back to article Huawei P30 Pro: Nifty camera tricks haven't made mobe mandatory over last year's model

In 2018, four years after The Reg predicted (to much derision from readers) that Huawei was coming to eat Samsung's lunch, the Chinese giant appeared trotting over the horizon, wearing a bib and waving a steak knife. Huawei has run HTC, Sony and LG off the British high street, but the Korean electronics giant is clearly foremost …

  1. Tromos
    Joke

    Amazing!

    No other phone could have recognised that the router was connected to more than one cloud.

  2. juice Silver badge

    But but but...

    You've reviewed the audio, network and battery performance? Isn't it all about the camera?

    ;)

    TBH, I think you've nailed it in the conclusion:

    > every buyer must address the question: "Is this better value than last year's model?"

    My contract ran out a few months ago, so I idled along on a SIM-only deal for a while until the S10+ was released - as much as I was happy with my V30, I figured that two generations worth of improvements for a (relatively) small monthly increment would be worth having.

    In the actual event, I've been pretty underwhelmed.

    From a functional perspective, thanks to Google Backup, the transition was pretty much seamless. Perhaps too seamless - it pretty much looks, feels and responds identically to my old phone, give or take a few minor differences in the task manager and lock screen.

    Battery life was initially pretty poor, but the optimisation algorithms[*] seem to have kicked in and feels roughly on a par with the V30 now. However, this is partially thanks to the larger battery, and since the last OTA firmware update, it seems to be running hotter at times - the wireless charger I use at work and the 2.1A charger in my car are now struggling to keep it topped up. Which is a PITA.

    And then there's the camera. It /might/ be slightly better than the one in the V30, but having taken both out to do some comparative shots, any differences in day-to-day use are minimal, the video-recording mode is best described as minimalist and the "pro" camera mode is significantly more fiddly. OTOH, it seems a bit better at long exposures - I was having fun yesterday at a lantern festival, taking pictures of people playing with fire-poi/fire-staffs and the like. But that's sadly not a regular occurrence!

    So overall, I've got a new phone which just feels slightly different to my old phone, rather than being a significant upgrade. So barring any revolutionary technological changes, I suspect my days of chasing after the latest and greatest are officially over; instead, I'll just wait six months for the price to halve...

    [*] No, they are not AI. Go away.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: But but but...

      Galaxy S models usually drop around a 1/4 to 1/3 in price ten months after their first release - i.e around the time their successor is announced.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: But but but...

        True - and if you go for a "second tier" manufacturer such as LG, the cost drops even further.

        The entire smartphone business model is looking less and less sustainable these days. It'll be interesting to see who's left once all the dust settles...

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: But but but...

          I've wanted to like like LG since their excellent G2, but but their weird design choices (that clumsy modular system), boot loop issues and sub par OLED screens are a turn off. Excellent analogue audio, though wasted on me since I treat wired earphones as consumable items (easily lost or broken).

          You're right though - Sony phones, for example, were usually much cheaper than their list price even at launch. Ultimately though, it was the sum of many minor features such as wireless charging and waterproofing ( for redundancy and durability), plus good screen and camera that made me go for discounted Samsung hardware, with a view to keeping it for a good few years.

  3. joeW

    A new metric for phone reviews needed maybe?

    A "worth-it" index, with the number given being the number of years old your current phone would have to be to make upgrading worthwhile.

    So this one would be what, 2.5 ish?

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: A new metric for phone reviews needed maybe?

      The phone review metric I want is how often and for how long will the manufacturer push out monthly security patches. It's an important metric as it determines when your phone will become dangerously worthless.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi

        Re: A new metric for phone reviews needed maybe?

        Manufacturers have a vested interest in giving as a little support period as they can possibly get away with. After all, they're the one profiting from "Hey, your phone is too old, get a new one to be safe from dem evil h4korZ", aren't they?

