an incredible phone that you ni

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(Pocket Ribbon) – Huawei's Mate 30 Pro arrived in September – a period of uncertainty about the software on future Huawei phones due to Huawei's trade blacklisting by the US,

The problem is, while it's an impressive looking phone with a great spec sheet and top-notch features, it doesn't have standard Google apps on it. In addition, Huawei says you cannot install them.

That's unprecedented and is a big deal outside of China – although the handset has now launched in the UK through Carphone Warehouse, it hasn't exactly been a high-profile launch.

As such, the Mate 30 Pro is a mystery. On the one hand, it has all the usual features we've come to expect from Huawei: a beautiful glass and metal design, a huge OLED screen, water and dust proof, excellent Leica camera hardware, and super fast charging (with reverse charging, of course). On the other hand, does the lack of Google apps make it a total waste of time?

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Software and apps

EMUI 10 based on Android 10 No Google apps like Gmail and Maps Huawei's AppGallery is currently limited Support for Android 10 gestures

The software that powers the Mate 30 Pro has been the subject of constant speculation prior to the launch of this device. The Mate 30 Pro is fortunately based on Android 10 with Huawei's EMUI 10 UI on top, but crucially, as we said, there are no Google apps or services – and officially no way to install them.

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Unofficially, there is a way (see photo here, as we did), but we cannot recommend it and it is clear that Google and Huawei do not endorse it either.

We deliberately did not detail it here as you may expose your phone to security risks.

It's not a matter of simply sideloading the Google Play Store APK (installer) as Google Mobile Services (GMS) must also be loaded on the handset. GMS ensures that the Google menu is displayed in Settings and that you can log the device into your Google account. Without it, the device's appeal is significantly limited to the European public.

Huawei has its own App Gallery store with some great apps and says it's working hard to appeal to developers, but it's clearly not the easiest of sales.

Plus, these things take time, even when the financial incentive is there. And since Huawei can't sell on US carriers, that's part of the potential market for which developers are likely to consider their options even more. As with many Android device vendors, Huawei already has its own apps for things like email, calendar and maps.

Since EMUI 10 is based on Google's Android 10 operating system, many of the Mate 30 Pro's new features are actually new features coming to all Android 10 phones. There is a system-wide dark mode, and you can now better manage location permissions for apps.

The gestures that started showing up as an option in Android 9 Pie are being encouraged as the default in Android 10 and EMUI 10 – you have to swipe up to go back to the home screen or swipe up and hold to switch apps while holding the button Back is a left swipe in – but you can go back to the old skool and enable the Android three-button layout, if you prefer.

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It's hard to escape the feeling that Google looked at how well the iPhone X gestures were received in 2017 before working on this scheme. Some – like double tapping on the screen with a knuckle to take a screenshot – are absolutely essential on a handset that only has one button – while it took us ages to figure out how to do that, things aren't always equally intuitive. But more about gestures soon.

Design

Colors: Emerald Green, Cosmic Purple, Black and Space Silver Dimensions: 158.1 x 73.1 x 8.8 mm / Weight: 198 g Metal and Gorilla Glass 6 front and back IP68 water and dust resistant None 3.5 mm headphone jack

The Mate 30 Pro is available in four colors and our review model is Cosmic Purple, which looks great (even though we prefer Emerald Green).

Sadly, there is no Twilight-style gradient finish this time around and while the phone is available in a special edition vegan leather, green or orange, it's a shame there aren't bright colors available as well, like the P30 Pro's Amber Sunrise.

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There are two elements that make this phone stand out. First, the 6.53-inch waterfall screen – called Horizon Display in Huawei language – that curves away from the flat surface, meaning there's no bezel. Of course, we've seen this sort of thing before in older Samsung Galaxy Edge phones, and more recently in the Vivo NEX 3.

Second, there is a round camera housing with four lenses on the back. This is a design change from last year's square case in the Mate 20 Pro and since there are four lenses this time, the flash has moved – it's now on the left side of the back of the phone.

The design is certainly distinctive and will divide opinions – one user post we saw called it a washing machine door. That's the kind of comment you can't get rid of after thinking about it. But the Huawei sits next to the Apple iPhone 11 Pro and we much prefer the former!

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The Mate 30 Pro's front and back are coated with Gorilla Glass 6, and Huawei claims there is fingerprint resistance too. However, our experience is that the back gets quite fingerprints during use. We shouldn't be surprised, shiny phones always do.

