Geek Hands-On Impressions: Huawei P30 Pro

Third time’s the charm, or so they say. Not for smartphone giant Huawei, however.

The rule of threes was so 2018, and this time round, they’ve moved on to four cameras on the new P30 Pro.

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But before we take a peek into the cameras, let’s take a few moments to appreciate just how pretty this thing is.

It’s certainly a looker, and markedly more so than its predecessors. We managed to get hold of the prettiest colour of the bunch – Breathing Crystal – and you can see just how the tint changes in the light.

The volume and lock buttons are all on the right side, as per usual, but it’s worthwhile to note that there is an obvious lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which may put some of you audiophiles off. Speakers are there still, though, but the sonic qualities of the P30 Pro are not the main focus of this beauty.

Now, down to business.

Four Times The Power

While a quad camera is actually practically ancient news now, with all the rage going on for quintuple cameras as seen on the LG V40 ThinQ and the more recent Samsung Galaxy S10, the Huawei P30 Pro is here to impress with what its Leica Quad Camera setup, and impress us thoroughly so far it has.

At first glance, the first three lenses are rather familiar to us (40MP Wide-Angle, 16MP Ultra Wide-Angle, and 8MP Telephoto respectively), especially if you’re coming from a P20 or Mate 20 background.

However, if one were to really dig deep, there’s actually a slew of improvements across the board.

The following shots were taken with us, feet planted down on a singular spot –

You can really see how sharp the images are in the ultra wide-angle, 1x zoom and 5x zoom images. They are all shot using optical zoom, which still brings out a lot of clarity and high fidelity on the images. However, you notice how the detail tapers off a little on the 10x hybrid zoom lens (a new feature of the P30 Pro). It shouldn’t be that big of a problem, especially if you like shooting landscapes and terrain, in which case the ultra wide and 1x zoom would serve you much better.

The same can be said here when we used a single subject, which in this case is the Geek Culture LEGO beholder.

The quality dip isn’t as obvious on a smaller subject, which may prove useful if you’re more keen on shooting food or products with the P30 Pro.

Another cool feature is the inclusion of the new 50x digital zoom, which, in theory, is great for taking shots of things at a great distance. Below, you can see the Geek Culture beholder resting on the ground floor of our office, shot from the 4th storey of the building – roughly 15 metres up.

But alas, more often than not, the image ends up looking like a satellite image.

Let’s zoom out (literally) again on the low-light power of the P30 Pro.

Night Mode

This was taken using the 20MP ultra wide-angle lens in night mode. Really sharp images throughout, and you can really see how the bright colours pop out with the aid of the new sensor.

First and foremost, one would notice that the images on the P30 Pro are generally more vibrant and carry more light. Sure, we’ve switched on HDR for our shots, but the main kicker here is the fact that the P30 Series is using a new Red-Yellow-Yellow-Blue (RYYB) sensor for their cameras.

What this does is that it allows more light to be filtered in, thanks to the generally brighter yellow as compared to the standard green on the sensor. Hence, the brighter images all around, even in night mode. As a result, the maximum ISO rating for the P30 Pro can go up to a whopping 409,600! This is especially prevalent in night mode, as you can see.

Notice how night mode instantly adds clarity to all the darkened parts of the image, without overcompensating on the lit areas. In fact, there’s no sign of the whites being overblown, and the blacks have not lost any quality as a result of the boosting done by night mode.

Testing the mode in daylight under some shade enhances the dynamic range of blacks and whites, creating a slightly more dramatic effect of whatever you’re shooting.

Not all night modes are made equal, especially when compared to the P30 Pro’s direct predecessor, the P20 Pro. What a difference a year makes.

The P30 Pro beats the P20 Pro in its night mode capabilities. The image is largely more balanced on the P30 Pro, with the whites not being overblown and still boosting the blacks, but not on the P20 Pro.

Notice how the P30 is still able to balance out the details even the apartment blocks far in the distance.

Time-of-Flight (TOF) camera lens

The new addition here that is rather game-changing is the Time-of-Flight (TOF) camera lens that captures depth-of-field information to deliver the most accurate images possible. This does so by breaking down the distance between images in both the foreground and the background relative to the lens, creating different levels of bokeh, and ultimately creating an image that is sharp and focused, with all that sweet, sweet depth of field from Leica’s powerful lenses.

This TOF lens supports the other three in enhancing the bokeh effect around the subject, making it smoother and more cinematic. Perfect for closeup portrait shots.

Notice how there’s so much background noise behind the Geek Culture beholder, and yet it still stands out with the TOF lens smoothening out all of the other distracting images.

Other Things

The fingerprint sensor is among the fastest of the biometric fingerprint scanners on smartphones out there. It unlocks within a quarter a second of placing your finger there, which is noticeably faster than many of its contemporaries.

So far, we’re quite impressed with the P30 Pro. However, it was lacking in some new features such as the multi-view recording, which will only be released via future patches, so we couldn’t give a thorough rundown on how the P30 Pro.

Despite this, the P30 Pro should still stand as one of the most sought-after smartphones this year, and the Leica Quad Camera alone should be the pulling factor. At a launch price of S$1,398 in retail outlets across Singapore and on the Huawei Official Store on Lazada, we won’t be surprised if many of you choose to pick it up.