It’s been a crazy few months since the leaks of new P30 series that can perform some crazy zooms. Then now, we finally have one in our hands. I’ve been using it for a little over a week and here is our review of the Huawei P30.
Unfortunately we do not have the P30 Pro, but we only managed to get our hands on the P30.
The Huawei P30 comes in the usual Huawei P-series packaging. A pretty basic packaging design overall that is minimalist at the same time. The Leica logo is also shown at the front while highlighting the triple camera setup.
Opening and digging everything up reveals that the Huawei includes everything you need to get started with the P30. There’s a pre-installed film screen protector on the phone itself, an included transparent TPU case, an Apple EarPods lookalike earphones, and Huawei’s SuperCharge charger.
Huawei did not actually did much in terms of design for the new P30. It still has the same flat glass sandwich design on both sides. In terms of geometry, Huawei still retains the same overall shape.
As for the back, this is where things get interesting. Gone are the days with their Twilight color scheme and comes the new “breathing crystal” and also the new “aurora” color. The P30 we have for review here is in the aurora color option.
Technically, it’s just different gradients of blue. It’s not entirely “aurora” per se, just that it has some colors of the aurora. From a teardown here, we can assume that the P30 is also using the same anodized frame that the P30 Pro has. Anodized metal means that colors will still remain even though the metal has been scratched. Definitely a nice touch.
Huawei’s camera bulge on the P30 is rather huge too – so I recommend you to use the included TPU case to at least provide a ring around the cameras. Still, laying down the phone with the camera facing down is risky.
Huawei, as a telecommunication company, has once again packed the P30 with the best in terms of connectivity. It comes with Bluetooth 5.0 and also NFC. The latter here works best if you have a Huawei laptop as you can transfer files wirelessly through OneHop, their proprietary WiFi direct file transfer method between phone and laptop.
At the left is where we’ll find the card slot. Huawei has opted for a single nano SIM card slot and another hybrid slot. Instead of using the commonly-found microSD card, Huawei once again opted for the proprietary NM card just like the Huawei Mate 20 series.
The bottom of the phone is where we’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack, a USB-C port, speaker grill, and two antenna lines. The speaker sounds pretty hollow and I personally prefer speakers from their previous generation. Keep in mind that the Huawei P30 only has a single bottom-firing speaker. No stereo.
At the right side is where the power button and volume rocker is found. Once again, Huawei retained the distinct, indented red line for the power button. Nice visual and tactile feedback.
At the top of the phone we can see the secondary microphone port alongside with two distinctive black antenna lines. They’re just… incoherent with the overall aesthetic of the phone, in my opinion.
It also seems like Huawei is completely killing the physical fingerprint reader as they have moved it under the display. Yes, it works – but still prefer something physical.
The Huawei P30 comes with a 6.1-inch display and with 2340×1080 pixels in resolution and with a waterdrop notch. Its display is not particularly large, and I absolutely like the size of it since I can use it one-handed easily.
Huawei did not mention who made their displays but just mentioned that it is an OLED display. It might be by BOE, a Chinese display manufacturer. However, the one that I am concerned with is the burn-in. Also, from what we know that from Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro’s green screen issue, BOE displays are fine – but the LG ones are problematic. We did our due diligence as well, and fortunately there is no more green screen on the P30.
The quality of the display is actually pretty good. Great contrast and brightness overall, but most importantly – the white balance is – at least to the my eyes – looked on point.
Since the Mate 20 series of phones from late last year, Huawei has been at the forefront of triple rear-facing cameras on phones. The Huawei P30 series is no different. Here are the specs for the cameras:
- Triple rear-facing cameras
- Telephoto: 8MP f/2.4; 3x optical zoom with PDAF, laser AF, and OIS.
- Main: 40MP f/1.8; 1x zoom with PDAF and laser AF
- Ultrawide: 16MP f/2.2; 0.6x zoom with PDAF and laser AF
- 32MP f/2.0 selfie camera
Just like any phone camera reviews that we do, you can click here to visit our Shutterstock album to have a look at all the metadata of the pictures taken.
Rear camera pictures
The cameras on the P30 are pretty much similar to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (review) that was released last year. Though the biggest update for the P30 series here, is obviously the zooming capability.
As a short summary before showing you all the pictures, the 30x zoom is okay for bright daylight usage, but totally unusable for indoors or outdoors – even with night mode enabled. Because of how zooming 30 times means your hand vibrations are amplified 30 times, the P30 can still stabilize the shot and I can see the OIS is hard at work.
However, 10x zoom is pretty good and I honestly have to give credit to Huawei here. However, when zoomed, the Huawei P30 cannot maintain a consistent white balance for the 3 cameras, hence the color inconsistency. Swapping cameras mean you’ll be swapping the picture colors as well – which is terrible. The Galaxy S10 (review) series of smartphones are very consistent.
