When it comes to brand name smartphones, especially in North America, consumers tend to gravitate towards the companies that have the biggest advertising budgets or what is “familiar” instead of what is the best balance between features and cost. Sadly, this often means that some great smartphones simply don’t make a big enough splash in this part of the world to be recognized as class leading. The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is not only a class leading smartphone, it is one of the best Android experiences one can have in 2020, it is so good, they are even beating some at their own game.
Chances are, you have heard a lot about Huawei in the media this past month, we are not going to focus on that for this review because we don’t think the current political climate should affect our evaluation of product, so here is a 20 second recap of what has happened best summed up by our friends at CNET – “Due to concerns that it’s equipment could be used to spy on the US and other companies, the Chinese tech giant has been banned from using technology from US companies. As a result, it can’t license Google Mobile Services”. Now, you are going to hear a lot of reviewers say that this is a deal breaker for this smartphone, but we would argue that a phone that is free from Google’s data mining is a good thing and here is why.
Let’s start with the build, Huawei have really knocked it out of the park with this one. With a stunning glass and aluminium build, the phone features a brilliant 6.53-inch 18.5:9 AMOLED Waterfall display that subtly descends over the frame and looks amazing. There is also a fingerprint reader under the display is with all of this being protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6 for added reassurance. The back features a polished mirror glass finish and houses a camera halo with a quad camera set up complete with an IR blaster, a USB-C port, speaker and the hybrid SIM card/memory card tray. The cherry on top being the IP68 water and dust resistance. Needless to say, this is quite a head turner.
Running the show is the Hi Silicon Kirin 990 7nm chipset paired with 8GB of Ram, a Mali-G76 MP16 GPU and 128GB/256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. Specs aside, the Mate 30 Pro runs quick and efficiently, matching the latest Qualcomm offerings in terms of raw power and performance. After having used the Mate 20 last year for 3 months, I most noticed an improvement in AI, image processing, and gaming capabilities and it feels like more of an iterative upgrade needed to keep up with 2020’s smartphone demands and it definitely succeeds at that. Powering the device is a girthy 4500Mah battery complete with 40-watt fast charging, 27-watt wireless charging and even faster reverse wireless charging. In our testing, the device easily lasted a whole day with mixed to heavy use and even then, some into the next, this has all the horsepower and battery life one would need for the most demanding of tasks.
Software wise, the Mate 30 Pro runs Huawei’s own EMUI 10 built on top of Android 10. The Huawei custom Android OS that the company offers is mostly a positive experience, offering a lot of customization and welcome additions to barebones Android including a system wide dark mode that we just love. Now to address the elephant in the room, with no Google Mobile Services, it also means no Play Store but don’t despair. Huawei has invested 1 billion dollars into their own version of an app store called App Gallery and it is actually pretty good. I had no trouble finding most of the non-Google apps I love and even found some worthy replacements. Since I got the device, almost 5000 apps are being added per week, so given enough time, they won’t need any help from their Silicon Valley buddies and we would say that is a good thing. More competition in the smartphone space calls others to task to improve what they do, and we love that.
Leaving the best to last is the camera and boy oh boy if you thought Google or Apple had it won, Huawei just landed a hard-left jab to the jaw. With its quad-camera arrangement of a Wide: 40MP, f/1.6, OIS, RYB sensor; Telephoto: 3x zoom, 8MP, f/2.4, OIS; Ultrawide: 40MP, f/1.8 and 3D ToF camera; the photos coming out of this device look next level to our eye. When put next to the much-famed Google Pixel 4 XL, not only did photos look sharper, with more detail and better dynamic range; video too, blew that device out of the water with 4K 60fps video recording and even industry leading 7680fps ultra-slow-motion capture. Not to forget the super detailed 32-megapixel selfie camera up front. Don’t just take our word for it, the folks over at DXO Mark ranked the Mate 30 Pro in the top 10 camera smartphones reviewed this year which is quite the feat. Look at these samples at just what we are talking about.
To sum up, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro is everything a smartphone in 2020 should be – well built, powerful, great battery life and a phenomenal camera. Many reviewers have criticized the lack of Google services, but this is out of Huawei’s control and their alternative is more than enough and getting better by the day. Huawei is not a new player in the smartphone space and if you want an alternative to the Apples and Samsung’s of the world, often offering a more premium experience, then you need to look no further than this device as it wins our Editor’s Choice Award!
Get yours today at https://consumer.huawei.com/ca/phones/mate30-pro/