Huawei P30 Pro Review – Best Huawei Phone By Far
The P30 Pro is a statement from Huawei, with the Chinese smartphone manufacturer declaring that its new flagship will “rewrite the rules of photography”.
It aims to do that with its quad camera system which offers a 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and huge 50x digital zoom, along with bold claims for low-light performance.
The Huawei P30 Pro launched alongside the cheaper Huawei P30. The P30 is smaller, has a less-advanced camera, and comes with a lower IP rating. It does offer one big feature you won’t get on the P30 Pro, though: a headphone jack.
The Huawei P30 Pro is the manufacturer’s last flagship that shipped with Google apps on board. Even a year after its release, the P30 Pro remains an attractive option for customers who just can’t deal with the lack of Google apps, but still like Huawei’s products.
Huawei P30 Pro Review
1. What’s in the box
- 40W fast charger
- USB-C earbuds
- A basic clear case
Unlike other manufacturers, Huawei bundles its flagships with the best charger available. It’s the same crazy-fast 40W charger we saw on the Mate 20 Pro. The soft clear case is basic, but still nice to have until you get something more personal. The earbuds are decent, for a bundled product, but you can definitely do better.
2. Huawei P30 Pro Review : Design
- 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm
- Waterdrop notch
- Curved display edges
- USB-C port
- No headphone jack
If you ever played with the Mate 20 Pro, you already know what the P30 Pro feels like. The overall format is the same, but the P30 Pro is a hair bigger. Other than the different notches and camera setups, these phones are almost identical.
The Huawei P30 Pro feels very comfortable in the hand, despite the slippery glass back. It’s a little heavy, but not too much. While most folks will want to use it with two hands, once you slip a good case on, you can definitely use it with one.
The expansive display curves pleasantly on the sides, just like on Samsung’s phones. It’s pretty, but the curves create annoying glare under bright light. If you like flat displays, the regular P30’s got you covered.
The notch on the P30 Pro is small and inconspicuous. As far as notches go, it’s probably the best compromise between form and functionality, as it doesn’t really mess with the notification bar. That was my top complaint about the large notch on the Mate 20 Pro.
The downside? The notch only houses a selfie camera. There’s no laser-based face unlock like on the Mate 20 Pro, and that’s a shame. While the P30 Pro has a camera-based face unlock function, it’s not as good as the laser system. I was able to unlock it by simply showing it a picture of me on another phone. The feature works well in bright light, but falters in low light and when you don’t look at the phone straight on.
Another thing ostensibly missing is the earpiece speaker. There’s no grille at all, making for cleaner lines at the top. Huawei embedded the speaker beneath the screen. It seems so obvious, but it’s no mean feat, and Huawei’s implementation works great. It’s based on a technology called “electromagnetic levitation” that’s different from the piezoelectric speakers used in previous embedded designs (most of which were dodgy). Voice calls sound loud and clear, and you don’t even need to press your ear against the screen to hear everything. If you turn call volume up to the max, the speaker can be easily heard from a couple of meters away; set it below 50 percent to keep your calls private.
For regular audio, there’s a single speaker at the bottom. According to Huawei, there was no room for an audio jack, but the company managed to include one on the smaller P30.
3. Huawei P30 Pro Review: Display
- 6.47 inches
- 1080 x 2340, 19.5:9
- HDR10, DCI-P3
- 398 ppi
- Always-on display
Most high-end phones now feature beautiful OLED screens, and the Huawei P30 Pro is no exception. The pixel density, brightness, and contrast levels are on point. By default, display colors are set to Vivid, which I prefer over the slightly warmer Default mode. You can easily pick a custom color setting as well.
The P30 Pro features a simple always-on display that shows the time and some notifications. You can’t customize it beyond setting a schedule for it, and you can’t wake up the phone with a double-tap, which is a real first-world problem for me.
For the record, the regular P30 features a 6.1-inch Full HD OLED display.
