Huawei has once again pulled out the stops to make a class-leading flagship with the P30 Pro. The latest Kirin 980 processor a total of four cameras on the rear and some innovative tech combine to make the P30 Pro a contender for the best mobile device of 2019.

Steven Ambrose tests the P30 Pro and sees if Huawei has done it again.

The Huawei P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro released in 2018 rewrote the book on mobile camera performance. Huawei together with Leica pushed the boundary of what to expect with mobile photography and combined this with advance AI processors and other innovations such as under screen fingerprint sensors.

The P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro went on the be some of the hottest selling smart devices of 2018 and helped catapult Huawei to number two slot for mobile device manufacturers worldwide.

The P30 Pro is Huawei’s follow up device for 2019 and once again Huawei is pushing the boundaries of technology concerning camera tech and AI enabled, processors.

The hardware

The Huawei P30 Pro builds on the Mate 20 Pro and P20 of last years with a look and feels very similar. Overall, it’s a sleek good-looking device. The screen has grown to 6.47” with a noticeable curve on both sides very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Overall the Mate 30 Pro looks very much like a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 except for the range of exciting colours.

Some have remarked that the sparkly shaded rear in the various colours looks a little chintzy, but due to the glass back and front a case is an absolute must, and this softens the effects of the rear cover a lot even if the case is transparent.

Key features

The standout feature of the P30 Pro is the Kirin 980 processor which debuted in the Mate 20 Pro coupled with 8 Gig of Ram and 256 Gig of storage. The P30 Pro is just swift fluid and responds to every input immediately, apps load fast, and games play exceptionally smoothly.

In context, all the flagship devices from Samsung, Apple, Sony, and LG, offer very similar performance with no lag no stuttering or delay. The massive 4200MaH battery coupled with Android 9 lasted at least a day and a half in general use. I found it useful not to worry about charging the device late afternoon if you were going out. The P30 Pro also offers reverse wireless charging which is great for your friends who need a little juice late at night.

All the other technical specs are right at the cutting edge from one of the fastest radios for cellular to Bluetooth 5 and super-fast Wi-Fi. Overall signal quality even in weak signal areas was excellent.

The screen offers two other innovations which are very cutting edge, firstly in the under screen fingerprint reader which is faster and more accurate than the previous generation. Coupled with an updated facial recognition system unlocking the device was fast and reliable. The speaker is also integrated under the glass, and it does take a little time to get your ear at the right spot but once mastered the sound is a good as an actual speaker.

The screen is an OLED unit with FHD+ resolution. It is good but compared to the other flagships out there the display on the P30 Pro is a real disappointment, it is a little dull with poor contrast and can make the text a little hard to read especially in bright light. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus the P30 pro cannot compete with the clarity brightness and colour accuracy. I tweaked the multitude of settings available to change the colour brightness etc. and could not get it close to the either the Apple iPhone XS or Samsung Galaxy S10 screen quality.

The camera

Leica has been collaborating with Huawei for a few years, and they have advanced the state of smartphone cameras in almost every aspect.

The P30 Pro features four cameras on the rear, and this is without question the most innovative and advanced setup on a mobile device yet. There are two standout features that no other device or camera setup can compete with and that its low light ability and Zoom.

The specifications are available all over the internet, so I won’t go into that here, but firstly the ability of the P3 Pro to zoom up to 5X mechanically and up to 50 X electronically is fantastic, the amount of detail and sharpness even at 50X is impressive. A new camera sensor also gives the P30 Pro night vision. Taking pictures in low light or almost no light is remarkably natural with great low noise results practically every time.

The low light performance is also without peer in the current crop of smart devices. The camera app is easy to use, and the AI-assisted modes make taking pictures easy, and generally, you get great results.

The P30 pro also compared well to the Samsung Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS and XR for general good light photography. Interestingly I preferred the balance colour and contrast of pictures taken by the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and the iPhones in typical lighting situations. The P30 Pro has a slightly flattened feel to all its pictures with a slight yellowish cast to the pictures, and this was apparent across all types of pictures from portraits to landscapes.

The Leica infused camera system along with the Huawei magic in the processing does work and if cutting edge photography on the edge, is your thing, it’s hard to beat the P30 Pro. For more normal use its competitors may have the edge in ease of use and more pleasant good-looking pictures.

The software

The P30 Pro comes standard with Android 9 and its own overlay called EMUI 9.1. From a performance point of view, the combination was perfect, there was no lag anywhere no matter what you do, and generally, the P30 Pro was easy to use and setting up the features you want is easy and simple.

You can get lost in the multitude of options, but overall this is a good implementation of Android 9. I did find the gesture feature if selected to be good but not great. In some ways, it mimics the Apple iOS iPhone X style of control but cannot come close in fluidity and ease of use. Most users should opt for the standard Android navigating system which is more consistent across the interface and easier to use.


The Huawei P30 Pro is a big technical improvement on the P20 Pro from last year. The Processor memory and radio system are as good as it gets, and  the AI infused photography system is partly way ahead of everyone else, but I think the pursuit of such amazing low light ability may have compromised the ability of the P30 Pro to offer the best normal to bright light photography.

The build quality is excellent, yet the P30 Pro is one of the heaviest of the flagships, and it feels a little dense and heavy in hand. Once again, the all-glass construction makes a cover an absolute must. In my opinion, the look and feel of the Huawei P30 Pro cannot compare to the more modern look and the perfect balance of weight and size of the Samsung Galaxy S10, its most logical competitor.

I feel that Huawei put too much emphasis on the camera and tech specs and have not hit the balance that would make this the best device on the market, that accolade goes to the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

The low light and zoom features are the best on the market, and the battery life is the cherry on the top. Overall the P30 Pro is an excellent smartphone with some standout features. If photography is critical, then this is the best available. If a more polished balanced performance is wanted, then there are other devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S10. For Apple fans, the iPhone XS range is still very competitive.

Always try before you buy.

The P30 Pro is available from all networks on various packages and has a retail price of R18,999.00

Steven Ambrose | Techhuman | @ambio | mail me |

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