Huawei Mate 30 Pro Review: The Best Flagship You Should Avoid Buying

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Last year in September, Huawei launched its latest Mate series lineup of smartphones, Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro. While Mate 30 is a great device, the Mate 30 Pro was the highlight of the launch events for many reasons.

However, the US trade ban on Huawei left a significant dent on its reputation in the tech world, and Huawei was forced to cut ties with major tech companies, such as Qualcomm, Google, ARM, and many more. Still, Huawei has managed to build a flagship smartphone without sourcing out much hardware from the US due to its use of proprietary technology.

The Mate 30 Pro has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. But is it a worthy competitor in the market of premium flagship smartphones? I guess we will find out the answer in this review.

What’s in the box?

In the box, we find a 40W Huawei Supercharger, a USB-A-to-C cable, as well as a decent pair of USB-C earphones, along with the device itself. There are also a few documents, including the user manual and warranty card, as well as a solid protective case with a frosted design.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Design and Build Quality

  • Dimensions: 158.1 × 73.1 × 8.8 mm
  • Weight: 198g
  • Construction: Aluminium and Glass
Huawei Mate 30 Color Variants

In terms of design, the Mate 30 Pro doesn’t disappoint. It looks gorgeous in the hands, yet it seems to be a bit impractical. The frame is made of metal, with slabs of curved glass covering the front and back of the device.

One of the most striking parts of the design is the curved display edges that pretty much wraps around the sides. We have already seen such display on the Vivo Nex 3, which Vivo heavily advertised to be a ‘Waterfall Display.’ Huawei’s term for it is ‘Horizon Display,’ which also sounds very gimmicky. The bezels are non-existent, thanks to the thin metal frame Huawei has used for its flagship.

Coming to the rear portion of the device, we see a huge circle camera bump that consists of a quad-camera setup. It protrudes an extra 1.25mm from the backside. There’s a shiny halo ring around the camera bump, which is merely an aesthetic choice.

Below the dual-LED flash, we also see the Leica camera branding. Other than that, the smooth glass refracts lights all over the place, giving it a mirror-like effect. However, it is a fingerprint magnet, just like other glass-back smartphones on the market. Users will find themselves wiping the back of the device more than using it. It is also incredibly slippery, so its recommended to use a case unless you feel courageous.

On the bottom of the device, we see the USB-C charging port, a single speaker grill, as well as a hybrid SIM slot. The hybrid SIM slot support Huawei’s proprietary Nano memory card for storage expansion of up to 256GB.

The top of the device doesn’t have a headphone jack, which is nowadays absent on most of the flagship device. Although the removal of the headphone jack is pretty unfortunate, the Mate 30 Pro adds an IR blaster instead. We see the IR blaster on mostly budget Xiaomi devices, and it can be used to control home appliances.

Since the display pretty much covers the sides of the device, Huawei only has managed to put a power button on the right. The decision to drop physical volume rockers is just unacceptable. It is replaced by software buttons instead, which can be activated by double-tapping on the edge of the screen, next to the power button.

Mate 30 Pro comes in a variety of colors, including Black, Space Silver, Emerald Green, and Cosmic Purple. Every color has its own gradient finish, and Huawei is famous for it.

Coming to the build quality, it’s what you would expect from a device that is wrapped in a glass sandwich. It is using the newest Gorilla Glass 6 protection and has IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. Once again, it is strongly advised to use a case if you want to protect your ₹81K investment.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Display

  • 6.53inch Samsung AMOLED panel
  • 2400×1176 FHD+ resolution with a pixel density of 409ppi
  • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
  • DCI-P3 coverage and HDR10 certified

Samsung makes the Mate 30 Pro’s Full HD+ display. It is covered by Gorilla Glass 6, protecting it from scratches and abrasions. The top of the screen does have a notch that houses the front camera, ToF sensor, and face-scanning hardware. Compared to the modern smartphone standards, the notch looks very outdated.

The display itself gets bright at 460 nits, with a peak brightness of 680 nits. When compared to the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, it is more than 100 nits lower in terms of brightness. Since it is an AMOLED panel, the blacks are pitch, and it remains visible in direct sunlight.

To take advantage of the maximum brightness, users have to set the brightness mode to Auto. It significantly affects the color accuracy and contrast of the display, which isn’t much noticeable in outdoor situations.

Mate 30 Pro’s display is HDR10 certified, but it doesn’t work in apps like Netflix due to DRM certification issues. It works on YouTube though.

