Last year’s Huawei P20 Pro flagship set a new bar for Huawei in terms of photography capabilities and popularity for the company’s new design language. After hitting a stride, the new Huawei P30 Pro takes everything that made the P20 Pro a hit and aims to build on it. The question is whether the new handset does enough to stand out in today’s competitive marketplace.
Photography, design, and performance have all been knocked up a notch this year. The new camera boasts much improved low light and zoom capabilities, there’s a new Kirin 980 SoC onboard, and that awesome looking Amber Sunrise color option. But does the P30 Pro do enough to make it a worthwhile yearly upgrade?
Specs vs specs
The two handsets are similarly sized, though the P30 Pro is slightly larger. The handset offers more screen real estate thanks to its thinner bezels and lack of chin. The P30 Pro offers a 6.47-inch curved OLED with a taller 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The P20 Pro features a 6.1-inch OLED panel with 18.7:9 ratio. As such, the P30 Pro offers 2,340 x 1,080 pixels of resolution versus 2,240 x 1,080.
The heart of the latest Huawei P-series models replaces the Kirin 970 with a faster Kirin 980. That’s the same chip found inside last year’s Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The Kirin 980 also doubles the power of its NPU for AI and machine learning applications, while also providing a faster Cat. 21 LTE modem and better power efficiency thanks to its 7nm manufacturing node.
The chip boasts faster CPU and GPU capabilities too. Numbers point to a 46-percent boost to graphics performance and a 75-percent jump in single-core CPU grunt. If you’re after raw performance, the Huawei P30 Pro certainly trumps the Huawei P20 Pro, although the Kirin 970 is no slouch in day-to-day applications.
|Huawei P30 Pro||Huawei P20 Pro|
|Display||6.47-inch dual-curved OLED display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
|6.1-inch OLED display
18.7:9 aspect ratio
2,240 x 1,080 resolution
|Processor||Kirin 980||Kirin 970|
|RAM||8GB RAM||6GB RAM|
|Storage||128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Nano Memory Card expansion
No MicroSD expansion
15W wireless charge
Reverse wireless charging
40MP 27mm f/1.6 (RYB Sensor)
20MP 16mm f/2.2 Ultrawide
8MP 5x optical periscope prism 125mm f/3.4
Huawei TOF (time of flight) cameraFront:
40MP 27mm f/1.8
20MP 16mm f/1.6 Monochrome
8MP 3x optical 80mm f/2.4Front:
|Audio||No headphone jack||No headphone jack|
|Security||In-display fingerprint||Capacitive fingerprint|
|Software||EMUI 9.1, based on Android 9 Pie||EMUI 9, based on Android 9 Pie|
Huawei has beefed up the RAM available in the P30 Pro. Capacity is set at 8GB versus 6GB inside the Huawei P20 Pro. Although both are overkill for Android’s needs and handle multi-task demanding apps without issue.
A bigger win for the P30 Pro can be found in memory. The P20 Pro is available with 128GB of memory and sans any external storage option. That’s a reasonable allowance, but heavy media users will probably want more. The Huawei P30 Pro starts at 128GB and is available in 256 and 512GB. The handset also supports Huawei’s Nano Memory card. Although we would prefer the cheaper and more universal microSD card format.
A 4,200mAh battery powers the new handset, which is a fraction larger than the Huawei P20 Pro’s 4,000mAh cell. Both phones easily take the vast majority of users into a second day on a single full charge. Perhaps more importantly, the P30 Pro boasts the 40W SuperCharge capabilities from the Mate 20 Pro. This can save you up to 40 minutes on a full charge cycle versus the already very fast charging P20 Pro.
Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro cameras
Enough techno-waffle, if you’re interested in a new Huawei phone then you’re probably someone who likes to take the odd picture or two. Quite a lot has changed with their cameras between the Huawei P20 Pro and new P30 Pro, although there are some similarities to the formula.
