Huawei's P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro were the best smartphone cameras of 2018 until Google announced the Pixel 3 at the end of the year. The Pixel 3 stole the crown from Huawei as Google showed it's not hardware, but rather, software that truly matters when it comes to photos.
Fast forward a few months, and we now have the P30 Pro which aims to steal the crown right back from Google. Huawei says that software can only go so far and hardware needs to be improved to make a truly great photo.
Which company's approach is the best? We spent a few minutes with the P30 Pro so let's see if Huawei's latest flagship can topple Google's flagship.
Note: the Huawei P30 Pro sample we used was running pre-release software so these images may not be indicative of the final experience which should be improved further. We won't be pixel peeping the images until our full camera comparison with a unit running final software. All comparisons have the P30 Pro on the left and Pixel 3 on the right unless otherwise stated.
First up is an ultra wide angle comparison. The Pixel 3 only has a single camera so Google uses software and AI to produce a wide angle "effect". We say effect, as these pictures show there's no substitute for a proper ultra-wide-angle camera. To capture the Pixel 3's photo, we zoomed out as far as the interface would allow us to do so.
Next up, we take a look at the regular images captured by both phones. The P30 Pro has a wider field of view compared to the Pixel 3 and both images seem to capture details really well, whilst also accurately reproducing the colors.
Now to zoom, and this is where the P30 Pro beats the Pixel 3 hands down. Google again relies solely on software to achieve digital zoom, while the P30 Pro has the hardware to capture images at 5X optical zoom, 10X Hybrid zoom or up to 50x digital zoom.
Below you'll find the same set of ultra-wide-angle, regular, and various zoom shots from both phones with an alternative subject.
While Google's software chops are certainly impressive, Huawei shows that the hardware on the P30 Pro is more than a match for the Pixel 3's mostly software based approach. We'll see if this changes with our full camera shootout, or when Google and Huawei both release their next flagships at the end of the year.
Now to low-light mode, where Google surprised all the world with its Night sight feature that is the technology equivalent of magic. The P20 Pro was the first device to really show that a night mode is a must-have on a phone and the P30 Pro builds on this. Its new yellow-pixel based sensor rather than green, allows it to let in more light which is apparent in these images.
What about with night mode enabled? The Pixel 3 does well to capture the same amount of detail as the P30 Pro's regular lowlight shot, but the P30 Pro's night mode pushes the boundaries further. Another image we captured – which we can't share – showcased that the P30 Pro is even further ahead than these images show, but we'll wait for our full comparison before passing judgement.
The P30 Pro takes the better image here, at least in my personally. The Pixel 3's image is far too dark and Google struggles with dynamic range in this photo, which is a surprise as the Pixel 3 is usually really good in this area.
Now to selfies, and the Pixel 3 takes a slightly better overall image here. The P30 Pro selfie camera is vastly improved over last year, but Google's software prowess allows it to take excellent selfies. There's also the software-driven slightly-wider field-of-view which helps to fit more into selfies.
There's not a lot of differences between these two images. Both companies add a fair amount of bokeh while keeping the subject in focus, but the colors are slightly more realistic on the Pixel 3.
Overall, this is just a quick look at how the new P30 Pro's camera compares to the current king of cameras, the Pixel 3. It's too early to say which is absolutely the best, but the P30 Pro certainly looks to have stolen the crown back from Google, at least for now.
Which do you think has the better camera? Let us know in the comments below, and find out more about Huawei's new devices at the links below.