Header Ads

The best camera phone you can’t buy in the U.S.

This is the Huawei P30Pro, a €1000 smartphone that's never gone onsale in the United States and that should makeAmericans very, very upset. (upbeat electronic music) Why am I hyped about this phone? Well, it's not the phonepart, in fact before I proceed I should mention that I'm using the Nova Launcher and Reduze Icon Pack, both of them free onthe Google Play store. Because Huawei defaultthemes are not good. Anyway, the eye openingthing about this device is it's camera system, there'sa lot to talk about with it, so let's dive right in. First of all you getthree cameras on the rear. There's an ultra wideangle, a regular wide angle, and a telephoto lens, the last of which is the most interesting because it has the new periscope system. This uses a mirror whichreflects 90 degrees into the body of thephone and then runs it through a series of lenses into a sensor which sits perpendicular to the phone. What that gives you is a 5x optical zoom. I've been shooting aroundwith it here in London, sometimes in bleakconditions, sometimes in sunny conditions, and I'vebeen really impressed, it's really crisp, reallysharp, 5x optical zoom, it beats anything else that you might get from digital alternatives out there.


Huawei doubles down on thatzoom functionality literally by giving you a 10xhyper zoom which combines the information from the telephoto and the main camera sensor. Huawei says it's lossless I'm not so sure, I do seea bit of a degradation in image quality, but it'sonly slight, it's very slight, and it's still super impressivefor 10 times optical zoom. You don't even get thatwith pocket cameras most of the time. I've also been messingaround and taking shots at 24x and 32x with this camera, and they are surprisingly decent. As far as zoom goes, the systemthat Huawei's put in here in the P30 Pro is the bestthat there's ever been in a smartphone, andthe shocking thing is, that all the zoom actionis just the appetizer. The thing that has me superexcited about this camera is actually the main sensor,which is still 40 megapixels as before, it's still oneof the largest sensors that you find on a smartphone, but it's in a RYYB arrangement, getting rid of the green subpixelfor two yellow subpixels. Huawei says this allowsit to get as much as 40% more light in because theyellow subpixel are sensitive both to red and green light,as well as obviously yellow.


 Where this comes inreally handy and helpful is in nighttime photography. I have taken some low lightphotos which have just blown me away with this phone. Google's Night Sight wasa revolutionary upgrade for smartphone photography in low light, that came out at thetail end of last year, but so far ahead of everything else, everything that Apple,Samsung, LG and everybody else who's doing it, and the P30 Pro just kicks Night Sight's butt. Now in order for you to get a good shot with Google Night Sight, you need three or four seconds or steadiness. With this camera you ittakes a fraction of a second, it's the default setting. It's taking better nightphotos than any other camera, any other mode on a smartphone camera, and is doing it by default, it's a fraction of asecond, it's effortless. Huawei has it's own nightmode, it has a pro mode, it even has has a masterAI setting which tweaks the contrast and saturation and so on, and I don't feel the needto touch any of those, because this is a superbcamera by default. Now is the absolute best camera? I'm not so sure. Video is actually one of theweaknesses of Huawei P30 Pro.


A lot of the stabilization,you've got optical stabilization on the main sensor andthe telephoto sensor, and a lot of the audiorecording those are great, but the actual detail on the video image that you get, not so great. Huawei does quite a lotof softening to get rid of image grain and such,and that's a real downside with the video so iPhone,Samsung Galaxy devices, those have the lead on video. I also prefer the Pixel's image processing for the most part. It allows more grain into the image but that also means it gets more detail. Huawei does a littlebit too much processing, not as much as it didon the P20 Pro last year which was over the top, butstill a little too much. I find that the defaultHuawei P30 Pro photos tend to be a little unsaturated,whereas if you use the master AI it tends to push them to oversaturated. Flats are also not quite asdark as I prefer to see them, but that being said, eventhough the P30 Pro by default tends to put out slightly flat images, they are perfect for image editing. You see if you just do alittle bit of tweaking, add a bit of contrastand a bit of saturation, they become pretty much perfect.


