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Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone 2

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone 3

To be blunt, you should not buy the Mate 30 Pro in its current form. It’s a great device, but the uncertainty of Google Apps makes it impossible to recommend it to the average user.

Are you still with me? So you’re probably not the “average user” of the proverb, which should now be turned off on all recently released Huawei devices. It’s okay. Let’s talk about what makes Mate 30 Pro so special because it’s a special phone.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro is the forbidden fruit of the technological world. You know that you should avoid it, and you can present strong and reasonable arguments for it. It is expensive, repetitive, impractical and painful to control now. But you still want to do it.

This is a review of Huawei Mate 30 Pro from Gadget Center.

Pros:

  • Beautiful, luxurious design
  • Great performance
  • A versatile and powerful camera
  • Very good camera performance at night
  • Great battery life and charging features

Cons:

  • No Google apps
  • Uncertain updates and security prospects
  • Expensive
  • Iffy volume controls

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: The big picture

Huawei faces an existential threat. The American ban strangled its profits and separated them from the Google ecosystem. As Huawei has been banned for almost a year, it is surprisingly very strong thanks to its proprietary technology, deep pockets and a safe haven for the domestic market.

With the exception of the missing Google app, the language doesn’t seem to have a visible impact on the Mate 30 Pro. In most cases, this phone is comparable to rivals like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus and iPhone 11 Pro. It is the premium flagship for people who want the best.

Unboxing

The Mate 30 Pro has a 40W charger so you no longer have to spend to get the best charging speeds for your phone. You also get a simple pair of USB-C headphones, but with decent sound.

Design

The Mate 30 Pro feels luxurious. Every inch is polished, shiny and highly rounded. On the other hand, it is less practical than Huawei’s previous flagships.

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The display has curved edges that rotate around the sides at an angle of almost 90 degrees. It looks like Samsung’s flagships but is more curved. Huawei markets it as a horizon display, while others call it a “waterfall display.” Whatever you want to call it, it is undeniable that it is very beautiful.

There is still a frame on the sides of the screen that just isn’t visible most of the time. To achieve this look without a bezel, Huawei made the metal bezel much thinner than other phones. In terms of usability, this is definitely not a problem and the phone feels strong in hand.

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Huawei lowered the physical volume and replaced it with a software solution. I hope Huawei would have kept the buttons because the software change is not so good. Double-tap the edge of the screen just above the power button to activate it. This is not always easy, especially with one hand or using your phone. Volume control is one of the basic things that should be as simple as possible, and software management seems like an unnecessary recession. At least the power switch still exists and works great.

The Mate 30 Pro’s glass edges are as slippery as you’d expect. I hate to think what would happen if you dropped it.

On the back, Huawei replaced the Mate 30 series with a round camera module. The slick “halo” around the cameras reminds me of some point-and-shoot cameras. It is an ironic step backward considering that smartphones killed this product group. I still prefer the Mate 20 Pro camera design, but I am beginning to love the halo of the Mate 30 Pro.

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The back of the phone is made of polished glass with a mirror effect. Fingerprints and dirt are a constant problem when you decide to use it without a cover.

The USB-C port, speaker and hybrid SIM/memory card compartment are located under the phone. Above is a feature that most other competitors don’t offer today: an IR blaster that lets you control your TV, AC, and other devices.

The Mate 30 Pro is available in black, space silver, cosmic purple, and emerald green. The images in this Mate 30 Pro review are in Space Silver. The emerald green version has a slope: the lower back is matte, while the area around the camera is shiny.

The $1,100 Mate 30 Pro looks like a million dollars. It exudes style and is a pleasure to wear in addition to the annoying volume controls. Too bad you almost have to.

Display

The Mate 30 Pro features a 6.53-inch beautiful Samsung AMOLED screen covered with Gorilla Glass 6. The resolution and pixel density (2,400 x 1,176 pixels, 409ppi) are actually lower than the Mate 20 Pro, but I didn’t see a difference in sharpness. All in all, the screen on the Mate 30 Pro looks similar to the P30 Pro, which is pretty cool.

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The notch at the top seems a bit outdated now that other manufacturers are making drill cameras and pop-ups. Huawei had room for a selfie camera, a depth sensor, and a 3D face lock system. The notch is a bit smaller and I don’t think it would be disturbing at all. Your experience may be different.

I’ve never liked highly rounded corners, so it was great to see the Mate 30 Pro have a more square design, just like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.

