Huawei P30 Pro Review

Huawei P30 Pro Review

The Huawei P30 Pro's focus is most certainly the camera. There are specs aplenty, an array of sensors on offer, plus Huawei has taken some interesting decisions not seen before on a phone.

First Impressions

The Huawei P30 Pro has all the necessary skills to be an excellent flagship choice, and if it matches the hype Huawei is creating around it then it’s going to be a seriously impressive device.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £899.99
  • 6.4-inch OLED display
  • 3 rear cameras, engineered by Leica
  • Kirin 980
  • 4200 mAh battery
  • 40w fast charging
Huawei’s much leaked 2019 flagship device is finally here, and from we’ve seen of the Huawei P30 Pro it has all the features to once again give the Chinese brand a stunning smartphone.
Coming just a few weeks after the Samsung Galaxy S10, the Huawei P30 Pro – and the smaller Huawei P30 – aims to beat Samsung for most impressive Android phone. And after spending five days with it, there’s certainly plenty of potential here.
Huawei has once again teamed with Leica, focussing a lot on the cameras and pushing smartphone sensor tech as far as it possibly can. There are three cameras on the back, plus another sensor for improved depth-sensing, and a low-light mode that almost performs miracles.
Read on for our in-depth impressions after five days with the phone, including plenty of picture samples. We’ll have a full review with performance and battery life tests

Huawei P30 Pro price and release date

You can pre-order the Huawei P30 Pro right now and in the UK it’ll cost you £899. That’s £100 less than the iPhone XS (£999) and the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
If you want something a bit smaller, and less packed with features, the Huawei P30 will sell for £699, that’s more comparable to the £669 Samsung Galaxy S10e or the £749 iPhone XR.
There’s no US price or release date planned for the P30 Pro.

Huawei P30 Pro Review: Hands on with the camera

There are three main cameras on the device’s rear, headlined by an all-new Super Sensing 40-megapixel sensor with an f/1.6 aperture and 26mm focal length.
While all those megapixels will no doubt result in ridiculously detailed shots, the real star is that Super Sensing moniker. Instead of the typical RGB sensor (that’s red, green and blue) you’ll find in rival phones, the P30 Pro uses RYYB – or red, yellow, yellow, blue.
During the Huawei briefing of the device, the company said the above change would allow more light to be absorbed, since those yellow portions can bring greens in as well as extra reds. This supposedly results in better photos when the light is poor. From my first few days with the phone it does seem a very capable low-light shooter.
Huawei has also boosted the max ISO levels, up from 102,400 to 400,000, which should also help low-light shooting.
Sitting alongside this main sensor are two further cameras: an ultra-wide, 20-megapixel f/2.2 that should be great for landscape shots and a very exciting 8-megapixel telephoto camera that is capable of 5x optical zoom. Furthermore, the phone can combine data from all three of the sensors to offer 10x hybrid zoom with. I’d normally be sceptical about such a claim, but Huawei has already proved it’s capable of offering handsets with incredible zoom capabilities.
Huawei P30 Pro
At 5x zoom, the picture retains detail and looks excellent
Huawei P30 Pro
This is the same shot but fully zoomed out
That’s not all, though. One of the biggest differences between the P30 Pro and the smaller P30 is the addition of a time-of-flight – or ToF – sensor just underneath the flash module. While this is still fairly new tech, companies such as LG and Honor have already used it to good effect. For example, LG uses it on its G8 device to track hand movements in 3D space, while Honor uses it to add depth to photos. Huawei is following Honor’s lead and using it for the latter.
Huawei P30 Pro
By default the 40-megapixel sensor churns out super-detailed 10-megapixel snaps by turning four pixels into one
Huawei P30 Pro
This was shot with the light getting worse, and the phone manages to avoid blowing out the sky and keep the shop’s bright sign looking bright
Huawei P30 Pro
The AI modes alter settings, tweaking colours in the process
A ToF sensor allows far more accurate 3D mapping of a scene, and Huawei has built it into the portrait mode on the P30 Pro. Reps claimed you’ll be able to achieve more accurate bokeh effects, with better cutouts around faces and a more natural blur.
Along with the actual tech inside the camera, Huawei has also altered and improved certain aspects of the camera’s software. There’s a new HDR+ mode that uses the AI tech inside the Kirin 980 chipset to improve the HDR. Huawei said the camera will determine what you’re shooting and alter the strength and look of the effect, keeping skin tones natural. Improvements have also been made to AI stabilisation – another feature that impressed greatly with the P30 Pro – by combining it with proper optical image stabilisation (OIS) to hopefully reduce handshake even further.
Huawei P30 Pro
Finally, there’s a 32-megapixel selfie camera in the tiny dewdrop notch around the front. This also benefits from the HDR and super low-light modes. While there are loads of megapixels on the front, the actual pictures just don’t look very good; at least from my early impressions. They lack the detail and natural skin-tones of the Pixel 3and continue to push a harsh beauty mode.

