Mate 30 Pro does not need any introduction. It is probably the most popular smartphone on the internet at the moment. Yes, it is the new flagship of the Chinese manufacturer Huawei, the company on the second place on the smartphone market. It is also the phone with the best camera on the market and also one of the few models that cannot be delivered with Google applications. Here’s what impressions the new Mate 30 Pro left us after more than a week of use.
From the design point of view, this model has known quantities: curved “horizon” screen on the edges at an angle of 88 degrees, glass on the back, a camera perfectly shaped within a circle, and a thin metal frame around the screen.
Because it is so curved, the screen reaches close to the back of the device, while the volume buttons have been completely removed; the only physical button present being Power, which moves close to the back cover. The phone does not have a 3.5mm jack and there is no adapter in the box, but it comes with a pair of USB-C headsets as well as a 5A charging cable, which connects to the power adapter – 40W “SuperCharge” with fast charging. The charging runs smoothly, providing extremely fast charging, with the percentages increasing visibly from one second to the next.
While the phone is impressive at first glance in terms of design, the decision to go so far in the direction of the screen curvature was probably not that good. Even though it is less wide than other models on the market, it is easier to hold. In spite of it, the Mate 30 Pro is extremely slippery. The model we tested does not include a case in the package, but usually, the “retail” variants of Huawei phones include this accessory.
Even with a case, because the screen is very large on the sides, not even a very strong one could protect the device very well in the event of an accident. Given that the phone is largely made of glass, it is likely that those who choose to buy it should pay special attention to this model. Spare parts such as a display kit + protective glass would definitely be very expensive.
This time, Huawei chose to decorate the glass on the back of the phone in attractive colors, the purple model being very “elegant” and also “unisex”. You have no reason to hide the purple color of the phone, even if you are a man, even if you always wear a suit and tie. The shade is very subtle and it is combined with a very pleasant blue, which gives this device an expensive look.
Not to be far from the truth, the Mate 30 Pro in Europe was announced at a price of 1,100 euros, the same price that Samsung charges on the Galaxy Note10+ and Apple on the cheapest model iPhone 11 Pro Max. Compared to these models, the Mate 30 Pro has both pluses and minuses.
- Display: 6.53 “, OLED, Full HD + (2,400 x 1,176 pixels), 18.5: 9 format, HDR10
- Chipset: Hauwei Kirin 990 Octa-core (2 x 2.86 GHz Cortex-A76 + 2 x 2.09 GHz Cortex-A76 + 4 x 1.86 GHz Cortex-A55), 7nm, Dual NPU, GPU Mali G76-MP16
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 256GB
- Main Camera: Quad-Camera – 40 MP wide (f / 1.6), OIS + 40 MP ultra-wide (f / 1.8) + 8 MP zoom 3x (f / 2.4) + 3D TOF sensor
- Front camera: 32 megapixels f / 2.0
- Operating system: Android 10 (EMUI 10), without Google Mobile Services
- Battery: 4,500 mAh, Super Charge 40 W
- Weight: 198 grams
- Others: dual-SIM (SIM card slot 2 common with Nano Memory card), NFC, fingerprint sensor, infrared, 3D facial authentication, waterproof and dustproof IP68
- Accessories: SuperCharge charger, USB-C cable, USB-C corded headphones
In general, a review for an ordinary smartphone would first address hardware capabilities, be it display quality, performance, or camera. However, the Mate 30 Pro is a special case, so we’ll start directly with the software. At first glance, not much has changed since Huawei’s latest flagship, the P30 Pro. The interface is still EMUI, this time based on Android 10, but without Google applications.
Given that we are talking about a Huawei model made for the Chinese market, this is not out of the ordinary, but in the case of Mate 30 Pro, the phone would not have access to Google Mobile Services even if it was officially sold outside China. The scandal between the US and Huawei has been discussed and documented for half a year since it started, but the reality is that this situation has a direct effect on the use of the phone.