Be careful with the specifications – There is no smooth 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate here.

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The fingerprint sensor works reasonably well – it’s still not as fast and reliable as the back scanners (remember?), But it does the job. It sits on a fairly low screen, so it’s a bit difficult to use with one hand. In most cases, the laser-based face protection system opens the phone before you have to touch the sensor. This system is fast and accurate.

Performance

Smartphones offer high performance, but the Mate 30 Pro does it effortlessly. Although technically being a technical sample, the phone I tried felt fast and smooth.

It became possible thanks to the Kirin 990 (7nm Hisilicon) chip at the heart of the Mate 30 Pro. It features 2×2.86GHz Cortex-A76; 2×2.09GHz Cortex-A76; 4 x 1.86GHz Cortex-A55 and Mali-G76 MP16 as graphics renderer. Huawei has invested heavily in its own silicon over the years, which means that despite the US ban. In the USA, it was able to incorporate a high-tech chip into its latest phone. For at least the next few months, the Kirin 990 will be the most advanced processor on all Android phones.

Kirin 990 is all about artificial intelligence, fast image processing, and gaming features.

This chip is about AI, fast imaging and gaming, not an improvement in performance. The Mate 30 Pro achieves good results with the benchmarks we ran in the test suite but lags behind the phones used with the Snapdragon 855 Plus. Mate 30 pro scored 311,317 points in AnTuTu, 3,834 in Geeketch 4 Single and 11,355 in Geeketch 4 Multi. The OnePlus 7T received 399,745, 3,681, and 11,443 points to compare. Note 10 Plus with the Snapdragon 855 achieved 369,029 points on AnTuTu and 4 Single/Multi Geeketch with 3,434/10,854 points.

I tried the 4G version of the Mate 30 Pro. The 5G version is available in China (not a word from Europe) on the Kirin 990 5G chip, which is slightly faster than the 4G chip.

With 128GB or 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, you don’t have to worry about bottlenecks. Like the P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, the dual SIM slot also functions as an expandable memory slot for Huawei proprietary nano memory cards.

Battery

Huawei has released the exciting fast 40W charging solution for the Mate 20 Pro. A year later, it remains one of the best on the market. The Mate 30 Pro does not improve this important information but brings improvements for almost other departments. The battery capacity is now 4,500 mAh compared to the previous generation 4,200 mAh.

Our tests show that the battery of the Mate 30 Pro can be fully charged from empty in just 70 minutes. With a quick charge of 15 minutes, your phone will charge to 39%.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone 9

You can charge your Mate 30 Pro wirelessly at 27 watts, and Huawei has also increased the charging capacity of your wireless network. It should be three times faster than before and good enough to run many Qi-compatible devices. It’s still slow: five minutes of wireless reverse charging added 1% charge to the Mate 20 Pro, but it could save the hassle of a dead phone.

In our battery test, the Mate 30 Pro clearly outperformed the Note 10 Plus and OnePlus 7T in mixed-use, WiFi browsing, and video playback. The phone lasts almost as long as the ROG Phone 2 with a 6000 mAh battery.

Most users should be able to use the Mate 30 Pro a whole day and with lighter usage, it’ll last for at least two days or more.

I noticed that the battery was empty a few times faster than expected when I was away from home. This may be because my device is a Chinese pre-production model that was not developed for LTE bands in the USA.

Camera

The main features of the camera of Mate 30 Pro

  • Wide: 40MP, f/1.6, OIS, RYB sensor
  • Telephoto: 3x zoom, 8MP, f/2.4, OIS
  • Ultrawide: 40MP, f/1.8
  • 3D ToF camera
  • 4K 60fps video
  • 7680fps ultra-slow-motion
  • Selfie: 32MP, f/2.0
  • Front-facing 3D ToF camera

While some manufacturers are very software focused (with excellent results), Huawei has decided to add more hardware to the camera problem. Both approaches have their advantages, but Huawei’s hardware-centric philosophy leads to a versatile and flexible camera experience. This is not the simplest and easiest camera phone to use, but using the Mate 30 Pro is definitely fun.

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The cameras on the Mate 30 Pro are similar to the P30 Pros‘s, with a few important exceptions. The biggest problem is using the new 40-megapixel sensor for a wide-angle camera. This relatively large sensor produces brighter and better images on wide-angle images. It is also used by default when recording videos. Another difference is that the Mate 30 Pro only offers a 3x optical zoom instead of the P30 Pro’s 5x optical periscope zoom.

