Huawei P30 Pro full review

Although most of the P30 Pro's specs leaked before it launched, one thing that wasn't obvious was just how much it was like the Mate 20 Pro.

That phone was the first in Huawei's range to adopt Samsung-like curved edges on the front and rear, and the P30 Pro follows in the same footsteps. This means that, along with the newer CPU, upgraded front and rear cameras plus wireless charging, it's a pretty big upgrade on the P20 Pro.

You can find out more about the new models in our P30 and P30 Pro reviews.

P30 Pro vs P20 Pro: Price

A price bump was inevitable, so the P30 Pro starts at £899 making it £100 more than the P20 Pro, which is £799. You can buy them now from Carphone Warehouse, EE, Vodafone and Sky Mobile. Check out the latest and best P30 deals here

Note that both phones were announced before Huawei was put on the US trade blocklist, and therefore will continue to have full access to Google apps, services and security updates.

P30 Pro vs P20 Pro: Features & design

There are a few similarities between the two phones. They both have OLED screens and no headphone jack. They run Android 9 (the P20 Pro recently got an over-the-air update) and Huawei's EMUI overlay.

However, that's really it. The P30 Pro has so many new features that nearly every key specification is changed. And here are those key specs for quick comparison:

P20 Pro

P30 Pro

Android Nougat 8.1 + EMUI 8.1*

Android Pie 9.1 + EMUI 9.1

6.1in 2244x1080, 18.7:9 OLED display, 408ppi

6.47in 2340x1080, 19.5:9 OLED display, 398ppi

2.4GHz Kirin 970 octa-core processor

2.4GHz Kirin 980 octa-core processor

Mali-G72

Mali-G76

6GB RAM / 128GB storage

8GB RAM / 256GB storage

Cameras: 40Mp with OIS (colour) + 8Mp telephoto (3x) + 20Mp, f/1.6 (monochrome)

Cameras: 40Mp with OIS + 8Mp telephoto (5x) + 20Mp ultra-wide + TOF camera

Front camera: 24Mp, f/2.0

Front camera: 32Mp, f/2.0

Front-facing fingerprint scanner

In-screen fingerprint scanner

No wireless charging

Wireless + reverse wireless charging

NFC

NFC

GPS + Glonass

GPS + Glonass

4G LTE

4G LTE

Dual nano-SIM

Dual nano-SIM (can also accept Nano Memory Card)

4000mAh battery

4200mAh battery

USB-C SuperCharge 22.5W

USB-C SuperCharge 40W

IP67 rating

IP68 rating

155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm, 180g

TBC

*At launch

Huawei has also added new colours to the range. There's the hero gradient Breathing Crystal and the new Amber Sunrise. Aurora, which is kind of similar to the P20 Pro's Twilight, is a third option, but for those who want something less outgoing, there's Pearl White and Black.

Screen & audio

Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro

Huawei hasn't released any specs for brightness or contrast, nor whether the screen's HDR credentials have been changed. We're not expecting them to: the screens looked very similar when we eyeballed them side by side.

Vertical resolution has been increased by 96 pixels, which means it has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and it now measured 6.47in versus the P20 Pro's 6.1in.

There's no room for a fingerprint scanner, and that's now embedded in the screen but you get an upgraded unit compared to the Mate 20 Pro's (which was the first time we saw an in-screen sensor in a Huawei phone).

Replacing the traditional top speaker with an 'electro magnetic levitation' speaker - similar to what you'll find in the LG G8 - means the notch can be smaller than the P20 Pro's and we like that it's in the centre.

Huawei made a big deal of going down this route to minimise the top bezel, but the standard P30 manages to squeeze in a long thin speaker at the top and has a similar size bezel. This brings the only negative point: the P30 doesn't have stereo sound as the new earpiece speaker is only used for phone calls.

The P20, meanwhile, offers stereo sound.

P30 Pro vs P20 Pro

Performance & connectivity

It's no surprise to find the Kirin 980 in the P30 Pro. It's a good chunk faster than the 970 in P20 Pro, and the GPU and machine learning capabilities are better, too.

