When it launched the P20 series last year, Huawei set new standards in smartphone photography. A year later with its new P30 series, the Chinese company is yet again trying to push the boundaries of what a smartphone camera is capable of. At the launch event in Paris, I got some hands-on time with the new P30 and P30 Pro, and here are my first impressions.
Familiar yet new
The new P30 and P30 Pro are exactly what you expect from a Huawei smartphone when it comes to overall design and build quality. The glass body feels premium in one’s hands, and it fits into one’s palms quite well. Gradient colors introduced last year are back, but this time in new avatars. Huawei says the colors are inspired by the nature around us, and it shows. The new Amber Sunrise mimics its namesake with hues of orange and red, while Breathing Crystal is inspired by daylight sky with its hues of light blue and light green. The Twilight color too has been improved, and it is now called Aurora (inspired by Northern Lights). The other two colors – Pearl White and Black – are a tad more traditional.
Among the most visible changes is in the display on the P30 and P30 Pro. Like last year’s Mate 20 Pro, the P30 Pro too now comes with curved OLED panels that remind us of Samsung’s Galaxy S flagship devices. As is the trend these days, Huawei has opted for a notch to offer a near full-screen experience. But instead of a wide black band, there’s a small waterdrop notch at the top.
Both the P30 and P30 Pro feature FHD+ (2340×1080 pixels) resolution display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The P30 comes with a earpiece up front, but the P30 Pro comes with what Huawei calls “electromagnetic levitation” system. This system essentially uses screen vibrations to create sound, and can only be used for calls.
Under the hood is the latest 7nm Kirin 980 SoC, which means the two can handle any and every task thrown at them. The P30 comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, while the P30 Pro has 8GB RAM, and up to 512GB of internal storage. The good news is that built-in storage can be upgraded, but the bad news is that Huawei is persisting with its proprietary nano-memory cards.
Other features include an in-display fingerprint sensor, a 3,650mAh battery on the P30, and a 4,200mAh battery on the P30 Pro. Where the Pro variant comes with support for 40W fast charging and 15W wireless charging, the standard P30 only supports 25W fast charging. The P30 Pro also comes with the reverse wireless charging feature that we saw last year on the Mate 20 Pro. On the software front, the two devices run Android Pie-based EMUI 9.1.
Now over to what is really the highlight of the two new P30 smartphones – the cameras. Huawei has packed five cameras into the P30 Pro, and four into the standard P30. Let’s first start off with the P30 Pro.
The P30 Pro features a combination of 40-megapixel f/1.6 SuperSpectrum sensor, 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle f/2.2 lens, an 8-megapixel f/3.4 telephoto lens, and the fourth is a Time-of-Flight (TOF) Camera. The primary sensor is what Huawei calls a “SuperSpectrum” sensor, which it says is now based on RYYB (red, yellow, yellow, blue). The switch from RGB is claimed to help the sensor absorb more light, which invariably improves results in most conditions, including low light.
The camera’s zooming capabilities too have been vastly improved according to Huawei. The P30 Pro is capable of up to 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom, and also up to 50x digital zoom. The last ToF camera is said to help in shooting pro-level portrait shots.
In comparison, the P30 tends to miss out on a lot in the camera department. The triple-camera setup at the back consists of a 40-megapixel primary sensor, 16-megapixel wide-angle sensor, and an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor with support for up to 3x optical zoom.
For selfies and video calling, both devices feature a 32-megapixel snapper up front. There is support for AI-backed HDR+, which is said to deliver next-level selfies in most lighting conditions.
With Samsung having impressed with its versatile Galaxy S10 series, the ball is in Huawei’s court to try and impress. As expected, the new P30 and P30 Pro are both packed with features, and it is quite clear how Huawei is trying to push the boundaries of smartphone photography. Under the hood is the 7nm Kirin 980 SoC paired with up to 8GB RAM and up to 512GB onboard storage.
For now, both new devices are going on sale in select markets. The P30 is priced at EUR 799 (approximately Rs 62,250). Prices for the P30 Pro start at EUR 999 (approximately Rs 85,650), and go up to EUR 1,249 (approximately Rs 97,300). It remains to be seen when these devices will make it to our shores, and at what price. In the meantime though, a ‘Notify Me’ page has gone live on Amazon India, which is a hint towards an imminent launch.
Disclaimer: The writer is in Paris on Huawei’s invite. Huawei took care of his travel and accommodation.