Huawei has just launched its latest high-profile smartphone, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, along with a more affordable version, the Mate 30.

The announcement is a bitter-sweet one because the hardware and spec are quite impressive, the Google Apps and services aren’t pre-installed, and the total consequences of this aren’t totally known, but it’s not great. More on that later.

Mate 30 Pro hardware and specs

The Mate 30 Pro has an iconic design that makes it instantly recognizable as a Huawei phone. The defining element is the camera block in the middle, which arguably looks more elegant and powerful than Apple’s latest iPhone 11.

The rear camera system is the star of the show, with impressive specs:

  • 18mm ultrawide, 40MP, f/1.8
  • 27mm primary, 40MP, f/1.6 with OIS, ISO 409,600
  • 80mm zoom, 8MP f/2.4 with OIS
  • Depth sensor

Huawei has made exciting changes here, and the two obvious ones are the new sensor and optics for the Ultrawide camera. Our Uber-G Camera IQ benchmark showed that the Mate 20 Pro camera and P30 pro camera were behind the Galaxy S10 camera and Note 10 camera in Ultrawide mode.

The Mate 30 Pro is getting a massive upgrade to its Ultrawide camera, and on paper, it’s the most potent Ultrawide hardware we’ve seen yet, with a larger sensor and aperture. Assuming that the optics match this level of performance, this may be the next Ultrawide champion for a while.

To accommodate the new design, Huawei seems to have abandoned the 130mm periscope zoom camera, in favor of a more traditional 80mm telephoto camera module.  It’s a pullback in zoom capabilities, but it should remain well ahead of the 52mm zoom utilized by both Samsung and Apple in their latest phones.

Huawei is also introducing an insane 7680 FPS video recording mode (720p), which was demonstrated at the launch event with footage of a hummingbird (a slow-motion favorite) and we’re curious to know how long the videos can be and if there are other slow-mo options (1080p @ 1920FPS, or 4K @ 480 FPS?).

  • 53-inch display with curved edges
  • 4500 mAh battery, 40W charging (wired) or 27W wireless charging
  • Kirin 990 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB storage
  • 1099 Euros (4G), 1199 Euros (5G)
  • 2095 Euros (Porsche Edition with 512GB and 12GB RAM)

Huawei is also removing the volume buttons, opting instead to use a capacitive sensor on either side of the phone. The Power button is still present (thank you!) with a beautiful Red color accent. We’ll have to see how this works, but it is potentially better to slide up and down, instead of repeatedly pressing physical buttons.

The 3D face unlock hardware is also used as a Kinect-like motion sensor, a feature introduced by LG with the LG G8, with moderate success. We’ll see if Huawei and the rumored Pixel 4 will improve upon the idea.

Mate 30 hardware and specs

As usual, Huawei has a more affordable option to hit the 799 Euros price segment with the Huawei Mate 30 (non-pro). There are substantial differences, and we can start with the rear camera system:

  • 17mm ultrawide, 16MP, f/2.2 + macro mode
  • 27mm primary 40MP, f/1.8, ISO 204,800
  • 80mm zoom, 8MP, f/2.4 with OIS
  • Laser-assisted autofocus

This configuration is very close, but not identical, to the Honor 20 Pro camera (IQ score = 175) which we recently reviewed. The Ultrawide and zoom camera modules have identical specs, while the Primary camera of the Mate 30 is similar to the Huawei P30 camera (IQ score = 174).

This gives us a pretty good idea of where the Huawei Mate 30 will land, in terms of camera image quality, and we’ll see if Huawei has made progress in unexpected areas such as white-balance of ultrawide lenses.

There are small differences in general specs as well, so here’s the list:

  • 62” display (flat)
  • 4200 mAh battery, 40W charging (wired) or 27W wireless charging
  • Kirin 990 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB storage
  • 799 Euros

The good news is that the gap between Mate 30 Pro and Mate 30 are narrowing when compared to previous years. For budgets that cannot be stretched beyond 799 Euros, the Mate 30 gets users to get the same performance, most of the camera benefits but at the expense of a more luxurious design and storage options.

Software: without Google Apps

Since May 2019, U.S companies are restricted by the government when it comes to doing business with Huawei, among them, Google. Despite short reprieves in the commerce ban, Huawei’s phone will ship with EMUI 10, which is based on Android 10 and that’s good news because Huawei’s alternative OS isn’t ready for smartphones.

However, these new phones won’t come with Google’s apps and the Google Play store. Huawei has its own app store with tens of thousands of apps, but that’s still a far cry from having official support from Google.

Huawei will work hard to ramp up its app store, but in the short term, we’ll have to see how this affects the user experience. It’s not a problem in China where Google services are not functioning, but in other Huawei markets such as Europe and Japan, this will cause some friction – how much remains to be seen.

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