Huawei P30 Pro Review: A slick looking design

The camera might be the standout feature here, but that’ isn’t to say the P30 Pro is lacking in other areas.
The P30 Pro is a lovely looking phone, easily sporting the most high-end feel of any Huawei handset to date.
The 6.4-inch display stretches nearly edge-to-edge, with the front camera nestled in a tiny notch at the top. You’ll likely question for days whether Huawei or Samsung’s cutout style is better, but after using the P30 Pro for a number of days, I found it less distracting than the competition.
Huawei is offering the phone in a number of vivid iridescent colours, including a gorgeous burnt orange (Amber Sunrise) and a pearly white (Breathing Crystal), the latter on which you’ll see demoed here. Both are truly stunning and offer a unique finish that really helps the P30 Pro stand out among the sea of black and grey. There’s also the Aurora colour Huawei launched with the P20 Pro, along with a pinky white and much more subtle black. 
The P30 Pro is big phone, yes, but the curves both on the display and on the rear of the device ensure that it sits comfortably in the hand.

Huawei P30 Pro Review: Specs and features

Of course, since this is a high-end, high-priced flagship, it comes packing all the features one would expect in such a device. The display is a bright, vibrant OLED panel with HDR support in apps such as Netflix. 
The glass back allows for Qi wireless charging, which will be much quicker if you use one of Huawei’s fast wireless chargers. The phone is rated IP68 for water-resistance too, which means is will happily survive an accidental drop in the bath. There’s even a fingerprint sensor tucked inside the display that works a whole lot better than the one that disappointed so much in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Huawei said the fingerprint has been made 20% quicker and that definitely seems like the case.
Still, as it remains an optical sensor – as opposed to the ultrasonic variety used on the S10 – it requires a bright light to shine and this can be quite distracting.
Huawei isn’t skimping on the battery, either; the 4200mAh cell should offer excellent endurance. Plus, 40w USB-C charging will get you from 0-70% in 30 minutes – a feature I absolutely love.
Huawei has really ticked all the boxes here: ridiculously powerful camera; the latest Kirin 980 chipset; huge battery; and a design that stands out against the fairly mundane crowd.
Huawei P30 Pro
There are some downsides, however. For one, the display remains FHD+ rather than quad-HD+ as seen in the Galaxy S10, LG G8 or Google Pixel 3. Look closely at the screen and you’ll notice distinct pixels breaking up the smooth surface.
More importantly, though, the EMUI software still sports a look that suggests Huawei is attempting to theme an Android phone to look like iOS. It’s a messy software layer with ugly icons, poorly implemented gesture controls and a proclivity to force quit applications when they’re running in the background.
Some love EMUI for its strong battery-saver options and plenty of customisation tweaks, but I just can’t get past its few too many annoying quirks.
Still, the Huawei P30 Pro has all the necessary skills to be an excellent flagship choice, and if it matches the hype Huawei is creating around it then it’s going to be a seriously impressive device.
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