Review: Huawei P30 Pro, aiming for the right image

Published: April 15, 2019
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The company is known for experimenting with an innovative mix of colours.
PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

The company is known for experimenting with an innovative mix of colours. PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

With the company’s P20 Pro device gaining a lot of plaudits for its camera, expectations are running high on what the P30 Pro brings to the table.

Before we jump into analysing the device, here’s a quick look at its specs. Powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 980 processor (used also in the flagship Mate 20), the device has a 6.47-inch FullHD+ OLED display, with a whopping 8GB of RAM and a 512 GB storage option.

Apart from that, the Pro variant has four rear cameras with a 40-megapixel (Superspectrum) f/1.6 sensor, 20-megapixel wide-angle f/2.2 sensor with 50x digital zoom capability, not to forget the 8-megapixel f/3.4 sensor with a 5x optical zoom internal periscope camera and a fourth time-of-flight (TOF) sensor.

The device also has a 4,400 mAh battery, in-built fingerprint scanner, a USB-C charging port with 40W supercharging.

Unique to the P30 Pro, the Time-of-Flight (TOF) Camera aims to capture depth-of-field information to deliver precisely accurate image segmentation

Design

PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

Slightly larger than usual, the 6.47-inch doesn’t seem as big as one would fear. Generally, smartphones have surpassed the 6-inch barrier making it a design norm for the last few years. Any deviation from this may cause an alarm. The P30 Pro albeit slightly larger than the usual expectations doesn’t trigger much attention to its size.

This works well in terms of keeping the attention focused on the camera. Apart from that, the teardrop notch is similar to that used in its predecessor.

Huawei goes big on smartphone cameras with P30 Pro launch

We expected the company to experiment fitting the camera sensors in a square-shaped design like the one used for the Mate 20 however, Huawei stuck with the teardrop notch.

The notch has space to hold only a selfie camera. That means, unlike the Mate, there’s no laser-based face unlock. The P30 Pro has a camera-based face unlock function which makes a small difference to the unlocking ability.

The inbuilt fingerprint sensor although is well placed in terms of not taking any design space but with respect to its functionality, the company has so far always suffered. Be it the Mate or the P series,  Huawei hasn’t quite cracked the fingerprint sensor.

Camera

PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

Looking at the P series, it’s quite evident that the company has dedicated this series to prioritise smartphone photography. The P20 Pro was defined as their breakthrough device in an increasingly competitive smartphone industry.

The company so far has managed to retain the core camera elements that made the P20 Pro so popular. With the P30 Pro, the company has taken a big leap when it comes to low light photography along with an increased digital zoom capacity up to 50x.

The 40 MP Super Spectrum Sensor certainly outdoes its predecessor in terms of capturing light at an astonishingly high ISO. It also has an f/1.6 aperture lens for night time usage.  The Ultrawide feature continues with a 20 MP sensor. Another new element to the camera capability includes the new time-of-flight range imaging sensor for enhanced background blurring. For portrait images, this sensor helps to play with the focus a great deal.

Wide and Super wide at play in the Louvre

We noticed that backgrounds are blurred out especially well in more light exposure. The subject matter is definitively drawn out from the background using the bokeh with the AI quick to grasp the surroundings for the camera. We have always found the AI to be one of Huawei’s most underrated feature. It really is quick to read the subject matter and adjust accordingly.

The 5x Periscope camera crams more into less space. 5X Optical zoom has literally been unheard of in smartphones and in terms of the output the images come in better white balance than its predecessor and slightly better dynamic range.

Arguably its most important selling point, the 50x digital zoom capability outdoes anything we have seen so far. As seen in the images below, visuals far off are clearly visible. Of course, the image quality would reduce slightly, inversely proportionate to the amount you zoom in. Ideally, the camera works best up to 30x digital zoom.

However given that there are no other options that give you a 50x zoom capability and with a decent image output, the feature takes the device miles ahead of its competitors. You do need a very stable hand to zoom in completely and if you manage to maintain that calmness while capturing far off subjects, you’re in for a real treat.  The ultra wide option used for group pictures or landscapes also reduces the image texture slightly as it has no OIS and a smaller aperture but enough to beat most indicators.

For the selfie camera, a 32Megapixel camera with HDR support really captures details well. It struggled a bit with low light images but overall, quite surprisingly, Huawei really improved its selfie camera. Previously, the front camera hasn’t really been a priority on the list but we were pleasantly surprised at the detail the camera was able to catch.

Our favourite feature apart from the enhanced bokeh effect is the night mode capability. Photos taken in pitch darkness have come out surprisingly very visible. Huawei has aggressively made changes to its night mode with this device and it’s been one of the prime elements of the camera brigade.

Shot in pitch dark.

The Dxomark rating for the cameras shows Huawei’s camera credibility. The company has taken a step forward with its videography. There’s still a little way to go for the company but there is a marked improvement with the video mode.

Performance

PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

Unsurprisingly, the company has stuck with the Kirin 980 processor used in its latest Mate device. The long-lasting battery combined with the Android 9 Pie OS, EMUI skin and 8GB of RAM, the device has all the state of the art tools for enhanced performance.

The Kirin vs Snapdragon debate will always continue with each premium Huawei device but quite honestly we are past that. There are a few eyebrows raised over the slightly lower Full HD resolution however its nothing that should sway you away from some of the phone’s other features.

Despite the relatively lower resolution, the device excels in terms of contrasting shades of the pixel density, with the default display colours set to Vivid.

Price and Colour

PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

Priced at 174,999/-, the phone retails at an expensive rate. The price is definitely a hindrance for the average buyer but given the extent of prices of leading smartphones this year, Huawei aims to place the P series amongst the premium smartphones in the market.

The device comes with different storage options. apart from the standard 128 GB variant, Huawei is selling the device with a 256GB and 512 option.

Review: Huawei Mate 20 Pro, a leap of faith

In terms of colour, the options include the new white creamish mix known as Breathing Crystal, a purple-bluish tint known as Aurora, orange Amber Sunrise and a reflective Black variant. The company is known for experimenting with an innovative mix of colours.

Conclusion

PHOTO: NARENDAR KHATRI

The P30 Pro takes the best features of the Mate 20 Pro and adds an extraordinary camera to it. The zooming ability and the enhanced night mode images really make this a photographer’s smartphone.

We feared that the device would somehow ruin the ability showcased in the P20 Pro, however thankfully Huawei has very carefully improved on the previous version. It may not be Huawei’s most complete device like the Mate 20 Pro in the general frame of specs, but its camera capability is one experience you shouldn’t miss out on.

If you can afford the price which is definitely a roadblock and have a keen interest in smartphone photography, this has to be your go-to device.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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