Huawei P30 Pro is still the best Android phone you can buy right now and here’s why
Huawei P30 Pro is a specification powerhouse – the phone comes with four cameras on its rear, a hefty 4,200mAh battery and delivers some of the best real world performance around.
Express.co.uk sung the praises of the P30 Pro when we reviewed it earlier this year – we awarded the flagship four and a half out of five stars and labelled the phone the best of 2019 so far.
Months later we still think this sentiment rings true and here is why.
It’s easy to forget just how good the P30 Pro is – although Express.co.uk put the device through excruciating tests during our review process, it has since been subject to more normal usage.
Using the P30 Pro as a daily driver doesn’t always do its capabilities justice – when we are going through the motions of everyday life there is not always an excuse to harness its quad camera system and the wireless charger that sits on our desk means it’s sometimes easy to forget about the device’s supreme longevity.
This outlet recently attended Huawei’s scheduled Developer Conference in the industrial city of Dongguan- after seeing the reveal of the firm’s new EMUI Android skin and HarmonyOS operating system we explored some of China’s most iconic cities and remote beauty spots.
It was during the traveling leg of our trip that we were reminded of just how good the P30 Pro is.
Our first stop was China’s iconic tech hub – Shenzhen.
Shenzhen is where Huawei and a number of other high profile industry players such as OPPO and OnePlus are based – the city is a sprawling metropolis during the day, but at night its myriad skyscrapers combine to emit a breathtaking neon pulse.
The Chinese city’s awe-inspiring skyline provided us with the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the P30 Pro’s first class night mode.
For those unfamiliar, the P30 Pro comes with a primary, telephoto, ultra wide-angle and time-of-flight (TOF) sensor on its rear that combine to deliver the most diverse camera system on a smartphone right now.
Huawei’s P30 Pro has a night mode superior to both the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro – the device is capable of capturing brighter and more detailed shots in darker environments and is generally more reliable when light is scarce.
We were able to take snaps of Shenzhen from the city’s KK100 skyscraper that truly did its beauty justice.
The flexibility of the P30 Pro’s camera system meant we were not confined to taking postcard shots of the city though – the hardware on offer allowed us to take ultra wide-angle shots or zoom in closer to the hundreds of cars down below for instance.
Although the P30 Pro’s night mode is commendable, it is certainly not perfect – the device can sometimes brighten up shots too much, resulting in an image almost entirely rid of realism.
While this issue is something that can be remedied in a few seconds with capable photo editing software, it is still worth noting.
Guilin was the next destination in our Chinese adventure – the city is located in the Asian nation’s Guangxi province that borders Vietnam.
Guilin shares similar terrain to its neighbour – lush greenery, striking peaks and huge rivers scatter its landscape.
Some of our greatest photos from the P30 Pro during our time in the city were taken on the Li River, a stretch of water that flows over 100 miles from China’s Xing’an County to Pingle County.
We commandeered a boat to sail down the iconic Asian waters on a blisteringly hot summer’s day and was left impressed with the P30 Pro for three reasons.
First and foremost, we managed to capture some of the most accurate portrait mode shots we have ever seen on a smartphone – the P30 Pro’s TOF lens is responsible for mapping out the outline of a particular subject and ensuring background bokeh is applied in the right places.
While most contemporary smartphones are capable of snapping portrait photos, not all of them apply the effect in question with the same levels of detail – some make noticeable mistakes, especially where hair and accessories are concerned.
The P30 Pro is not flawless in this regard, but it certainly delivers some of the most accurate portrait mode shots we have seen.
Secondly, the Huawei handset proved just how capable its camera is when taking snaps in harsh sunlight – the phone was able to preserve details and retain great dynamic range in such circumstances.
Throughout our time in China we pitted the P30 Pro against the Google Pixel 3 and Honor 20 Pro – both of which produced images that were slightly blown out because of the sun’s position in the sky.
The P30 Pro’s longevity really comes into its own when there is not a power outlet nearby – we spent an entire day travelling down the Li River and at no point during such time did we have to scramble for juice, despite frequently using the hardware to take photos and record 4K video.