Let’s take a look at a few different sets of pictures taken with the P30 here.
We took this picture from our usual spot for camera tests.
From our office, we can actually see Atria Mall’s signboard. So, we zoomed in.
Then, we went to another skyscraper and took a picture too. I actually just zoomed in to Atria without knowing. This is also the set of images that shows the color inconsistency between cameras.
We also took the phone to Penang for an event and from my hotel room, I can see this. Once again, the color inconsistency is just too drastic.
As a bonus, we also shot this night scene with night mode. Huawei’s night mode is still the best out there with crisp images. We know there is a food stand but unfortunately, we still do not know what they are selling.
Selfie camera picture
Honestly, the selfie looks pretty good. The details of the picture taken within an arm’s range is surprisingly sharp, though viewing it at 100% size is quite obvious that there are lots of sharpening.
At this point of time, it would be a broken record for me to re-explain what EMUI 9.1.0 really is, and how it performs. You can check out our review on the Huawei Mate 20 or the HONOR View20 (though it is called Magic UI, but it’s the same thing).
It is still a usable Android skin but it just feels dated and the lack of features make it feel like it’s a two-year old phone. I can only mention to you that with other advancements from Samsung with One UI, OPPO with ColorOS 6, and Xiaomi with MIUI 10 – Huawei has quite a lot of catching up to do in terms of its software side of things.
The launcher is outdated – and it does not even have the option to enable the app drawer. Currently, it still works just like an iPhone and have all the app icons on the home screen.
Shortcut buttons and gestures are also missing. One feature that I like from both Samsung and Xiaomi is the ability to enable double tapping the power button to launch camera. This shortcut works everywhere and has helped me take some time-critical shots. Huawei needs to have this shortcut.
The power management on EMUI 9 is also very aggressive. Apps were killed left and right and I have to manually disable this massacre to have my apps working properly. Also, they’ve made it excruciatingly difficult to manually manage the app holocaust. Just make it simpler to use.
For the Malaysian variant of the Huawei P30, we only have one for sale and the specs are as follows:
- 6.1-inch 2340×1080 pixels in resolution
- Waterdrop notch
- HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset
- 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 128GB internal storage (expandable via NM card)
- 3,650mAh battery with 22.5W Huawei SuperCharge
- Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.6
Let’s take a look at the benchmarks here. We’ll be skipping the performance mode benchmarks because – once again – it is literally the same result as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro that we reviewed here.
In terms of its specs, the Kirin 980 is definitely the poorest among the latest flagships in benchmarks.
Obviously, there is no issue here as well. We tried Honkai Impact 3 with the highest graphical setting with HD assets and it runs smoothly.
Same goes to Asphalt 9 too. Everything is smooth and there is some anti-aliasing, hence the relative smoothness of the car.
Then comes PUBG Mobile. Once again, smooth at the highest level of graphical settings with anti-aliasing and shadows enabled. Pretty good.
It comes with a 3,650mAh battery and by today’s standard, I still consider it as somewhat adequate compared to other smartphones with these specs. Obviously it will be quite difficult to get through the day with a single charge, since the Kirin 980 is not particularly power efficient compared to its competition.
It lasts for nearly 12 hours in our battery life test. Just make sure to be a little conservative on how you are using the phone if you want to last through the day without using a power bank.
Instead of the super fast charger that comes with the Mate 20 Pro, we instead get a 5V 4.5A charger that sums up to just 22.5W. Sure, it is faster than Qualcomm’s QuickCharge standards but is nowhere near what OPPO can do with their SuperVOOC.
Charging up the P30 with its original SuperCharge charger, it takes about 18 minutes to reach 50% charge, and total of 33 minutes to reach 75% charge.
When charging with the ubiquitous 5V 2A charger, it takes a total of 34 minutes to reach 50% and a total of 58 minutes to reach 75% charge. Ouch.
After using the Huawei P30 for some time, I find it offer nothing particularly unique or special other than what they have always been advertising – the zoom. Yes, it is impressive – though it is quite a niche feature. Great for a party trick, but not so much for day-to-day use. Also, the color inconsistency between the 3 cameras is annoying.
The EMUI software is definitely dated and needs to be updated not only in terms of design, but also its functionality. The aggressiveness in killing apps just to boost their battery life is annoying as I have lots of background apps. Sure, I can manually allow certain apps to run in the background, but that’s tedious.
Huawei is asking for the price of RM2,699 which I think is great – if you always use the zoom feature. Else, consider other smartphones in the market instead. We have the HONOR 20 series that’s dropping in soon, with similar specs. For a much better overall experience – including the best software – consider the Samsung Galaxy S10e that you can buy for RM2,299 now.