And if you could have it all: super fast performance, marathon runtime, screen-level screen and camera that rivals Google Pixel for quality and handheld cameras for zooming? Huawei would have you believe that his new flagship product P30 Pro Android is precisely this type of device without compromise. Announced at another gala in Paris today, the P30 Pro solves the few drawbacks of Huawei's excellent Mate 20 Pro compared to last year, and adds a new sophisticated camera system that promises a zoom without loss up to 10x. You will not be able to buy it in a US store, but it will still be one of the world's best-selling high-end devices this year. And probably one of the best.
Becoming familiar with the P30 Pro is easy because it's the same size, shape, and thickness as nearly every other Android flagship device on the market today. Huawei hopes to make a difference with the P30 Pro. The differences between them are minimal. Huawei's phone has a chin of about one millimeter in thickness and probably features the world's smallest notch so far, which is literally a cutout for the camera. Huawei omits the P30 Pro headphone, making innovative use of electromagnetic levitation to vibrate the top of the screen and generate a call sound. This means that there are no stereo speakers on this phone and that there are also more discreet phone calls, since the sound of the call is only propagated in one direction.
My two biggest problems with the Mate 20 Pro are its curved edges and incoherent fingerprint sensor. The P30 Pro always has curved glass in the front and back, but it's a much softer slope, closer to Samsung's latest Galaxy S devices. I am a fan of this subtle curvature on both Samsung and Huawei phones. It softens the edges of the device and offers a more beautiful and consistent design, but does not deprive me of useful space on the screen. Huawei also indicates that its new integrated fingerprint scanner, which remains optical (as opposed to pressure-sensitive alternatives like Samsung's Ultrasonic), is 30% faster than that of the Mate 20 Pro.
Before getting lost in all the details about Huawei's new four-camera system, you should quickly note the key features of the P30 Pro. This new phone is built around the Kirin 980 Kirin 980 processor that Huawei himself designed, which I really appreciated when I was reviewing the Mate 20 Pro and the Honor View 20. It is still a flagship piece of quality and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. Huawei will associate this with a type of 8 GB RAM and storage options ranging from 128 GB to 512 GB.
The display is a 6.47-inch curved OLED panel with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 and a 19.5: 9 aspect ratio. Inside, you'll find a huge battery of 4,200 mAh, which can be 70% charged in 30 minutes with Huawei's 40W SuperCharge charge. The P30 Pro also supports 15 Watt wireless charging as well as reverse wireless charging. So yes, you can charge your Samsung Galaxy Buds on the back of this phone, if you wish.
Huawei also today launches a non-Pro P30, which reduces the size of the screen to 6.1 inches, has a smaller battery of 3650 mAh and accepts a slower charge of 22.5W. The P30 Pro is IP68 certified for resistance to dust and water, while the P30 extends only to IP53. This may or may not be due to the fact that the P30 still has a headphone jack and a headset, two elements that are missing from the Pro model. The smaller phone will also have a simpler configuration to three cameras, omitting the periscope zoom and the fourth, depth detection sensor.
The big problem with the P30 Pro is its new camera configuration. Huawei's breathtaking marketing will tell you that he's "rewriting the rules" of mobile photography, and even if I do not go that far, it looks really bright. First, the most subtle: Huawei has created a new AI-based HDR + mode that creates a smart exposure map for the entire frame of a photo, then adjusts each part of the image. It will detect faces and landscape landmarks, such as grass or sun, and treat each one of them appropriately. That, with some examples of remarkably clear and well-exposed photos that I was able to photograph with the P30 Pro, gives me reason for optimism that Huawei has taken steps to narrow the gap between its cameras and the supreme pixel of Google.
Part of what could explain the apparent improvement in picture quality I 've seen in my first try with the P30 Pro is the new RYYB SuperSpectrum main camera sensor. It's still a 40-megapixel sensor that produces 10-megapixel shots by default by combining four pixels into one, but each pixel is now different. Huawei has replaced the RGB subpixel arrangement with an arrangement of red, blue and yellow color sensors. And as yellow sensors will absorb both red light and green light, Huawei says this new arrangement absorbs 40 percent more light than RGB, which gives better, cleaner photos. The SuperSpectrum part is on both the P30 Pro and the P30.
The reason for this large vertical slab of cameras on the back of the P30 Pro is, of course, the zoom capabilities of this phone. In order, from top to bottom: you get an ultra wide angle lens for large format or large group architecture photos, the main camera, which is now endowed with a optical image stabilization, and a new periscope zoom lens offering 5x optical zoom. Huawei says that by combining the image data from the main camera and the telephoto lens, the P30 Pro can produce a 10x zoom without loss. It will be something to test in a criticism.
In my brief tests, I was particularly impressed by Huawei's ToF (time-of-flight) camera and how it improves portrait mode on this phone. Using the depth information provided by the ToF sensor, Huawei is much more precise about the identification of his subject and the clear separation of the person from the background. But the novelty lies in the fact that Huawei also classifies the simulated bokeh in portrait mode: the bokeh will be less pronounced about the subject and will become more and more soft and unclear as you move away. This means that you will not get the 2D cut effect with portraits. You can see some examples of photos that I took in the video above. The great thing about them is that they were my first tests. This camera obviously makes it easy to take good pictures, and that's what any phone camera should suck.
In terms of video, Huawei promises to add a dual-video recording feature that will record simultaneous videos from both the main sensor and the telephoto sensor, combining them into a single widescreen video side-by-side. This will be part of a future software update.
If I have not figured it out yet, I'm excited about the Huawei P30 Pro. Huawei, despite its clashes with US regulators and its chronic inability to keep its new phones secret, continues to improve at a rate that few other smartphone manufacturers can match. Huawei's user experience issues in EMUI and this new fingerprint sensor remain to be solved, but in terms of pure engineering firepower, the P30 Pro offers you as much performance you can ask for today.
The launch of the Huawei P30 Pro product is still in progress and I will update this article with the price and the release date as soon as they are announced. The P30 Pro will be available in a new blue color variation called Breathing Crystal, with a pearl white, an iridescent red called Amber Sunrise, Huawei's Aurora signature and a basic black.
Photograph of Vlad Savov / The Verge