The main sensor is 40 megapixels and uses the RYB pixel setting, where typical green pixels are changed to yellow pixels that capture more light. This sensor, a bright 1:1.6 lens with OIS and some software magic, allows the phone to take photos in near-dark conditions.

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In good light, the Mate 30 Pro offers incredible performance. Images have excellent dynamic range even without HDR.

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Details are well maintained and noise levels are kept under control even in low light conditions.

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Remote zooming is better with the P30 Pro’s excellent optics. Even at lower magnifications, you get good results.

The time-of-flight camera helps the Mate achieve great simulated bokeh with a natural-looking transition from the foreground and background. Details like loose hair are often a challenge. The Mate 30 Pro handles them better than most phones, although it’s not perfect.

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The wide-angle camera has improved a lot compared to last year’s Mate. Images are brighter and clearer, and the difference between a wide-angle camera and a normal camera is more difficult to detect. On the other hand, wide-angle images are not as spectacular as other phones. D. H. Capture fewer scenes than other phones. Huawei has also quietly rejected the macro features of both the Mate 20 Pro and the P30 Pro wide-angle lens. I sometimes notice lens effects on this lens, but nothing too crazy.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone 17

Despite the same sensor, the Mate 30 Pro generally has a better white balance than the P30 Pro in low light conditions. You can see that the older phone has a strong yellow hue, which is not the case with Mate.

For selfies, the Mate 30 Pro has another time-of-flight camera on the front. It helps create a more realistic background blur in selfies. Selfies are generally good, even in strong backlight. One problem that caught my attention was the excessive smoothing of the skin, which occurs from time to time.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone 20

The phone can record 4K video at 60fps, although the device I tested is set to 1080p at 30fps. Real-time bokeh effects, wide-angle video recording, and time limit are some of the supported video features. The phone is also capable of producing crazy slow motion at 7,680 fps at 720p. I was skeptical because very slow video footage generally requires very bright light. But you can get useful results even in normal daylight. It’s a good party trick, but you probably won’t use it regularly. Most objects just don’t move fast enough to look good with video at 7,680 frames per second. Also, it’s quite difficult to get the phone to meet your needs.

Even without the 5x zoom, the Mate 30 Pro is probably the most complete and versatile camera on your smartphone. If the track record is a clue, Pixel 4 can beat it in terms of usability and image quality, but it’s hard to beat the Mate 30 Pro’s sparse number of features.

Full-size camera samples can be found in this Google Drive folder.

Software

For the first three days of having Mate 30 Pro, I tried using the approach suggested by Huawei at the launch event. I used Huawei’s own AppGallery instead of the Play Store and switched to online versions when I couldn’t find the apps I needed.

I didn’t do it with high expectations, and that’s a good thing because AppGallery is pretty disappointing. I barely found any apps I recognized other than Chinese ones like TikTok and AliExpress. I search for WhatsApp and the store suggests “Whatsapp Tools Advanced” and “Whatsapp Kits Pro”. Of course, none of these applications are official WhatsApp applications. It was the same story for almost every major application you can think of.

On the fourth day, I was ready to go back to the well-known Play Store ecosystem. I was afraid of jumping through the ring, but setting up and maintaining the Play Store was surprisingly easy. Hijacking? To do this, you need to run an application called LZPlay, which requires many permissions to work. I had no problem with a process that required just a few taps and restarted the phone. However, this is an unauthorized third-party tool outside of China. Use it at your own risk.

Later on, I saw an article in that android developer John Wu revealed exactly how LZPlay works. The application uses an undocumented API from Mate 30 Pro to make system changes. After this disclosure, the website where the LZPlay service is located has been moved to offline mode. Huawei has made it clear that it is not included in the tool. You can still track and run the LZPlay APK, but it is not recommended.

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With the Play Store and its running apps, the Mate 30 Pro is known to anyone who has tried the latest devices in the Mate and P series. Ironically, the Mate 30 Pro is one of the first major phones to launch Android 10 in the form of EMUI 10. The upgrade focuses on visual updates, including a new color palette, customized screens for quick settings, and updated menu settings. Beneath this cosmetic layer is the operating system with numerous functions and customization options, including a great system-wide night mode.

Audio

Mate 30 Pro makes loud noises! When I placed the Mate 20 Pro and the Mate 30 Pro side by side and played the same video, the Mate 30 Pro drowned out its predecessor.

