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4 reasons to buy the Huawei P30 Pro over the Galaxy S10 Plus

Why Huawei's new flagship for 2019 could be a better buy than Samsung's.

Juan Garzon / CNET

The Galaxy S10 Plus (and the Galaxy S10 family in general) have received a ton of attention in recent months, and with good reason. However, the arrival of the Huawei P30 Pro steals some of the limelight. The two cell phones share many of the same features: water resistance with IP68 certification, wireless charging, reversible charging, Android Pie, an octa-core processor, five cameras in total, a curved OLED screen and a metal frame.

However, despite those similarities, each phone is vastly different. In some ways, the Huawei P30 Pro might actually be better. We haven't fully tested the P30 Pro, but we have gone hands-on with it, and we've even put the two phones to the test in an early camera showdown.

Here's how the P30 Pro might pull ahead.

Read also: Huawei P30 Pro vs. Galaxy S10 Plus: A race to the top

Now playing: Watch this: P30 Pro and Galaxy S10 cameras compared
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1. 5x optical zoom: Closer to what you want

The Galaxy S10 Plus, like the Pixel 3 XL, has one of the best camera arrays on the market. The S10 Plus has three on the back and two on the front. Huawei's phone goes for four on the back and one on the front.

But the biggest advantage the Huawei P30 Pro has over the Galaxy S10 Plus is its ability to shoot in 5x optical zoom through a dedicated 8-megapixel camera lens that appears square on the back of the phone. The Galaxy S10 Plus offers only 2x optical zoom and the Pixel 3 XL has no optical zoom feature at all.

huawei-p30-pro-buy

The Huawei P30 Pro not only looks good and has top-notch specs, but it also has some features that make it better than the Galaxy S10 Plus for some users.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Five times optical zoom allows you to capture closeup shots of objects or scenes with more clarity than using digital zoom -- which can be extremely useful depending on how you're using the camera. However, keep in mind that this does not mean that the Huawei P30 Pro 2x zoom is higher quality than the Galaxy S10 Plus, since Huawei's 2x zoom is actually digital, while the Galaxy S10 has 2x optical zoom through its telephoto lens.

The Huawei P30 Pro's total zoom goes up to 10x hybrid zoom, which is a mix of optical and digital zoom. Hybrid zoom doesn't achieve the quality of an optical zoom, but it does generally improve digital zoom alone. The P30 Pro also goes up to to 50x digital zoom.

2. Night mode: More clarity in the dark

The Galaxy S10 Plus does not have a formal night mode on its camera, but uses artificial intelligence to improve the quality of the photos in those scenarios. That's part of its Scene Optimizer software on all the Galaxy S10 phones. To get the "Bright Night Mode" icon to appear -- it shows up as a little moon -- the lighting conditions have to be just right. We had to work hard to make that pop up, and the effects were minimal.

Now playing: Watch this: Huawei P30 Pro's low-light photo skills are truly superb
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The P30 Pro's night mode is a standalone feature that allows it to get more clarity and better results in more occasions where the light is very limited. You do have to select it when you want to take a shot and processing can take up to five seconds. The results, however, are noticeable. Here's an example of Huawei's night mode feature, which is also on the Huawei Mate 20, taken alongside the Galaxy S10 Plus in February:

3. Faster, fast charge: 40 watts

Fast charging is a feature that's often ignored, but it's an asset that gives you hours more battery life in a much shorter charge time through the wall charger. When you only have an hour to charge, every minute matters.

We haven't finished our battery tests, so we can't say exactly what the difference is in charging speed between the S10 Plus and the P30 Pro, but it should be significant considering that the P30 Pro offers 40-watt fast charging, while the Galaxy S10 Plus offers 15-watt fast charging. However, keep in mind that this is using the charger that's included in the box, or with chargers that offer the same output.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition also offers a 40-watt fast charge and the Oppo R17 Pro a 50-watt fast charge technology. In addition, Xiaomi recently revealed a charge of 100 watts, which lets a phone like the Galaxy Note 9 charge up in just 17 minutes.

4. Dual recording: Two cameras recording video at the same time

Although both the Galaxy S10 Plus and Huawei P30 Pro have multiple cameras in the back, the 10 Plus phone won't let two record at the same time, while the Huawei P30 Pro will.

Samsung's phone lets you to use your three lenses independently, which you can also do with Huawei's phone, but with the P30 Pro you have the option of recording from two different perspectives at the same time, one with more zoom than the other (the P30 Pro's fourth lens won't record or capture photos -- this sensor solely detects depth).

Now playing: Watch this: Huawei P30 Pro vs. Galaxy S10 Plus: Editors react
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A word on UI and brand preference

As with Android versus iPhone, there are some of you out there with deeper emotional ties to Samsung or Huawei. You might prefer Huawei's more iPhone-like interface that lays out apps across multiple home screens. Or you might appreciate Samsung's separate app tray, which is more in keeping with standard Android practices.

We're not done reviewing the P30 Pro yet, and keep in mind that the P30 Pro won't be available to US buyers for political reasons. Still, from what we've seen so far, the P30 Pro has enough of the right specs to make Samsung owners enviable.

Despite this positive early impression, we recommend waiting for our final assessment until you make a decision one way or another.