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Why the Huawei P30 Pro is the only camera you need

Huawei P30 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S10+
(Image: © Android Central)

As a technology reviewer, friends and family often turn to me for advice on what gadget to buy. For years, it was usually a question of whether they should buy the latest Galaxy or iPhone, but last year, Huawei got added to the conversation in a big way with the P20 Pro.

The P20 Pro was arguably Huawei's breakout device. Every company has one of these – for Samsung, the Galaxy S III awakened the world's eyes to the company's product line – and while Huawei was already a large player, the P20 Pro was when the world truly took notice. Compared to the Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6, the P20 Pro's camera was producing photos in low light that wouldn't be rivaled by anyone until Google almost six months later.

Fast forward a year, and mentioning Huawei invokes several different conversations at once. First, there's the matter of its subsequent devices, such as the Mate 20 Pro last October, and the P30 Pro (opens in new tab) launched earlier this year. More importantly, there's the discussion around the company's ongoing problems as a result of the trade war between the U.S. and China where it finds itself in the center.

That trade war has also seen one of the biggest discussion points around Huawei arise to the forefront: does the company pose a security risk? That's a question best left for the experts, as there's evidence out there but it's yet to be proven, but all this raises one important question to me: should you buy the P30 Pro?

After using it for the past 3 months, my answer is a resounding yes, but it does come with certain caveats attached. Here's why the P30 Pro is the phone I recommend to everyone.

The only camera you need

Surprise, surprise, I love the P30 Pro camera. Here's the thing – I have every 2019 flagship in my possession, yet when I want a reliable camera that can do everything, I always turn to the P30 Pro.

Why? That's easy: it seemingly has everything. The Pixel 3 is incredible in low light thanks to Night Sight but lacks the wider field of view and multiple cameras. The Galaxy S10 is a great all-rounder but lags far behind in the zoom department. Devices like the Oppo Reno offer 10x zoom but fail to hit other areas that the P30 Pro does.

The P30 Pro's biggest strength is its versatility. The day after the P30 Pro launched in Paris in March, I was using it to take photos of the Eiffel Tower and other Paris landmarks. In the 15 years since I was last in Paris, the major sights haven't changed, but phones like the P30 Pro are changing how we capture these memories.

Case in point – I had totally forgotten there were 72 names of the engineers, scientists and others that helped create this wonder. Thanks to the 50x zoom, I could make out each person's name:

At the beginning of June, my little sister got married and the P30 Pro captured some incredible moments. In particular, the wide aperture mode – which lets you adjust the amount of depth in a photo after capture – made for some stunning photos.

Huawei's Master AI proved to be useful to help boost the colors in the perfect blue sky. The wide-angle lens helped take amazing photos of all the family at the mandap (essentially, the altar at an Indian wedding).

The night mode especially wows me. This camera can take some simply incredible photos, not least when it comes to objects like the Eiffel Tower. In particular, it's fantastic knowing that you can pull out your phone and actually take a photo showing the craters in the moon. I suspect its lowlight prowess is partially down to the unique sensor. Unlike traditional camera sensors which feature Red, Green, and Blue pixels, the P30 Pro uses an RYYB sensor as Huawei swapped out the green pixel for two yellow ones. As a result, the company says photos have 40x more light, and it's clear to see how well it benefits from that new sensor in low light.

Huawei also adds a wide aperture mode to its cameras, and this lets you take incredible photos. In this mode, you can adjust the aperture pre or post-capture and set it between f/0.95 and f/16. The result is fantastic, with stunning amounts of background (or foreground blur if you prefer) for stunning photos:

The camera isn't perfect, but the positives far outweigh the flaws. If you love taking selfies, buy a Pixel 3 as the P30 Pro's fixed front-facing camera will leave you feeling frustrated. Similarly, I love the way the Master AI algorithm tweaks saturation and contrast for more vivid colors, but you might prefer the more natural photos captured by other phones. Thankfully, the P30 Pro is more than just a camera with phone parts, it's also an excellent phone.

All the hardware you need

Wireless charging? Check. Stunning battery life? Check. Superfast charging? Check. Smooth performance? Check. I could continue, but the list is rather long. Rather, let me just say: the P30 Pro has everything I need in a phone.

The P30 Pro has everything I need in a phone.

The Galaxy S10 Plus is a fantastic phone, but I found myself needing better zoom and more versatility in the camera. The OnePlus 7 Pro has an incredible screen, but it lacks wireless charging (which I use daily), and the camera isn't up to par. Most recently, the Xperia 1 proves the old adage that good hardware doesn't equal a good camera, as Sony makes camera hardware for all the top flagship devices, but fails to deliver a reliable camera in its phones.

