Following tonight’s Hauwei P30 Series launch in the far north of Johannesburg, it’s safe to say that the Huawei P30 Pro and P30 lives up to everything yesteryear’s P20 Pro proved that the Chinese phone-maker was a key player in the mobile space, with photographic talents that put rival devices from Apple, Samsung, and others to shame.
With that, we’ve listed our top 5 takeaways following the first impressions and our brief time with the ddevice this evening.
Artificial Intelligence is the heart of the P30 Pro
Huawei used plenty of AI in its earlier smartphones, and the P30 Pro is no different. AIS, for example, has been expanded from Night Mode – which promises noticeably better, brighter shots with less color fading than the P20 Pro could deliver – to things like silk water effects. That can turn a waterfall or river into a sinuous, smooth blur, in 4-5 seconds.
Portrait mode, too, has gained from AIS. Here, it’s used to better distinguish between foreground and background details, such as strands of moving hair being blown by the wind. A new AI HDR+ mode for portrait shots can create an exposure map of the scene in real-time, and then apply different levels of HDR processing to the sections where they’re most of use. That way, darker subjects in front of brighter backgrounds can be lifted, without over-blowing what’s behind them. Impressively, you can see it happen in the preview; you don’t have to wait for the P30 Pro to post-process after you’ve captured the shot.
On the video side, meanwhile, Huawei uses both AIS and OIS for video stabilization. Low-light performance has improved, too, using the same SuperSensing technology. Impressively, even P30 Pro’s 10x hybrid zoom works while you’re recording video.
It’s all about the camera
Huawei is certainly not shy about it: the P30 Series puts photography first and foremost. In the case of the P30 Pro, that means cutting-edge cameras that have seen Huawei squeeze a periscope into its smartphone, create a new sensor technology, and break records in terms of light sensitivity. Of course, working with Leica means some of the kudos does need to be shared.
The P30 Pro gets four sensors at the back. First, there’s a 40-megapixel Huawei SuperSensing lens, which is the primary camera. It’s joined by a 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens, and a new 8-megapixel 5x optical periscope zoom. Finally, there’s a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor underneath them. Huawei uses a hybrid auto-focus system, which combines depth, contrast, and laser focusing.
The 1/1.7-inch SuperSensing sensor is the star of the show. Rather than use a traditional Bayer RGB colour filter, Huawei has switched to a sensor that uses yellow instead of green (RYYB). That’s based on the principle that the yellow light spectrum is far wider than that of green, and so around 40-percent more light reaches the camera.
Given the P30 Pro’s incredible light sensitivity, though, that effort was probably worth it. The P30 Pro is rated for ISO 409,600, four times what the P20 Pro could manage last year, and setting a record in the process. Huawei pairs it with a 27mm, f/1.6 lens with optical image stabilization.
Then there’s the periscope zoom. Optical zoom lenses on phones aren’t new, but the P30 Pro’s 5x zoom is bigger than most. To fit it all in, Huawei used a prism – for that reason the zoom camera is square, next to its circular siblings on the rear of the handset – that redirects the light by 90-degrees and into an array of fixed lenses that run across the P30 Pro horizontally. At the other end, they meet an 8-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, a 125mm focal length, and f/3.4 optics.
With a hybrid zoom system, meanwhile, Huawei is promising 10x near-lossless images, or the equivalent of a 270mm focal length. If you can handle some quality loss – though far less than you might expect – there’s a 50x digital zoom that combines OIS and AI-powered image stabilization (AIS) to get you even closer.
In-between them is the ultra-wide angle lens. That has more than a 120-degree field of view, with a 16mm focal length and f/2.2 optics. That has an impressive 2.5cm minimum focusing distance.
Don’t let it’s Colourful nature fool you
In a sea of black, silver, and sometimes gold smartphones, Huawei’s colourful P20 Series was a Pantone splash. The P30 Series is even more dramatic, courtesy of new colour gradient finishes for 2019. The P30 and P30 Pro are fairly squared off and almost conservative in their shape, but their colours lift them.
There’s Amber Sunrise, for instance, a pearlescent red-infused orange, or Aurora, with greens and blue hues shifting as the light hits the glass back panel. Breathing Crystal promises to replicate the way light refracts through a crystalline surface. Then there’s black, which is, well, black. The P30 is IP53 water and dust resistant, while the P30 Pro steps up to IP68.
Both phones use an OLED screen running at 2340 x 1080 FHD+ resolution. The P30 has a 6.1-inch, flat screen, while the P30 Pro’s display is 6.47-inches and curves at the sides. By slimming the bezels, the size increase over last year’s P20 Series is relatively minor. Dipping into the top of each display is a teardrop notch, with a 32-megapixel, f/2.0 selfie camera. That has AI HDR+ support and scene detection, though is fixed focus and lacks stabilization.
Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset is running Android 9 Pie and the EMUI 9.1 interface. That means a Mali-G76 GPU, 1.4 Gbps Cat-21 LTE modem on the P30 Pro (up to 1 Gbps Cat.16 on the P30), and 2133MHz LPDDR4X memory support: the P30 gets 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage, while the P30 Pro has 8GB and up to 512GB, respectively. Both have a slot for Huawei’s proprietary NM memory cards.
As for the battery, the P30 Pro packs a 4,200 mAh li-ion, with 40W Huawei SuperCharge support, and 15W Wireless Quick Charge. There’s also the useful Reverse Wireless feature, which turns the P30 Pro into a portable Qi charging pad. The P30, sadly, does without wireless charging at all, however. Its 3,650 mAh battery relies solely on 22.5W Quick Charge.
By all means, skip the standard P30 in favour for the Pro
While at first glance you might mistake the P30 for the P30 Pro, photographers will find a few key differences. The smaller, more affordable P30 still use the SuperSensing camera technology, but there’s no optical image stabilization, and the maximum ISO drops to 204,800. The ultra-wide camera clocks in at 16-megapixels and f/2.2.
Maybe the biggest difference, though, is that you don’t get the clever periscope zoom. Instead, the Huawei P30 has a 3x optical zoom with a more traditional stack of f/2.4 lenses. There’s a 5x hybrid zoom, and 30x digital zoom. You also lose out on the time-of-flight sensor.
Start your Audi with it!
Meanwhile, Huawei is working with Audi on turning the P30 Series into digital keys for the automaker’s recent models. If you have a compatible Audi, you’ll be able to use the phone to unlock and start your car, using the Car Connectivity Consortium-compliant standard. It’s based on NFC, so you’ll need to tap the phone – or at least bring it near – to the car.
On the fitness side, Huawei is partnering with a number of exercise equipment manufacturers – including our very own Discovery. That will synchronize data from hardware like treadmills and the Huawei Health app, using Bluetooth LE after being paired via an NFC tap.
The Huawei P30 Pro is now available at these prices:
|P series smartphone||Pricing|
|Huawei P30 Pro||R18 999|
|Huawei P30||R13 999|
|Huawei P30 Lite||R5 999|