When Huawei invited me out to Paris to get hands-on the brand-new P30 Pro, this was definitely an event I had to go to, I was excited about due to the amazing camera possibilities, and being a big fan of the Huawei brand I was interested in what they had coming.
Having used the Mate 20 Pro at the end of last year, I knew that the P30 Pro will take it to the new level, especially with the P range being more about photography.
Huawei kindly set me up with the Aurora Blue colour of the P30 Pro at the event so I was able to start getting coverage straightaway, and being in Paris this was the perfect chance to show off what the camera can do.
Looking straight on at the front of the device you can see it’s now all about the screen doing away with the fingerprint reader that was found on the P 20 Pro last year.
The New 6.47 inch display takes up all of the front with the exception of the dewdrop notch which now features an impressive 32 megapixel camera that really impress in quality of both photo and video.
With the smaller notch for just the selfie camera, you still have the face unlock which is a nice feature and works really well for quickly unlocking the device after you pick it up.
There is very little bezel on the device thanks to the built in fingerprint reader in the display, this has done away with having a large chin and carries on from the success the Mate 20 Pro had with this feature, and has improved the speed and reliability too making it even better to use
Turn over to the left side and you notice that there is no buttons, holes or anything
Huawei try to improve on the design as much as possible by taking away things from the side and instead put on the top of the bottom.
Looking at the front of the phone near the camera, normally you would expect to see a speaker grill for listening to the phone when you’re in a voice call, however, the P30 Pro features new sonic wave technology which vibrates under the screen instead, I did wonder how well this would work especially in loud conditions near traffic, I was very impressed and actually couldn’t really tell the difference between this and a normal traditional speaker,
The only disappointment with this being it means there is no stereo audio playback when watching videos on the screen, instead just having the single speaker at the bottom.
Over on the right hand side all you have is the volume up and down buttons which are pretty self-explanatory and you also have the power button which now opens the Google Assistant.
Holding onto the power button for a second the Google Assistant pops up on your screen and allows you to do various voice commands such as messaging people, or reading your email.
I mainly use it to set an alarm but can also be used to answer any questions you have and this quick shortcut is very handy.
Holding onto the Power for a couple of seconds gives you the pop-up screen allowing you to turn the phone off as well as having the option to just restart.
When the phone is locked, double tapping the volume down button quickly opens the camera, it seems to take a quick picture on it’s own but then the camera mode is still on screen allowing you to take your photo quickly and easy without unlocking the phone.
Looking up at the top you have the IR blaster which is nice to see, as well as one of the two Microphones which allow you to capture audio in stereo quality with some noise cancellation as well.
The IR blaster is a nice addition because having just recently moved home, I’m always losing my remote control and it now means I can control the volume as well as power using my phone instead of having to get up and push on the TV itself.
At the bottom you now have the removable sim tray which on my P30 Pro model was dual sim, or allows for one sim card and one memory card, however this will vary depending on where you get your device from.
You also have the USB-C charging port which doesn’t have the speaker inside it that we saw on the Mate 20 Pro, however the speakerphone is now positioned to the right side and is made of five cutout holes.
Looking over onto the back you get the main feature of the phone, you get the gorgeous design depending on the colour you decide to pick, in my case Aurora Blue
On the pro version that I have, you have the three main cameras on the back which consist of a 40 megapixel main camera, a 20 megapixel super wide-angle, and the new 8 megapixel telephoto lens with periscope technology which allows that super amazing zoom.
Below that you have the duel LED flash as well as laser auto focus and the new ToF Camera which helps determine the distance, this allows you to get super impressive portrait photos as it can read the situation and adjust the distance accordingly.
One thing I did notice is the P30 Pro does not have the rounded corners like the older P20 Pro, instead they are more squarish which does make the phone look a little bit different, but also very impressive and it does feel better to use in the hand as less likely to be dropped.
There is no doubt that when it comes to the P30 and P30 Pro, the P stands for photography and Huawei really want to shout about how great this latest version is.
Their advertising line was -’rewrite the rules of photography’ and they have certainly done that here with four cameras on the back, a 32MP selfie camera, and some very clever AI technology to get that amazing shot at all times.