The use of the Mate 30 Pro is hardly any different from that of a previous Huawei smartphone. All the native software features of the EMUI 10 are still here. The interface has been slightly updated to be similar not only to Apple iOS as it was in the past, but also to the Samsung One UI, with slightly larger buttons in applications and a full-screen notification section.
However, there is a big problem when you have to start configuring your phone for use. Instead of a Google Account, you will need to first use a Huawei ID account. If you’ve had a Huawei phone in the past, you may already have a Huawei ID used for cloud backups and authentication within Huawei applications embedded in EMUI software such as HiCare.
This account is also used for the App Gallery, the only pre-installed store. The Chinese version of the App Gallery seems to be well-populated with popular applications in China such as WeChat, Baidu, Weibo and many more. Since the applications we use every day in Europe are usually forbidden in China, they are not found in the Chinese App Gallery.
In order to be able to use the phone, even at a basic level, we installed using another, less conventional, Aptoide app store. The experience with it was disappointing, but at least it did its job. Once you select an app from Aptoide, the store will deliver about 2-3 video ads, and then the EMUI system asks if you want to install the app from a “dubious” source such as Aptoide, or if you want to search for the same app on the App Gallery.
We used this method to install social media applications like Instagram, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger, which ran smoothly, except when Google Maps was needed to find the address of an event, for example. Aptoide includes Google applications and even a variant of Google Mobile Services, but their installation only puts the icon in the menu. The applications are impossible to run without installing the services by a more “hard” method. When you click on an address, you are automatically transferred to the Huawei browser (the phone does not include Google Chrome) on the Google Maps site. Of course, functionality in the browser is limited. We managed to run Waze instead, from Aptoide, so you don’t run out of navigation completely. However, Waze is only useful for car navigation, without offering pedestrian or public transport routes.
YouTube works the same, only the browser version, and apps like Netflix refuse to start. Thus, the high-resolution screen with HDR compatibility cannot be used to its true value, because you cannot access the content.
Because it doesn’t have the Google Play Store, the phone can’t run any banking applications, so checking your current balance or paying with your phone is not possible. There is a possibility that Huawei will convince banks in the future to offer the applications through AppGallery, but for now, these capabilities are inaccessible to a Huawei Mate 30 Pro.
At the same time, all the applications you have purchased so far on the Android platform, which usually went with you from one phone to another, are not accessible. Even though Huawei Mate 30 Pro is an Android phone, it cannot give you access to the wide range of apps in the Google Store. In China, this is not a problem, but in Europe, the Google store is essential, not only for its services like YouTube, Gmail or Maps, but for all other applications.
Huawei now needs the support of big players such as Facebook, Netflix, or even Google (using a similar method to iOS) in order to compete seriously in the smartphone market.
Now that we’ve gone over the “elephant” in the room, we can talk a little about the hardware, which is really fine-tuned, with some exceptions.
For example, the “horizon” screen, as called by Huawei, compatible with HDR10, comes with a weird resolution: 2,400 x 1,176. This is not far off, as the images are very clear, but the company lists it in the menu as FHD+. Compared to the Mate 20 Pro, from last year, some might consider this screen to be a kind of “downgrade” in terms of resolution. The truth is that the panel seems to be very good, as long as it is properly configured. By default, it comes with the “intense” color setting and balanced color temperature. However, the colors are not at all-natural, and the photos taken with the phone look different on the screen than they actually are.
The screen is set up to impress you. Once you pass it on natural colors, it shows some “washed” colors, in neutral shades. This is not a problem, but those who are interested in a panel that displays colors as accurately as possible will probably want a factory-calibrated screen. Extremely curved edges look great and “trick” you into having an “infinite” screen. At the same time, in normal use, on the edges, you can often find items that you want to touch, or while playing a clip, the top of the material can stretch to the sides. There is an option that limits this effect by restricting the screen width for each application. A part will still appear on the curved area, but not to the extreme edge.
