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Huawei P30 Pro review: The absolute best camera on any phone

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The Good The Huawei P30 Pro's four cameras take astounding photos, its battery life is superb and the design is beautiful.

The Bad Processor performance and screen resolution aren't up there with the best. The lack of headphone jack will upset people with wired headphones and the P30 Pro uses proprietary expandable storage.

The Bottom Line The Huawei P30 Pro's impressive camera skills and vibrant design easily beat the Galaxy S10 Plus and the Pixel 3, but political entanglements mean the phone won't come to the US.

9.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7
  • Camera 10
  • Battery 10

When Huawei first told me about the P30 Pro's ($892 at Amazon) four-rear-camera setup, I didn't believe a word. Then I used it. This phone captures zoom and low-light photos unlike anything I've ever seen from a phone. It blows the Galaxy S10 Plus ($875 at Amazon) and Pixel 3 ($699 at Walmart) out of the water and, together with its slick design and awesome battery life, makes the P30 Pro one of the top phones of the year.

Huawei is the second largest phone manufacturer in the world and with the P30 Pro, it's bringing out the big guns to clinch that number one spot.

The rear cameras are certainly the standout features but the beautifully colourful design and vibrant 6.47-inch screen make this a truly excellent handset.

At £899 in the UK (with a base 128GB storage) it's not exactly cheap, but it's exactly the same you'll pay for the equivalent Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. In Australia, the phone will set you back AU$1,599 with 256GB base storage, making it more in-line with the S10 Plus which costs AU$1,499 with 128GB of storage. The P30 Pro is not yet on sale in the US due to ongoing concerns from the US government, but the price converts to about $1,135.

P30 Pro versus Huawei P30

The P30 Pro is joined by the standard P30 which is more of a lite version with a smaller screen but the same attractive aesthetic. It lacks the Pro's super zoom and depth-sensing cameras. Yes, it's the less exciting of the two but it does at least have a headphone jack -- something you won't find on the Pro. (See a full specs comparison chart at the end of this review.)

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The Huawei P30 Pro's finishes are breathtaking.

Angela Lang/CNET

An eye-catching design

It's the P30 Pro's look that first caught my attention. It stands out in a way that others simply don't. The way the light blue blends into the pink on my "Breathing Crystal" review model is simply beautiful and it makes this phone way more eye-catching than anything else that's out there. 

There's also a darker blue "Aurora" colour blend and an orange "Amber Sunrise." Of course, there's also a plain-looking black version if you're not up for some extravagance from your phone.

When I tested it alongside the Galaxy S10 Plus, it was the P30 Pro that drew the most attention from passers by. Meanwhile my S10 sat there like "just another phone" -- and that's despite it being the most expensive ceramic white model.

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The P30 Pro has just about everything you need.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's built from glass and metal, much like the regular Galaxy S10 or the P20 Pro ($545 at Amazon) before it, but that's no bad thing. It feels good and has a satisfying heft to it when you pick it up. Some of Huawei's earlier phones felt cheap to hold, but this feels anything but. You'll want to avoid dropping it -- a real possibility, given the inherent slipperiness of all-glass designs. But there is, at least, IP68 waterproofing to keep it safe from spilled drinks.

There's no headphone jack on the P30 Pro so you'll have to look to the smaller P30 or the Galaxy S10 if you want to use your wired headphones. The fingerprint scanner has been built into the display (a small fingerprint icon appears on the lock screen to tell you where to place your finger). It works well and recognised my prints much more often than not. I found it marginally more accurate than the Galaxy S10's in-screen fingerprint scanner, though neither are as consistently accurate as a more standard optical scanner.

There's also no microSD card slot as Huawei has again opted for its own nano memory (NM) card format for expanding the storage. NM cards are more expensive (£42 for a 128GB card, against £15 for the equivalent Sandisk microSD) and much harder to come by than standard microSD cards. Be aware that you won't be able to use your existing memory cards in the P30 Pro.

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There are four rear cameras on the phone.

Angela Lang/CNET

The display has a 2,340x1,080-pixel resolution. That's a step below the 3,040x1,440-pixel maximum resolution of the Galaxy S10 Plus, but I doubt you'll notice. If you have both phones side-by-side playing the same high-res video and you peer really closely at the screen then maybe you could see a difference, but honestly, are you ever going to do that? In everyday use, the P30 Pro's resolution is more than sufficient to show off your favourite YouTube vids and its vibrant colours are great for gaming.

The screen stretches right to the edges of the phone, broken only by a tiny teardrop notch at the top, just big enough to house the front-facing camera. I like this solution: it's unobtrusive when you're playing full-screen videos or games. It's a smaller notch than the S10 Plus' hole-punch cutout for the two front-facing cameras, but having used both, I don't really have much of a preference between them. It certainly shouldn't be your primary decision-maker in choosing between these phones.

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