The 4th sensor that Huawei'sput on the back of the P30 Pro is not technically acamera it's a depth sensor, it works pretty much on thesame principal as face ID on the iPhone, and what that helps with is three different things. Firstly, it's part ofthe auto focus system, so when I'm auto focusingwith the Huawei P30 Pro I can get it focus in prettymuch pitch black conditions. It's something that no othersmartphone camera can achieve, none that I've tested in any case. Secondly, augmentingreality applications so you can point this atthings and measure things like height, width, depth, even volume. And the third thingwhich is pretty cool is it enhances this phone's portrait mode. Firstly it helps it to naildown even the fine details which include strands ofhair and things like that, but then it also affects thebokeh that you can achieve. So the closer you are to the subject, the weaker the bokeh is,and then it intensifies it grows softer the further away you get, and that's achieved with the help of this extra depth sensor. Returning to the phone itself,the P30 Pro is built around the same Kirin 980 processoras Mate 20 Pro last year. That means it's both familiar and fast.


It really is one of themost responsive smartphones that I've tested to date. It gets me great gaming performance, and with a 4200 milliamppower battery it lasts for a heroic length of time. I can for a day and halfwith this thing easily no matter if I'm gaming,listening to music over Bluetooth, shooting abunch of photos, video etc. whatever, it's anabsolute endurance champ. Huawei puts 8 gigabytesof RAM on this device, you can get it with 128 gigs of storage or up to half a terabyte, all of which is kind of par for the course. You get wireless charging andreverse wireless charging, you get super charge, 40watt charging, we get to up to 70% of battery in just 30 minutes. So as usual for Huaweiit's a spec sheet stuffer, all of these things aregreat, but also as usual for Huawei, the software is a letdown. Beside being quite clunkyand clumsy in the design, I've come across a fewbugs, most notably with the Twitter applicationwhich tends to turn into a jumble occasionally. Also the multitasking overviewwhich works pretty well most of the time, it'sgesture based, which means you swipe up from the bottom to go home, swipe up and hold to multitasking, or swipe from the sides to get the equivalent of a back button. That works well most of the time, but then occasionally itturns into a visual mess and I have to lock thephone and then unlock it and just kind of try andmake my way out of that.


Huawei EMUI softwarehas just a few too many little frustrations andniggles, one of them is for example when I have the phone locked, I can't swipe down thequick settings in order to launch something like the flashlight, which I do quite often. Another reason and this isa small thing, but it still bothers me, Huaweidoesn't do the double tap or the power button to launch the camera which everybody else on Android does, and it's a really handy physical shortcut. Huawei also has a bunch of Huawei services such as Huawei HiCare,which tends to just nag me all the time and justremind me about things which I don't want to do,so the setup with this phone involves a lot of wrestlingHuawei down and taming the software which youshouldn't really have to do. Unfortunately I feel like Huawei are still another year or two awayfrom doing something like Samsung did this year with One UI, which was just a majoroverhaul, focusing on the user rather than the company tryingto promote its own services. So what don't I like about this phone? Well one is the fingerprintsensor is still embedded into the display, it's anupgrade over the Mate 20 Pro, it's better, but it's stillnot good enough for me. I still prefer discretefingerprint sensors, they're still so much faster,it's so much more reliable. This is slower than adiscrete fingerprint sensor, and not as accurate. The display on this, it's a1080p display, 6.47 inches.


It's a downgrade from theMate 20 Pro unfortunately. Any time you're looking at a white screen, the curves on the sidetend to produce a shadow, it's a bluish shadow,which is a bit of spoiler, and comparing this tothe Samsung Galaxy s10, which is what the P30Pro is going up against, this is an obvious downgrade,which is unfortunate. It's still a good screen, but it's not as excellent as Samsung's. The P30 Pro is a phonethat will be remember for the excellence and theversatility of its cameras. It really is the bestzoom that we've ever had in a smartphone to date. This phone also has theperformance, for the most part setting aside the bugs,and the industrial design to match any other flagship of 2019. For a full written reviewof the Huawei P30 Pro, and all the sample photosshowing off its crazy zoom and night time photographyaction, check out theverge.com and stay tuned to youtube.com/theverge. 

No comments