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Huawei P30 Pro Review: Smartphone photography at its best
If you keep photography in your highest regards, Huawei P30 Pro is the phone to buy in the year 2019.
The year 2019 is gradually turning out to be a phenomenal year for smartphone and camera enthusiasts. Within the first quarter of the current year, we have witnessed some exceptional smartphone launches across the price segments. Massive 48MP sensors have now made it to sub 15k smartphones giving some flagships a run for their money. Triple-lens camera setups along with pop selfie cameras can now also be seen on mid-range handsets.
- Premium and durable design
- Best-in-class Camera performance
- Long-lasting battery life
- Best-in-class video stabilization
- Top-class Wi-Fi connectivity
- App crashes and software glitches
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- Sub-par audio delivery
- Wide-angle mode could use some image-processing improvements
- Better displays are available in the market
However, the most significant development in the smartphone camera segment has been achieved by Huawei. The Chinese technology giant developed a quad-lens camera setup in partnership with camera leader- Leica. The 4-lens camera setup has been strapped on the company's 2019 flagship handset- P30 Pro. Resultant, the Huawei P30 Pro reaches new heights in zoom and low-light photography to showcase what a smartphone camera is able to deliver in the year 2019.
But P30 Pro is not just about photography. It's also an incredible smartphone for almost everything else. Let's find out how Huawei has created a new breed of smartphones with the P30 Pro in the following review.
Design: Strikingly premium, feels fragile but is quite durable
Huawei is known for designing good-looking mobile devices. The P30 Pro is another strikingly appealing flagship handset after the last year Mate 20 Pro. I am using the Breathing Crystal colour variant and it looks just stunning. However, I must tell you that the all-glass metal design makes P30 Pro feel quite slippery. The phone feels pretty fragile in hands and at 192g; it also feels heavier than the competitors.
Better quality accessories should be offered with flagship phones
I am using the handset with the bundled silicon case which has now turned Yellow after three weeks of continues usage, something common with Huawei's case accessories. Huawei really needs to do something about the bundled cases as the quality is really not up to the flagship standards.
IP68 certified Glass-Metal design
As far as the phone is concerned, the craftsmanship is top-class and the handset feels super premium in hands, even better than the Galaxy S10 series smartphones. There's glass on both sides with metal frame in the middle. The AMOLED panel seamlessly blends with the metal frame and gives the handset a fluid seamless design. To give you the freedom to use the handset in unfavourable conditions, Huawei has made P30 Pro IP68 dust and water resistant. What this means is that you can capture some stunning pictures from the Leica based camera setup on the P30 Pro even when it's raining or while you are taking a dive in the pool. Here I would like to mention that the mono speaker unit stopped working for a while as I submerged the unit in a bucket of water for quick testing. It started working fine once the water dried off from inside the speaker.
Ports and Buttons placement
The buttons are placed on the right side. The Type-C port, mono speaker unit, microphone and SIM card slot are positioned at the bottom. Sadly, there's no 3.5mm headphone jack on this device and the company is also not giving away a free connector in the box. Why Huawei?
P30 Pro is best used with both hands
As far as ergonomics are concerned, P30 Pro is a pretty big device and not a perfect fit for one-hand use for every possible task we perform on our phones. You can wake the screen and unlock the device comfortably as the power button and in-screen fingerprint scanner is positioned at convenient spots respectively. You can also use the phone's dialer, type a quick text and open camera to take a portrait shot without any trouble with just one hand. However, pulling down the notification panel, taking landscape shots, streaming videos and reaching extreme corners of the display demands both hands.
Just to put in perspective, the smartphone is a tad wider than the Mate 20 Pro, and thus demands proper attention. However, the weight is very well distributed on this handset. Overall, P30 Pro is one-of-the-most premium-looking flagship smartphone available in the market today.
Display- Crisp Full HD+ Display but is it sufficient?
Huawei has offered a big 6.47-inches curved OLED display with the P30 Pro. It's essentially the same OLED panel we have tested earlier on Mate 20 Pro. The FHD+ resolution (2340x1080) on a 6.47-inches panel translates to a pixel density of 399ppi. These numbers are not class-leading but do not affect the user experience while you read books or browse web pages on Chrome.
