Huawei P30 Pro Review: The Best Smartphone Camera?
Huawei wants to continue with the P30 Pro what they started last year with the P20 Pro. So the goal is no less than to deliver the best camera in a smartphone. The fact that they have achieved this goal should be known to most by now. The question now is whether the rest of the P30 Pro can keep up with the performance of the cameras or whether the actual smartphone is just a minor matter.
- Huawei P30 Pro (8GB/128GB)
Technical data of the Huawei P30 & P30 Pro
|Huawei P30||Huawei P30 Pro|
|Display||6.1 inch flat FullHD+ (2340 x 1080P) OLED with 422 PPI||6.47 inch curved FullHD+ (2340 x 1080P) OLED with 398 PPI|
|Processor||HiSilicon Kirin 980 Octa Core @ 2.6/1.92/1.8 GHz||HiSilicon Kirin 980 Octa Core @ 2.6/1.92/1.8 GHz|
|Graphics chip||ARM Mali-G76 MP10 @ 720 MHz||ARM Mali-G76 MP10 @ 720 MHz|
|Main memory||6 GB LPDDR4X||8 GB LPDDR4X|
|Internal memory||128 GB UFS 2.1 (Nano Memory Card up to 512 GB)||128 GB / 256 GB UFS 2.1 (Nano Memory Card up to 512 GB)|
|Main Camera||40 MP (f/1.8), 8 MP 3x Zoom, 16 MP Ultra Wide Angle (120°)||40 MP (f/1.6), 8 MP 5x Zoom, 20 MP Ultra Wide Angle (120°), ToF-3D-Cam|
|Front camera||32 MP (f/2.0) Camera||32 MP (f/2.0) Camera|
|Battery||3.650 mAh, 25 Watt Supercharge||4.200 mAh, 40 Watt Supercharge, 15 Watt wireless (also reverse)|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, Jack Connector, NFC, WLAN ac MU-MIMO, Dual-SIM||Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, NFC, WLAN ac MU-MIMO, Dual-SIM|
|Features||IP53 Rating, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock||IP68 Rating, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock|
|Operating system||Android 9 Pie with EMUI 9.1||Android 9 Pie with EMUI 9.1|
|Dimensions / Weight||149,1 x 71,36 x 7,57 mm / 165 g||158 x 73,4 x 8,41 mm / 192 g|
|Colours||Black, Aurora, Crystal||Black, Aurora, Red, Crystal|
Design & Processing
With a smartphone, which costs $999 according to the manufacturer, you naturally have to expect processing that reflects this high price tag. And that’s exactly what Huawei delivers here. The P30 Pro is, like most flagships currently, a glass sandwich. This means that it has gorilla glass on both sides and a thin metal frame in the middle, which gives the device the necessary stability. The glass is not only pleasantly rounded at the front of the display but also at the back left and right.
The frame contains the infrared transmitter and a microphone at the top and the mono loudspeaker, USB-C slot and hybrid SIM slot at the bottom. On the right is the volume rocker and the power button, which has a small extra elevation, which is kept in red on our black version. The left side remains completely bare, so there is no button for a language assistant. Also the headphone connection has to be omitted.
Of course, the P30 Pro is also dust- and water-resistant and has an IP68 rating. However, the smartphone should be dry if you want to use the fingerprint sensor. Like the Xiaomi Mi 9, the fingerprint sensor is located in the display and no longer on the back.
The workmanship is absolutely flawless and the design knows how to please with small details such as the symmetrically arranged antenna strips and the horizontal lettering on the back. If you find the black version we tested too boring, you can choose between the colours Aurora (dark blue-turquoise) or Breathing Crystal (light blue-violet).
Good display with waterdrop notch
Huawei uses a 6.47 inch OLED panel with a FullHD+ resolution of 2,340 x 1080 pixels for the screen. This results in an average pixel density of 398 PPI (pixels per inch). Of course, it would have been nice to see a higher resolution like that of the direct competitor Samsung. But even Samsung delivers its Galaxy S10+ with an adjusted resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels to save energy and because the display is so sharp.