The battery life, in particular, keeps drawing me back to the P30 Pro. During my sister's wedding, it was my primary camera. On both days, it survived about 8-9 hours of constant use, before needing a recharge. That recharge takes mere minutes, so connecting the SuperCharger for about 45 minutes between functions was usually enough to see me through the rest of the day.

Even a broken screen won't stop me

The screen directly above the black blob is unresponsive, but it still won't stop me.

The screen directly above the black blob is unresponsive, but it still won't stop me.

I change phones often enough that I rarely damage them beyond the usual wear and tear. The last phone I broke was the Xperia Z5 Premium almost four years ago, which slid off a couch, hit a table and smashed to pieces. That was at least true until about six weeks ago – it was 3 am, I got out of the car and forgot the P30 Pro was in my lap. It hit the tarmac and thankfully the case saved it from damaging beyond a small piece of the internal display.

It would have been easy to switch to another Android phone, and I did for a while. First I revisited my favorite little phone ever: the Galaxy S10e. Then it was back to the OnePlus 7 Pro. Next came the Galaxy S10 Plus, before the Xperia 1 showed up at my door. Despite using all of these, I keep returning to the P30 Pro.

Take the 4th of July fireworks in Brooklyn. I was at a friend's rooftop party about 2 miles from the fireworks and had both the Xperia 1 and the P30 Pro with me. The former failed miserably at capturing anything resembling a photo you'd want to look at, while the P30 Pro stole the show as it captured some incredible photos. The following photos speak for themselves, and were captured at a variety of zoom levels (0X, 5X, and 10X):

My P30 Pro screen works fine apart from the top right quadrant, which also happens to be where many apps have the hamburger menu. As a result, there's often a send button or menu option I need to select but that part of the screen won't respond. The workaround is a quick swipe on the navigation menu, which shrinks to the screen to make it one-handed friendly. It's annoying, but I like the P30 Pro that much, that I'd rather use it with a broken screen than not use it at all.

It's a great phone, but what about the ban?

Revisiting most phones after 3 months is easy: a few things change with a software update, but it's mostly the same experience. The P30 Pro is a phone that's steadily gotten better over the past 3 months, yet its political issues in the USA have had a huge effect on Huawei's business.

Can Huawei keep its Android update promise?

During the fortnight I was in the UK for my sister's wedding, more than ten people asked me whether they should sell their P20 Pro, Mate 20 Pro or P30 Pro. It's a tough question as the last three months have been a roller coaster, but as it stands, it looks like Huawei's issues have been partially resolved.

Of course, things could change overnight, yet again. Should the P30 Pro suddenly lose access to all things Google it would be a different conversation, but while there may be threats of exactly that happening, it seems likely that at least this device will continue to be fully supported.

U.S. companies can now work with Huawei again – except when they can't

Devices like the Galaxy Note 7 have inspired a cult-like following in the past, with some users of the former holding onto their device until Samsung completely disabled it. Should the P30 Pro lose access to the services I use daily, I'm fairly certain I would continue to use it as a standalone camera. It's that good, that I'm already planning to buy one once this review device returns to Huawei.

Huawei P30 Pro bottom line You should buy it

I've used the P30 Pro in the USA for three months, and it's easy to recommend it. I've used it on both AT&T and T-Mobile, and it works flawlessly, but won't access certain features like Wi-Fi calling. It supports all the bands you'll need for either of those networks or any MVNOs that run on those GSM networks. I also tried it with Verizon, which proved an interesting challenge. It did pick up an LTE signal but isn't provisioned for use on Verizon, so you won't be able to activate your service.

4.5 out of 5

There's no such thing as a perfect phone, yet the P30 Pro leaves me wanting far less than other phones. That said, technology moves fast and we're about to hit the next wave of smartphone launches. Will the Galaxy Note 10 draw me back into its orbit? Will the Mate 30 series push the boundaries even further? The Pixel 3 worked wonders with one camera so what can Google do with multiple lenses in the Pixel 4? I can't wait to find out, but for now, the P30 Pro remains the only phone I need.

Nirave Gondhia has been writing about the mobile industry for over a decade and began his career selling and fixing phones in the UK. He's used every flagship smartphone over the past five years and carries at least two phones at all times - currently, he's using the iPhone 11 Pro, [Samsung Galaxy Fold and Motorola RAZR. Say hi to him on Twitter at @nirave.