Samsung wins the display game hands-down
To put things in perspective, Samsung's Galaxy S10+ selling at Rs. 65,200 (6GB RAM) boasts a 6.4-inch dynamic AMOLED screen offering a much better pixel density of 522ppi. As I have used the Galaxy S10+, I can say that it certainly offers better screen-viewing experience. The screen on Samsung's phone just feels better for almost everything. The display is one area where Huawei really needs to step up the game.
Nevertheless, the display on the P30 Pro has a Dewdrop notch at the top and come in 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It supports wide colour gamut standard- DCI-P3 and is also Widevine L1 certified to stream media content in HD on popular streaming apps. The colours on the OLED panel look quite vibrant making videos and gameplay experience pretty immersive. There are no light leaks at the curved corners of the panel and touch response is also brilliant. In a nutshell, P30 Pro features a pretty good screen but better displays are available in the market and that too at lower price-points.
Camera- Never was a phone this good as a full-fledged Camera
A lot has been said about the newly engineered camera setup of Huawei P30 Pro. The camera system is developed in partnership with Leica and the duo has done a remarkable job. We have done a detailed camera review of Huawei P30 Pro where you will find out everything about the quad-lens camera setup of Huawei P30 Pro. Having said that, here I am just going to highlight the good and bad about the camera system.
Industry-leading Zoom capabilities- 5x Optical, 10x Hybrid and 50x Digital
Best-in-class Night mode- Even standard mode captures shockingly well-lit images
Snappy and accurate autofocus- Camera on Huawei P30 Pro is blazing fast
Images and videos show unprecedented details
Good dynamic range (Pictures and Videos)
Feature-rich camera app- So much to explore and experiment with camera app
Unique video shooting modes
Stunning bokeh shots
Brilliant video stabilization
Shoots 4K videos in wide-angle mode
Selfies could have been better
Noise while shooting videos in low-light
AI enabled Super macro mode could use some improvements
Wide-angle mode could use some image-processing improvements
Hardware- Kirin 980 SoC with 6GB RAM
Huawei P30 Pro draws power from the Huawei's in-house Kirin 980 chipset, which also supplied power to the Mate 20 Pro. Notably, it is the first Arm Cortex-A76-based 7nm SoC known for its AI capabilities and raw power. The chipset sports ARM's latest gen. Cortex cores in the complex- 2x Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.60 GHz, 2x Cortex-A76 running at 1.92 GHz and 4x Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.80 GHz frequency. The varied clock frequency setup ensures power efficiency during everyday routines you perform on the P30 Pro.
Benchmark Tests and Gaming performance
The phone scored 7831 in PC Mark Work 2.0 Performance benchmark and 2,02,333 in Antutu. For graphics, the CPU unit gets Mali G76MP10 GPU running at 720MHz. The GPU offers double the computational power (individual cores) as compared to ARM's previous gen. GPUs. In our 3D gaming benchmark- Sling Short Extreme- OpenGL ES3.1, the P30 Pro scored 2051 and 2208 in Sling Shot Extreme- Vulkan. The P30 Pro is an excellent gaming device even though the screen is limited to 1080p resolution. Games run without a glitch and phone can handle long gaming sessions without any performance slowdowns. There's not a single game in the Google Play Store that this phone cannot run. It is worth mentioning that I did face some issues with one particular game- Injustice 2. While the graphics were rendered smoothly, the game crashed twice during gameplay.
Huawei P30 Pro applies AI at various places to improve end-user experience
Kirin 980 also features two neural processing units that improve the device's user-experience in various phone related tasks. You will only experience the difference in performance if you execute some AI-related tests (Real-time language translation, Real-time photo manipulation, in apps like PRISMA) side-by-side on P30 Pro and other flagship smartphones. We found a test to run on the phone to quantify the AI performance. Huawei P30 scored 18,307 in the ‘Smart AI' test which essentially tests the phone's ability to recognize various objects by running a series of pictures. The phone recognized objects with 65 % accuracy. The same test's records show that P30 Pro simply tops the charts by beating Pixel 3 XL, Galaxy Note 9, and every other Android phone in the market.