In order to accommodate the front camera on this rather borderless front, the P30 Pro also opted for the so-called Waterdrop Notch, which is also familiar from the Xiaomi Mi 9. Personally, I like the punchhole solution of the Honor View 20 or Galaxy s10 better, but even this small notch is quickly forgotten.
If you absolutely don’t want to see the Notch, you can “hide” it in the settings. Here you can also adjust the color rendering of the display to your own taste and increase the intensity again with the “Lively” mode. But in my opinion this is not necessary, as the colors are strong enough even in “Normal” mode without appearing unnatural.
The display also convinces with its high brightness, very good contrast and perfect black. Thanks to a built-in dark mode, you can also enjoy this black in the (quick) settings and the other standard apps and even save some battery.
Whether one likes the rounding of the display left and right is certainly a matter of taste. Of course it looks very nice, but it also causes some slight distortion when watching pictures or videos. All in all, Huawei delivers a super display that leaves hardly any room for criticism.
Fingerprint sensor in display
The fingerprint sensor is also located in the middle of the lower third of the display on the P30 Pro. Unlike Samsung, you don’t rely on ultrasound, but place a small camera under the display. When the finger is put on, it is illuminated by the OLED display and the fingerprint is compared with the stored “photo”.
The technique is no longer new and has become much faster and more reliable since its initial use in Vivo NEX. The detection rate is about 95%, which is still not as good as the classic sensors, but close to it. In addition, the sensor is surprisingly fast. You can also use Face Unlock, which is of course not so safe, but often even faster.
Top performance thanks to Kirin 980
As in the Honor View 20, the Huawei P30 Pro also uses the in-house Kirin 980 processor. Thanks to the 7 nanometer production technology, the Octa-Core processor is very energy-efficient, but of course also delivers the necessary flagship power. In addition there are 8 GB LPDDR4X working memory and optionally 128 GB or 256 GB mass memory.
Even though the performance in the benchmarks is sometimes even slightly behind the Mi 9, the performance is of course still more than sufficient for all smartphone tasks. Strong multitasking, system navigation or demanding mobile games – nothing brings the P30 Pro to its limits or even just to stutter.
If the memory of 128 GB or 256 GB is not yet sufficient, it can also be expanded. However, you have to use a Nano Memory Card, a normal microSD card does not fit into the hybrid SIM slot. It’s nice that Huawei also offers the possibility of memory expansion in its flagship, but it’s a pity that you have to buy a new NM card from – surprise – Huawei.
EMUI offers many possibilities (& Bloatware)
Like Xiaomi, Huawei has its own interface over the Android operating system, which is available here in the current version 9.0 Pie. This interface is called EMUI (9.1) and still reminds of Apple’s iOS. For example, if you wipe from top to bottom, you don’t get the quick settings, but a copy of the iOS Spotlight search and the settings remind you of iOS.
Fortunately EMUI offers more settings than iOS, so you can repeat the App-Drawer, activate an Always-On-Screen or start a one-handed mode. Special fingertip shortcuts like double-tapping for a screenshot are also very useful. Less useful is the amount of Bloatware apps, which are pre-installed but can be removed for the most part.
The currently most versatile & best smartphone camera
If you’re going to Huawei, it’s best to keep the P30 Pro horizontal all the time and take pictures. Accordingly, the Huawei logo is placed on the back and you advertise with nothing less than the “photo miracle“. This is of course only clever marketing, but after many astonished reactions from colleagues I can say: The camera doesn’t disappoint and does justice to the hype.
Main camera with 4 sensors
The main camera consists of the new 40 megapixel sensor from Sony (IMX650) with a large f/1.6 aperture and optical image stabilisation. In addition, there is a 20 MP ultra wide angle camera (120°) with an aperture of f/2.2 and an 8 MP periscopic zoom camera with 5x optical zoom, which is also optically stabilized. In combination with the 40 MP camera, a 10x hybrid zoom is then possible. Another new feature is the 3D Time-of-Flight camera, which can measure the distance between objects better and thus provides better portraits and faster autofocus.
