Not long ago you would have laughed at the stores if you asked for a phone with four cameras, but now, well, a smartphone equipped with various camera arrangements is as common as a primary school kid doing the flossing dance. Or a cucumber sandwich at the home of a Brexit voter.
READ NEXT: Best smartphone
The Huawei P30 Pro seeks to strengthen this trend of multiple cameras. After launching the excellent P20 Pro last year, which introduced the triple camera setup for smartphones for the first time, its successor aims to further enhance the photographic experience.
Huawei P30 Pro Review: What You Need To Know
You may think that Huawei has just launched a flagship phone. Yes, yes, yes, but the latest P series of phones arrived just six months after the Mate 20 Pro, complementing Mate's reach with a handful of extras. It's a bit like Samsung keeps two families of flagship phones: the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S ranges.
As with Samsung's pair of flagship offerings, its guts remain virtually identical. The Mate 20 Pro and P30 Pro are both equipped with Huawei's Kirin 980 mobile processor, which is a 7nm architecture CPU with a frequency of 2.6 GHz and a fairly solid rival for the Snapdragon 855 chipset, most widely used by Qualcomm. This is complemented by 8 GB of RAM and a choice of 128 GB or 512 GB of expandable storage.
Otherwise, you're seeing a slightly larger 6.47-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a 4,200mAh battery. It is also running the latest version of Android (Android 9.0 Foot). What is particularly special about the P30 Pro, however, is the intriguing set of quad cameras.
Huawei P30 Pro Review: Price and Competition
This all sounds impressively impressive, and there is no doubt that the P30 Pro represents the pinnacle of iconic achievements. Of course, being so good (at least on paper), Huawei's newest P-series flagship has a fairly high starting price of £ 899. This is for the 128GB model, and you'll have to shell out an extra of £ 200 for the 512 GB variant, bringing the total cost of the SIM to 1,099 pounds.
For its face value, this puts the P30 Pro in front of its main rival, the recently launched Samsung – and frankly incredible – Galaxy S10 Plus, which also starts at £ 899. Of course this is a fight that will be very disputed as we delve deeper into this review, but for this month the P30 Pro is also competing for Apple's iPhone Xs Max, starting at £ 1,099. Meanwhile, the Xiaomi Mi 9 offers a flagship experience for half the price.
Huawei P30 Pro Review: Design and Key Features
As for anything other than the cameras, the Huawei P30 Pro is a continuation of what made the phone last year so good at first. It is painfully attractive, sandwiched between layers of gently curvilinear glass in the front and back, and comes in some seductive colors of jewelery. The most striking is the iridescent color of the breathing crystal, which ranges from deep purple to light blue on the back panel, depending on how the phone picks up the light. There is also a normal black variant for those who do not get along with this showy display.
As you'd expect from a modern flagship, the Huawei P30 Pro is nice and slim, with a large 6.47-inch screen in a comparatively compact chassis. Better yet, the P30 Pro screen offers a slightly more extended aspect ratio of 19.5: 9.
Of course, the arrival of this elongated proportion comes the return of the notch. However, this time is not a subject similar to the iPhone; Instead, the 32-megapixel selfie camera is embedded in a not-so-risky circular notch.
I suppose at this point you're wondering where the front-mounted headset speaker was made. Well, you will not find such a thing at P30 Pro this year. Instead, it has been replaced by a new feature that Huawei calls "electromagnetic levitation." Basically, this is an elegant way of saying that the cell phone screen vibrates to create sound when pressed against the ear. I'm not sure where the levitation comes in or even if it's needed, but this clears the look of the phone a bit.
Leaving aside the odd features, the Huawei P30 Pro is the company's most attractive and well-designed smartphone to date. I even think it looks better than the recently released Galaxy S10 Plus, which takes some time.
It covers most of the bases elsewhere as well. There is a large 4.200mAh battery capacity keeping things running, which supports 40W charging (and reverse charging wirelessly, as in the Mate 20 Pro). The phone is also rated IP68 and water resistant yet again. Of course, the 3.5mm headset seems lost forever, but a little more worrying is the lack of microSD expansion.
Instead, the P30 Pro, like the Mate 20 series of phones, before that, only supports Huawei's nano memory cards. These are physically smaller, but more expensive than their small size equivalents, and thus almost make no sense at all. Still, with at least 128GB of internal storage, you probably do not need one.
Review Huawei P30 Pro: Display
Measuring 6.47 inches diagonally, the P30 Pro screen is slightly larger than the 6.1in screen of the common P30. Its specifications remain the same, since the P30 Pro uses an AMOLED panel again and the resolution is 2,340 x 1,080. You may think this is a bit of a demotion on the 1,440p screen offered by Mate 20 Pro, but this low-resolution screen has the added benefit of extended battery life, which we will discuss in more detail later.
The display quality is also very good. In the "Normal" display profile of the phone, the P30 Pro display has a reasonable color accuracy, capable of reproducing 95.7% of the sRGB color gamut with a total volume of 109%. However, an average Delta E of 2.53 is not perfect, and there are some notable problems, mostly with saturated red and dark blue color tones.
Still, the P30 Pro screen is capable of reaching peak brightness of 854cd / m2 in the phone's automatic brightness mode, and this being an OLED panel, the color contrast is indeed perfect.
