Set aside Huawei’s recent political controversies in the west, and the company is still putting out some of the best smartphones around. That looks to be continuing with its latest pair of flagships: the P30 and P30 Pro.
Most of the time the difference between regular and pro or plus models just comes down to screen size and maybe an extra camera lens, but this time Huawei has held a lot of the Pro’s best features back from the regular P30, so there’s a bit more to think about if you’re picking between the two phones.
Price and availability
Huawei just launched the P30 and P30 Pro at an event in Paris, with the phones available from 5 April – you can pre-order now from Carphone Warehouse, EE, Vodafone and Sky Mobile. Find the best P30 deals here (including a free Sonos One)
Last year’s P20 launched at £599 and in line with rivals, the P30 gets a price bump to £699/799 Euro.
As with all Huawei phones, the P30 won’t be available to buy in the US.
As always with the P-series, much of the focus with the P30 is around the cameras. And while the regular P30 doesn’t have the quad camera set-up of the P30 Pro, it’s still no slouch at all.
For one thing, based on specs at least, the P30 seems to be a serious step up from the already impressive P20. While that phone had two lenses – one colour and one monochrome – the P30 has three, including a 3x OIS telephoto (8Mp, f/2.4) and wide-angle (16Mp, f/2.2). The selfie lens has also jumped up to a meaty 32Mp.
Arguably more importantly, the main lens has had a massive revamp. It’s now a 40Mp, f/1.8 shooter with what Huawei is calling a ‘superspectrum’ sensor. That means that instead of a standard RGB sensor – red, green, and blue – the P30 uses an ‘RYYB’ sensor. That means it captures yellow light instead of green, which the company claims includes both green light and additional red light.
So far, so jargon. But the end result – according to Huawei at least – is that the camera will capture more light, giving the image processor more information to work with, and improving low-light photography in particular. We haven’t been able to test all this properly yet, so we’ll have to wait until our proper review to really put the camera through its paces.
While we’re on cameras though, it’s worth flagging that this is the biggest area where the P30 Pro pulls ahead. It boasts optical stabilisation and an f/1.6 aperture on the main lens, along with 5x optical zoom – and up to 10x hybrid – along with a higher 20Mp ultra-wide lens. More than that though, it also features a fourth lens: a 3D time of flight (TOF) sensor which should give the phone even better bokeh.
Big screen beauty
Unsurprisingly the P30 has had a design upgrade too, but it’s definitely more of an evolution than a revolution.
On the front the home button has gone – replaced in part by an in-screen fingerprint sensor – and the notch has shrunk, thanks in part to shifting the speaker grilled up into the very top edge of the device. And it is still a traditional speaker the P30 doesn’t feature the display vibrating audio tech in the P30 Pro.
Flip the phone around and you’ll see the new triple lens array, with a very noticeable camera bump. This is an impressively slim phone, but the compromise is that the lenses really jut out quite noticeably, and you’re definitely going to want a case on this to keep them safe from scratches – luckily Huawei does include one in the box.
You might want that case to be clear though, as Huawei has once again delivered a range of stunning finishes to the glass back. There are five finishes available, though we’re not sure yet if all of them will make it to the UK. The real winners are the iridescent ‘Breathing Crystal’ and ‘Amber Sunrise’, with striking colour gradients that really do look phenomenal as they catch the light.
The bottom of the phone includes the second speaker, the USB-C port, and the one feature the P30 boasts that the Pro doesn’t: a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is also where you’ll find the phone’s most interesting design decision: the top and bottom of the phone have been flattened and squared off, a subtle touch that actually looks surprisingly great.
The display itself is a 6.1in OLED (the same size as last year’s P20 Pro) with a resolution of 2340×1080 – the same as the Pro’s larger 6.47in screen. The bezels are unsurprisingly slim, but you won’t get the curved edges of the Pro model.
Beyond that, there’s IP53 protection (limited dust protection, and water splashes – but you can’t put it underwater) and a 3560mAh battery, which should last all day pretty happily. Charging is wired only though – no wireless here – but the 22.5W super charging should fill the battery up pretty fast.
Finally, inside the phone you’ll find a Kirin 980 – the same processor as Huawei’s Mate 20. Like that phone, this should be more than fast enough for most needs, especially paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage in the standard configuration.
It’s tricky to assess the P30 yet, as so much of Huawei’s pitch comes down to the cameras, which we’ve yet to really test fully.
Still, on paper the new triple lens set-up looks like one of the best around, and a big improvement from the P20 – which already boasted a great camera.
The P30 also looks stunning, with a big display (and small notch), some lovely colourful finishes, and a seriously slim body – not to mention internal specs to match, making this a comfortable competitor to the rest of the year’s flagship phones.