Huawei has chosen an extremely curved screen to impress, but after the first few minutes, you want a less slippery phone and a screen that does not display content in areas you do not reach. This exaggerated curvature is another disadvantage of using the Mate 30 Pro: the lack of volume buttons. Thus, you cannot control the volume for music when the screen is off, and when turned on, the double touch gesture on the edge only works from time to time.
As with the Mate 20 Pro, the Mate 30 Pro also has biometric authentication technology through face recognition. The feature is similar to Apple’s Face ID and works the same or even better. The unlock is instant and you have the option to set whether the phone takes you directly to the menu or to let you read the notifications first. There is even a privacy mode, which hides all notifications if someone other than the person with the face registered on the phone is detected. In addition to facial recognition, there is also an optical fingerprint sensor on the display, which works very well, but which is almost never required, as the phone is usually unlocked before you have time to put your finger on the screen due to facial recognition.
We only tested the fingerprint sensor from a distance, avoiding getting into the facial recognition range and it worked well and quickly, much more consistently than the ultrasonic one on the Galaxy S10 and Note10, for example. This is probably Apple’s argument for the lack of a fingerprint sensor on their new iPhone: facial recognition simply works and using laser dots and infrared cameras and it is just as secure or even more secure than other types of authentication. It’s good that there are options, but you don’t have much reason to use the fingerprint instead of the facial unlock on the Mate 30 Pro.
The Huawei P30 Pro has proven that a flagship can also be powerful and can offer very good autonomy. The Mate 30 Pro thus continues the tradition, being one of the few phones on the market that can operate two days on a single charge.
Honestly, it wouldn’t have been annoying if the Mate 30 Pro had only lasted one day, as the battery is charging extremely fast and wireless charging is also present. It also works the other way, to charge other devices, something Apple has yet to adopt.
It probably doesn’t make much sense to talk about performance on a top-of-the-line phone, but the Huawei Mate 30 Pro feels faster than most phones on the market, even if it has less powerful hardware on paper. Performance tests put the Kirin 990 chipset somewhere on the level of last year’s competition processors, such as the Snapdragon 845 and Apple A12 Bionic.
- AnTuTu v8 – 372,897 points
- GeekBench 4 – Single-Core 3,836 / Multi-Core 11,933
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan – 5,430 points
- PCMark – 8,549 points
The software optimization for the hardware is excellent; everything is very fast, from the opening of the applications to the transitions between them. At the same time, the Kirin 990 is the first Huawei processor that allows 4K video recording at 60 frames per second. The AI capabilities are difficult to measure, even if there are specific tests, but those from Huawei promise better performance in all use cases, whether we’re talking about photo-enhancing or scene-optimizing battery consumption.
The fact is that in use Mate 30 Pro is extremely fast, comparable to a OnePlus phone of the last generations. Unfortunately, the lack of applications does not encourage its use as much as in the case of other “ordinary” phones.
We approach the last part of this review, where we will discuss a little about the camera. There are already enough scientific tests that demonstrate the quality of the photos made with the Mate 30 Pro and we will not challenge them. It is true that the pictures taken with this phone look great, but they are not always “correct” in terms of color or exposure. Even so, it’s hard to find another phone that performs just as well.
The 40-megapixel main sensor captures photos at 10 megapixels by “pixel binning” which retains a great deal of detail and usually provides fair exposure, but the colors may be slightly yellow due to the RYYB sensor used. Thus, our recommendation would be to activate Master AI mode, which uses predefined scene settings to optimize the images, thus reducing the yellowing effect. This sensor is so bright that the night photos – even without the night mode – are very good, and sometimes too bright. Most photos in the evening or night should be slightly under-exposed to display “realistic” images. This can be considered either an advantage or a disadvantage.
The night mode, as Huawei has already accustomed us to, is extremely efficient. It should be used exclusively in complete darkness, and even then it will have an exaggerated effect, sometimes being able to turn the night into day. Unfortunately, it has to be selected manually from the camera menu, and the exposure takes quite a long time. Other companies have developed night modes that can start automatically when needed, or are accessible quickly during normal shooting.