Over on the back you have a 40MP main sensor which has been changed from older devices, now you have an aperture of f1.6 for even better low light photos which is something the P20 was known for.
Not only does it have a lower aperture, it now has a RYYB filter instead of the RGGB seen on other smartphones, this allows more light into the sensor and really makes a huge difference in low light conditions.
The other cameras are a 20MP super wide angle for capturing a much wider view which is great for landscape shots so you don’t miss out any detail.
The third camera is a 8MP telephoto with periscope technology which is where the magic of the zoom happens.
Using these three cameras together you get 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and a crazy 50x digital zoom, although it is impressive to see this high level of zoom on a smartphone, the 50x does start losing a lot of detail, but is super impressive to show off and see things your eyes cannot.
The fourth camera on the back is for ToF and this fires out to see how far you are from an object, not only does this really help with details portrait shots, it also allows you to use the AI Measure app for measuring distance.
Over on the front you have the 32MP selfie camera which is incredible when you think a front facing camera for selfies has this amount of megapixels.
Thankfully HDR is included on the selfie camera and this helps when it comes to tricky lighting conditions that would normally ruin that special photo.
When it comes to video recording on the front facing camera, the P30 Pro can record in FHD (1080p) quality which is decent enough to share online or playback on the device.
I did a vlog video recently using the front facing camera and details came out clear and overall very impressive.
Software is where Huawei really start making the difference when it comes to using the camera with a huge amount of options within the app.
With AI switched on the device can determine the scene type and make adjustments to improve the photo, this can be from making the sky blue to getting really close and using the Super Macro mode.
Going between all the options you have…
This mode works very much like the Portrait option, it shows a slider that lets you adjust the amount of background blur. You can also choose which part of the photo gets blurred, even after you have taken the photo.
Great for anyone who wants to get some interesting photos and play around with them after.
Night Mode is the very cool camera preset that lets you take amazing low-light photos handheld, whilst keeping the quality and colours so that it really stands out.
This was launched with the P20 Pro and has to be one of the most used modes from that device.
You can capture some amazing photos in low light with this. No tripod needed and with the super high ISO you can get some stunning might photos.
Check out some examples in the gallery later on to see why this phone is one of the best at low light photography.
Portrait mode is great for anyone who likes capturing photos of their subject, with a subtle – yet noticeable – background blur. This makes your photos really stand out and look almost like paintings.
Whilst Portrait is not a new mode for a lot of people, it works really well. The camera properly shines in this mode.
This is the normal camera mode and will be what most people want to stay in. Here you get the AI features and this will detect what you’re snapping and alters the balance and settings of the camera depending on what you’re snapping. This is why it is the best mode for simple photography – just point and shoot.
Video mode really stands out from the competition thanks to the processing power of the new Kirin 980 chip. You have a wide range of live filters in the camera app. These include a background blur option, which is really cool to test out, I must say. However, the key mode to try is called AI Colour.
This mode turns the viewfinder into a monochrome mode, with your subject being the only item in colour. This would normally take an age to do in video editing after the clip was recorded in colour, yet the P30 Pro can handle it on the go.
Pro mode is where those users who are really into their cameras can get the best photo possible. You have access to a wide range of adjustable settings for things such as ISO, Shutter speed, White balance plus focus point. You can really get creative with these cameras.
If those were not enough to play with, there is a More tab which lets you pick between Slow-mo, Panorama, Monochrome, AR Lens, Light Painting, HDR, Time lapse, Filter, 3D panorama, Watermark, Documents and Underwater. There is also a Download option where new presets can be downloaded free to improve your camera even further.
Video mode has improved over the P20 Pro with better stabilisation thanks to OIS on all the cameras, also you can use the wide angle and zoom options within the video mode as seen in some quick examples below.
Video recording is up to 4K resolution which is great when played back on a large display with a lot of pixels, it also allows you to upload to YouTube at full 4K resolution, although this eats up storage space.