- Huawei Kirin 980
- Mali-G76 MP10
- 8GB of RAM
- 128, 256GB or 512GB of RAM
- Nano memory card slot
The Huawei P30 Pro performs admirably. It’s as fast and smooth as you’d expect a phone of this caliber to be. Not counting a few hiccups in the first hours I had the phone – which can be chalked up to installing all the apps – I encountered no performance issues whatsoever.
The P30 Pro features a proprietary file system that helps performance. Most users won’t ever notice it, but this deep-level customization gives the phone a bit more oomph when transferring files to and from its storage, in addition to slightly lower app start times.
Speaking of storage, don’t buy a microSD card for your new P30 Pro. The phone has a card slot, but it only works with Huawei’s proprietary Nano Memory format, just like the Mate 20 Pro.
The Huawei P30 Pro gets solid scores in benchmarks, but nothing to brag about. In AnTuTu, for instance, it scores around 290,000 points, a good 40,000 points behind the Galaxy S10 Plus. In Gary’s Speed Test G, the P30 Pro (like the P30) finished the course in 1m:45s, a bit behind the Galaxy S10 Plus’ 1m:33s.
If you really want the best performance, you can enable Performance Mode from the battery settings, though I don’t recommend it. I did not see a visible improvement when gaming, but I did notice a hit on the battery life. If you decide you need it, don’t forget to turn it off afterwards.
- 40W fast charging
- 15W wireless charging
- Reverse wireless charging
After the excellent camera, the P30 Pro’s battery is its best feature.
I was able to get between 8 and 9 hours of screen-on time. The phone was mostly connected to Wi-Fi, with auto-brightness and the dark mode on, and Performance Mode off. My usage was a mix of plain internet browsing, using Sync for Reddit, watching lots of YouTube, and some gaming. David, who did the Huawei P30 Pro review video, got even better screen-on time of 9 to 10 hours. That’s despite using his phone’s roaming cellular connection over in Morocco. Both of us were able to go through two days of usage without any issues.
The P30 Pro lasts even longer than the Mate 20 Pro, which has the same battery size and core specs.
When the P30 Pro eventually runs out of juice, it’s really easy to fill it back up. The charger in the box is a 40W model, which is much faster than other fast chargers out there. It can charge the P30 Pro up to 70 percent battery in just 30 minutes. It’s really impressive. Support for 15W wireless charging is also great.
Like the Mate 20 Pro and the Galaxy S10 Plus, the P30 Pro can wirelessly charge other devices. This reverse wireless charging function is meant for small gadgets like wireless earbuds, smartwatches, or maybe an electric toothbrush. You can use it to top up other phones, but, at just 2.5W, it won’t be a good experience. As a side note, Samsung’s flagship is a bit faster at reverse charging, but not by much.
- Standard: 40 MP, f/1.6, OIS
- Pixel-binned 10MP images
- Ultra-wide: 20MP, f/2.2
- Telephoto: 8MP, f/3.4, OIS
- Time-of-Flight camera
- 32MP selfie camera
Chances are you’re here for the camera impressions. Everything else about the Huawei P30 Pro is impressive, but not really new. The camera is in a class of its own.
The P30 Pro has three main cameras and a Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor that measures the distance to objects in the field of view. The main 40MP camera is what you’ll use in most cases. Because it uses pixel binning, it saves 10MP images by default, but you can switch to the full 40MP resolution if you prefer it. For groups of people or landscapes, you can switch to the ultra-wide camera. If you need to bring your subject closer, switch to the telephoto.
If it all sounds daunting, don’t worry – you don’t need to be a photography pro to master the P30 Pro. It’s very simple to use once you learn its quirks, allowing you to fully focus on getting the best shot.
In general, pictures taken with the P30 Pro look great, with crisp detail, pleasant colors (without going overboard), accurate white balance, and good dynamic range.
The zoom ability is impressive: where most phones only support digital zoom, the P30 Pro can zoom in optically up to 5X and then switch to lossless zoom until 10X. If you really want to get close, digital zoom goes up to a whopping 50X. In the real world, you’ll be able to use this zoom ability to capture more detail, frame your shots better, and separate your subject from the background.
