Hands-On, Smartphone

Huawei Mate 30 Pro Hands-On: Possibly the Best Smartphone You Won’t Buy

Even with the current restriction placed on Huawei, which blocks the Chinese company from using Google’s services on its smartphones, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro will be making its Malaysian debut tomorrow. We managed to spend some time with the flagship smartphone ahead of its local launch, and boy, this is one impressive device.

But given Huawei’s current predicament, the Mate 30 Pro does not ship with vital apps that practically define the Android experience. That’s unfortunate, because this device has the potential to be one of the best flagship smartphones in the market.

Design wise, the Mate 30 Pro is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it has a notched display, and it’s a pretty wide notch at that. But on the other hand, this phone feels very, very premium and comfortable to hold. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that the Mate 30 Pro feels more robust than its main rivals.

Part of the reason lies in the ergonomics of the phone. Unlike most devices in the market with a similar display size, the Mate 30 Pro is a lot narrower, making it a lot easier (and comfortable) to hold with one hand. This is thanks to the 6.53-inch 2400 x 1176 OLED display, which has an unconventional 18.4:9 aspect ratio.

Besides that, the display’s unique “ultra curved” nature makes the Mate 30 Pro even narrower. Surprisingly enough, the palm rejection of the curved screen is very good too. In my brief time with the phone, never did the sides of the display accidentally activate.

Now, given the extremely curved screen of the Mate 30 Pro, Huawei decided to forego the volume rocker, though the power button is retained on the right side of the phone. To make up for this, you simply have to double tap on either sides of the screen to summon the volume controls. From there, you can simply slide up or down to adjust the volume.

It’s incredibly intuitive and easy to activate, and there are subtle haptic feedback when you’re adjusting the volume. However, only the top half of the sides are touch-sensitive; double tapping on the bottom half does nothing.

As for the display itself, it looks to be a decent quality panel. At a glance, it doesn’t look quite as vibrant as, say, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+’s display, but it’s not a “bad screen” by any stretch of the word. It still has vibrant enough colours with deep blacks and great viewing angles, which are inherent characteristics of OLED panels.

Underneath the display of the Mate 30 Pro is an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and it’s reasonably quick. While it’s not the most accurate sensor of its kind, it will suffice for most users.

In the performance department, the Mate 30 Pro is powered by Huawei’s latest Kirin 990 chipset. As far as I can tell, it can deliver a good level of performance. The phone feels fast, zippy, and very responsive with no sluggishness at all. Chances are, the Kirin 990 should be able to offer flagship-level performance.

Other specifications of the Mate 30 Pro include a 32MP front-facing camera, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage (it’s expandable, but only with Huawei’s proprietary NM cards), as well as a generous 4,500mAh battery with support for 40W wired fast charging or 27W wirelessly.

Finally, there’s the quad camera system of the Mate 30 Pro. It’s made up of a 40MP primary shooter, a 40MP wide angle “Cine Camera” sensor, an 8MP telephoto lens, and a 3D depth camera. On top of that, this camera setup can also take 7680fps slow-motion video in 720p, though I didn’t manage to try it out for myself.

What I did manage to do is take some shots with the Mate 30 Pro, and they look very promising. The three focal lengths make it a versatile camera system, and the image quality of all three sensors look very good too. Judge for yourself with these sample shots.

Granted, most phones – especially flagships – can take good-looking images under great lighting. It’ll be interesting to see just how the quad camera system would perform in low light conditions, which we’ll definitely put to the test in a full review.

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro, based on my brief time with the phone, is easily one of the most impressive flagship smartphones released this year. It’s well-designed, it has a unique, ultra curved display, and the camera performance shows a lot of promise too. Under normal circumstances, this is a very attractive high-end device.

But not having access to Google’s range of services severely affects the Mate 30 Pro’s appeal, even if it is a fantastic product. Google’s services are too important to forego, even if Huawei’s own AppGallery can somewhat make up for the absence of the Google Play Store.

Nonetheless, there is a chance the Mate 30 Pro could have its access to Google’s services officially restored sometime in the future, though this will remain a pipe dream until the company’s ongoing debacle with the US government blows over.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see exactly what Huawei will announce at the Mate 30 Pro’s launch event tomorrow, including the Malaysian pricing of the flagship smartphone.