One thing where the Mate 30 Pro disappoints is the screen refresh rate. Compared to OnePlus’ 90Hz and Razer Phone’s 120Hz display, the Mate 30 Pro’s display struggles to keep up at 60Hz. Unless you actually notice the difference, it is perfectly usable.

The in-display fingerprint scanner is also really fast. It’s not as fast as a capacitive fingerprint scanner, but it’s better than what we’ve seen on Samsung’s S10 lineup of devices.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Performance and Battery Life

  • Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 990 (7nm)
  • CPU: 2× Cortex-A76 (2.86GHz), 2× Cortex-A76 (2.09GHz), 4× Cortex-A55 (1.86GHz)
  • GPU: Mali-G76 MP16
  • RAM+ROM: 8GB+ 128GB/256GB (UFS 3.0)
  • Battery: 4500mAh with 40W Huawei Supercharge technology

Under the hood, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro is powered by the latest Kirin 990 chipset. As Huawei manufactures its own silicon, they have overcome the US trade ban and still has managed to deliver exceptional performance on its flagship device.

To test out single-core performance, we ran the Geekbench 5 benchmark tool. With a score of 769, it outperforms the Snapdragon 855 but falls behind the Snapdragon 855 Plus. The same goes for multi-core performance, where it beat the Snapdragon 855 and managed to stay head-to-head with 855 Plus with a score of 2834.

There’s also a performance mode found in Mate 30 Pro’s software, which slightly improves the performance by sacrificing power consumption and battery life.

The 16-core Mali G76 GPU is slower than the Adreno 640 found on Snapdragon 855 and 855 Plus but is capable enough to run graphic-intensive games with ease.

In Antutu 7 benchmark, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro managed to score 321,244. It is still behind the OnePlus 7 Pro (Snapdragon 855) and the Galaxy Note 10+ (Exynos 9825).

On paper, it may look like a slower device compared to the rest of the competition. But, it feels exceptionally snappy in day-to-day tasks. The app-loading times are excellent thanks to the UFS 3.0 storage, and the UI animations are fluid. You won’t notice a difference even with a device like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus next to it.

Since we couldn’t get our hands on the 5G version of Mate 30 Pro, we are not sure how it performs in the synthetic benchmarks. But, the Kirin 990 5G is a bit faster than the standard Kirin 990. In theory, you can expect the Mate 30 Pro 5G to be slightly faster than the regular one.

Those who are wondering about the battery life, the Mate 30 Pro can deliver 6-7 hours of screen-on-time with its massive 4500mAh battery. In regular use, users can squeeze through two days of usage, which is impressive considering it has a high-performance chipset and a bright AMOLED display. However, the battery life may vary depending on the usage.

The 40W fast charger takes advantage of Huawei’s Supercharge technology, which fills up Mate 30 Pro’s battery from 0% to 100% in just a bit over an hour. The first 15 minutes recharge the battery by almost 40%.

The 27W wireless charging is also fast compared to what the rest of the competition offers. It even has reverse wireless-charging capabilities, in case you want to use your device as an expensive wireless charger for your Qi-enabled wireless earbuds or smartwatch.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Camera

  • Primary: 40MP, f/1.6, OIS
  • Telephoto: 8MP, f/2.4, OIS, 3x optical zoom
  • Ultrawide: 40MP, f/1.8, PDAF
  • Additional: 3D ToF (Time of Flight) sensor
  • Front: 32MP, f/2.0 with 3D ToF sensor

Following the footsteps of the P30 Pro, the Mate 30 Pro has the same primary 40MP sensor. It has an RYYB pixel filter, which replaces the green pixel (found in RGB filter) with a yellow pixel. It helps the sensor to capture more light. The f/1.6 aperture with optical stabilization also helps in low-light situations. It takes detailed photos in daylight, as well as in night-time. You don’t even have to use night mode.

The Kirin 990 chipset’s ISP with BM3D noise reduction technology also helps to decrease the amount of noise in photos significantly.

The 8MP telephoto lens comes with 3x optical zoom capabilities, which is nothing compared to the P30 Pro’s 5x optical magnification. Despite that, the 30x hybrid-zoom is just overkill for a smartphone camera. Even with its low-resolution, the telephoto camera takes consistent photos, even in low-light conditions.

The same goes for the ultrawide camera. It has the same 40MP resolution as the primary camera, which gives users the ability to capture ultrawide photos and videos without a noticeable loss in quality. Low-light situations turned out to be great, where ultrawide lenses on other smartphones mostly seem to struggle.