To recap, the Huawei P20 Pro offered the industry’s biggest sensor in a while, clocking in at 40MP for highly details shots. This was paired up with a 20MP monochrome sensor used to enhance dynamic range and low light detail. Finally, an 8MP 3x telephoto lens offered flexible shooting at a distance. It was a solid package that continues to be one of the best performing smartphone cameras.
Huawei ditched the monochrome sensor in last year’s Mate 20 Pro in favor of the extra shooting flexibility offered by a wide-angle camera. This setup remains in place with the P30 Pro. However, the 40MP main sensor has been revamped with a new RYB design that should improve low-light performance. Huawei was keen to highlight this particular point during its launch presentation. Based on my hands-on time with the phone, well lit shots look much the same as the P20 Pro (although I’m tempted to give the lead to the older model). We’ll have to see how well the phone performs in low light to draw final conclusions.
OIS across all sensors is a big improvement over the P20 Pro, which relied on software stabilization
Another major change is the introduction of a periscope zoom camera in the P30 Pro. This replaces the 3x telephoto lens in the P20 Pro. The newer model boasts a 5x optical zoom, extendable up to 10x with Huawei’s super-resolution Hybrid Zoom technology. Detail at a distance is simply excellent with the P30 Pro, although at medium zoom ranges is a much closer contest. The Huawei P30 Pro also supports a TOF sensor for AR/VR applications and improved bokeh blur. The P20 Pro’s Portrait mode suffers from common edge detection issues with hair and transparent objects. Hopefully, the TOF sensor will iron out these issues.
On paper, the Huawei P30 Pro is certainly the more flexible shooter. But we’ll have to wait and see which of the two is best in terms of quality.
Extra features make the difference
In this P20 Pro user’s option, the biggest differentiator in the Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro battle comes down to the extras. The P20 Pro was arguably lacking many of the little touches that make Samsung Galaxy handsets worth the premium. Fortunately, Huawei has addressed this with the P30 Pro.
Wireless charging is a premium feature that the P20 Pro really missed out on. Competitors including Samsung and LG have been offering this feature for a while, so it’s great that Huawei is finally caught up. The option to use reverse wireless charging to power up your Qi-enabled accessories is another nice touch.
The P30 Pro also boasts a slightly improved IP68 versus IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. The optical in-display fingerprint scanner is also neat. Although the P20 Pro’s capacitive scanner is so fast that some might prefer the older design. Using the display as a speaker is another cool trick right out of LG’s playbook, although there’s nothing wrong with a conventional speaker.
The P30 Pro packs in the the extras, but its improved design is the biggest draw.
Personally, I think the P30 Pro pulls ahead in terms of design. Aesthetically, the rear camera design, notch, and curved display look a lot better than the P20 Pro — and that phone is already a looker. Better still, the curved back and front glass means the P30 Pro sits perfectly in the hand. It’s an even nicer phone to hold and use than the P20 Pro, which already handles better than most other over-six-inch handsets.
The P30 Pro doesn’t get everything perfect. The lack of a headphone jack will be a sore thumb for some, EMUI 9.1 still has a few too many settings just like EMUI 9, and the camera interface could certainly be better. Fortunately, both phones are running Android 9 Pie and Huawei’s software is perfectly serviceable and nippy to boot.
Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro: Which should I buy?
The Huawei P30 Pro price tag starts at 999 euros ($1,130) and can cost up to 1,249 euros ($1,410) for the 512GB model. The 128GB P20 Pro launched at 100 euros cheaper, just 899 euros. The P30 Pro is offering more for your money, but it’s on the expensive side. Especially now that you can grab a P20 Pro for around 500 euros, which is even cheaper than the regular Huawei P30 too.
If you want all the latest tech that Huawei has to offer, there’s no arguing with the value proposition of the new Huawei P30 Pro. Between an excellent camera, high-end performance, and an improved design, buyers won’t be left disappointed. However, the P20 Pro still offers value for those looking for an excellent camera experience in a hardware and software package that still feels up-to-date. Those who already own a P20 Pro probably won’t be feeling the urge to upgrade already.