting it shows, the harder it’s going to be to get some balanced results in hybrid zoom mode and above.
«Dual-View Video» is a function we haven’t been able to test ourselves, unfortunately. Unreleased yet, it’s supposed to be available soon via a future software update. With this feature, the smartphone records video in split-screen mode with one wide-angle and one more zoomed-in perspective. Users can then cut the source material to play with the perspectives. We imagine this feature to become popular with travelers and lifestyle-minded users.
Conclusion: Huawei is defending its camera crown – and more
The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro might already be among the most attractive Android smartphones available on the market.
Yes, I’d wish for a pure, unaltered Android experience on my devices, but even with EMUI on top, the system runs fluid with no noticeable hiccups during daily routines. If you really don’t dig the graphical style, there’s still custom launchers available.
Both variants of the smartphone feel superb in your hand. I personally slightly prefer the P30 Pro to the P30 – but not just because of the better camera specs and the extra memory, but also because the design just seems a tad more refined with the curved display allowing for thinner side bezels.
I was impressed when comparing the camera capabilities of the P30 Pro to the Mate 20 Pro: The new camera setup catches a lot more light and improves photography in dark places. The 10x-zoom is fun to use and gives hobby photographers new and exciting possibilities. And while some camera features might not be perfectly matured yet, Huawei can always make further refinements on these via a software update a bit down the road.
At a price of 999 Swiss Francs – which is cheaper than the same configuration on a Samsung Galaxy S10+ – you’ll get a brilliant smartphone from Huawei, which not only sports a refreshing design but also a great battery life of easily more than a full day.
When can I buy the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro?
Huawei P30 and P30 Pro are going to be available in Switzerland by April 5th.
How much do the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro cost?
The Huawei P30 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of memory costs 749 Euro or 749 Swiss Francs.
The P30 Pro with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of memory will set you back 999 Euro or 999 Swiss Francs while the P30 Pro variant with 256GB of memory costs 1099 Euro in the rest of Europe, but will not be available from the beginning in Switzerland.
As mentioned, both the P30 and the P30 Pro will be available in the colors «Midnight Black», «Breathing Crystal», «Aurora», Pearl White and the stunning «Amber Sunrise».