93 Comments
  • It's not political issues, it's the moral issues in supporting a company that has been dishonest and shady.
  • What would you consider dishonest and shady? As long as it's an unbiased and irrefutable source, I'd be happy to revisit this!
  • Nirave, you really should do a search on Huawei as a company and get some facts before supporting their unethical business practices. They have stolen technology and IP from multiple companies and knowingly violated US export laws to obtain competitive advantages at any cost, including criminal activity. This isn't just one company or country stating this but multiple. They have also tried to circumvent US sanctions on Iran as well. The phone could be the best in the world but it was made by stealing tech from others to achieve this and rewarding this behavior by purchasing their products is naive and foolish. https://www.npr.org/2019/06/08/730898429/huawei-accused-of-technology-theft
    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/22/huawei-executive-accusetd-of-stealing-tr...
    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/2185024/fbi-ran-sting-against-hu...
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/huawei-regularly-tried-to-steal-apple-trad...
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/29/huawei-criminal-indic...
  • Exactly! Also love how when their CFO's devices were returned she had a MacBook, iPad, iPhone along with one Huawei phone, LMAO!
  • OMG you really are dumb and actually believe everything you read. And majority of Huawei phones look nothing like Apple iPhones 🙄 so far there has been no proof of anything regarding Huawei. Apple, Samsung all have stolen ideas from each other. Stupid post
  • Nirave, they have stolen intellectual property from every tech company. Can you tell the difference between their laptop and an Apple laptop? Their phones have always looked exactly like iPhones. They stole the screen testing robot from T-Mobile. They have benefited from the Chinese gov't requiring tech companies to give up the intellectual property rights to sell in China. The list goes on and on and on. You can say the phone is a great piece of tech, but please don't try to say they aren't a shady company. This is honestly a question you shouldn't have to ask.
  • Proof of this please. All are American accusations. Nothing more.
  • I honestly cannot help it if you do not know how to use Google to search for this yourself. It also does not take a lot of research to go to Apples website and compare their laptop designs to what Huawei does. Breaking News!!!! China is a communist country and they don't give a flying rats arse about your privacy.... or do you need proof of that too?
  • Please, again, give me PROOF that Huawei is doing something illegal that comprimises the nation security of the US? I will wait. GOOGLE IT is not an answer. Also, trusted news sources not some trump jerkoff session fake news **** site. thanks. I will wait. As for Huawei "copying" apple. Apple copies EVERYTHING. They have no original ideas, they just take that and market it very well. Even iPhone name is a ripoff of a company in south america that never had the funds to fight it in court.
  • Please tell me where I mentioned Huawei spying on user data? I did not. I said they steal intellectual property from other companies. I'm sorry, but Apple did not rip off the iPhone design from anyone. Nor the macbook pro or macbook air. Huwaei has directly copied those device designs. They also stole technology from other telecoms. But if you want to just play "whataboutism" and defend this POS company, you go right on ahead and do it. Being that you are too damn lazy to google it yourself, here's two examples. All you have to do is google "Huawei steals". https://www.npr.org/2019/01/29/689663720/a-robot-named-tappy-huawei-cons... https://www.macrumors.com/2019/02/18/huaweis-efforts-to-steal-apple/
  • Whataboutism does matter in this case, though. We should all live with an assumption that ALL big tech companies commit unethical or even unmoral activities to some extent. If your purchase decision is based on a moral level of a company and you're avoiding any companies who commit those activities, you shouldn't be using iPhone nor Galaxy let alone Huawei phones anyway. I used to have unrealistically high moral standards for IT companies until I got disappointed by the fact that none of them actually were completely clean.
    So if you wish to continue defending Apple and Samsung are NOT AS "evil" AS Huawei, go ahead and do it, though that would make you nothing but a hypocritical hater.
  • Please stop putting up jerkoff answers to peoples posts
  • Hey Nirave
    I'm way off topic here, but I'm super curious as to what brand and model are those badass blue/green shiny lensed shades you're wearing in the photos...
    Please tell?
    Thanks in advance.
    Anthony
  • That means you literally can't buy anything from any company. Enjoy foraging for berries from your cave.
  • No company is without compromise, but Huawei gets into more self-inflicted trouble than everyone else combined. Samsung is a foreign company to the US, and even though I prefer other phones, I trust them. If there two ice cream vendors, with one not reporting his taxes and the other putting arsenic in the ice cream, would you have a preference?