Huawei P30 Pro Review: Performance and Battery Life
As expected, the phone uses the company's Kirin 980 chipset, which is built using a 7nm manufacturing process. This 2.6 GHz octa-core processor first appeared on Mate 20 Pro last year and is more energy-efficient than older chips built at 10 nm or more. In theory, the smaller manufacturing process means more power for the chip of the same size and better battery life, which is certainly something we noticed with the Mate 20 Pro.
In technical tests, the P30 Pro performance benchmark results are equally fast. In the Geekbench 4 single and multi-core tests, the P30 Pro produced scores almost identical to those of the normal P30 and P20 Pro last year. Game performance is also very good, with the P30 Pro reaching a nearly perfect average frame rate of 59fps on the GFXBench GL Manhattan 3.0 benchmark on-screen.
The overall battery life of the phone also showed a significant improvement. Our internal video summary test shows that the P30 Pro's resistance is approximately 39% higher than its predecessor, reaching an amazing total of 21 hours and 22 minutes before its 4.300mAh capacity battery was exhausted. You should not have too many problems trying to squeeze almost two days of use with a single charge.
Review of Huawei P30 Pro: So Many Cameras
Of course, the star feature of the Huawei P30 Pro is not the processor, its battery life or even the swish design, but the Leica quad-camera set I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Before going into the details of how this all works, let me first guide you through the specifications of each camera and why each of them is important.
The primary snapper is a 40-megapixel optically stabilized unit with a wide f / 1.6 aperture. What is particularly special here is that, instead of using a Bayer RGB filter on the top of the sensor to capture in color, this camera employs the least-used RYB filter, replacing the green filter elements with yellow.
Huawei calls this "SuperSpectrum" image and what that means is that the camera is better able to capture a wider spectrum of light. Huawei says the P30 Pro should be better equipped for low-light environments as a result.
This approach has some potential disadvantages, however. A 2016 study by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology suggests that while a RYB-based sensor can capture a broader spectrum of light, it may also be more susceptible to chroma flare and noise. This is not something I noticed after doing a proper stress test, but I will report if I come across any problem later.
The main camera is accompanied by a new ultra-wide 20-megapixel sensor that shoots at a slightly larger angle than before, allowing you to capture even more impressive landscapes than with the Mate 20 Pro.
Third, the Huawei P30 Pro has seen an update to its camera zoom capabilities. This time, you'll find an 8-megapixel f / 3.4 drive with up to 5x optical zoom – a great upgrade to last year's 3x zoom. Huawei did this by using a periscope style box, tilting the camera to the side and capturing the image through a small mirror. That is why, if you look closely, this third camera has a square, non-circular appearance.
The "fourth" camera is actually a Time of Flight (TOF) sensor, like the one found on the back of the Oppo RX17 Pro. This consists of two parts: a transmitter that sends infrared beams and a receiver that monitors speed with that the light is reflected back to the sensor. Essentially, it is a more accurate method of measuring depth than the usual stereoscopic technique used by most smartphones today. Think of how a bat uses sonar to reflect the noise of an object to determine its distance and you have the right idea.
But what does this new ToF sensor really add to the camera features of the P30 Pro? Well, you will not see many benefits with photography or even shooting at that point, although in theory it should allow you to more accurately cut portrait images. Huawei's goal is to improve RA (augmented reality) measurement capabilities, which means you must be able to measure distances, volumes and area with 98% accuracy.
I say "goals" because those features will not be available at launch. Instead, Huawei says they will be enabled in a future software update.
As for video, the P30 Pro is capable of recording at maximum resolution from 4K to 30fps, but you can still record at 60fps with silky smoothness if you drop the resolution to 1080p. As in Mate 20 Pro, both the OIS and the EIS are enabled by default in video for super stable looking photos (Huawei calls this AIS). A little less useful and much more flashy is the addition of a new "dual-view" video recording mode, which allows you to capture images using either of the two rear cameras of the phone simultaneously.
Review Huawei P30 Pro: Camera Quality and Software
The picture quality is as good as the Mate 20 Pro, if not better in some cases. In both good and poor light, the P30 Pro is capable of capturing truly exceptional, full-blown images with a lot of detail and bright, vibrant colors that appear off-screen.
Although there is a slightly noticeable delay when switching between cameras, all shooting modes work very well. The 5x zoom, for example, is ideal for approaching the background of an image, capturing some lovely-looking images of timid squirrels hidden in tree tops, or Paris's best-known landmark at the far end of the city.
The same can not be said about Huawei's complicated camera application. It is overly complex and can be an incredibly complicated and confusing experience even for seasoned photographers. If you want to access the wide-angle and zoom-in modes, for example, you need to switch from the maximum 40 megapixel resolution of your phone to 10 megapixels and scroll through each mode in a tedious way. There is nothing in the camera software that tells you this beforehand.
Review Huawei P30 Pro: Verdict
It may not seem like much has changed on the surface, but go a little deeper and you will find a wide variety of great changes that justify the skyrocketing price. There's a huge amount of substance to the new P30 Pro from Huawei, and while time will tell if your quad-camera set has the same enduring appeal as its predecessor, the P30 Pro's extensive photographic capabilities are simply the icing on the cake of perhaps the most complete flagship to this day.
Of course, its rivals are plentiful – and in some cases, they do things a little better in key areas – but the sleek P30 Pro from Huawei represents the pinnacle of technological innovation. I certainly do not think that anything – past, present or possibly future – can overcome this soon enough.