Huawei has gone from strength to strength in the smartphone segment over the last two years. The P10 and Mate 10 ushered in key changes from both a hardware and software standpoint, and Huawei improved on that formula with last year's P20 and Mate 20 series, offering two of the best phones of 2018.
2019 hasn't been different in that regard: the P30 Pro builds on the P20 Pro and delivers an even more enticing gradient pattern, and an all-new zoom lens that does 5x lossless zoom. There's also a smaller cutout, a 7nm Kirin 980 chipset under the hood, larger 4200mAh battery with 40W wired charging and 15W wireless charging.
Huawei's momentum in this category, however, has hit a wall thanks to the U.S. trade ban. The manufacturer is effectively being used as leverage in trade negotiations, and there's no telling when things will go back to normal for Huawei. Well, as normal as it can get in this politically charged climate with tensions between the U.S. and China at a breaking point.
For now, I'm going to focus solely on the device, because after using the P30 Pro for three months, I'm convinced that it is the best phone on the market today.
Huawei P30 Pro What's held up
Let's start off with the design, because the P30 Pro has one of the best gradient patterns available today. The shift in colors isn't as pronounced as some of the other devices I've used this year, but it is stunning nonetheless. The Breathing Crystal color option is downright gorgeous, and it just looks more premium than any other device in the market today.
The overall design aesthetic is more in line with the Mate 20 Pro, but the screen is taller and narrower: it's as if Huawei took a rolling pin to the Mate 20 Pro to stretch out the panel. There are symmetric curves at the front and back where the glass panels meet the mid-frame, and the narrower screen makes it easier to use the phone one-handed.
There's a small waterdrop cutout at the front that houses the camera module, with Huawei getting rid of the IR sensor for secure facial recognition. The phone also lacks an earpiece, and you instead get Acoustic Display Technology that relies on electromagnetic sound levitation to project sound using the screen. After three months' worth of calls, I can confidently say that the feature works just as well as a regular earpiece. There's a single speaker at the bottom, and it is impressively loud and detailed.
Dominating the front is a 6.47-inch OLED panel that is fantastic. It's a FHD+ display and not QHD+ like the Pixel 3 XL or the Galaxy S10+, and while it isn't quite as good as Samsung's exquisite AMOLED display on the S10+, it comes a close second. Color accuracy is spot-on, and sunlight visibility is excellent — I had no issues using the screen under intense sunlight. And a knock-on effect of using a FHD+ screen is improved battery life, an area where the P30 Pro already excels.
Coming to the hardware side of things, the P30 Pro uses the same Kirin 980 platform as the Mate 20 Pro. Huawei was the first to roll out a chipset on the 7nm node, and the Kirin 980 is just as fast as the Snapdragon 855. The hardware itself is rock-solid, and I haven't had any issues on this front in the three months I used the phone. Wi-Fi and cellular signal quality was excellent, and there really wasn't any instance where the P30 Pro felt like it was being bogged down.
That said, it is the software that has taken me by surprise. For the first time on a Huawei phone, I haven't encountered any issues with EMUI, and that is a welcome change indeed. EMUI is much more polished, and the fact that it has an app drawer means there's no need to install a custom launcher on the device. Push notifications don't pose any problems anymore, the in-screen fingerprint sensor is perfectly serviceable — as well as face unlock — and in general EMUI feels much more refined and stable compared to previous years.
Battery life has been a strong point for Huawei for some years now, and the P30 Pro is no different. The phone delivers the best battery life of any "true" flagship in the market today, easily outmatching the Galaxy S10+ and Pixel 3 XL. The 4200mAh unit easily delivers two days' worth of use consistently, and the 40W wired charging is also better than what Google and Samsung manage.
There's also 15W wireless charging, and like the Mate 20 Pro, the P30 Pro charges other devices wirelessly. I didn't use the reverse wireless charging all that much, but fast wireless charging is a welcome addition. The 40W wired charger takes just over an hour to fully charge the battery, and combine that with the already-stellar battery life and you get a remarkable device.
I've traveled a whole lot over the course of the last month, and it was great to use a phone with a fantastic camera backed by great battery life. The P30 Pro's camera is just as good as the Pixel 3 (as you shall see below) and the Galaxy S10+, but the fact that you can use it for far longer than Google or Samsung's flagships makes all the difference.
The P30 Pro has an interesting camera arrangement at the back, with three main sensors joined by a time-of-flight module. The primary 40MP module is joined by a 20MP wide-angle lens and an 8MP zoom lens with 5x optical zoom and 10x hybrid zoom. The zoom module in particular is very interesting as it uses a periscope lens that sits inside the chassis, with a mirror reflecting light from a 90-degree angle.
While the zoom lens is the marquee new feature, the 40MP sensor has also been reconfigured: it now uses a RYYB color filter — instead of the standard RGB — to allow more light intake and cut down on the size. The result is much better low-light shots, with the P30 Pro consistently outmatching the Pixel 3 XL in this regard.
