Recommending something like the Huawei P30 Pro these days is a tough sell for the average American consumer. There are genuine concerns for Huawei's practices outside of China but, judged as an actual product, the P30 Pro is one of the best smartphones on the market. If you're willing to set aside objections to the manufacturer, the P30 Pro could change the way you use your smartphone for the better.
On paper, the Huawei P30 Pro strikes a chord for all the right reasons. Its outward design is large and loud, its screen - while not boundary-pushing at "Full HD" - is big, bright, and colorful, and its multi-camera setup includes enough internal wizardry to make it one of the best in the business. In fact, Huawei pinned most of its marketing clout on this phone’s camera array, promising to "rewrite the rules of photography". Thanks to an apparent five-year development period, its impressive zoom features lend credit to these claims.
At just over $1000 at launch, the Huawei P30 Pro wasn’t a cheap device when it first hit the market, but discounts in the wake of US security concerns have made it an absolute bargain. It was already a contender for the king of its price-bracket last year; and many months on, there’s still a lot to love with this genuinely innovative smartphone.
Average price: $899
Operating system: Android
Screen size: 6.47-inch
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
5G ready? No
Headphone jack? No
Charging type: USB-C
Also consider... OnePlus 7T Pro
Huawei P30 Pro review: Design and styling
- Available in Pearl White, Aurora, Amber Sunrise, and Breathing Crystal
- Great aesthetic, but slender profile means camera bulges out
The rounded glass and metal body surrounding the Huawei P30 Pro’s 6.47-inch screen is eye-catching enough. It strikes up a similarity to the Samsung S10 Plus with how its bezel-less display wraps around the chassis to create a sharp and sleek edge. Huawei foregoes the competition’s pinhole camera cutout for a more centered selfie snapper, but its visual flair doesn’t stop there.
Understanding that the Apple iPhone has made a name for itself as more of a fashion accessory these days, the glass rear of the Huawei P30 Pro includes a mirror-finish that reflects light to create a visually unique pearlescent illusion of color that’s sure to stand out in a crowd. The end result ultimately depends on which of the four color options you choose from (Pearl White, Aurora, Amber Sunrise, and Breathing Crystal), but for those looking to keep things strictly business, there’s a smart black option, too.
Sadly, Huawei’s design decisions play against this device a little. The remarkably thin design paired with an impressive camera system means resting it on either the screen or camera bulge whenever you put it down. A tall and thin exterior makes it unwieldy no matter the size of your hands as well. Pair all this with glass back and you have a classic case of soap phone. Likewise, don’t expect grubby digits to play well with the finger-print reading beneath the screen. It’s fast, but this relatively new tech needs all the help it can get.
To get around its own aesthetic decisions, Huawei packages the P30 Pro with a minimalistic rubber case in select territories, though the context of its necessity is something of a head-scratcher and proof that phones pushing for wardrobe appeal often come at the detriment of their practicality. We should note there’s no headphone jack, either. There’s a set of USB-C earbuds in the box, but you’ll have to buy your own adapter if you want to use your current headphones.
Huawei P30 Pro review: Battery
- Seriously impressive battery life
- Can be fully charged within an hour
With a massive 4200mAh battery, call time should be a non-issue with the Huawei P30 Pro. Unless you take up competitive multiplayer gaming on this thing, don’t expect to be running on fumes if you forget to plug it in before hitting the hay. Our sister site, Android Central, even suggests curbing your phone use if you do somehow manage to deplete its battery before bedtime.
In tests, the P30 Pro didn’t drop below 50% in a single day in over two weeks of testing. And with a 40W power brick capable of filling up an empty battery in just an hour, there’s genuinely no reason to charge this device overnight at all. Just hook it up for half an hour in the evening and you should be set for another day at the office.
Huawei P30 Pro review: Screen and audio
- 6.47-inch OLED screen
- Speaker sound quality is just okay
Another area where Huawei’s design department likely had a knock-on effect was with the device’s screen and audio specs. The P30 Pro continues the market trend of gunning for super-slim bezels, yet it falls far behind when it comes to screen resolution. At 2360x1080 resolution, its whopping 6.47-inch HDR10-capable OLED panel doesn’t cram in as many pixels as Samsung’s competing devices. In fact, it even falls slightly behind the iPhone 11 Pro when it comes to overall pixels, eventually losing out to its top-end Max variant. It’s HD, but more 1080p than 4K.
Still, the general consensus (after taking user reviews into consideration) is that this slight decrease in pixels-per-inch is hardly noticeable to the average consumer. When it comes to screens that fit in your hand, its ability to get bright and display richer colors tends to be the deciding factor. The Huawei P30 Pro’s screen isn’t going to win any awards, but you won’t have to start fiddling around with complicated settings to get a solid, out of the box experience - something Google couldn’t claim with its earlier Pixel devices.
