Huawei told the smartphone industry and assembled press and tech experts last month in Paris they were going to rewrite the rules of photography at the launch of their new P30 series. Coming off a highly successful 2018 with their P20 flagship range winning many 'best of year’ categories in photography and their Mate 20 gaining critical acclaim we were eager to see how could Huawei top these successes. Indeed two areas pioneered by Huawei last year in Ireland in the form of reverse wireless charging and an ultra-wide angled camera have now been eagerly added to their competitions flagships this year.
It seems like Huawei is now an industry trendsetter in many respects, incredibly impressive considering the company is only into their 3rd year of producing widely available flagships in Ireland (Starting with the applauded Huawei P9 in 2016 - The companies first Leica backed photography focused smartphone). So three years later, how exactly is Huawei rewriting the rules of what smartphone photography means and why are so many of their competitions taking cues for their own devices. Let's explore.
Design & Hardware
The Huawei P30 Pro can be described as a marriage of the companies 2018 flagships. It has the striking looks of the P20 series with its cameras aligned in the upper left corner along with a refined feature set of the companies lauded Mate 20 Pro released just this past winter.
The only way we can describe the rear design of this handset is stunning. Our review model came in the Breathing Crystal triple gradient colourway which changes between hues of pearlescent white to sky blue or lilac depending on the environment. Twice during our review stage, I have had colleagues come up and compliment the colour of my ‘case’ before having the handset snatched from our hands upon them realising it was the phone itself. For those who wish for a more subtle and elegant look, the device is also available in Black with both available in Carphone Warehouse.
The front of the handset is dominated by a 6.47” AMOLED display stretching from top to bottom with minimal chin bezels and just a dewdrop notch at its top which houses the excellent 32MP selfie camera. Beneath the screen also lies the optical fingerprint reader which performed very fast in our testing. The display makes watching content a pleasure, 400 pixels per inch ensures content is crisp and detailed and the handset’s brightness make for excellent viewing indoors and out.
Huawei pushes the screen boundaries so far that you’d almost be forgiven at first to realise there is no speaker grill at the top of the device for taking calls. That’s because Huawei has developed another first for the Irish market in the form of Acoustic Display Technology. How it works is vibrations beneath the screen project sound to your ear once pressed to it in the same fashion as how you would normally take a phone call. During our testing calls came in crisp and clear and there was an added benefit of little to no sound leakage making taking a call in a quiet office much more comfortable.
Beneath the hood, the device doesn’t slouch either. Powered by Huawei’s in-house processor the Kirin 980, the world's first 7nm mobile process chipset, the device delivers stronger performance and lower power consumption. This backed by 8GB of RAM mean a super smooth and fast experience for the user with no lag multitasking.
Speaking of multitasking this is where I feel EMUI (Huawei’s software on top of Android 9.0 Pie) shines, especially through its gestures. I cannot tell you how many times while reviewing the device I dragged my knuckle across the screen while watching a youtube video to launch split screen and continue talking to a friend on WhatsApp. The gestures just feel incredibly intuitive. If you want to take a screenshot just knock the screen twice with your knuckle. Want to be more specific - draw around what you want to capture with your knuckle and the phone will save it to the gallery. EMUI is full of these tricks and really allows the user to customise their experience.
Powering all this hardware and software wizardry is what may be the industries new battery champion. We expected great results from the battery following last year's models but the 4,200 mAh battery of the P30 Pro exceeds exceptions.
As a commuter I put all my smartphones through their paces; from the 6 AM alarm which starts my day to countless podcasts, Spotify playlists and Youtube videos during my almost 3-hour commute each day to and from the city. Along with this throw in messaging, checking emails during meetings and posting on social channels and I am normally lucky to be going home with 25% battery. Step in the P30 Pro - I finished each and every workday during our review with 60% plus battery left in the tank. Better still when it does need to be topped up we were charging the device from 0 to 70% in 30 minutes thanks to the included 40 watts Super Charger. Hands down this is the best smartphone battery we have reviewed yet.
Now for the camera that took the industry by storm. There is a saying that ‘the best camera is the one that’s with you’ and Huawei has decided to give users ever camera they could ever need. The device has a Quad camera Leica setup consisting of a 20MP ultra-wide angle lens, a main 40MP camera with OIS, a worlds-first 8MP periscope telephoto lens and a Huawei TOF sensor to help with depth sensing. Let’s break down what all this means.
First, the 20MP ultra-wide angle lens continues the trend set by last years Mate 20 as being many users favourite way to take photos. It enables users to capture so much more in the frame and in-turn can be used this year to take super detailed macro shots up to 2.5cm close.
The 40MP Super Sensing lens captures incredible detail and colour accuracy. AI HDR+ provides incredible dynamic range and evaluates several frames and segments different parts of the photo to combine the best features. The light and colour are balanced in different layers to bring your subject into focus. The TOF camera uses its depth perception to perfectly highlight your portrait subject and apply a professional level bokeh effect to the background creating perfect portrait shots.
The most exciting addition this year goes to the periscope telephoto lens. The lens quite literally allows your photography to go places it could never reach before and shoot detail even the eye has trouble seeing. The SuperZoom Lens offers 10x hybrid zoom and can even go all the way up to 50x zoom. The first thing we tried with this 50x zoom is the incredible moon shot featured in this review and the results were outstanding. All these cameras benefit from the enhanced Huawei night mode which quite literally can allow your camera to see in the dark without the need for a flash. The cameras are low light champions (especially beneficial for the Irish user) capturing details and colour in even the darkest situations.
In terms of video recording, the device can capture 4K footage at 30FPS with added OIS and EIS to ensure the footage runs smooth. The SuperSpectrum sensor enables low light video recording also so the fun doesn’t have to stop after dark. Dual-View video also adds additional versatility to the recording. You can record a local football match from differing perspectives, one view focused on the pitch while the other zoomed in on the action. All in all the P30 Pro offers the most versatile camera package currently available in a smartphone giving the user endless framing possibilities.
Huawei has stood true to their word in Paris. They have not only rewrote the rules of what a camera smartphone means by creating the most versatile camera system seen on a phone yet, but they have also created their best flagship device to date with unmatched battery performance, iconic aesthetics and incredibly powerful hardware. Huawei continues to rewrite the rules of not only photography but of the ultimate smartphone experience.
The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro are available now in Carphone Warehouse.