What can I say – the camera or cameras are simply fun. With the P30 Pro you have more options than with any other smartphone at the moment. Because even if there is already another smartphone with an ultra wide angle, a normal and a zoom camera, only the P30 Pro has a camera with a 5x optical zoom and a 10x hybrid zoom, which still offers good results for Instagram etc…
Of course, all this would be useless if the photo quality were not convincing. Fortunately the photos are top class. With Ai photography switched off, colours are not too strong and beautifully natural, the sharpness is right and the richness of detail is also convincing. In practice and especially at night, the P30 Pro impresses with the fastest autofocus I’ve ever seen.
Thanks to the ultra wide angle camera, you can also take nice macro shots from a distance of only 2.5 cm.
The best night mode
Many smartphones now offer an extra night mode. The exposure time is increased to 3-5 or more seconds and more light is captured. The same thing happens here, but the results are simply better than those of the competition. In addition, thanks to the f/1.6 aperture, the main camera captures so much light that you don’t even need night mode for it and therefore don’t have to wait 5 seconds!
However, the ultra wide angle and zoom cameras require night mode, so you have to hold still for up to 6 seconds. But then the results look good, as you can see in the two following left photos.
Here still the comparison of the main camera with (left) and without night mode (right). It’s really outstanding what the camera can do without extended exposure time!
Portraits with good border recognition but funny colors
Portraits can be made with the P30 Pro either with the 40 megapixel main camera or the zoom camera. The border detection and the bokeh are also very good thanks to the fourth ToF camera. However, the colors are saturated and the contrast is much too high. Here a software update could be enough to adjust the portraits to the quality of the other photos.
Sharp Selfies thanks to 32 Megapixels
The Selfie camera in the Notch takes the photos with a proud 32 megapixels. As expected, the photos are very sharp and rich in detail. Also the skin tones are well hit and look nice and natural.
As on the back, the portraits could be a bit better on the front, but this concerns the strength of the blur. This should be reduced a bit for my taste.
Overall, the camera of the Huawei P30 Pro convinces above all through its options: 120° ultra-wide angle, 40 megapixel main camera, telephoto lens with 10x usable zoom, the best night mode and macro shots make the P30 Pro currently the most versatile camera phone.
2 days battery life & 30 min. SuperCharge
If the camera were not as good as it is, you would probably advertise the battery life and charging time. Because thanks to the interaction of the 4,200 mAh battery, the energy-efficient Kirin 980, the energy-saving OLED and the P30 Pro’s rather aggressive RAM management, you get a fabulous 15 hours of battery life. You can get by well over two days without having to plug in the power socket in between.
If you have to go to the power outlet, you won’t stay there too long. Thanks to the included 40 watt SuperCharge charger, we only needed 30 minutes to get 73%. If you have 20 minutes more time, the phone is already at 100% again – after 50 minutes! You can also charge the P30 Pro wirelessly, of course, but only with 15 watts, Xiaomi is faster.
Connectivity: Everything but the phone jack
Huawei covers everything but the headphone jack when it comes to connectivity. We have: LTE, ac-WLAN, Bluetooth 5, Dual GPS, NFC and an infrared transmitter. In order to compensate the lost headphone connection a little bit, USB-C headphones are included, which look suspiciously like Apple’s earpods.
If you don’t use them, the sound comes from the mono speaker below. There is no stereo sound, because there is simply no ear cup. Instead, the screen vibrates to produce the sound when you make a phone call. This worked surprisingly well and without any noticeable disadvantage.
Very good smartphone – impressive camera
The Huawei P30 Pro not only has an impressive camera, but is also a very good smartphone. But of course it’s not perfect either, so here’s the negative again. The display is even more curved than that of the S10, there is only one mono speaker, EMUI delivers too much bloatware, the memory expansion is only possible via Nano Memory Card and it has no headphone connection.
After using it, I would personally accept all these criticisms because I can use this camera. The camera is in my eyes the only reason why I would choose a P30 Pro for almost $1000 and against a Mi 9 for $460 (6/128GB). If the camera is not so important to you, the Mi 9 delivers a similar experience for half the price.