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Huawei P30 review: Triple rear cameras and lovely design for hundreds less than the P30 Pro

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Written by Matthew Miller on
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8.7

Huawei P30

Outstanding
$525.00 at Amazon
Like
  • Stunning design and color
  • Vibrant OLED screen
  • Capable triple rear cameras
  • Smaller form factor fits well in one hand
Don't Like
  • Huawei is an unknown entity at the moment
  • No wireless charging

While the P30 Pro is Huawei's premium flagship, it also launched the P30 Lite and Huawei P30. While I bought my own P30 Pro a few weeks ago, for the past couple of weeks I have been testing out the less expensive P30. It offers most of what the P30 Pro offers in a much more pocketable form factor and at a price £200 less. If you are in the US, it looks like pricing between the two models is $200 to $300.

If you are interested in the P30 or P30 Pro, keep an eye on the prices as the current issues with Huawei are causing the prices of its devices to drop rather dramatically. You are risking losing the ability for future updates, but the existing phones should continue to function as intended for the near future and after that at least you will have a mobile device with a fantastic camera.

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The key differences between the Huawei P30 Pro and P30 include the following. There are a lot of similarities here in the differences between a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and S10e:

  • Display: 6.47 vs 6.1 inches. The P30 also has a flat display, rather than a curved OLED.
  • Rear cameras: The P30 is missing the telephoto periscope camera, but still has 3x optical zoom. There is also no fourth ToF camera on the P30.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack: Missing vs present
  • RAM: 8GB vs 6GB/8GB
  • Internal storage: 128/256/512GB vs 128GB only
  • Battery: 4200 vs 3650 mAh
  • Price: £899 vs £699

The P30 is basically the same as the P30 Pro with the physical size requiring a smaller display and battery capacity. The periscope design telephoto camera is not present, but you still get 3x optical zoom and an ultra-wide angle camera so there is not much compromise in the camera system. There is no fourth ToF depth sensor camera, but you can still take portrait shots on the P30.

Another reason I like the P30 over the P30 Pro is the use of a flat display rather than one with curved edges. Curved edge displays tend to allow errant screen activation when your fingers wrap around the device and I would love to see manufacturers leave this feature behind on future phones.

CNET: The Huawei P30 Pro is banned, so here are four great alternative phones

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Hardware

Huawei makes some of the most stunning phone hardware available today and the Breathing Crystal P30 sent to evaluate is gorgeous. The pearlescent white transistions into blue and then purple on the back. In various lighting conditions, the back takes on different hues and definitely stands out from the crowd.

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I'm not a fan of curved edges on smartphone screens so love that the Huawei P30 has a flat display. It has a minimal teardrop notch for the 32 megapixel front-facing camera with narrow bezels all around the OLED panel. Like LG, the headset speaker is part of the display while the fingerprint sensor is an optical variation under the lower part of the display.

The top and bottom have a flat surface with the bottom containing a 3.5mm headset jack, USB-C port, and the bottom speaker. The SIM card tray is on the left while the power and volume buttons are on the right. The triple rear cameras are aligned vertically on the back with the LED flash and sensors below the last camera.

Also: The 10 best smartphones you can buy right now

Huawei P30 Specifications

  • Processor: Kirin 980 processor
  • Display: 6.1 inch, 2340 x 1080 pixels resolution OLED
  • Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.1
  • RAM: 6GB/8GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal with Huawei NM expansion card slot
  • Cameras: 16 megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2, 40 megapixel rear f/1.8 standard, and 8 megapixel 3x telephoto f/2.4 with OIS. 32 megapixel f/2.0 front-facing camera
  • Water resistance: IP43 water and dust rating
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0 BLE, GPS/Galileo/Glonass/BeiDou, NFC
  • Battery: 3,650 mAh non-removable with Huawei SuperCharge
  • Dimensions: 149.1 x 71.36 x 7.57 mm and 165 grams
  • Colors: Amber Sunrise, Aurora, Breathing Crystal, Pearl White, and Black

Software

The Huawei P30 runs EMUI 9.1, based on Android 9 Pie. The April 1, 2019 Android security update is present on the evaluation device sent to me for testing.

EMUI doesn't bother me as it has morphed over time to be a fairly stock Android experience. I like that Google Discover is an option for the left home screen panel. There are a few Huawei apps and utilities installed on the device, including AppGallery, Huawei Health, HiCare, Notepad, Themes, and Weather. There are also Huawei services that require a login via a Huawei ID, but this is not supported for US customers so I am unable to see what services those include.

Digital Balance is included on the P30, which appears to function similarly to the Google Digital Wellbeing utility. I turned off the screen time management though since the persistent notification bugged me too much. I'm not a fan of extra persistent notifications consuming my notification shade.

I covered the very capable camera software in my P30 Pro camera article and am pleased that Huawei put so much effort into creating a valuable set of tools for the cameras.

Also: Huawei P30 Pro review: Superb quad camera system puts Huawei's flagship ahead of the pack

Daily usage and experiences

With the recent release of the Honor 20 Pro and it's quad camera system, it's tough to justify the Huawei P30 at a slightly higher price. The Honor 20 Pro offers more than the P30 and the user experience of Magic UI is about the same as EMUI. The P20 Pro is a bit thicker and not quite as pocketable as the P30, but the Honor 20 Pro also has a 4,000 mAh battery.

The Huawei P30 has the same SuperSpectrum RYYB sensor and low light photography technology found in the P30 Pro. Macro shots of flowers, insects, and other small subjects look great and beat out what I've been experiencing with Samsung phones for the past couple of years. I love the small size of the P30 and now regret paying $1,000 for the P30 Pro since the practical usefulness of the periscope telephoto lens is not really worth the premium price.

The P30 does not have the wireless reverse charging capability seen on the P30 Pro, but with the smaller capacity battery you likely wouldn't want to be sharing your power that often anyway. Unfortunately, wireless charging is not supported on the P30 either. This is a convenience I enjoy and it's a shame this smaller device does not support this technology.

When the P30 models launched at full price, the standard P30 may have been the better buy. However, with the Huawei woes and price drops of the devices the P30 Pro may be the better option with the more advanced capabilities. In both cases, you have to consider the risk of buying a Huawei device with the uncertainties surrounding the company, Android, and other partners.

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