As you'd expect, the phone has an IP68 rating for water resistance and dust resistance (yes, even the leather versions). But it's quite heavy at a solid 198g – although that's negligibly different from 2018's Mate 20 Pro.

The Mate 30 Pro also has a notch that's similar to its predecessor, but instead of the teardrop-shaped notch found on many other Android phones, the one found here is much wider. This is mainly for the 3D Face Unlock technology, while there is also a gesture sensor and these sensors have to go somewhere.

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We're half surprised that Huawei hasn't tried to shorten the notch a bit, but do most users care? Probably not. It's just that compared to the P30 Pro's waterdrop notch, this newer model does look like an older design.

Mind you, since Apple hasn't changed the iPhone X, XS, and 11 FaceID notch either, it doesn't really look dated. And with the Mate 30 Pro or a Face ID iPhone, you quickly forget the notch anyway.

Screen

6.53-inch OLED Horizon Display, edge-to-edge with curved waterfall sides 2,400 x 1,176 resolution (409ppi), 18.5: 9 aspect ratio, HDR10 support Optical fingerprint reader below the display

The Mate 30 Pro has a 6.53-inch OLED display and, as we said, it's curved at the edges – it's an impressive design element, but we don't see it as a revolution. However, it does mean that you have a full edge-to-edge display.

The resolution is good, the right balance between sharpness and supportive lifespan – sure, it is not as resolute as the Samsung Galaxy S10 (with its no less than 3,040 x 1,440), but that competitor does not display the maximum resolution by default anyway. to conserve battery life.

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As with the P30 Pro, the Mate 30 Pro's screen is used as a speaker, with Huawei's acoustic display technology. That's a change from the Mate 20 Pro, which has a speaker in the notch. One downside to this system is that it isn't great for playing music if you only have the bottom speaker, and taking calls isn't that clear either, especially in louder places.

You can change the volume by just double-tapping the edge of the screen, as that screen design means there are no volume buttons (there is a power button, although it's a bezel on the back of the device). Android's default volume slider appears on the screen for you to make adjustments.

We will see more of this kind of implementation on future handsets as the NEX 3 embodies this in a different format as well. It all sounds futuristic, but to be honest, we find it difficult.

You can no longer turn up your music while your phone is in the pocket, tapping too far around the curve of the screen (forward) doesn't invoke the volume control, which isn't a great experience. For screenshots, there's a new Android 10 gesture where you double-tap the screen with your knuckle to grab one instead of using a power / volume combo.

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There are also some UI issues with apps when the controls are too close to the edge – it may mean trying to press the icon a few times to get them to work. Again, not ideal, but that's the result of this new screen design.

New to the Mate 30 Pro is an always visible display. This isn't a solid color – it looks shimmery even if it doesn't really shimmer – and we prefer the way it looks. A definite feature to leave on.

Cameras

Main: 40 MP 1 / 1.7 inch SuperSensing (RYYB) sensor, f / 1.6, 26mm equivalent, OIS Cine ultrawide: 40MP 1 / 1.54in (RGGB) sensor, f / 1.8, 18mm equivalent Tele: 8MP 3x optical (80mm equiv.), F / 2.4, OIS 3D depth sensing lens (flight time)

As we mentioned in our P30 Pro review, that device had a leading quad camera. There's a similar setup in the Mate 30 Pro, continuing the Leica partnership, even though there are a few changes. That round camera housing on the back is certainly an eye-catching element and is really quite eye-catching.

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We've written more about the cameras and what they all do, the sensors associated with them and why different ones are used, in an individual position.

In summary: the Mate 30 Pro combines a wide 40 megapixel large SuperSensing sensor with an all new 40 megapixel ultra-wide angle Cine camera, in addition to an 8 megapixel 3x optical zoom lens. There's also a Time of Flight lens, which is essentially a depth sensor to make background blur (the bokeh effect) available in the post, making four in total.

The camera can detect what kind of scene you're shooting and adjust accordingly – the AI ​​is extremely good at this and is very useful, especially when shooting portraits. Although, as we've said before, some adjustments are a bit heavy-handed when boosting blues and greens.

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So what are the changes to the P30 Pro's camera settings? First, the optical zoom on the Mate has been reduced – it's now 3x instead of 5x, possibly because the resulting images weren't as sharp in the Mate 30 Pro as they were on older Huawei models. The digital zoom is pretty decent, but if light is an issue, the detail falls out considering the sensor used here. It is still better than many other sensors on the market, but cannot match the reliability of its other sensors.

