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The Huawei P30 Pro isn't 5G, but the next Mate probably will be

The next Mate phone, due later this year, could have 5G, says Huawei CEO Richard Yu.

The P30 isn't 5G -- sad face.
Angela Lang/CNET

The world wasn't ready for a 5G Huawei flagship phone, CEO Richard Yu said in an interview Tuesday at the company's launch event for the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro in Paris.

Following an hour-and-a-half-long keynote presentation, it was apparent that the P30 and P30 Pro aren't 5G handsets, in spite of a slew of 5G mobiles being released last month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. There was even a 5G version of the P30's main rival, the Samsung Galaxy S10.

5G is one of the biggest mobile trends for 2019, with carriers around the world starting to roll out their next-generation mobile networks all the time. 5G promises more possibilities for smart homes, autonomous vehicles and standalone VR, but when it comes to phones, the technology means faster, steadier internet connections. Even though 5G networks and phones are just about here, it's very early days for the technology and for now it'll remain the preserve of early adopters.

Now playing: Watch this: P30 Pro and Galaxy S10 cameras compared

Yu doesn't see 5G becoming important to consumers until later this year at the earliest, he said.

"We are considering to put 5G on the next Mate series," he said. "This autumn we'll be ready for it on the Mate series."

From an engineering perspective there was no reason the P30 or P30 Pro couldn't be a 5G handset, said Clement Wong, VP of Global Product Marketing for Huawei. "It's strategy," he said, also in an interview. The timing isn't right yet, he added -- he doesn't believe 5G will become a truly big deal until next year.

Yu confirmed this. "In the European market, 5G will be mainly for next year I guess," he said. (Due to its ongoing geopolitical troubles, Huawei isn't currently selling phones in the US, and the company tends to prioritize the European market.) "I understand that some people are waiting for 5G, but for most people, 4G is already good enough." Instead people want the phone that offers the best photography possibilities, he said.

Huawei is heralding the P30's camera skills as something above and beyond the phone photography people have experienced before. With four snappers on the back, the phone is supposed to be especially good in low light and at capturing detail from far away with its telephoto lens.

So for now, there are no 5G flagship phones from Huawei. But that could all change as early as October, when the company usually holds its launch event for its Mate series -- keep your eyes peeled.

Published March 26 at 10:18 a.n. PT
Update, 12:37 p.m. PT: Added more links.