Huawei is generally not the first brand that comes to mind when considering buying a premium smartphone that requires you to write a big cheque. That's just a shame. Huawei P30 Pro is a smartphone that deserves pure attention from the masses willing to spend the top dollar and get complete worth for every bit of penny.
If you can escape the world full of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy labels, Huawei presents a new world of possibilities. Some are endless. The Chinese smartphone maker launched the P30 Pro at a lavish event in Paris only a month ago, and it's impressive how it has been the biggest talking point in the industry. Be it the controversial "Moon mode" or the magical low-light results, the P30 Pro has managed to rewrite the rules of photography in its own ways.
After briefly testing the P30 Pro in Paris, capturing those beautiful architectures and landscapes, I continued my quest to find out whether the Huawei's 2019 flagship is worth the hype. The verdict is in, but let's go bit by bit.
I've always admired Huawei phones as they strike a perfect balance between elegance and style. Huawei P30 Pro doesn't wander away as it continues to take the company's designing legacy forward. Huawei has gone with subtle retouches for the P30 Pro, with the overall usability of the phone in mind.
The curved display and back on the sides give a sleek form factor to the phone, making it handy. But the best part is the gradient finish, especially in the Pearl White, which is subtle and stands out when light falls on the surface. The Black, Aurora colours aren't new, but the Amber Sunrise can also be quite a catch if you like loud colours.
The vertical camera set up across the top left corner is identical to Huawei P20 series. The USB Type-C port sits at the bottom right next to the speaker grille and the SIM card slot. No 3.5mm headphone jack to look for here. The power and volume controls are placed on the right side of the phone, leaving the left side empty.
The overall design of the Huawei P30 Pro demand attention even in a crowd, but there can be a just debate about which phones look better when comparing against Samsung Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max.
Huawei P30 Pro's 6.47-inch curved AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution is rich and bright. You can easily step out in the sun and still won't have trouble viewing. But the presence of the notch, even though it has been largely shrunk from its predecessor, is bothersome. You'll get used to it after a while, but I wished Huawei had found a way to eliminate the notch. That said, the notch is definitely not a deal breaker as the overall display with its edge-to-edge view and naturally bright colours give a perfect output for all sorts of mobile needs.
This is gold. Huawei is really hit a jackpot with the P30 Pro's camera and those billions of dollars in R&D are showing their worth here. Huawei P30 Pro packs incredible camera capabilities that not only challenge rivals but the human eyes as well. From its long-range zooming to crazy low light and impressive video recording features, everything adds up to make the P30 Pro the ultimate camera superphone. Huawei has set the benchmark for flagship cameras extremely high with the P30 Pro.
The quad camera setup combining 40MP f/1.6 wide-angle lens with OIS, a 20MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens, an 8MP periscope f/3.4 lens with optical zoom and OIS and a ToF sensor for depth blurring. The camera setup is clearly ahead of its time and well ahead of what rivals have in store. Huawei's decision to replace the primary RGGB sensor with RYYB (red, yellow, yellow blue) setup has a remarkable effect on the photos, especially in the low lights.
Generally, Huawei P30 Pro's stills are better than most rivals. With natural colour reproduction to high dynamic range and ultimate detailing, Huawei P30 Pro checks all the right boxes in terms of mobile photography. A few standard samples are embedded below to give you an idea before we jump into a few magical features.
Let's take a look at the master skills Huawei P30 Pro possesses.
Zoom: This is the single most highlighted feature in the P30 Pro as it goes as high as 50x. This allowed me to capture the moon, albeit without many details. But being able to capture the moon using nothing but a phone in a handheld mode without any extra accessories is a feat in itself. I've never used zoom as much as I have in the P30 Pro.
Huawei P30 Pro's moon mode or 50x zoom is not usable in most cases, but the 5x and 10x zooming is incredibly helpful. Even in Portrait, there's up to 3x lossless zoom, which helps in capturing great portraits without necessarily being close to the subject to spook them.
Here are a few samples of the P30 Pro's zooming capabilities: (swipe right for zoomed-in results)
Low-light: Huawei P30 Pro's AI mode automatically detects low-light scenarios and captures bright images effortlessly. Even with a little light source, the P30 Pro can significantly light up the area and deliver photos as if they were shot with proper lighting. It's unimaginable how the P30 Pro can boost low-light results and some results have even been better than Pixel 3 phones. Huawei P30 Pro challenges what the eye can see and show you details that are impossibly visible to the naked eye.
Check out some samples below:
Wide-angle: Huawei P30 Pro has one of the best cameras for capturing wide-angle shots. Without the distortion of edges, the P30 Pro can give you a dramatic image when taken with wide-angle mode, which sits just below 1x zoom. Here are a few samples of that:
Videos: Huawei Mate 20 Pro offered some cool video tools to summon the cinematographer inside you. The P30 Pro uplifts those skills with its incredible video recording capabilities. I noticed shooting videos with the P30 Pro are stable and captures sounds perfectly, even in noisy areas. The one particular video feature is the Dual-View camera, which shoots two perspectives of the same subject, giving you more control. The feature just got rolled out to the device over a OTA update. Even without any special effects, capturing videos in 4K or 1080p delivered outstanding results. AI colour and Background Blur modes are a must try features in the P30 Pro.
Portrait: Shooting portraits can be challenging for many phones, but not for the P30 Pro. I found the portrait works great in well-lit areas and in low-light, the P30 Pro results are still better. If there's one phone that can challenge the Pixel 3 in its best game, it is the P30 Pro. Some results might be better on Pixel 3, but both phones are equally impressive. Focusing in portrait mode is magical as it can detect and capture subjects in a fraction and manage to blur out the background with ease.