The wide-angle lens has also been made slightly less wide, probably to prevent softer edges. However, it has gotten a significantly larger 1 / 1.54-inch sensor that's great for quality, even at this ultra-high resolution.

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In terms of video, the phone can record 60fps 4K and record ultra slow motion at an astonishing 7680fps (256x). We've tried this a lot, but the effect is only useful for things that move very quickly. For example, a bicycle wheel remains quite still at that speed. Even shooting out of a car window on a main road is pretty boring. There have been some videos of coin spinning, and they are cool, but how often do you actually need that kind of speed?

The Mate 30 Pro's night mode is a lot more useful than slow-mo and has become a strong point of Huawei in recent times. The images from the P30 Pro were excellent and those from this camera are equally effective – our recent camera comparison shows how the P30 Pro fares against Google's Night Sight and the new iPhone 11 Pro, so think about it in much the same way after.

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For our money, Huawei remains best in class for external night shots, with Google's Night Sight perhaps being a bit stronger on the inside. So the Mate 30 still has plenty to shout about in terms of cameras, even if the lack of apps might make it a bit more difficult to share these photos in all of your favorite apps, as you normally would.

Performance and battery life

HiSilicon Kirin 990 processor, 8GB RAM USB-C, 40W wired charging 27W wireless charging Reverse wireless charging No 3.5mm headphone jack 256GB storage, NM card slot 4G and 5G handset options

The Kirin 990 is the new platform from Huawei's HiSilicon division. It keeps an octa-core CPU at its heart and uses the latest Cortex-A76 ARM design and Mali G76 graphics processor, in addition to some impressive AI smarts. Like the Kirin 980, it is based on the latest generation 7nm manufacturing process.

This is Huawei's first phone with 5G baked into the platform – although our review device isn't a 5G model. At the launch event in Munich on September 19, 2019, Huawei showed speed tests – we couldn't do these ourselves – that tethered the handset as faster speeds than the Samsung S10 5G.

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Wireless charging has been ramped up to 27W and the wired USB-C SuperCharge matches the 40W of last year's P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. The rear loading has also been improved 3x in terms of speed. The improvement in wireless charging is welcome, but as always, there is no match for wired charging when you need speed.

In terms of the longevity you can get from the 4,200 mAh battery, it is really quite astonishing. We did our best to turn this phone off and it's a serious improvement over last year's model – it's a true 24-hour plus phone – you can get it off a bit well into the second day quite easily. let it go with general everyday use, including email, social apps, a little video streaming, a lot of photography, and more. With less use, such as during a quieter weekend, you can go to the next morning with 20-30 percent of the battery.

FaceID in Apple's iOS is pretty quick to unlock an iPhone with your pre-registered face, and the 3D Face Unlock in the Mate 30 Pro is so super fast you won't even notice it in action – especially if you choose to bypass the lock screen. It really feels like you're using your phone completely unlocked, even though of course you aren't.

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As usual with most new high-end Android phones, there is also a fingerprint sensor under the screen, but once you have activated the 3D Face Unlock, you hardly ever need to use it. It remains an optical sensor rather than an ultrasonic, and while it could be a little faster, it is certainly one of the others we tested.

First impressions

The Mate 30 Pro is a fantastic smartphone. The design is beautiful. The camera is fantastic. The battery life is superior.

It's flawed too, not directly from Huawei itself. The lack of Google apps is a big problem. How can stores, network or we recommend a competitor, if you can't do everything you would normally expect? As tech enthusiasts and fans of recent Huawei flagship phones, that makes us very sad, but it is the truth.

Such bad news can probably only be mitigated by a low price. But it is not a cheap phone, so Huawei cannot effectively sell this phone in Europe.

Also consider

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Huawei P30 Pro

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So premium is the P30 Pro that it can be difficult in many ways to justify the Mate 30's existence. Plus, it has those all-important Google apps.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 +

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Sure, there's always the even more premium Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ with the excellent S Pen stylus, but most of us don't actually need it. That's where the second largest S series ever comes in. At 6.4 inches, the S10 + looks more like a Note series phone that is slightly smaller than the Mate.

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Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

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The 6.5-inch Pro Max is the closest to the Mate 30 Pro in terms of specs and smart camera, if you're looking for the Apple alternative.

Written by Dan Grabham.

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