With Huawei putting such a key focus on the camera, it's obvious that the phone can take great shots in all lighting conditions. But the fact that I was able to take photos of a full moon at 25x zoom and get usable shots is incredible. No other phone today is capable of doing that. The P30 Pro absolutely delivers in low-light as well, with images coming out full of detail.
Huawei P30 Pro What hasn't aged well
As good as the P30 Pro is in a lot of areas, there are a few issues. The first is the front camera: the P30 Pro just isn't as good as the Pixel 3 XL in this regard. Of course, the Pixel 3 XL has two cameras up front and uses Google's computational photography chops to deliver great shots, but considering just how good the P30 Pro is in other areas, the selfie camera could've been better.
Then there's the fact that the phone has a single speaker. Again, I'm going to use the Pixel 3 XL as the benchmark because of just how good stereo sound is on that device.
Finally, Huawei's continuing troubles with the U.S. government mean there's a nagging worry around software updates. For its part, Huawei has committed to delivering timely platform and security updates to the device, and it is possible the trade ban will be revoked sooner rather than later.
Huawei P30 Pro Three months later
Three months after I started using the P30 Pro, I'm still blown away by how good this device is. I switched between a few phones in that time, but I keep coming back to the P30 Pro just because of that camera at the back. It just does a great job in any lighting condition, and while it may not be quite as consistent as the Pixel 3 XL, it does a better job in low-light conditions, and there are more sensors at the back.
The zoom lens in particular is the standout addition for me: I ended up taking a lot of photos on vacation at 5x and even 10x zoom, and I consistently got usable shots. I know batteries aren't exciting, but when you get a 4200mAh battery that delivers two days' worth of use even when you're on the road, it's a pretty big deal. To put things into context, the Pixel 3 XL routinely ran out of battery at the 6pm mark although it didn't have a SIM card, while the P30 Pro never fell below 20% at the end of the day. And the fact that you get a day's worth of usage after charging for just 15 minutes is a game-changer.
Make no mistake: the Pixel 3 XL and Galaxy S10+ are fantastic devices in their own right. They're just not as good as the P30 Pro. For that reason, it is going to be my daily driver until I find another that delivers the same combination of camera and battery life. It may be a long wait.
Everything is awesome
The best phone you will use in 2019.
With an exquisite design backed by one of the best cameras you'll find today, the P30 Pro is a stellar phone in 2019. The primary 40MP camera takes outstanding photos, but it's the zoom lens that makes the phone particularly enticing: there's no other devices that takes such detailed photos at 5x zoom. EMUI is no longer a limiting factor, the battery life is outstanding, and the hardware is top-notch. Put it all together and you get a knockout phone.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
The Pixel camera is officially dethroned.
No not really. I ve seen the comparison shots by side with the Pixel 3 XL, S10 Plus, MAX and the P30 Pro and the P30's colour accuracy was way off from the rest. The areas it dominated was with its zoom capabilities and at times with it's night mode. The only area that the P30's camera really has it going that makes it so appealing is it's 5x and 10x hybrid optical zoom
The pixel camera is dethroned.
in your opinion...
The pixel is ******* trash as a phone.boring pile of ****
Don't bring the iPhone XS Max into this. It's awful compared to the rest you just mentioned. And yeah the P30 Pro really is better and I'm a Pixel 3 xl user
We own the XS Max, and you're right... The camera is unimpressive.
I own the P30 Pro and I agree.. The color accuracy of photos can be off quite often. It does shine when it comes to the zooming part. This is the best smartphone I have owned with zoom capabilities from its camera. Another area where this P30 Pro shines are the battery life, charging speed and cell reception. Where other smartphones can barely hold a signal or get a signal this smartphone has no issues. The NFC is also very very good on this phone. My iPhone 8 Plus often has a small lag or would take a bit to work but not here. Huawei has this one mastered as many people use this in Asia and in particular China. The other good part is when your battery is low and you need a top off. I have yet to own a smartphone that charges and tops off as fast as this one. Battery life is simply amazing on the P30 Pro as well. I have had zero issues with this smartphone so far with all updates coming in as well. No crashes or any other issues.
Pixel 3, maybe .. Pixel 4, since that will be the 2019 offering, we'll see..
Agreed. The P20 Pro was already better than the Pixel. The 30 just widens the gap.
This article definitely seems influenced. I own Huawei P30 pro and someone saying it is the best phone is a blatant lie even after discounting subjective aspects of the phone such as software UI and design. Apart from battery life and still camera, everything else is mediocre. Have you even compared the video quality of at both FHD and 4K. It is muddy, lack details, and so much choppy while panning that Samsung and iPhone are way better at. Super slow motion beyond 120 FPS is just useless. No 60 FPS at 4K which I understand is not that big of a deal practically but overall video quality is just average for a flagship. Selfie camera is relatively inferior to both the rivals. Wide-angle lens click way oversaturated colors than the main camera. Screen quality is great but not at par to S10 Plus. And about software, you talked about launcher with drawer....is that all you expect from a modern launcher? It has no swipe and other gesture support, no third party icon support, ancient system-wide font, choppy animations in gestures UI and accessing recent apps UI with third-party launchers. Default icons are ugly and so large. Design inconsistencies when you use dark mode and overall quite dense UI that is not easy on eyes as much as the other two rivals. Even in battery life gap isn't wide enough comparing it with S10 Plus snapdragon 855.