A few samples are here below:
Monochrome: The P20 Pro's monochrome sensor delivered great results, but Huawei decided to lose the monochrome sensor from its P30 Pro. But the RYYB sensor makes more than up for the loss as a dedicated monochrome filter can give you those classic black and whites you will love to share. There's a crispness in images and blacks are satisfyingly dark in the Monochrome filter and I hardly missed the dedicated monochrome sensor in the P30 Pro.
SuperMacro: Macro lenses are quite popular among photographers as they let you capture the miniature world of beings. Getting close (real close) to a tiny subject is a challenging task for most phones as the viewfinder cannot focus. In the P30 Pro, getting super close with subjects did not create too much of an issue. I was able to capture details that weren't possible before, and with the right focus and details. Here are some samples to show you just that:
The rest: There's Pro mode for users who like to be in control, but the normal photo mode does most of the hard work for you just fine. One must try out the Slow-Mo mode (set to 960fps for incredible results in broad daylight), light painting for traffic trails, light graffiti and silky water. Basically, the latter mode is for seamless long exposure shots, but make sure you use a tripod for this one to get the best results.
Huawei P30 Pro doesn't take no for an answer. You throw the toughest task and the Kirin 980 processor paired with 8 gigs worth of RAM knows how to handle it. For heavy tasks, the performance mode of the chipset kicks in so you experience no lags or freezing of apps or UI. Multitasking was a breeze on the P30 Pro, and running GPU-intensive apps don't break a sweat. From running PUBG Mobile on a streak to streaming my regular TV shows and movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime, the P30 Pro did not give me a chance to complain.
Kirin 980 is the same chipset as in the Mate 20 Pro, but the new EMUI 9.0 based on Android Pie makes all the difference on the P30 Pro. The UI is responsive, fluid and fast. The gestures were accurate, apps never froze or crashed and swiping from the sides to go back puts that curved display to the best use possible on a phone. The EMUI 9.0 is ruled by AI, which means the experience is only going to get better with time and we can surely vouch for that. Not as much as on predicting the next move using AI, but it sure knows what I wanted and it was ready to deliver.
Huawei P30 Pro is the leading scorer in benchmark tests, and the real-world tests justify the bold claims Huawei made on the stage at both its India and Paris launch. The P30 Pro is bundled with a lot of exciting features, most of them you probably won't use or know they exist. For instance, there's this cool Digital Car Key, which works with Audi cars to use the phone as the key to lock/unlock the car and start the engine. What are the chances you own an Audi and a P30 Pro? Bleak for me (for now though).
But the coolest feature I couldn't stop babbling about (of course besides the insane camera) is the One Hop share, for which you need a MateBook X. But Huawei Share is an incredible feature that works blazingly fast to transfer files between Huawei phones. I selected files weighing nearly 800MB and it literally took a second or maybe two to send them all from P30 Pro to Mate 20 Pro. It's unbelievable how Huawei has made sharing so easy, but my only hope is that it works with other phones too.
The list of cool features in the P30 Pro continues with the system-wide dark mode, best-in-class optical fingerprint scanner, which is fast and accurate, snappy face unlock, which works well under challenging lights, double knock to screenshot, screen time management and more. The screen time statistics are pretty cool and detailed, as they tell me how frequently I unlock the phone, and the apps I use most. Although I did little to change my screen habits, it sure did add some knowledge. As they say, knowledge is power.
But the software could really use some improvements, such as the Settings, which need to be simplified, bloatware that can be removed and features like HiTouch, which I personally never felt to the need to use.
As impressive as the camera on the P30 Pro is, the battery performance is excellent and not mentioned enough. After testing the P30 Pro under different scenarios, I can conclude that the P30 Pro's battery is the best one out there. Combining the best of both charging speed and ever-lasting battery life, Huawei P30 Pro emerges as the top recommendation for those who constantly crib about phones dying too soon.
I used the P30 Pro as my daily driver and throughout the review period, not once I was disappointed by the battery performance. The generous 4,200mAh unit does an excellent 6+ hours on-screen time. It translated to almost a day and a half of mixed usage with 4G and GPS turned on. With the official Geekbench battery testing app, it gave an impressive 9+ hours.
Relying on Huawei P30 Pro for your travelogue is the best thing you can do. Even on roaming, I was able to get a full day of battery while using the camera extensively, sharing images on social media, watching some videos online, listening to music and playing games as well. We put the phone through some intense tests and it handled them like a pro. Even though there's an impressive battery saving mode, I never had the chance to use it - thanks to super-fast charging.
Huawei P30 Pro consistently delivered nearly 75 percent charge in 30 minutes. When timed it, the battery went from 31 to 91 percent in 30 minutes and reached 100 percent in 45 minutes. All while the phone maintained a cool temperature, which did not make the phone unusable while charging. If I had to pick my favourite feature in the P30 Pro, the battery takes an easy second after the camera.
Pro tip: For those who like to show off, the P30 Pro's reverse wireless charging is a nifty feature.
The biggest question is whether buying Huawei P30 Pro is a sound choice or not. It's good to question as you will be writing a hefty cheque for this phone. If it is the question of worth, Huawei P30 Pro is the best flagship money can buy right now. If you're puzzled between the latest Samsung Galaxy S10 and the P30 Pro, go with Huawei and you won't regret it.
Huawei P30 Pro offers the best of everything - camera, battery and performance - at a competitive price of Rs 71,990. The Aurora colour is nice, but the Breathing Crystal is where your money should really go. You can buy Huawei P30 Pro here.
Huawei said the P30 Pro rewrites the rules of photography. After reviewing this beast of a phone, it is safe to say that it hands a new rulebook for flagship smartphones.