In good light, images shot at 5X and even up to 10X look very crisp, without the smudgy effect you see on most other phones. Don’t expect the smooth clarity of a big fancy DSLR, but the P30 Pro’s zoom is as good as it gets when it comes to smartphones.
Zooming in over 10X rapidly decreases image quality, but with good light you can still get decent results even at high magnification. They won’t be crisp or detailed, but in a pinch, they might be enough.
Occasionally, the P30 Pro has trouble selecting the right lens (or, technically, combination of lenses) when swiping to switch zoom factors. In these cases, you get a blurry, shaky image preview, instead of the optically-stabilized image of the telephoto camera. It’s not a major issue, as the phone usually recovers quickly.
Zoom out enough, and the P30 Pro will switch to its ultra-wide camera. The lens on this camera has a smaller aperture and has no OIS, so image quality will be slightly lower. On the Mate 20 Pro, images taken with the ultra-wide lens were pretty dark and blurry, but the P30 Pro seems to be better in this regard. You’ll still get the best results in broad daylight. This camera is also great for macro photography.
The portrait mode on the P30 Pro is among the best I have used. This is where that fourth camera comes into play. The Time-of-Flight camera measures the distance to the objects in the scene, allowing the phone to apply more natural-looking blur effects.
Instead of the blanket, uniform bokeh created by other phones, the P30 Pro applies a gradual bokeh that becomes stronger deeper into the background.
Separation between the subject and the background is still not perfect, despite the ToF sensor. Fine strands of hair are still blurred out, but it’s still better than other phones in my opinion. As for the quality of portrait shots, it can vary. Subjects can turn out very crisp, but also slightly dark and blurry, depending on how much light the camera has to work with. David thinks the Pixel 3 XL’s portrait mode is still superior.
You’ve probably seen the hype around the Huawei P30 Pro’s low-light performance. For the most part, it’s real. In fact, the darker the scene, the better the P30 Pro appears to perform.
In very low light – like in a dark room, or in a park at night – the phone uses a long exposure to gather more light from the scene. This is built right into the default shooting mode, and in most cases, it’s so fast you won’t realize it’s happening. The results are stunning. The phone can literally see in the dark and capture things you can’t see with the naked eye.
The Huawei P30 Pro easily beats the Pixel 3 XL’s Night Sight mode, which was widely considered the best solution for low-light photography until now.
The best thing about the P30 Pro’s extreme low-light performance is that it’s very seamless. You don’t need to switch to Night Mode (even if that’s still available as a separate mode). Just raise your phone, press the shutter button, wait for a second or two, and you’re done. It really is an incredible feature.
Sadly, the amazing performance in extreme low light does not always translate into amazing performance in normal low light, which is where most people will actually use the phone. Normal low light shots can be quite good, but they can also turn out terrible, just like every phone out there.
The Pixel 3 XL (which has one camera) can outperform the P30 Pro in low light situations, delivering crisper images with better colors. Huawei’s phone also tends to blow out highlights more.
The P30 Pro can definitely stand its own against the Pixel, or any other low-light performer. However, it’s not a notch above, like its zoom or extreme low-light features are.
7. Huawei P30 Pro specs
|Huawei P30 Pro|
|Display||6.47-inch, dual-curved, FHD+ (2340×1080), OLED display|
|Chipset||HiSilicon Kirin 980|
|Storage||128GB / 512GB
Nano Memory Card expansion
15W Wireless charge
Reverse wireless charging
27mm 40MP sensor, ƒ/1.6 aperture
16mm 20MP Ultrawide sensor, ƒ/2.2 aperture
125mm 8MP 5x optical periscope prism, ƒ/3.4 aperture
Huawei TOF (time-of-flight) camera
32MP sensor, ƒ/2.0 aperture
|Security||In-display fingerprint sensor|
|Software||EMUI 9.1, based on Android 9 Pie|
|Connectivity||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (wave2), 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0, BLE, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA Audio
|Dimensions and weight||158 x 73.4 x 8.4 mm
|Colors||Amber Sunrise, Breathing Crystal, Aurora, Black|