We’ve been curious about the Mate 30 Pro ever since Huawei unveiled it a couple of months ago. Imagine the anguish of having to wait a whole month before the test sets arrived in Singapore. Well, they finally did. And we got to fiddle around with a unit for two weeks to see if it lives up to the hype. Here’s how it went.
At first glance
Housing a 4,500mAh battery, a brand new Kirin 990 chipset, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and 6.53 inches of wraparound OLED screen, the Mate 30 Pro is a neat package. What catches the eye first are the four cameras at the back. They oddly make one think of a cyclops spider. That they are positioned at the centre makes for clean symmetry. Add to that the distinct lack of bezels and buttons (save for the single power button) and what you see is a ultra-sleek device.
Measuring 158.1mm by 73.1mm by 8.8mm, the Mate30 Pro is a bona fide phablet. But it sits quite comfortably on a regular-sized hand. Like many of the newer phones, the Mate30 Pro is primarily made of glass and metal. While this gives the phone its looks, it also makes it a tad slippery. Users are well advised to consider a case that gives them a better grip. The usual splash-and dust-resistant ratings are here as well.
The Mate 30 Pro’s camera array is a sight to behold. Its rear cameras consist of a SuperSensing Cine, 40MP + 40MP wide/ultra-wide and an 8MP telephoto camera. The front facing cameras, on the other hand, comprise a 32MP selfie camera and a 3D depth-sensing camera.
Choice is always a good thing, but the Mate 30 Pro raises the question of exactly when choices become excessive. The 30-times zoom function that’s available, for instance, is cool but has limited efficacy. Likewise, the ridiculously slow 7680fps slow-motion capture at 720p, which generates very admirable results under the right conditions and with the right variables, is mesmerising. But realistically, it is unlikely to see much use for most people after its novelty wears off.
The Mate30 Pro utilises an Android 10 operating system, which is overlaid with Huawei’s EMUI 10 skin, so it’s predictably as user-friendly as it gets. As the phone is made by Huawei, expect some of mainland China’s popular applications to be pre-installed. The Achilles’ heel here is the lack of access to Google Play and its apps, which results in less-than-ideal app support. AppGallery, Huawei’s equivalent of the Play Store, falls short when it comes to availability of the more common applications such as Whatsapp. Regardless, the Google Play app can still be installed by way of sideloading, though the process is not without risk and a fair amount of inconvenience.
An issue with the lack of buttons is the phone’s perceived responsiveness. To adjust the volume on this phone, for instance, one must double tap on either side of the phone (where the volume buttons are normally located) to bring up the volume panel. This gesture is far from foolproof though. The phone occasionally interprets the double taps as a swiping motion and closes the app. While it’s not a deal-breaker, it is annoying. And we fail to see any tangible benefit over having physical rocker buttons for volume control.
Brandishing the aforementioned Kirin 990 chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Mate30 Pro excels in intensive tasks like gaming. We tried a few rounds each of Mobile Legends, Call of Duty and a random zombie-shooter game on the phone, and the phone’s performance was excellent. All the games ran smoothly and there were no noticeable frame drops.
The Mate 30 Pro has its pros and cons, like any other phone, but comes with a high degree of uncertainty given Huawei’s relationship with Google. This alone should be the deciding factor for anyone who’s considering the phone.
The Mate 30 Pro retails for $1,298.