still a flagship that it true

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(Pocket Ribbon) – In 2018, something happened that surprised many people: Huawei introduced the best phone camera on the market after years of tinkering and iterations from the P-series. The following year, in 2019, the P30 Pro went around tearing up the rulebook and getting big at photography.

However, the Chinese company has fought to keep the crown of its camera phone king as Google introduces incredible Night Sight mode to its Pixel phones, Samsung pushes multiple cameras into its A9, and great in-device processing into its Galaxy. S10 + and Oppo now show very similar technology in its Reno 10x Zoom.

The P30 Pro is not concerned, however. By implementing a Leica Quad Camera system – which combines ultra-wide, super-high resolution and true zoom with a Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera – the Chinese company has managed to implement the most versatile camera in any phone before any other manufacturer. The iPhone is even on three cameras years later.

Of course, there have been issues with the US trade war that made people shudder at the idea of ​​Huawei phones, because the newer handsets – such as the Mate 30 Pro and the successor to this tested device, the P40 Pro – cannot. support for Google Play services (ie no Play Store). But while that political pantomime gets sorted out – and we hope it does – we still think the P30 Pro is a great phone. Whether it's some kind of swan song or not …

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Design: bigger, bolder

6.47-inch OLED Huawei FullView display, FHD + resolution (2340 x 1080), 19.5: 9 aspect ratio Finishes: breathable crystal, sunrise amber, aurora, pearl white, black No forward firing speaker, uses magnetism vibrations for audio Dimensions : 149.1 x 71.4 x 7.6 mm / Weight: 165 g Optical in-screen fingerprint scanner IP68 water and dust resistant No 3.5 mm headphone jack Drop-shaped notch

With many saying the hole punch camera would be the dominant force, Huawei thinks otherwise: the P30 Pro has a small dewdrop notch in the front and center. The thing is, Huawei's display selection, at 6.47-inches, is so vast that this tiny blackout area up where the front camera is housed is barely noticeable. Flip a coin, really, it's six from one half dozen to another – and we've barely noticed the difference between this one and a perforated camera like the one you find in the OnePlus 8, for example.

At least the Pro isn't a slider phone like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, which would make for a bulky, dust-repellent form factor. However, the P30 Pro is much thicker than the P20 Pro of the past due to the simple fact that the newer phone has a massive battery under the hood. It's 4,200 mAh, which considering how well the Mate 20 Pro performed in terms of performance with the same battery capacity, is great. The P30 Pro lasts forever – but more on that later.

Ultimately, the P30 Pro is a larger, more powerful version of the P20 Pro that it replaces. However, that larger screen has a narrow aspect ratio, so it's easy to hold and matches the other large screens we see – consider the Samsung Galaxy S20 + as an obvious example – including Huawei's own curved edge P40 Pro follow-up. .

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Despite this physical size, Huawei has refrained from cramming more pixels into the Pro's screen – which we think could be seen as a mistake. Imagine being able to watch sharper streams from Netflix, or zooming in on those photos with extra dazzling detail? Samsung offers a 3200 x 1440 resolution in its S20 + (even the comparison to the S10 + was higher back then), which is turned off by default for battery life, and Huawei could easily have provided a similar solution for the best of two worlds, only going high-res when really needed or requested.

Visually, however, the P30 Pro is a stunner. Shown here in its Breathing Crystal finish – we know, marketing names have got to be a bit silly, right? – it is a gradient finish with a pearlescent sheen. It's a fingerprint magnet though, as can be expected these days, but keep it clean and that surface sure sings. There's a more conventional black option, or if you want to go the other way, the orange Amber Sunrise is a hot look (well, maybe it's not as lary as it looks on press photos – as we found out when we went for first saw some examples at the launch event of the P30 Pro in Paris).

An even more modern option, the P30 Pro Ultimate Edition, appeared in 2020 as Huawei's kind of protest phone. This gets around the problem of Google Services, as it is currently "old" hardware, but the P40 Pro's fingerprint-resistant finish, called Silver Frost, is a favorite.

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The design of the P30 Pro embodied a number of new ideas at launch. Look up at that dewdrop notch and you won't see a speaker crammed into the bezel next to it, because the P30 Pro doesn't have one. By using magnets to create vibrations in the screen, you hear sound projected into your ear. We've seen and tested this feature in the Vivo Apex 2019 concept phone – and it's impressive to say the least. It also works, as we've found from long-winded phone calls to our credit card company (buying these expensive phones brings inevitable financial hardship, right?).

