[Review] Huawei P30 - Potent Power Performer 1

[Review] Huawei P30 – Potent Power Performer

  • Design
  • Performance
  • Display
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value

Huawei P30

The more affordable sibling of the P30 Pro, the Huawei P30 offers a good display, a solid set of cameras that can tackle most user scenarios as well as performance and build quality befitting a flagship phone. If you don’t need the huge optical zoom on the P30 Pro, the P30 proves an excellent offering that can  go toe to toe with some of the best flagship phones out there.

The smaller and more affordable sibling of the P30 Pro, the Huawei P30 still brings a lot to the table for what you pay for and, on paper, proves to be a significant upgrade over its predecessor the P20.

Externally, the P30 bears somewhat of a resemblance to its larger P30 Pro sibling though it has several subtle but notable differences. In particular, the P30 only has IP53 water resistance versus the more robust IP68 of the P30 Pro. It also lacks the wireless charging option of the P30 Pro on top of the more obvious smaller sized display and a slightly less capable but still powerful rear triple camera array.

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In Malaysia, the P30 comes in your choice of either a shade of matte black, an aurora blue gradient or a light sky blue finish dubbed Breathing Crystal which was what our test unit came in.

The base comes with a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB Type-C port and a set of faux speaker grilles though the P30 only has a mono speaker at the base of the phone. The right side of the phone comes with a volume rocker and power button while the left has a dual SIM card tray. Optionally, you can swap one of the SIM card slots and plunk in a Huawei NM storage card to augment the memory. The omission of a microSD card in favour of an NM card slot is irksome as the cards aren’t particularly common in the market but it’s nonetheless still an option to upgrade the P30’s existing 128GB of storage.

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The back of the phone is a smooth expanse of glass with the biggest difference to the P30 Pro being the omission of a ToF camera and a smaller sized triple camera array. While it’s a minor quibble, the camera array juts out quite a bit and putting the phone on its back makes it lean at a rather jaunty angle that’s rather apparent; fortunately the bundled casing goes some ways to addressing this.

The front has several more subtle differences to the P30 Pro. Rather than the curved glass in the P30 Pro, the P30 uses a flat Fullview OLED panel along with a smaller chin though the front notch is relatively similar in size.

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In terms of build quality and design, the P30 is up there with the best of them with a premium chassis hewn of metal sandwiched by glass that has a reassuring heft, good balance and a delightful tactility on account of the crisp edges and cool glass. It’s more compact size also makes it easier to grasp as well.

Huawei P30 Specifications and Performance

The Huawei P30 is powered by a Kirin 980 octacore processor that’s built on a 7nm process running the latest Android Pie 9.0 on their EMUI 9.1 user interface. This is paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage.

In terms of biometric security options, the P30 has an under-glass fingerprint reader for authentication and facial recognition, both of which proved pleasantly swift on the draw in lieu of the usual pattern unlock.

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Setting up the phone took a few minutes and the P30 sports several refinements from its predecessor the P20, in particular GPU Turbo 2.0 support for enhanced performance for selected games. Getting about the menus is via the usual Android-style navigation keys or an iOS style swipe-based interface which takes some getting used to for Android traditionalists.

Once you’ve had a few rounds in, getting about the P30’s user interface is second nature though you’ll quickly discover a significant amount of overlap with Google’s apps and Huawei’s own software. With this much storage to spare, it’s not much of an issue though neater folk may take issue.

Under practical field conditions, the P30 proved its mettle and tackled everything asked of it in a swift fashion. Games like PUBG, Command and Conquer: Rivals, Clash Royale and Asphalt 8 were all handled at high settings with smooth frame rates and it was also a dab hand at rendering video in Quik and Kinemaster too.

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Up front the P30’s 6.1-inch notched Fullview OLED panel has a 2,340 x 1080 pixel resolution, a crisp 422ppi and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio on account of the slim bezels all around. While colour vibrancy and rendition are still short of a Super AMOLED display, the P30’sFullview OLED panel is a close contender indeed with superb colours and crisp detail.

At default settings, the P30’s panel looks delightful for movies with deep blacks and vibrant colours with the Fifth Element’s luscious colours appearing like a kaleidoscopic rainbow onscreen. If the colours don’t quite appeal, you can still tweak them to taste in the settings.

When subjected to benchmarks, the Kirin 980 served up excellent scores across the board under normal mode. In Geekbench 4.0 it scored a single-core score of 3,263 and a multi-core score of 9,800. In Antutu 3D, it got a score of 281,170. In 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme – OpenGL test it got a score of 3,477 points while in Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan it got a score of 4,385. In PCMark, the P30 scored 7,883 points. You can also ramp up clock speed via a Performance mode though this rapidly heats up the phone and drains battery life faster than the fresh prawn bucket in a seafood buffet. It’s not sustainable in the long run though and only for specific circumstances which aren’t usually encountered in day to day work scenarios but it’s a nice option to have nonetheless.