Why does everyone thinktthis phone is a flagship. It started with youtubers saying its huawei latest flagship when it isn't. They must have got bored waiting for phones to come out. The p range of phones are not huawei flagship phones it's them mate series of phones that's why the p range of phones are not great. The mate series is the best and "flagship". P range has and always be a precursor to it. Mate 20 Pro is their flagship that's why in a few weeks huawei will release mate 30. So stop calling this their flagship as the phone is mediocre at best particularly the camera. Yes it has zoom but thats it. P range is to test user thoughts on what's to come. Please get it right
It's the other way around. P is the pre cursor to the Mate. Why do you think the Mate30 will have the P30 periscope camera? Why do you think Mate trails the P in the model number? "30" started with the P, now the Mate caches up later. P40 comes out in feb/march The P30 Pro blows away the Mate 20 pro.
Blows it away where exactly? The camera is a bit better having greater zoom but everything else is better in the Mate 20 Pro. The P30 Pro has an inferior display, no dual speakers, no 3D face unlock, and no notification led just for starters. The Mate 30 Pro will be even better yet
Agree - I have the P30 Pro Breathing Crystal. I am still daily blown away how good it is. Cannot believe I almost bought a Galaxy S10+. A thing I didn't see mentioned is the IR blaster, which is the ultimate trolling tool for bars, restaurants, hotels, waiting rooms etc. Plus: Thot Protection
Somebody's an avid Floss fan lol
I have to agree with the article. I've had the Mate 20 pro, P30 Pro, S10+ (Ceramic) over the past few months. I couldn't use the Samsung UI without installing Nova Launcher. Even then, I wasn't impressed with the camera or battery life compared with the P30 pro. I've now sold the S10+ and picked up a P30 Pro in Amber Sunrise.
What an absolute joke. The s10 handily beats the p30 pro with it's main and ultra wide camera's(except night time of course). It's video recording also leaves the p30 pro's in the dust and emui is the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to android skins. I'd pick Xiomi's miui over emui any day. To say it's better than Samsung's ui is a joke and a blatant lie.
I don't think he said p30 pro had better ui than s10. S10 actually has one of the best ui out there. P30 pro, I needed to install nova launcher and fluid NG (for gestures). Camera wise p30 hands down kills the s10+. You don't realize how nice and useful the zoom is until you have it. Of course night mode pictures are gorgeous on the p30 pro too. I've never taken much pictures in the ten years of owning Samsung flagship then the few months on my p30 pro. But still that's not what made me stick prefer the p30 pro. It's the battery life and the speed of charging it that made the difference. The battery tests on YouTube are continuously on tests. In real life when you aren't actually leaving it on all day, you'll notice a significant difference. It's about 30% difference a day. And of course with the charging speed, I no longer have to leave it plugged in at night. Not even when it's at 30% before I sleep. I wake up, plug it in to get ready for work and it's at 80%+. You don't realize how useful fast charging is until you have it. They are honestly both great phones, really just depends on your priorities. The zoom is a lot of fun to play with though, in an industry where not much new has been introduced, the Huawei p30 pro feels very refreshing to use.
Huawei p30 pro simply can't be beaten. P. S. And it does have an IR Blaster, it's quite easily the best Phone I have ever owned.
I used Samsung for many generations my last one was the S8 Plus. I first used Huawei P20 pro and never turned back. Now i'm using P30 Pro once thing i really love about the Huawei is how good their battery is and how fast they charge. The P30 Pro no exception i can literally charge within 1/2 an hour and it'll be fully charged when it's down from 20%. That to me is very useful and important and the battery once fully charged i get a full 2 days.
People don't know how important charging speed is until they have it. This is my first Huawei phone in about ten years. I've always been a Samsung fan, but after this p30 pro purchase, I don't think I'm going back to Samsung.
I'd love to have that zoom, although I did get some ok moon shots with only 2x optical plus 8x digital. There are lot of times when 2x is not enough. The battery life is nice and I like the looks. But, no one here is bothered by their illegal activities? I'm not a Trump supporter and I think the trade war is dumb. However, there's a list of countries that will not use Huawei equipment for security reasons, they have been caught putting back doors in their software, they have admitted to corporate espionage and settled out of court, and they have been providing illegal equipment to North Korea. From a moral standpoint, I would not want to support them.
Wish I could get the P30 Pro here in the states. Politics aside, it's just a clean, powerful phone with a good camera and good internals. I like the hardware and the experience can always be altered with launchers. Hope at some point they get this figured out.
« the in-screen fingerprint sensor is perfectly serviceable — as well as face unlock » Face unlock is not as secure but still serviceable ? Big contradiction here!
Well I think it is weird evaluating a phone by its exterior color. This has nothing to do with performance. Secondly I'd be a little bit weary ascending my fingerprint let alone anything else off to a Chinese server. This guy is just blithely ignorant about security.
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