For the past month the Huawei P30 Pro has been my primary phone. During that time it’s travelled with me to the US and served as the epicentre of a DIY medical solution that keeps me alive. Everything it’s done it’s done exceedingly well and because of that has made a strong argument to be one of the best flagship smartphones on the market today, with one very large, bloated and orange caveat.
At first glance the P30 and it’s Pro brother have a set of internals reminiscent of their older sibling the P20. The same Kirin 980 powers them both for instance, but the newer P30 includes a bump in RAM, up to 8GB, as well as storage now doubled to 256GB.
Display wise both of the P30s now have a full OLED display. The larger 6.47″ Pro is slightly different to it’s non Pro 6.1″ brother, using a curved edged similar to what you find on Samsung’s Galaxy range.
It’s combination of photography prowess, raw power and battery life make for a deadly combination.
Sporting a small teardrop notch the display is largely unaffected by the whopping 32MP (f/2.0) selfie lens. Meanwhile on the back is either a triple or quad camera array depending on if it’s the P30 Pro or not. Either way the specs on both are impressive and Huawei’s partnership with Leica is paying off in dividends as they continue to produce what is easily the best smartphone camera experience on the market today.
It’s all about that camera
There are good smartphone cameras and then there’s the P30 Pro. Including not one, not two, not even three but four lenses the P30 Pro covers all of your phone photography needs.
Inside its quad-lense camera are a 40MP SuperSpectrum sensor (f/1.6) 20MP ultra-wide with a macro (f/2.2) 8MP telephoto lens (f/3.4) and “Time of Flight” sensor.
The stunning combination turns the P30 Pro into the Swiss-Army knife of phone cameras. From ultra wide to a 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid and 50x digital you have an impressive arsenal of options in a ridiculously small package. Ten years ago to get that coverage I’d be hauling an SLR body and three lenses, which even then would struggle to match the P30 Pros quality due to its SuperSpectrum sensor.
The new sensor captures 40% more light across Red, Yellow, Yellow, Blue (RYYB) bands instead of the standard RGB. This is particularly evident in night photography, which the P30 excels in. Operating at up to ISO 409,600 the phone can effectively see in the dark. With that said, if you are shooting in pitch black (which it seriously can do) you’ll need a steady hand. Night shots like these can take up to four seconds to capture the required information to construct an image.
A selection of shots taken using the P30 Pro:
Battery for days
I have a long standing beef with phone manufacturers and their reluctance to embrace battery capacity over thinner phones. No one wants a phone that lasts less than a day let alone an iPhone that barely makes it through a work day without needing some added juice.
Thankfully Huawei have heard my screams and leader-in-class 4200mAh battery inside the P30 Pro. This is a god-send for me. As someone whom has type 1 diabetes my smartphone is the epicentre of my treatment. It runs software that constantly communicates to sensors and my insulin pump making hundreds of adjustments to offer a better level of control as part of a DIY solution called “looping“. This always-on style of treatment means constant battery monitoring and on an iPhone (even a Plus/Max) a chore.
With the P30 Pro that constant fear of 0% battery was gone. I could run the software I needed, let it operate constantly and go about my day with mAh’s to spare!
For those not running an artificial pancreas off their phones you’ll enjoy having a phone that once again lasts days instead of “part of a day”! Be aware though, one of the reasons the P30 can have such a long battery life is because of its application management. Huawei’s EMUI loader shuts down apps it feels haven’t been used for a period of time.
So shiny, so slippery
As close as it is to the perfect phone the P30 Pro isn’t without its faults. To start with it’s only available in some unusual colour schemes: Aurora and Breathing Crystal. Yeah I don’t know either. I was sent the “Breathing Crystal” version, which I can only describe as sort of a sparkly unicorn? The colour changes depending on the angle you hold the phone and while it isn’t terrible I’d definitely prefer something a little more standard like, say, black. Crazy I know.
The case is also extremely slippery. Just holding it in one hand the phone sort of slides through my grip. Huawei include a clear cover in the box which has a rubbery texture and solves that immediately but putting a cover on your phone should never be a solution to any problem. I’m talking to you iPhone camera bump!
I’m not a big fan of the curved screen edges à la Samsung Galaxy Edge. Whilst it keeps the overall size of the phone down slightly it feels awkward when interacting with the display and items are close to the edge. Typing especially suffers with letters at the extremities.
Sadly one step the P30 takes backwards is the removal of 3D sensors for unlocking the phone with your face. It still offers facial recognition but it’s woeful in comparison and harkens back to the days Samsung first tried 2D facial recognition, easily fooled and unreliable.
This is countered with an in-screen fingerprint reader that’s remarkably intuitive but feels slightly antiquated. Gotta give it to Apple, FaceID has spoilt us and fingerprints feels so 2015.
The orange elephant in the room
It’d be remiss to not mention the cloud that is the US trade ban Huwaei currently face. Whilst in place the P30 Pro, along with any product from Huwaei is unable to source hardware components or licence software originating in the US — including the Android operating system.
This heavily affects the phone’s potential moving forward and if the ban continues Huwaei will have no choice but to rely on an open source version of the operating system and develop their own Play Store to house apps. Despite all this Huawei remain outwardly adament that their phones (including the P30) will be upgraded to the newly announced Android Q and they’ve begun testing ahead of its to-be-determined release.
Should I buy it though?
If you look at the P30 Pro on its merits alone there is no other flagship on the market today I’d rather have in my pocket. It’s combination of photography prowess, raw power and battery life make for a deadly combination.
When we look at Huawei’s current problematic situation the answer takes on new shape. The risk of it not being truly supported in the future has meant some stores have begun pulling the phone from shelves. The reward to the risk; how cheaply the P30 can be found for, with pricing significantly less than it’s original RRP of A$1599.
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