One year ago, I review the P20 Pro and proclaimed it as the best smartphone camera in 2018. One year later, the Huawei P30 Pro broke new ground in mobile photography, earning the accolade as the best smartphone camera in 2019. I had a 3-week hands-on experience during April while writing an article for NXT Magazine (you can read it here). Suffice to say, it was amazing, especially how the camera captures images beyond 5-times zoom, all the way to 50-times zoom.
Save the words, I’ll just show you the photos I took.
Imagine that most of the smartphones today could barely manage 10-times digital zoom, but on P30 Pro, Huawei achieves an equivalent of 1350mm reach on a 35mm camera – long enough to capture the moon. Obviously with all the digital cropping, the images lack any details or sharpness, but nevertheless it is a feat unattainable by any smartphone.
Putting the 50-times digital zoom aside, shooting at 10-times zoom reap excellent image details with no visible difference from a true optical lens. Even shooting at 20-times zoom appears to be more than satisfactory, but this only holds true for still images. Even with optical image stabilizer, it is not realistic to shoot moving subjects at high zoom settings. On the flipside, the front-facing camera captures at 32MP, with more natural-looking beautification even when the beauty level is past 50%.
Another camera feature that shines – pun unintended – is its low-light photographic capabilities. The rear standard camera uses a unique RYYB sensor instead of RGGB which is capable of receiving more light. Together with a large f/1.6 aperture and a jaw-dropping ISO 409600, the P30 Pro can shoot in the dark and exposing the image as if it was a well-lit scene. And that’s not all. It is also possible to capture long exposure in broad daylight, using Light Painting mode.
The super macro mode is also very usable: I was able to fill the frame with a close-up shot of the mini DisplayPort revealing the internal pins. Huawei has tirelessly differentiated themselves from the competitors with class-leading features.
I love shooting in ultra-wide angles since the days of LG G5, and I would choose my next smartphone based on whether it comes with an ultra-wide angle lens. On the P30 Pro, there are some distortion, as you can see the upper wall in the below image appears to be wavy. It’s a trade-off for the wide perspective, and in the respect, the other smartphones achieve better distortion control.
Good Only For Distance Shooters
If you think the P30 Pro is for you, think again. While the P20 Pro has a second 3X telephoto lens, the P30 Pro fits a 5X telephoto lens. This means that when you are shooting anything below 5X, you are using digital zoom from the main 48MP lens. Comparatively, the P20 Pro switches to the telephoto lens from 3X onwards. If you do not shoot a lot of zoom-in shots, then the P30 Pro might not be a great deal. Based on my hands-on experience, I merely shoot beyond 10X zoom for the purpose of reviewing, but find not much need to capture distant objects.
Other than the camera, the P30 Pro delivers great performance in all aspects. While other smartphones may win in some functions, the P30 Pro offers a complete package that ticks all the boxes of a premium smartphone. You get the latest in-display fingerprint sensor, acoustic display technology (replacing the front speaker), wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, LDAC wireless audio codec, EMUI desktop mode.
Huawei Trade Ban: Impact on Android Smartphones
If you are still worried whether Huawei Android smartphones are worth getting, my view is that you have nothing to worry. Even if the Android updates stop, the phones will still continue to work. There are so many other smartphones that have zero software updates but consumers still buy them. As to whether Google can brick/blacklist the devices to block the phones from using apps, technically it is possible but they have never done it with popular models like Huawei. And logically speaking, it would be unwise as it would mean pushing customers away from Google to competitive products (like Microsoft, or Apple). Even if the phones are blocked from receiving new updates, the existing versions of your favourite Google apps can still be used, just like any of your old Android smartphones.
In the worse case scenario, there are open-source Android versions (called AOSP) that can be installed on most popular Android smartphones. Moreover, Huawei has already announced their backup plan to release a new OS that will ensure the continual existence of their smartphone product line.
I’ll be on the lookout for any unfavourable news regarding Huawei which reduces the P30 Pro market value. And I’ll be sure to grab a unit or two.
Huawei has contributed much to the development of mobile photography. Huawei P30 Pro is such a versatile smartphone camera, allowing users to shoot from super macro to super wide, from extreme zoom to complete darkness. Thanks to them, other smartphone makers are also bucking up to match and better the hardware. This is how technology and innovation can evolve and improve.