However, it does mean that the P30 Pro's speaker only sees at the bottom that the phone lags behind its competition in terms of audio. We didn't expect gaming-quality stereo output according to the Razer Phone 2, but the Google Pixel 4 XL is noticeably better with its stereo setup and output than this Huawei.

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The P30 Pro has also updated Huawei's in-screen fingerprint scanner by offering an optical solution. It's easy to register, quick and accurate to log in – but no patch on how incredibly fast that aforementioned Vivo phone is (you really have to watch our video to get an idea of ​​that speed). In-screen scanners are now at least of good quality, showing how far Huawei has come in a short space of time – since the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS and its mediocre scanner just a few years ago.

Cameras are crushing the competition – with a few caveats

Leica Quad Camera System, SuperSensing main sensor Optical stabilization (OIS) for main and zoom lenses Main: 40 MP, 27 mm, f / 1.6 Wide angle: 20 MP, 16 mm, f / 2.2 Zoom: 8 MP, 5x periscope zoom, 125 mm, f / 3.4 10x hybrid zoom lens, non-optical Time-of-Flight (ToF) for depth Selfie camera on the front: 32 MP

Now, on to the main event. The P30 Pro is really a camera phone. And it has a lot of interesting things to offer in this department. At the time of launch, there was nothing better – but since then the competition has rallied hard to catch up.

SuperSensing sensor with high sensitivity

The main point of this is the so-called SuperSensing sensor, which functions completely differently from most conventional sensors. This is going to get a little deep, so hold your brain for a second.

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Most camera sensors have what's called a Bayer array – a four-part grid that delivers red, green, blue, and green (RGBG) light-frequency adsorption to the pixel locations below, allowing the camera to decipher complete color information from these measurements. Huawei has done away with this in place of a red, yellow, blue, yellow (RYBY) array. Why? As the frequency of yellow light is more sensitive, it can thus capture more information for a more detailed result.

That's the theory, but it's the results that are really interesting. Because the P30 Pro can do so much, we've divided this camera review section into subsections.

Wide and standard lenses

For most, the quad camera system setup is most interesting as it is this variety of lenses that allows for greater versatility in capturing.

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There is the 16 mm wide-angle lens, such as with the Mate 20 Pro, which pushes a lot into the frame. We love this wide angle for the dramatism it can add to a scene – although the edges are by far softer than the center and some color shifts to these peripheries as well.

And then there's an ultra-high-resolution main sensor – it only captures 40MP if you tell it; 10MP is the standard as it can super-sample for better results – yielding really detailed recordings. Huawei is greedy for making images too sharp, but in the P30 Pro the results are usually perfect.

The only downside is switching between these lenses and seeing inconsistency between color and lighting. The camera may also jump around while optical stabilization is in effect, which looks a bit strange on the screen.

Zoom: optical and digital

The main lens of the Pro is the one that offers 5x optical zoom, used as 10x digital zoom when needed, which uses the data from the other main camera to help with software that improves the zoom result.

The 5x optical zoom is very impressive and offers a good level of detail given the periscope zoom mechanism used. It's not razor-sharp at 100 percent, but we've seen no other phone that takes pictures so sharply at an equivalent focal range. Well, there is now the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom to consider, but Huawei got there first.

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: 16 mm wide angle 16 mm wide angle

However, in addition to 5x zoom, things from the P30 Pro have to be placed in the context of a phone camera proposal. The 10x hybrid zoom is fine – it's clearly not lossless, as Huawei claims, you just have to look at the full-size frames to see this – but the level of detail that can be deciphered in this mode is impressive, even if it really is missing. bite and sharpness.

In addition, Huawei offers up to 50x digital zoom. It's entertaining, but the results aren't really worth it considering how soft things get as a result of the upscaling. It is damn difficult to keep the thing stable with this kind of zoom lens. Sure, nothing else in the market can compete with that, but it's really the 5x zoom that hits the spot.

You might think you've ever really wanted to use such a zoom, but once you start seeing the possibilities, it will be difficult to switch to a phone with a less advanced camera. It's great for spontaneous shots and great for seeing different composition options.

Point and shoot simplicity

The P30 Pro is also easy to use. Choosing between wide, 1x, 3x, 5x, and 10x is as easy as tapping the on-screen zoom circle icon (with a prompt on what the current zoom factor is). If you're more of a pinch-to-zoom operator then that is possible too, making those zoom levels between 1x and 5x easily achievable (although we have to admit that we miss the P20 Pro's standard 3x optical zoom in that regard) .

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However, since Huawei is Huawei, there are several options available to enable and disable. There's a color mode – which chooses between standard, vivid and smooth colors – and Master AI top and center that uses learned data to automatically recognize scenes and adjust exposure, select settings and adjust colors as you see fit.