Software- EMUI has come a long way
Running the latest EMUI 9.1, Huawei P30 Pro is a phone on steroids. It's super snappy. The phone runs apps (light or heavy), web pages and everything else without any response delays. It feels faster than Google Pixels, Samsung's latest Galaxy S10 series and is at par with OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition which boasts 10GB RAM. If you are familiar with Huawei's EMUI, you will like the new version. The icons have been tweaked to offer a flat material UI feel; however the sum of total changes is only marginal as compared to previous iterations of EMUI. Stock Android fans will find Huawei's EMUI Android skin a bit less intuitive.
Below is the brief summary in points that sums up the good and bad of EMUI 9.1.
1) You can enable the app drawer or select the standard iOS like home-screen UI.
2) Universal search (Swipe down on any home screen) comes quite handy in everyday routine.
3) Settings menus are very well organized.
4) Gestures could use some refinements.
5) Software features tucked inside settings such as Ride mode, Simple mode, Phone clone, etc. have good use cases depending upon your requirement from the device.
6) Hi-Touch is really annoying as whenever you use two fingers on the screen, the Hi-Touch menu pops up.
7) Some inconsistency in placing submenus. For instance, the dark mode interface option should be placed under ‘Display' rather than ‘Battery'. Huawei wants to convey that it drastically saves battery consumption.
8) Navigation bar under the display feels very cramped. I often found myself tapping on empty spaces in the corners.
9) No adaptive brightness toggle in the quick settings panel, just the slider to increase/decrease the brightness levels.
10) Powerful Theme engine to help you change the look and feel of UI
11) The camera app is fairly easy-to-use but the app crashed multiple times. I even faced an issue where the camera app showed an error message- Cannot connect to the camera. The problem solved only after rebooting the phone.
12) EMUI 9.1 does not let you access quick settings panel when the phone is locked.
13) EMUI allows you to select SD card as default storage.
Overall, EMUI has improved a lot in the last year. There are fewer app crashes- system-wide and third-party and the UI now feels more refined than ever.
Battery Life- Long-Long lasting battery life
After the camera, battery life is something which is truly brilliant about the P30 Pro. The smartphone is backed by a 4,200 mAh battery unit which is aided by 15W fast wireless charging and Huawei's in-house 40W wired SuperCharge technology. The battery on a full charge can easily last more than a day even with heavy usage. With a moderate to low usage patterns, this phone can easily touch up to 40 hours straight. The bundled 40W fast-charger refuels battery from 0 to 100 percent in just 1 hour which is simply crazy. This phone has spoilt me for the long-lasting battery life.
Audio, Connectivity and Call quality
Huawei P30 Pro excels in camera and battery but audio performance comes as a disappointment. I was expecting P30 pro to ship with a stereo speaker setup; however, the company has offered a single downward firing mono speaker unit placed adjacent to the Type-C charging port. As a result, the audio delivery is pretty average and does not match the flagship standards. Samsung Galaxy S10+ offers much better audio performance. Even the Google Pixel 3a XL offers surprisingly better audio delivery than the P30 Pro. Having said that, you have to use headphones while streaming videos and playing games on this handset.
Connectivity is pretty solid on P30 Pro, which is pretty much expected from a Huawei's flagship handset. And unlike some devices I have reviewed in past, Huawei has done wonders with the in-call audio delivery even though the phone users display in place of an earpiece.
At Rs. 71,990, Huawei P30 Pro is a pricey affair; however, rest assured that you will experience first-of-its-kind camera experience with brilliant image and video quality. For mobile phone camera enthusiasts, there's no going back after using the P30 Pro's unmatched zoom and low-light capabilities. The smartphone also delivers solid battery life, best-in-class connectivity and a design to die for. The phone is also IP rated and runs the most refined EMUI version to date. The display and audio performance could have been better. These are two departments where Samsung Galaxy S10+ has an edge over Huawei P30 Pro. For everything else, Huawei P30 Pro outshines its competitors. In a nutshell, Huawei P30 Pro is the best camera smartphone I have got to test to date. And it's also an excellent everyday flagship phone.