In fact, the entire camera app from Huawei seems to have lagged a bit in terms of the user interface. This seems confusing at times and you can easily get lost in settings, some of them like timelapse, or slow-motion being hidden in the “more” menu. For example, there are two ways to add blur around a subject: the aperture, which seems to be focused on objects, and the portrait, which is made for people. The blur effect is better than other models of competition, such as Samsung, for example, but still does not seem to be “natural”.
Mate 30 Pro also has other cameras. For example, it benefits from a 40-megapixel “SuperSensing Cine Camera” with an ultra-wide lens, made especially for recordings, and also for photos. This is probably the best performing ultra-wide camera in a phone so far, yet its angle is not as wide as in other devices. However, it is enough for a few more “comprehensive” photos and is excellent for shooting, benefiting from a fine-tuned stabilization, even if it is exclusively electronic.
The camera on the Mate 30 Pro can also record at 7680 frames per second in slow-motion mode, in 720p resolution. The results are impressive, as long as you have enough light and patience to repeat the recording until you catch exactly what you want. Similar to Samsung’s function, the action must take place in a certain area of the screen, and the phone only shoots a small fraction of a second that extends in something of about a minute. However, this is a function that you will use once or twice and you will quickly forget.
Finally, we have to deal with a 3x optical zoom camera. This seems to be the best 3x zoom camera on the market; yet, it’s a step back from the 5x zoom camera on the Huawei P30 Pro. This model can offer up to 5x zoom in hybrid mode and up to 30x digital zoom. But at 30x you can no longer claim to see details or make a very stable frame. It’s just something you can use, not something you should use.
The night mode works well on all three cameras, though the lenses and sensors on the ultra-wide and zoom are not comparable in terms of performance to the main one.
Most companies have a button that by default displays the zoom multiple: 0.6x, 1x, 3x, etc. However, Huawei allows the selection of the zoom level and by default the associated camera, only by dragging the symbol on a bar, or by “pinch to zoom”. You cannot quickly select the camera and zoom level. The only faster thing is to reach the bar in graded areas, but it is never a very precise process. If you want to take a photo with one hand, it is difficult or even impossible to change the camera used. The lack of volume buttons, however, brings a virtual mobile button on the curved edge, which can be used as a trigger. The presence of this button cannot confuse, but the user experience is not exactly impressive either.
We have already written an extremely long review of a phone that Huawei probably won’t release in too many copies outside of China. It is important, however, to know which are the advantages and disadvantages of this model. Yes, it is one of the best-built phones so far, with a very good camera and top performance, autonomy and pretty much all the hardware you would want in a phone.
At the same time, it comes with software “faculty”, which can not keep up with the competition. Of course, we have to deal with political games and the economic conflict between the US and China. But regardless of personal opinions about this conflict, we must admit that they do not change the reality: Mate 30 Pro is delivered without Google applications and services, without access to the application store with the richest software offer, without access to previously purchased applications, and without the possibility of running modern applications for streaming video or audio, or banking and fintech. Not to mention the lack of possibility of making payments with the phone outside China, because Huawei Pay is not functional in Europe.
The bottom line is that the Mate 30 Pro is indeed a very good phone, unexpectedly well-tuned when it comes to hardware. Maybe in the future, after Huawei attracts more partners, the lack of Google services will no longer be such a serious issue, and EMUI, even with Android bases, could become a real alternative to Google’s operating system and iOS. But it lasts until then and Huawei will have to move fast, as the market is moving fast and users probably won’t have the patience to wait for too long. Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus are quite strong on the European market already, while Apple has only begun to recover after a few years of decline.
If there is an update for Mate 30 Pro with Google services tomorrow, yes, this is probably the best Android phone you can buy right now, despite its other minuses.
If you want to build on your knowledge and install Google applications on your own, consider that most users don’t know how to do this and are not interested in learning. Also, an update to Google’s servers could at any time block access to those devices that don’t have official access to Google services. It is a high risk for a lot of money, which users of premium devices should not take.