As I mentioned back on my Huawei Mate 20 review, one, of the areas Huawei have to win people over with is their EMUI version of Android, whilst it is based on the latest version 9, Pie, the skin does take some getting used too with different screens and options dotted around.
The great thing with Android is if you want a change, there are hundreds of options available to download from the Play Store and help you make your P30 Pro feel more ‘familiar’
Both the P30 and the Pro come with the latest update called EMUI 9.1, and with this comes some key improvements to help get the best from the hardware.
First of all the file management system has been improved by 20% so now you get more space and better performance for everyday tasks.
GPU Turbo 3 helps reduce battery drain by 10%, and this helps improve overall gaming performance which on a screen this size goes a long way.
There are other improvements such as different themes, wallpapers, a new AR Measure app so you can tell the height or distance of an object or person and also a new way to share content with a Huawei laptop.
Expect the Mate 20 series to get this EMUI 9.1 update shortly if it has not already started to roll out.
And of course, AI is packed into the software experience to help keep things running as smoothly as possible.
Performance is always an area Huawei impress at, and with the P30 Pro packing the latest 7nm Kirin 980 processor we saw on their Mate 20 Pro, you are getting a real powerhouse in processing power, and it shows with the amount of AI features possible such as background blur and AI Colour modes when recording video with no editing needed.
The P30 Pro also comes with 6GB of RAM allowing for smooth multitasking between all your apps, and performance was like butter, smooth swapping and opening of apps with no issues.
When it comes to storage there are a few versions which were announced.
The main ones on sale are 128GB and 512GB, the Amber Sunrise seems to be exclusive to the larger model as one of the key selling points, and if all the ‘oooooh’ reactions from people attending the event are to be used as a measure, the larger model might be the one many choose.
There was another model announced with 256GB, this is the model I was loaned to review, but the specs are the same as the other two with the larger storage being the only change.
The battery is an area that many people look at in their next smartphone choice, and especially so when it comes to a device aimed with the camera being used as the main selling point.
Thankfully the large 4200mAh battery does a great job, even with a lot of camera use it easily lasts the day and has some handy charging options to help just in case.
40w cable charging is included which charges the battery super fast, a small 15 minute topup would charge the battery enough for a lot more use on the device including loads more photos.
If the wired charger is not to hand then there is 15w wireless charging using QI so you can pop your phone down on a charger and get that topup when at a cafe, or a wide range of shops that now offer free wireless charging.
On the flip side you can also charge other devices you own with the handy reverse wireless charging option within the settings screen.
Once switched on this will allow your phone to act as a wireless charger so you can help charge your friends phones if needed, although the speed is very slow so is more of a selling gimmick than main reason to buy this in a phone.
There is a lot of competition at the moment for the best all-round phone, Samsung have recently launched the S10 range, Huawei have their P30 series, and you always have the up-and-coming devices from companies such as OnePlus and Honor to contend with.
Overall I would honestly say that the P30 Pro is the best all-round phone on sale right now at time of writing this review.
It has fantastic battery life, reverse wireless charging, a decent display which works in all lighting conditions including outdoors.
You have the best camera on a smart phone now beating the Pixel 3 due to the wide variety of modes and lenses it has.
You have an amazing front facing camera for anyone who wants to do video blogging or take selfies or just use good old fashion video calling.
With 128 GB of storage 6 GB of RAM, this is a powerhouse of a smart phone
Whilst the P30 Pro may not be a cheap phone to buy out right at nearly £900, it is the best on sale right now and with the wide variety of camera options build quality you really are getting value for money.
For those people who don’t want to spend out as much to get the pro model, the normal P30 still does a decent job, it does however lack some key selling points such as the reverse wireless charging, you also lose some of the battery capacity and the ToF sensor camera on the back for judging distance and improving portrait mode.
If you’re due an upgrade or in the market for the best smart phone on sale right now, in my opinion the P30 Pro is the right way to go.
Big thank you to Huawei for hooking me up with advice so quick and to be able to put this review together.
Whilst I was taken out to the event in Paris and given a loan device to cover, in no way did this impact my review in any way and all thoughts given were after using the device every day for nearly a whole month as my daily driver.