There's a USB-C port on both phones, but the P30 Pro supports USB-C Power Delivery so it can, for example, charge Huawei's new FreeLace wireless headphones.

Another difference is that the P30 Pro's SIM tray can take to nano SIMs, or one SIM and a Nano Memory card. This means you can expand the 256GB of internal storage, which is already twice what you get with the P20 Pro. And, though it won't persuade you to upgrade, there's 8- rather than 6GB of RAM.

Unfortunately, there is no 5G support, so the P30 Pro won't get you the promised super-fast download speeds when your mobile operator launches 5G.

Cameras

Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro

This is where you'll find the biggest real-world difference. The P20 Pro was the last flagship to use a monochrome camera. We've long thought this wasn't the best use of a camera and you won't find one on the P30 Pro.

Instead you get a 20Mp ultra-wide camera, plus an upgraded 40Mp main camera which uses yellow sub-pixels instead of the traditional green to capture more light.

You also get a better zoom: 5x instead of 3x. And when you double that by using information from the 40Mp sensor to get a 'Hybrid' zoom, the P30 Pro offers 10x where you get 5x on the P20 Pro.

Thanks to the Kirin 980, there's more number-crunching power on tap for stabilising video, and when you combine optical with Huawei's AI Stabilisation, you get much smoother 4K video. An update coming in April will allow the P30 Pro to record video from the main and zoom cameras simultaneously. In turn, this will let you create a cool effect with instant zoom to highlight, or bring closer, certain objects in the scene.

Sensitivity has been increased on the 40Mp sensor - perhaps partly due to those yellow receptors - and along with the faster lens, the P30 Pro is able to shoot noticeably better photos in the dark, and low light video benefits from this too.

A fourth camera on the P30 Pro works in tandem with a flood illuminator to detect how far away are objects in the scene. This leads to more accurate blurring of the background in portrait images, though we still saw the usual inaccurate detection of hair, so not many people will be fooled into thinking it's a photo from a DLSR. Admittedly, we were testing with pre-release software so there's the potential for this to be improved.

Round the front, the P20 Pro has a 24Mp selfie camera that delivers pretty good results. This is upgraded to a whopping 32Mp on the P30 Pro. So far, we can see there's a bit of an improvement, but we're hoping the smudging that's noticeable in textures is a result of the early software on our sample phone.

Software

Not a lot is different in this respect. Now that the P20 Pro has been updated to Android Pie, both phones are on a par there and EMUI is also the same.

Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro

One feature you'll find on the P30 Pro is the ability to measure real-world objects, but this is facilitated by that depth-camera system that isn't present on the P20 Pro.

P30 Pro vs P20 Pro

Verdict

Adding many of the great features first seen on the Mate 20 Pro, but improving upon them, the P30 Pro is clearly a better phone than the P20 Pro. That isn't hard to see. The difficulty comes in deciding if it's worth upgrading if you already have a P20 Pro (it probably isn't) or choosing between them if you don't already have one.

The latter will be made a lot easier once we know how much the P30 Pro costs: we were fortunate enough to be able to compare the two phones side by side ahead of the P30 launch, but weren't told how much it would cost. If it's a similar price - £800 or so - then it's a no-brainer to buy the P30 Pro. But if rumours are true and it's closer to £1000, it's a different proposition.

Specs

Huawei P30 Pro: Specs

  • Android Pie 9.1 + EMUI 9.1 6.47in 2340x1080, 19.5:9 OLED display, 398ppi 2.4GHz Kirin 980 octa-core processor Mali-G76 GPU 8GB RAM
  • 128GB / 512GB storage Cameras: 40Mp with OIS + 8Mp telephoto (5x) + 20Mp ultra-wide + TOF camera Front camera: 32Mp, f/2.0 GPS + Glonass 4G LTE 4200mAh battery USB-C SuperCharge 40W IP68 rating

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