Huawei’s battery technology left us impressed with regularity and is certainly noticed most during a day of travelling or activities.
After two days of experiencing majestic landscapes in Guilin, we departed to the bustling city of Shanghai.
Shanghai is easily one of the fastest developing cities around – its skyline is home to a deluge of towering monoliths, one of which is the second tallest building in the world.
The city incites photographic experimentation – its skyscrapers, streets and other landmarks have unique aesthetics that beg to be captured.
Shanghai is not just a magnificent set of buildings though – it’s also bursting with history, culture and diversity.
A short drive from the financial district is the Old City and French Concession that each feel completely different.
During the day Shanghai is visually striking, but come 7pm the entire skyline lights up and produces a spectacle that is one of the most magnificent the world has to offer.
Neon reds, greens, yellows and blues dominate the cityscape and practically cry out for a smartphone’s night mode to capture them.
Once again, the P30 Pro was at hand to take sharp, bright and detailed pictures of Shanghai’s majestic beauty.
Having the P30 Pro as our companion throughout our China adventure reminded us of its greatest qualities – the phone is a cut above its competition where battery life and its camera is concerned.
Why is the P30 Pro better than its rivals?
Huawei’s P-series has always attempted to push the boundaries of smartphone photography forward – the P20 Pro was the first handset to come with three cameras on its rear and a dedicated night mode within its software.
While the P20 Pro was arguably the most diverse camera system of its time, the P30 Pro ups the ante significantly and, in the opinion of Express.co.uk, offers the best camera system on the market by far.
The device has a commendable primary, ultra wide-angle and time-of-flight sensor, but what truly makes its photography offering a cut above its competition is its zoom.
Most modern smartphones come with a secondary telephoto module, but these typically only deliver a two-times optical zoom.
The P30 Pro’s telephoto camera harnesses a periscope style structure to deliver a five-times optical zoom however.
Moreover, this sensor can combine with the phone’s primary lens to offer users a 10-times hybrid zoom.
Until the release of the P30 Pro, we had rarely used smartphone telephoto cameras at Express.co.uk, we never found the minimal zoom was worth the slight degradation in quality that came with it.
But having a much better zoom to play with on the P30 Pro incites creativity and certainly allowed us to take shots that were simply not possible on other devices during our time in China.
The P30 Pro’s outstanding camera system it backed up by its humongous battery that delivers arguably the best life of any handset right now, speedy performance and a visually striking design.
Where does the P30 Pro fall short?
The P30 Pro isn’t perfect though – the device’s biggest Achilles heel is by far its screen.
Although the Huawei handset does not have a bad panel by any means, it is far behind rivals such as the OnePlus 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 10 or Sony Xperia 1.
First and foremost, the P30 Pro’s screen only offers a 1080p resolution which simply does not look as crisp as phones that have a 1440p quality or higher.
This means when viewing photos or consuming video, content simply does not look as stunning as it could.
Moreover, the P30 Pro’s display also comes with a 60Hz refresh rate which simply fails to deliver the smooth performance present on phones with 90Hz rates and higher such as the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Additionally, the phone only comes with a single speaker which can easily be covered up and does not get as loud as most of its premium rivals.
Finally, the P30 Pro also lacks a secure facial unlocking system – whereas Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro came with a notch housing an array of recognition sensors, the P30 Pro is left with just a single front-facing camera to perform such a function.
This ultimately results in facial recognition that is neither secure or reliable – this method of unlocking is practically useless when outside or if the user is walking.
The P30 Pro has a number of shortcomings, but ultimately the flagship excels in the areas we care about – camera performance and battery life.
This powerful duo is unmatched in our eyes and ensures the Huawei handset is always in our pocket when we travel.
The P30 Pro won’t be the best Android smartphone forever – new devices from Apple, OnePlus, Google and Huawei itself are expected before the year is up and are presumed to match, it not surpass, its best features.
But until then, we are going to savour every moment with this truly innovative flagship.
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