  • Sounds something like the orangeshitgibbon. NOT REPORTING HIS TAXES. Funny that. I don't think I will be eating american ice cream anytime soon.
  • please have some proof please
  • Japanese government recently found out that 3 ingredients used to produce display panel and semiconductor devices, which are mainly used by companies like Samsung, were somehow diverted from South Korea to North Korea. Do you consider them trustworthy now?
  • Name one company that isn't dishonest or shady... I'll wait.
  • AC, this is NOT GOOD ADVICE. You should not be advising people to buy a product, no matter how good, that could potentially never see a security update, and also potentially lose access to all Google services. Until the issues with Huawei are settled, you should not be advising anyone in the US to buy this device.
  • Totally agree with the above.
  • Did you read the post? I clearly address this. As it stands, the P30 Pro will see security and system updates. Until we hear otherwise, I'm willing to recommend the phone. There is an entire section dedicated to the ramifications of the changing political situation and it clearly states: Should the P30 Pro suddenly lose access to all things Google it would be a different conversation
  • Yeah Nirave...but you're 'willing to recommend the phone'...will you be 'willing to refund their money' if the ban resumes? Jeez man...do you even understand the influence of being an AC author? Why so fast & loose with your reader's money? You want to be foolish with your money (and you were given the phone for FREE btw), by all means...being foolish with other people's money is irresponsible...as is the entire article.
  • Of course he's not legally obligated to refund their money if that happens. Customers are supposed to get compensation from the company they purchased their phones from, not a reviewer publishing a review that they're reading for free.
  • Jeezus...no kidding...you didn't understand my post at all.
  • What you said is irrelevant. There is a real threat NOW that the device will lose those things, and until we know for sure that it will not, it is irresponsible to be recommending this to anyone. Once the device is bought and outside of return period, the purchase can not be undone. You should be telling people to not buy it for now, until there’s a resolution to the Huawei issue.
  • Guess what. Contrary to popular belief, the world is alot larger than the US.
  • EVERYONE, huh? That's wrong on a lot of levels.
  • We can agree to disagree there!
  • eVERyOnE SHOulD LikE wHAt I LIKe
  • It doesn't work on all carriers
  • Are you agreeing to disagree with the definition of "everyone" or your recommendation that everyone should buy this phone?
    Will you receive any monies from Huawei for your sales pitch, here or any where else?
  • There is no one phone for everyone!
  • 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 did y'all change the headline?
  • We use two headlines - ones that's search friendly, and one that's for our homepage and social that's not as search focused!
  • Why are you laughing at a member's legitimate question?
  • Ya, I don't think so.
  • The software is still garbage. https://youtu.be/eP6LtcH8724?t=155
  • "It supports all the bands you'll need for either of those networks or any MVNOs that run on those GSM networks" WRONG. It supports SOME of the bands for each network. For instance, with AT&T it does not have compatibility with bands 14, 30, or 66. All bands which are now heavily used by AT&T. Right now my S10+ is 30+5+66. While it may establish network connectivity through band 5 it will not be a great network experience. No way I would consider a phone in 2019 that won't take advantage of carrier aggregation.
  • Does this phone have a SD Card slot?
  • No. It has a nano memory card slot instead.
  • I'm not on a GSM network so no it's not for everyone. If it was, I'd buy it in a heart beat.
  • Yeah being on Sprint I miss out on some killer phones. This one and the Asus ROG 2 come to mind.
  • Well it's the best camera phone available so it's a no brainer for people who like taking pics.
  • In your opinion
  • Exactly! They only have the optical 5x zoom going for them
  • Salty much? Lmfao
  • Yeah, there are times I wish I had that 5x zoom...
  • I hate to tell you, but according to French law, those photos of the Eiffel Tower are illegal.
  • If it only had stock android instead.
  • All the Chinese phone makers suck at UI and UX. They try to copy ios but do a terrible job in the way it looks and works. I could never put up with that awful software experience just to have the 2nd best smartphone camera.
  • if only Nova was on Android
  • Launchers can only do so much. That's like slapping a new coat of paint on a car and expecting it to fix everything that's wrong with it.
  • 2nd best camera lol. I'm using the Pixel 3xl and can still admit the P30 Pro smokes it in most situations. If you meant another phone other than those two then you must be smoking crack
  • Because Pixel 3 has the BEST smartphone camera right?
    /s
  • "Everyone" doesn't have $850 to burn on a phone. Unless you want to fund them, of course.
  • Well then Vega, move along, this article is not for you.
  • It was the S2 not S3!