Master AI certainly has its uses, but it is not always desirable. It shows the mode he thinks is suitable – such as Super Macro, Text, Blue Sky, and so on – which you can deactivate on the screen by hitting a little cross next to the automatically selected mode. The camera is supposed to learn if the recognition is incorrect when pressed repeatedly. But we've seen a lot of mistakes: Our dining table was apparently a waterfall, while we've mistaken fruit for moon and other such comical capers.

However, many will appreciate the simplicity AI offers with the improved lighting and colors, so we can definitely see why it exists.

Macro of the close-up

When it comes to shooting subjects up close, the P30 Pro can get really close. With the standard lens, we talk only a few centimeters from the subject.

But that's not all: the 5x zoom lens can also focus up close. We shot our jeans and the result was detailed far beyond what meets the eye, with individual threads and fibers visible – it looks like chainmail, if only woven threads. While in Helsinki, Finland, a drink with the national berry, blueberries, was caught in the glass in extremely near-abstract close-up glory.

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The 5x zoom isn't bitingly sharp, as we said, so check out these photos beyond their screen size and there aren't as much detail as you might think, but it's still impressive enough to blow your friends away by taking a few close -up snaps.

Given the trend for phones to use paltry 2MP macro cameras – like the Moto One Macro – this shows that this is not necessary as it can do without it.

Night mode

A great feature of the P30 Pro is night mode. This option takes multiple frames with different exposures and combines them into one HDR (high dynamic range) image. While it is designed for use at night, we use it most during the day, where it is possible to extract extra range from shots for added dynamism.

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Also, don't think of this as Google's night vision mode because it isn't. It needs a steady hand, but you can still shoot handheld in night mode, even in very low light, which is great. If subjects are moving there will be some blur of the subject, but if it is people walking through a scene or clouds moving fast, for example, it looks really great.

While Huawei's nighttime shots were the best, it has since dropped in the rankings. We've worked out an iPhone 11 vs Pixel 3 XL vs P30 Pro to show you all the differences. Not that it's bad, as you can see below from the low-light shooting capability:

Shooting in low light

When we first saw the P30 Pro we were disappointed that it had no equivalent to Google's night vision mode, i.e. the ability to shoot in very low light and use processing to render the shot in an almost daylight-like shape. to give. But we were wrong. Although it doesn't scream about it, the P30 Pro is the best low-light camera on the market in its automatic mode.

We did some side-by-side shooting alongside the Google Pixel 2 with Night Sight and the P30 Pro wins hands down. In an almost obscuring dark kitchen, we shot our (admittedly filthy) kitchenware drawing and, despite not being able to see what we were shooting, the Pixel in Night Sight mode barely gave anything visible, while the P30 Pro presented the full content of the draw as if the lights were on (trust us, they were off). It's astonishingly impressive – and that's because of the structure of the SuperSensing sensor.

Now, in such extreme scenarios, the results won't be ultra-sharp or the most useful. But it describes a future where artificial intelligence and image processing will become a completely different aspect of photography. Because the P30 Pro doesn't use ultra-high ISO sensitivity to display these images, it uses algorithms and processes the available data to generate images that go further than the eye can see.

In general, though, it has to be said that Google's Night Sight – which you know you're using when activated – is a bit more versatile in its approach to some other scenes. It can't do what the Huawei can do in the example above, but it's a great mode that sets the standard in many ways.

Professional mode

If you want to get into a bit more detail, a swipe to Pro mode gives control over all settings, including shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.

However, the maximum selectable sensitivity in Pro mode is ISO 6400, which makes the higher sensitivities (ISO 409600 the maximum) seem completely obsolete. How strange.

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In addition, if you use a high ISO sensitivity, all the magic of that SuperSensing sensor is dominated and little processing takes place. A picture we took inside ancient walls on Suomenlinna Island, Finland shows significant color noise, shown as red, green and blue spots throughout the image. A curious result, considering how ultra-impressive the processing of the point-and-shoot mode is – and that it is not accessible in the Pro mode!

Portrait and aperture modes

The fourth camera in the quad comparison is the Time-of-Flight camera. ToF works roughly like Sonar and emits a light frequency (not visible to the eye) that bounces off the subjects and returns a time-based depth map of what is in front of the lens. That's a better way to decipher exactly what is where within a frame for more refined processing of depth data than systems that simply use multiple cameras (or even a few).

