Huawei P30 Pro Review: Raising the bar for Android
For the last 3–4 years, Huawei smartphones have been sleeping giants in the smartphone space. Quietly though, they have usurped even Apple becoming the second largest smartphone brand behind Samsung. It hasn’t achieved this through just marketing might. It has achieved this zenith through some innovation which some could claim has come through questionable methods. Despite that being the case, on the side of Android phones, Huawei’s devices have been true innovators especially in the realm of camera technology. Its P series of phones have been pretty much up there with the likes of Google’s Pixel phones for – and this year it claims to rewrite the rules of mobile photography. But even without its Leica branded imaging capability, this is a phone that intrigues as it pushes the envelope to what one should expect from an Android smartphone. To call it the best camera phone in the world will be putting it mildly – it could be the best smartphone in the world at the time of writing this.
- One can’t talk about the P30 Pro without talking about its camera technology. Its quad camera system on the back is hands down game-changing and it raises the bar for mobile photography in the space of nighttime imaging, bokeh using the time of flight (ToF) sensor, game-changing periscope optical zoom that blows away any other smartphone camera zoom by order of magnitude and generally impressive processing which is based on AI trickery. You may be an amateur or pro, the P30 Pro will provide enough flexibility for you to take the best possible images, at least from a lens of a phone.
- Last year, one would have argued that the video aspect of the P20 Pro was a weakness but that has been mostly resolved with the phone not only leveraging assets like the ToF sensor but also the wide-angle camera, improved electronic stabilisation and processing technology. This results in a really crisp 4k video at 30 frames per second and full HD video which will be very useful.
- All this camera firepower is underpinned by the fact that it’s a really really powerful smartphone which plays in the same league as the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S10+ thanks to the Kirin 980 processor. Day to day usage is buttery smooth while it has oodles of firepower to crunch data. It also is great for AR tasks as the NPU and GPU combination enable the phone to super efficient for high-quality games and AR tools. In fact, Huawei claims that this phone has been optimized for around 70 odd of the most popular Android games. Fine tuning to the EMUI file system has also further improved the performance of the device.
- It also comes with a lot of RAM (8GB) and storage (256GB) while also offering dual VoLTE with perhaps the best call quality despite an ultrasonic microphone which is hidden inside the display panel. This phone also comes with the neat convenience of an IR blaster which can allow you to control home appliances like AC and TVs something which the likes of Apple and Samsung don’t offer.
- All this is integrated with a huge 4,200mAh battery that will last you more than a day with medium to heavy usage with ease while also offering the fastest charging technology with 40W supercharger that attains 50% charge in 30 mins with the added convenience of 15W wireless charging and the capability to wirelessly reverse charge other gadgets that support the Qi standard directly from the phone.
- It is a stunning phone to behold. It not only has a graceful curved screen design that seeps into the frame seamlessly; it also has flattened sides and a unique gradient colour pattern on the back. It is also made out of impressive materials like aluminum and glass which gives the phone a premium feel and an outwardly look in a package that’s also IP68 certified.
- It also has a very nice OLED display that has a full HD+ resolution which also gets very bright making it usable in direct sunlight. The screen has a great colour fidelity and supports HDR playback in tandem with the single yet very powerful speaker that supports Dolby Atmos mobile technology. This makes for a very nice multimedia experience. What elevates it, even more, is that there is a non-intrusive notch that houses a 32-megapixel front camera which also does a face-unlock ably supported by the in-display fingerprint scanner that works very nicely.
- The biggest weakness of the P30 Pro isn’t the hardware but the software. Even though Huawei has deployed a new file system which makes this phone very fast and smooth for a long time, its EMUI remains a visual and aesthetic eyesore apart from being slightly complex riddled with duplicated applications. This can be fixed using a third party launcher like APEX with custom third party icons.
- Huawei also doesn’t have the finest track record of updating its handsets on time with the latest build of Android which means you wouldn’t be getting the latest deserts from Google in a timely manner, nor will this phone will get security updates pronto. This is problematic alone but given the reputation Huawei has, this wouldn’t be a phone that will be easily accepted in a professional field particularly if you work for a US based MNC.
- Huawei chose not to give a 2K resolution on the display which is a strange thing for a phone that costs so much. This means its display isn’t as vibrant as that of the iPhone XS or the Galaxy S10+ but that comes with some performance benefits.
- Gaming performance isn’t on the level of the iPhone XS Max, but that’s more to do with Apple’s lead in GPU technology and optimization of iOS for gaming.
- The nano-memory card support offered by Huawei is not widely adopted and it seems like a proprietary technology so even if it has theoretical support for memory expansion one will be stuck with Huawei’s memory cards.
- The face ID system is a step backwards from the IR powered facial detection system from the Mate 20 Pro. That being said, it enables the phone to come with a smaller notch.