Thanks to the Time-of-Flight sensor, the Mate 30 Pro achieves a natural bokeh effect in portrait mode shots. It also handles edge-detection pretty well and manages to keep imperfect hair strands in focus most of the time.

The 32MP selfie camera takes excellent photos, with consistency in details and dynamic range. The addition of another 3D ToF sensor helps in edge detection and realistic bokeh in portrait photos, as well as identify faces for the 3D face unlock in the dark.

However, it’s not perfect. Skin smoothing is aggressive even when turned off from the camera settings. The low-light performance of the front camera is also weak.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro does excellent in the video department. You can capture videos at up to 4K/60fps, with the addition of ultrawide video capture and realtime bokeh.

Thanks to the camera capabilities and processing power of Mate 30 Pro, you can take 7680fps (not a typo) super slow-mo videos at 720p. It’s just insane and definitely overkill.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Audio

The single bottom-firing loudspeaker packs a punch above its weight. It manages to deliver good clarity in full volume without any noticeable distortion.

The Mate 30 Pro doesn’t have a dedicated earpiece but instead relies on the in-screen acoustic speaker to produce sounds. It also adds up for a stereo effect, which isn’t that impressive,

Since there is no headphone jack, you have to use either a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter or move on to wireless pair of headphones.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Software

The software is the most disappointing aspect of the Mate 30 Pro. Even though it comes with the latest Android 10 with Huawei’s EMUI 10 skin on top, the exclusion of Google services is unacceptable for most Android users.

On Huawei’s defense, they are not at fault here. It is because of the US trade ban, which Huawei had to comply with forcibly.

EMUI 10 has replaced almost all the Google services with its own alternatives, such as the new AppGallery that replaces the beloved Play Store. It wouldn’t have been this disappointing if only the AppGallery offered all the apps that are available on the Play Store.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what the issue is. The AppGallery is filled with Chinese apps that are rendered useless outside China.

There was a workaround to the Google problem, which required users to install an app called LZPlay. However, it bypassed Huawei’s MDM API in order to install the Google Framework. It was reported to be a major security exploit and thus got removed from LZPlay’s official website.

Aside from its shortcomings, EMUI 10 has a lot of features and a redesigned interface. The UI still resembles iOS and even offers the same gesture navigation. Though users do have the option to select Android’s standard three-button navigation layout. The app window manager is copied from iOS as well, but it at least offers the multi-window feature.

Huawei bundles its system optimizer crap, which includes a cleanup tool, a virus scanner, and other useless features. We consider it to be bloatware.

The system-wide dark mode looks fantastic on the AMOLED screen. It also saves battery and reduces eye strain at night.

In terms of user experience, we encountered some strange issues with certain apps like Gboard, where the on-screen keys melted towards the unconventional curves of the display. It makes the keyboard unsuitable for daily usage.

Thankfully, Huawei does offer an option in the Settings menu to hide the edges for specific apps and force it to resize to the flat surface of the display.

Our Verdict

Despite the absence of Google services, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro is a beast and hits almost all the pillars of a perfect flagship device for consumers.

If you can take the risk of installing Google apps using an untrusted app, then go for it. For others, there are plenty of flagship smartphones that offer the same level of experience at the same or marginally lower price segments.

The Oneplus 7T Pro is one of the most notable examples. It is powered by the Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC, a stunning 90Hz 1440p OLED display, and it offers the fastest Android experience to this date. The Asus ROG Phone II has a 120Hz AMOLED display, an overclocked Snapdragon 855 Plus, and an unbeatable 6000mAh battery. Both of these devices come at almost half the cost of the Mate 30 Pro while retaining the same build quality and delivering a better user experience. Even the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus (256GB) is cheaper than the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, making it an obvious choice in the price segment.

Until the dispute between Huawei and the US settles down, you should avoid buying any Huawei device, especially when the absence of Google services is a major dealbreaker for most users.

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Awesome

Despite the absence of Google services, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro is a beast and hits almost all the pillars of a perfect flagship device for consumers.

If you can take the risk of installing Google apps using an untrusted app, then go for it. For others, there are plenty of flagship smartphones that offer the same level of experience at the same or marginally lower price segments.

Until the dispute between Huawei and the US settles down, you should avoid buying any Huawei device, especially when the absence of Google services is a major dealbreaker for most users.

  • Design
  • Battery
  • Camera
  • Performance
  • Software

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