Today, Huawei announced its new P30 and P30 Pro smartphones in Paris.
The phones have predictable improvements over last year's P20 series and the more recent Mate 20 series, such as a faster in-screen fingerprint reader and better battery management, as well as a powerful Kirin 980 7 nnm processor with posted performance specs that beat any competitor.
The highlight of the new devices, however, is new photography features, including a redesigned array of four Leica cameras that, when combined with Huawei's AI, make for one of the most feature-laden smartphones to date in terms of imaging prowess.
The P30 might just give major smartphone players like Samsung, Google, and Apple a run for their money. But it also serves notice to the world of DSLR interchangeable lens cameras - it can pretty much do what they can, like shooting star constellations and creating impressive Bokeh portrait effects that leave every hair follicle sharp against an out of focus background.
Here's a breakdown of the smartphone camera's main features:
Huawei has a new RYYB "SuperSpectrum" sensor for the main camera replacing the traditional RGB sensor in most smartphones. By using more yellow sub-pixels instead of green, Huawei says the new sensor will let in up to 40% more light than RGB sensors.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Of course there is more AI in the P30. Huawei's AI HDR+, which the company claims can identify elements in the frame (like the sun, faces and grass), creates an exposure map, applied intelligently to overexposed highlights and dark shadows. This is great for backlit photos like sunsets with good shadow details.
Zoom to the Moon
The top spec on the P30 Pro is the new periscope zoom lens. There is more AI happening here, starting with a 5x optical zoom combined with additional data from the main sensor. Huawei showed a lossless 10x hybrid zoom. The company also bragged about a huge 50x digital zoom, with noticeable quality loss, but better if you want to snag a faraway picture in a pinch and want to be able to frame it properly.
Like the Google Pixel 3, and the previous Mate 20, Huawei has a night mode for the P30 Pro that promises similar results to perfectly exposed dark scenes. Although impressive, Huawei only compared this feature to the iPhone XS and Galaxy S10 Plus, leaving the obvious Pixel 3 night shot competitor out. We'll do those comparisons later and report on the results.
A shot taken during the event comparing astro photography using dozens of multiple exposures to reduce digital noise.
The P30 Pro can shoot video with both the main sensor and the telephoto sensor at the same time, combining the two feeds in a side-by-side view to give you different action perspectives. Although not yet working in the phones we were given to try out (a download fix is expected next month) this feature might have limited use, but is more for bragging rights than anything else.
This new fourth addition to the rear-camera array is a smaller, time-of-flight (ToF) lens used for depth maps. It's mainly used for enhancing portrait mode pictures with the Bokeh effect, offering better gradual separation of a subject from the background. Huawei also plans to use the sensor for AR effects, allowing the P30 Pro to measure height, depth, volume, and area of real-world objects with a reported greater than 98.5% accuracy.
P30 PRO CAMERA SPECS
Ultra wide angle: 20MP, 16mm, f/2.2
Main sensor: 40MP, 27mm, f/1.6, OIS (optical image stabilization)
Telephoto: 8MP, 125mm, f/3.4, OIS
Time-of-flight (ToF) camera for depth detection
Selfie: 32MP with Super HDR Shot & Super Low Light Shot
Other innovative features are electromagnetic levitation to vibrate the top of the screen to generate call sound. That means no stereo speakers and a less annoying speaker phone mode because the call sound will only project in one direction. Sadly, this also means the loss of the headphone plugin.
Huawei didn't discuss Canadian pricing or availability information just yet. But the P30 will start at 799 Euros (about C$1,205) for the 128GB version and $1,099 (about C$1,650) for the 256GB Pro edition
Steve Makris writes about consumer technology and can be followed on www.techuntangled.ca.