The mono speaker at the base does an excellent job with good volume and a fair amount of detail that’s more than sufficient for watching the odd Netflix flick or gaming though it is still easily muffled by your fingers when using it in landscape mode especially if you’re gaming.

P30 Camera Performance

The Huawei P30 comes with a rear triple camera array that uses Huawei’s new RYYB filter that offers better low light sensitivity compared to a conventional RGGB filter. The primary camera consists of a 40-MP F/1.8 camera that lacks OIS. The P30 also a 16- MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle lens and an 8-MP F/2.4 OIS-stabilised telephoto camera with 3X optical zoom. The camera array is also capable of up to 30x hybrid zoom.

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Beyond 3x optical zoom, the P30’s cameras at 5x rely on hybrid zoom with fairly impressive image quality. You can even dial it all the way to 30x but this is purely digital, very juddery and it’s hard to yield usable shots without a tripod. It’s a pace or two behind what the P30 Pro’s camera is capable of and also lacks its ToF camera but it’s still capable of 4K video capture and capturing snaps at up to 204,800 ISO.

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The user interface is fairly standard for Huawei P-series phones and old hands will find it easy to get about with the usual array of modes that include Panorama, Portrait, Aperture and Pro mode though the most important bit that you’ll need to wrap your head around is a dialable magnifier that lets you tap it for 1X, 3X, 5X and 30X zoom or work a slider for finer control. Unfortunately the cluttered nature of the menus makes using this feature and other features a bit fiddly and you’ll often miss a photo opportunity or two tinkering with the menus. Fortunately, the P30 on auto mode is immensely capable.

The P30 under field testing comes across as an excellent point and shoot camera that’s fast on the trigger and swift to fire up on demand. On auto settings, with the AI on, the P30 captures some great shots with the primary camera that brim with detail and have good colour rendition. Shots in low light are excellent though the P30 Pro is a notch better by all accounts. Shots beyond 5x zoom under low light look rather soft but the primary 40-MP camera does an excellent job for being able to capture nuances of light that make a shot very viewable as opposed to being an unviewable dim mess. Under most circumstances, you’ll want to keep things to the primary camera and, at most, 3x zoom for best results.

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The front serves up excellent selfies that offer fairly good skin tones and the background defocus does a good job piecing out the subject from the background while the beauty mode does a good job of making even sleep-deprived writers look presentable.

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For most users, the P30’s cameras are more than enough to tackle the vast majority of scenarios they’d encounter though those looking for the current best snappers, as DxOmark puts it, may have to save up a bit more and opt for the P30 Pro.


Huawei P30 Price, Battery Life and Conclusion

The P30 is juiced by a 3,650mAh battery charged by a USB Type C port at the base of the phone. The fairly intelligent power management thanks to the Kirin 980’s NPU helps to eke out a bit more from the battery than many other phones would be capable of and it shows in field tests. Under average use conditions with the screen brightness set to auto, WiFi and Data on from dawn to dusk and a modest amount of gaming combined with constant use of social media along with emails, the P30 managed to easily last through the day with more than enough for the commute home.

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When charged from dead zero, the P30 along with its bundled SuperCharge 22.5W SuperCharge adaptor managed to give it a good 60% charge in half an hour and a full charge in about an hour and 15 minutes which are excellent figures by any measure.

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In terms of its price tag, the P30 is a compelling proposition at RM2,699 as it offers a premium design with a good display, excellent performance and a good triple rear camera with 3X zoom and low light capabilities.

Some quibbles remain though like the insistence on using an NM memory card, the lack of stereo speakers and somewhat bloatware laden user interface but they aren’t deal breakers per se.

If you’re after the pinnacle of Huawei engineering and need a more powerful camera and a larger screen along with wireless charging, go for the P30 Pro though the P30 on its own merits is more than sufficient for most mainstream users.

What we liked Good cameras, posh looking design, great performance, has 3.5mm jack
What we didn’t Uses NM cards, modest mono speaker, camera unit bulges out
We say The more affordable sibling of the P30 Pro offers a good display, a solid set of cameras that can tackle most user scenarios as well as performance and build quality befitting a flagship phone. If you don’t need the huge optical zoom on the P30 Pro, the P30 proves an excellent offering that can  go toe to toe with some of the best flagship phones out there.

Price RM2,699
Display 6.1-inch FullView OLED, 2,340 x 1080 pixels, 422ppi
Processor Kirin 980 2.6GHz octacore
OS Android 9.0 with EMUI 9.0
Memory 8GB RAM/128GB storage
Camera 40-MP F/1.9 +16-MP F/2.2 +8-MP w/ 3X optical zoom + LED flash(rear) / 32-MP F/2.0 (front)
Battery 3,650mAh battery w/ 22.5W Fast Charge
Size/Weight 149.1 x 71.4 x 7.6 mm/165g
Review unit courtesy of Huawei Malaysia