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The P30 Pro's portrait mode automatically selects a face and gives pretty good edges around subjects, while the user-definable aperture mode (f / 22 to f / 0.95 on a sliding scale) has given us better edge definition overall than we've seen before – although it's not 100 percent perfect. Still, such modes are essential for a phone in 2019, and Huawei can be pleased with what it has delivered.

Cameras: finally

Overall, the Huawei P30 Pro had the best camera setup at launch. It was untouchable at the time, but other makers were eager to catch up. We still think it's one of the very best out there, even though the iPhone, Pixel, and other handsets have taken to it.

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That said, there are some baffling points with the P30 Pro's cameras: the number of modes available can get confusing, especially when the default point-and-shoot mode is so good; the zoom is great up to 5x, but overestimates its power after that (and 50x is just silly); optical image stabilization is useful but should improve with these zoom options; and some simple problems, such as color inconsistencies between focal lengths, is a disappointment.

Performance

Kirin 980 processor, 8 GB RAM, 128/256/512 GB storage (NM card extension available) 4200 mAh battery, 40 W SuperCharge fast charging Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging EMUI 9.1 software skin on Android Pie

In terms of performance, the P30 Pro arrived halfway through the company's release cycle, which means using the Kirin 980 processor. All P30 variants – there are 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB storage options – also come with 8 GB of RAM.

We've found the P30 Pro to be a solid performer and flagship in all respects in terms of operation: the software runs smoothly, we've had no crashes or stuck apps, while games performed without stuttering or issues. Compared to, for example, a Snapdragon 855 handset, you won't notice any difference.

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Huawei has long been pushing its EMUI – that's Emotion User Interface – with the P30 Pro initially adopting a slightly updated version (EMUI 9.1), eventually moving to EMUI 10 in February 2020 (which is built on Google's Android 10 operating system) .

Since its launch, however, there's a bit of a cloud hovering over future support as the United States, under Trump's command, blacklisted Huawei, preventing many US-based manufacturers from doing business with the Chinese giant. That included Android. There is still a lingering question mark about Huawei's future in Europe.

However, regarding this device, we think no alarm is needed as it is opted out of Google Services, so Google Play remains intact. However, the Mate 30 Pro was hit and failed to launch with such services, making it largely pointless in the Western market – the same goes for the P40 series, however good their cameras are.

Anyway, on the actual experience. Since EMUI 10 has been implemented, we have not seen much difference. There are some transition changes, dark mode is now available, and the icons are simpler and more colorful. Ultimately, we think Huawei is in a place where its customers will find its software offering and customizations acceptable. However, not everyone will agree with tough popup alerts and Gmail breakdowns that Android purists might find annoying.

Whatever you make of the software – and we'll dive deep into EMUI here for a general rundown of tips and tricks – the P30 Pro's battery really impresses for several reasons. The 4,200 mAh cell is huge and lasts forever: on days of heavy use, including several hours of gaming, we've got 45 percent left over after 17 and a half hours of use. That is very impressive. The P30 Pro can easily be considered a two-day phone per charge. In fact, we think the Huawei will last longer than the Asus Zenfone 6's 5,000 mAh battery.

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If the battery does run out, the 40W SuperCharge fast charger in the box of the P30 Pro will charge the battery twice as fast. Indeed, up to 70 percent can be topped up with just half an hour on the plug.

There's also wireless charging and reverse wireless charging – the latter so you can recharge friends' phones or charge your wireless earphones (although Huawei took the time to release wireless rechargeable headphones and eventually launched the Freebuds 3 Wireless).

Conclusion

With great design and color options, massive battery life, lots of power, and versatile cameras, the P30 Pro isn't just a photography phone, it's arguably the best flagship phone we've seen on the market in 2019.

Any issues are minor – the screen doesn't have class-leading resolution, not everyone will like the software, the optical stabilization could be better, colors are inconsistent between cameras – but we're really nitpicking.

Where the P30 Pro really shines is with its overall photography skills. It launches with the most versatile camera setup – so while we called the P20 Pro the king of the phone camera before that, the P30 Pro was the phone camera god on launch day.

Its appeal may have been somewhat marred by the political stance of the US and China, but that doesn't detract from what is an exceptional handset – even if you buy one now, upgraded to Android 10, we think it will impress for a long time to come to make.

This review was first published in March 2019 and has been updated to reflect changing conditions, software updates and market context

Also consider

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Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

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It came later than the Huawei, but Oppo has finally launched its phone with 10x optical zoom. You don't have to worry about dewdrops, which makes for a predominant screen experience, and it's much cheaper too. The software is a bit of a hurdle, but as a statement of intent, this phone shows that Oppo has a very strong future with its European smartphone desires.

Written by Mike Lowe.

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