As for sound quality, it’s another area where Huawei’s flagship device loses points. In a strange turn of events, the company has chosen to omit the dual speaker system of last year’s P20 Pro. Instead, we see the return of the small down-firing speaker by the USB-C charging port. There’s another speaker under the display that attempts to use the panel as a membrane of sorts, but don’t expect much from this relatively new tactic. It fills in for the earpiece speaker just fine, but when used for anything more (like a movie), it loses the stereo separation a true dual-speaker setup on some other phones can manage.
Huawei P30 Pro review: Camera
- Four lens camera array (Wide, ultrawide, telephoto and depth sensor)
- Takes stunning images, especially when zoomed in
Now this is where things get good. While we’ve been so far sad to report that the Huawei P30 Pro clearly sacrifices usability for design and sound quality for a slightly larger screen, we’re happy to confirm the company’s claims that the camera is where this device really shines.
On the back of the handset you’ll notice the four-camera array. It isn’t there just to score points for sticking to an emerging trend. Each lens serves a very specific focus, and getting to know each will result in gorgeous photos with little effort. There’s a massive 40-megapixel wide-angle lens for general snaps, an 8MP telephoto lens capable of 5x optical zoom (that’s important), a 20MP ultrawide lens for, well, ultrawide shots, and a depth sensor to create that stunning blurred background effect everyone loves these days. There’s even a huge 32 MP selfie camera hiding in that pinhole slot just above the screen.
What all these juicy tech details mean is that the Huawei P30 Pro is capable of capturing just about any photo you can ask from it. Its primary 40MP snapper makes light work of tiny details, whereas the 5x optical zoom means you can finally hone in on something in the distance without losing any detail whatsoever. For those faraway landscape shots, pairing that 40MP sensor with a 50x digital zoom can capture detail in something like a city skyline. Just expect image clarity to suffer the further you push it. The 32MP selfie camera is great, too: expect some automatic face smoothing to be applied by default.
Where other sites like Android Central found it faltered, however, was in its Night Mode shots. This is another relatively new venture for smartphone cameras. Huawei has tried its hand at this mostly algorithmic feature, but the results put a clear point in the court of the Google Pixel 4 XL and Apple iPhone 11 Pro right now. It’s good, but not great.
Huawei P30 Pro review: Software and assistant features
- User interface is much improved on previous models
- Google Assistant enabled
Here’s another area where the Huawei P30 Pro might cause an upset. Like most Android smartphone makers (that aren’t Google itself), Huawei’s custom EMUI interface isn’t the best. To Huawei’s credit, it's taken a lot of feedback onboard to improve this newest iteration, but there’s still work to be done. If you’re coming from another non-Huawei device (Android or otherwise) expect to be playing hide and seek with some common features for the first couple of days. Huawei tends to favor its own apps, but it shouldn’t take too long to swap them out for Google’s own if you so desire.
The core Android functionality is still there; you’ll just have to sift through a bit more fluff to reach it. One of these is the app drawer you’ll typically find by swiping up from the bottom of most Android phones. You can enable it in the settings (or even swap the EMUI launcher out for another look entirely with other apps), but if you’re not willing to toy around with your new phone, you’ll have to learn to make do without some familiar features.
As for virtual assistant features, the tried and trusted Google Assistant is present on this particular handset; that’s good news to anyone who’s spent the last year teaching Google Assistant to understand their accent.
Huawei P30 Pro review: Security
- Still receives Android updates despite US ban
- Fingerprint reader below screen
Due to being on the market prior to the fallout between the US and Huawei, the P30 Pro will continue to get Android updates as usual - that includes critical security updates. If some dangerous vulnerability is found in Android 9 (or 10), you can rest easy knowing your phone will get the self-same patches and fixes as any other Android phone out there.
Likewise, any P30 Pro still running Android 9 is eligible to receive the Android 10 update and its accompanying features. Security should be a non-issue with the P30 Pro. As we mentioned earlier, their is a fingerprint reader beneath the screen for added security and quick unlocking.
Should I buy the Huawei P30 Pro?
At the price you can find it for these days, the Huawei P30 Pro gets a solid recommendation from us. There are enough technical gimmicks here to scream "luxury smartphone" when you pull it out in a meeting, but what its eye-catching design gains you in the boardroom won’t make for the most practical device on the construction yard - though IP68 resistance ratings means it’ll take a bit of dust and a 30-minute swim there if need be. It’s powerful enough to crunch through any task, can last days at a time on a one-hour charge, and can snap a shot in more ways than an iPhone - all at half the price. If you’re looking to break away from the flock, the Huawei P30 Pro is a solid choice.