  • no you shouldn't buy this phone. ac is getting paid by Huawei or they just don't understand what bad advice is.... do Not buy.
  • Ok, you're the boss 👍🏻
  • Said the one who clearly hasn't touched the device before.
  • It is irresponsible of you to recommend this phone by so handily dismissing all the bad acts Huawei (in partnership with the Chinese gov't) have done. The ban is not a political ploy, there are serious national security concerns with Huawei. There are far more trustworthy company's to recommend. Com'on. And...it can't even use WiFi calling on t-mobile or AT&T? That's a non-starter for many.
  • Please post some proof dorelse. Trump has nothing.
  • Don't tell me America itself never spied on anybody. American people are simply jealous, period. I don't think using Huawei is dangerous, even I am not a big fan.
  • America has the biggest spy network worldwide by a HUGE margin. But that's ok cos they only use that for good deeds 😉😉😉
  • Yeah bec they have outside and inside threats. China's spy network is all about stealing IP from countries specifically from the U.S cause they can't develop their own technology from scratch. They have to steal, copy and or acquire it to do so.
  • Buahhhh ha ha ha. That is some funny stuff right there.
  • I disagree with the author of this article.
  • Hey hosps what about Google mini that they record even when you're wife when have sex, how she scream this thing you don't see it, because is real and they are conscient about how they spying people, don't you think a lot about how they need to be banned, or you're brain is in airplane mod, dude
  • How do you have the crown as the best mobile camera when the video is pure crap? Doesn't that count for 50 percent?
  • Nah... don't need either the camera nor this phone...
  • It's a great phone, I've had it since launch day and the free GT watch was a nice added bonus. Really glad I opted for the 256 GB version as I just bought an Insta360 One X camera and the files are huge. (30 minute video pre-processing is around 22 GB and you need to send the file from your camera to your phone to edit). It was a nice change after my LG G3 through G6 run. No complaints.
  • Everything I want in a phone huh? There is no headphone jack with built in 32bit DAC. 'Nuff said.
  • EVERYONE SHOULD BUY THIS? Even folks on Big Red, where "Verizon proved an interesting challenge. It did pick up an LTE signal but isn't provisioned for use on Verizon, so you won't be able to activate your service."
    How would that be beneficial?
  • I love Huawei and I've never wanted a phone more than I want to get the P30 Pro, unfortunately its not optimized for U.S carriers so the next best thing I could think of getting was one of their laptops. I just got my Space Gray Huawei Matebook X Pro back in March with a 512gb SSD & 16gb of ram, its a kickass absolute beast of a laptop !!
  • "In the 15 years since I was last in Paris, the major sights haven't changed"
    ...maybe in March,
    but Notre Dame, yea?
  • This is almost as bad as one of Ara's posts on how she needs tech to control her tech.
  • This rag has lost all credibility.
  • Starting to feel like a giant flea market. Every article is just a veiled advertisement.
  • We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more. Nice storefront ad. Also, encouraging everyone to buy a phone that banned is very irresponsible.
  • Sure, I would love to have this phone. Want to get me one that will work here on Verizon? Thanks!
  • A couple of things: 1. The author is based in the UK and the majority of readers of this site are in the US. This is obviously not the best phone to use in the US due to network support as well as the uncertainty about the company concerning US sanctions. He knows this and succeeded with his click-bait headline because it got a bunch of folks riled up over his use of the word Everyone. He trolled US readers and succeeded so I tip my hat to you sir. 2. Lots of people commenting about AC sponsored posts, ads, and product links they get commission on. No doubt they have really gone over the top with this stuff. But can you blame them for trying to monetize...they are trying to maximize revenue and that's how you do it on the internet when you have a free site. It's annoying for sure, however, there are still some really good writers on this site. Jerry, Andrew, Alex, and Russell are all still putting out great content. Just read their stuff and you can ignore the rest.
  • BRAVO! Well put and sums up all of the other comments, including mine.
    I will take your list of good AC authors and ignore the rest. It's too bad we cannot see the author's name, prior to selecting the article, at least in the promo box on the AC app, that is. Thank you!
  • No thanks. Not giving my money to any commies.
  • I should buy one just as a <expletive deleted> to Uncle Donald! lol
  • Thats one of the reasons I am! Thats for sure. But it truly is a KICK ASS phone.
  • Yeah! That'll show him!
  • yo PK in the House!
  • I don't know anybody who buys a phone just for the camera.
  • Yes. That would be a camera purchase.
  • I don't know anyone who does not buy a phone becuase an orange coloured blob shaped figure says not to.
  • Um, No They shouldn't.
  • you mention about your screen broken. By you or by defect.