The sound is a bit louder than I expected, although there is a speaker at the bottom (the headset acts as a secondary speaker, but is quite flat compared to the main channel). A little irritated: When you play music on your Mate 30 Pro speakers, your entire phone vibrates.

An earpiece under the screen works fine. Like most other flagships, the Mate 30 Pro lacks a headphone jack.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro specs

 Huawei Mate 30 ProHuawei Mate 30
Display6.53-inch curved OLED, Horizon Display
2,400 x 1,176 resolution
6.62-inch FHD+ OLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
402 ppi

18.7:9 aspect ratio
ProcessorHuawei Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU
Huawei Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU
GPUMali-G76
MP16
Mali-G76
MP16
RAM8GB6/8GB
Storage128/256GB
Nano-Memory slot
128GB
Nano-Memory slot
CamerasRear:
40MP f/1.6 with OIS
40MP f/1.6 ultra-wide
8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto with OIS
3D depth sensor

Video: 4K at 30/60fps, 1080p at 30/60/960fps, 720p at 7680fps

Front:
32MP f/2.0
Rear:
40MP f/1.6 with OIS
16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
8MP f/2.2 3x telephoto with OIS

Video: 4K at 30/60fps, 720p at 960fps

Front:
24MP f/2.0
Battery4500mAh
Non-removable
40W wired charging
27W wireless charging
4,200mAh
Non-removable
40W wired charging
27W wireless
AudioSound on Screen technology
USB-C
No 3.5mm port
USB-C
3.5mm port
Security3D face unlock
In-display fingerprint
In-display fingerprint
SoftwareEMUI 10
Android 10
EMUI 10
Android 10
Dimensions158.1 x 73.1 x 8.8mm
198 grams
160.8 x 76.1 x 8.4mm
196 grams

Value for the money

Huawei Mate 30 Pro (4G) 8GB/256GB – $924.99

As impressive as the Mate 30 Pro’s hardware and functionality, the phone is weakened by the lack of immediate access to the Play Store. Many customers may not know how to install the Play Store using unofficial methods. This may be due to security issues, lack of technical knowledge, or simply the need for a phone that just works. In a mature market where small details can be important, the Mate 30 Pro has a big problem with the value for money.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro review: A Forbidden Smartphone 3

There are plenty of great options for the Mate 30 Pro, including the Galaxy S20 Ultra ($1,399.99), Galaxy S20 Plus ($1,149.99), Galaxy Note 10 Plus ($696.75), Google Pixel 4 XL ($489.00) and ROG Phone 2 ($1,299.99), OnePlus 7 Pro ($700) or even iPhone 11 Pro ($1100).

Starting in March 2020, you can also expect the Huawei P40 Pro, which Huawei will announce in Europe with or without Google Apps.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro has a busy official presence in Europe and some Asian markets. Huawei has not provided any solution for Google’s missing apps in hopes that the hardware will impact customers so much that it overrides a software issue.

If you’re interested in Mate 30 Pro but don’t let the price or hassles on the Play Store hold you back, Huawei’s old flagships are a good option. They give you 90% of the Mate 30 Pro experience, they have Google Apps right away, and they’re much cheaper. The Mate 20 Pro is available for $470, the P30 Pro for around $750.

Final Verdict

You have to give it to Huawei. It could have made the Mate 30 Pro cheaper. Nothing is a good discount that justifies your purchase. However, the Mate 30 Pro is more expensive than its predecessors and is on par with its main competitors. The message is clear: this is a real and uncomplicated flagship. Take it or leave it.

So you should take the expensive bite out of this forbidden fruit? It ruins the metaphor, but the best answer I can find is described as bullet points. Be patient with me.

Buy a Mate 30 Pro if:

  • You want first-class hardware.
  • You want something that is something exclusive.
  • You believe photography is more than just pushing this big button;
  • The price is not your main concern;
  • You don’t mind playing on your phone.
  • You are ready to take risks on your smartphone.
  • You hate volume rockers.

Do not buy a Mate 30 Pro if:

  • You want something that works out of the box.
  • You don’t want (or can’t) mess around with sideloading apps.
  • You are aware of safety.
  • You are budget conscious;
  • You want to get the best possible return on your $924.99 investment.

Despite its limitations and perhaps also because of these, the Mate 30 Pro has a real appeal. It is desired, and we all know that desire has nothing to do with reason and common sense. Unfortunately, few people in Huawei can only buy $924.99 with their hearts.

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