P30 Pro’s top class camera keeps Huawei in the frame

Huawei’s latest flagship the P30 Pro, a photographer’s dream camera

Noel Campion says photographers will love the picture quality that they will achieve with the Huawei P30 Pro.

Huawei has made a name for itself as an innovator in the smartphone world in part thanks to its incredible cameras. The latest flagship from the Chinese company is the P30 Pro and I’ve been using it since the launch on March 26.

There’s a lot of similarities between the Mate 20 Pro and the P30 Pro. They share the same processor, battery capacity and from the front, they both look like twins. However, around the back is where you see the biggest physical differences in the camera setup. The P series is all about photography and the P30 Pro takes this to a new level by setting the bar to dizzying heights for others to follow.

Like the Mate 20 Pro, there’s no headphone jack, but most people have moved to Bluetooth headphones - there are so many great options out there now. You do get a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box though, along with USB-C headphones. My review unit came with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage that can be increased using Huawei’s own memory cards, but honestly, who’s going to need more than 256GB. Standard models have 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage memory which is still more than enough for most of us.

Photo taken on P30

One of the things that Huawei don’t get enough credit for is just how beautiful their phones look. Their design team put a lot of time and effort into producing high-tech phones that are distinctive and stylish. The P30 Pro’s colours are Pearl White, Breathing Crystal, Amber Sunrise, Aurora and of course Black. Unfortunately, in Ireland, we only get Black or Breathing Crystal. Given a choice, I’d choose the Breathing Cyrstal, which looks absolutely stunning.

As the race to smaller bezels and higher screen to body ratios increase, companies like Huawei are faced with the decision to go with a notch of some type. In the case of the P30 Pro they’ve gone with a dew-drop option, which is one of the least obtrusive. Like the Mate 20 Pro, the side edges of the front and back are bevelled, a design feature I’m not as fond of as I once was. That being said, it feels great in the hand to hold and at 192grams, it does feel substantial and in a good way.

Almost a given nowadays, but worth mentioning because not all flagships have it, is the water and dust proof IP68 rating.

The P30 Pro now sports a massive 6.47in OLED FHD+ display with a 2340x1080 resolution. This is a step down from the Mate 20 Pro’s quad HD screen, but in a blind test, I didn’t find anyone who could actually tell the difference between the two in terms of sharpness. The only real advantage is bragging rights and the fact that you can make all of the text and menus really small.

The massive screen is gorgeous and stunningly bright. Colours are also nice and vibrant but it doesn’t pop quite as much as the class-leading display on the Galaxy S10 Plus.

The dew-drop is there to house the 32MP front facing camera and it’s tiny. This is because there isn’t a speaker grill. Instead, Huawei has opted for an electromagnetic levitation mechanism, that actually vibrates the screen to produce sound. This is only for when you’re on calls. Unfortunately, this means there’s only a single bottom firing speaker producing a mono sound. The sound quality and volume are fine, but the lack of stereo does make a difference. The end result is a smaller dew-drop and more screen and personally, I prefer more display since I mostly listen to media via headphones anyway.

Like the Mate 20 Pro, the new P30 Pro has an in-screen optical fingerprint reader. I found it much more reliable and faster than the Mate 20 Pro. You also get the same level of super fast face-unlock that you did with the P20 Pro, albeit not as secure as the one in Mate 20 Pro.

Battery performance on the P30 Pro is outstanding and for many, reason enough to choose it over all of the competition thanks to its massive 4,200mAh capacity.

Fast wireless charging is present, something I’m a big fan of as well as Huawei’s SuperCharge charging that can go from empty to 70% in an astonishing 30 minutes. This comes in so handy far too often. You also get the reverse wireless charging that can charge other phones, very very slowly or small gadgets and devices that support the Qi wireless standard.

And then there are the cameras. On the back is a 40MP 27mm f/1.6 wide-angle main sensor, a 20MP ultra wide-angle 16mm f/2.2 and an 8MP 5x optical periscope zoom lens, plus a ToF (time of flight) lens, which helps the camera software with depth perception for AR applications and bokeh on portraits and in the aperture mode.

One of the main features of the new camera setup is the massive zoom range which starts at 5X optical, then 10X near-lossless and up to 50X digital zoom using the innovative periscope lens. Having the ability to go from .6X ultrawide to 50X zoom is impressive and makes the P30 Pro incredibly versatile regardless of what kind of photography you’re into. I never really used the pinch to zoom too often on smartphones in general because the quality really drops as you zoom, but not so much on the P30 Pro. 90% of the time 10x is more than enough and I love having the wide angle lens for city and landscapes. I particularly love the 40mp shooter for landscapes where I can get a little more detail and edit the photos in RAW format.

Photo taken on P30

Night Mode was first introduced on the P20 Pro and it has been vastly improved again on the P30 Pro to the point where you can almost take photos in the dark and that’s no exaggeration. How it can produce a photo full of colour and detail in extremely low light is incredible. This is useful in so many situations and even when you don’t use the dedicated Night Mode, the camera is capable of producing stunning photos in less than optimal conditions.

The selfie camera is 32mp, which should mean lots of sharp selfies, but like the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, images of people are soft and not as sharp as you’ll take with something like Pixel 3. Soft skin doesn’t show up as many wrinkles which some will find more desirable plus you have lots of bokeh effects for impressive selfies.

Video has been greatly improved with excellent stabilisation 1080p at up to 60fps. You can also shoot in 4K at 30fps. For most of us 1080p is the best choice for optimal quality versus storage space. I only see tech ‘YouTubers’ complain about not having 4K at 60fps, most real users will leave it at the default and be completely happy.

Overall, the Huawei P30 Pro is an incredible camera that happens to be a smartphone too! From macro to ultrawide the P30 Pro has you covered.

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