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: A new metric for phone reviews needed maybe?

        how long will the manufacturer push out monthly security patches

        If that's your most important metric then Apple is the only way to go (unless you want a dumbphone) - they support older models[1] for much, much longer than the Android world. I'd replace my current Android with a iPhone in a heartbeat if Apple did a phone that could take 2 SIM cards..

        [1] Not generally monthly updates but 2-3 times a year is a good deal better than a lot of Android manufacturers. And you can guarentee that you data isn't being fed quietly to servers in China..

  4. 0laf Silver badge
    Meh

    Got a P20 and I can't see this making me want to move at all. Not much of a difference really. Fancy back plates might be all the rage but phones now are too bloody slippery so they always live in a case anyway.

    I've never figured out what the hate is with EMUI. I suppose I'm an undemanding user but also I've only just returned to Android after using WinPho and Apple for more than a few years.

    Huawei certainly isn't without bloat, it's hard to tell where Google bloat ends and Huawei bloat starts. There are a few annoyances like Huawei insistance on using their cloud backup unless you get in for a fight with it. Huaweis 'Suggestions' thing that comes in from a top down swipe is bloody annoying but no less annoying than google's 'How can I help' that comes from a bottom up swipe (how apt btw wipe your bottom for Google).

    What I really like is Huawei's battery life. I get an easy 2 days from the P20 Pro maybe more and it charges fast even from a USB.

    Ok it's spying on me but then so is Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Donald Trump and Therea May.

    1. The Original Steve

      Wow, I had to check that I didn't write that post! Couldn't agree with every bit of it.

      Love my Mate 20 Pro, significant upgrade from my S8.

      Can't understand the comments about EMUI either. Not a fan of the font so put on Microsoft Launcher.

      Also I'd suggest most people will use their apps of choice rather than the Huawei ones. I use 3rd party browser, sms, email, launcher etc. Isn't that part of the joy of Android?

    2. ChrisC

      I've been an Android user since the days of the HTC Desire S, and until the P20 Pro the only Android phones I'd owned personally were all from the HTC stable, although as my wife was a Samsung Galaxy fan, I'd also had plenty of hands-on experience with Samsung's take on Android, as well as experience of various Android builds running on various types of tablet.

      I can't quite put my finger on what exactly it is about the Samsungs that put me off, but I've never found myself entirely comfortable in using them. OK, there's the obvious point that they default to puting the back and menu buttons the "wrong" way around, but other than that the whole Galaxy experience feels ever so slightly "off" to me. This was however one of the big selling points for my wife - she used to be an iPhone fangirl and couldn't get along with Android at all, but after playing around with a Galaxy for a while she thought it felt sufficiently iPhone-like to be a potential candidate for her next phone...

      In contrast, the P20 Pro to me doesn't really feel like it's been messed with to any great extent As you say, there's the annoying custom suggestion swipe-down that I can never seem to get to *except* by accident, and there's the regular HiCare notifications that I could live without, but other than that I don't get why EMUI generates so much criticism compared with stock Android. And Huawei must be doing something right with their design philosophy, because after playing around with my P20 Pro, both my wife and one of our friends (who was also an iPhone turned Galaxy user) have now both got themselves P20 Pros as well.

    3. Waseem Alkurdi

      I've never figured out what the hate is with EMUI.

      I'd answer that. Take your IT Guy hat off and wear your "admirer of aesthetics" one for a moment.

      Huawei's EMUI has animations that feel janky and unnatural. The whole UI isn't at all fluid. Lots of trashy apps that follow no particular design language (Is it a clone of Apple? Material Design? Samsung?)

      (Not that Samsung, Oppo, or Xiaomi are any better)

      Now compare that mess of a UI to a phone running an AOSP ROM, say, a Google, OnePlus, or Nokia phone.

      The difference is, simply put, night and day.

      Huawei simply lacks any originality.

      (The hardware line is another story though ... The designs are good, overall, but the build quality leaves much to be desired).

      1. Cursorkeys

        > (Not that Samsung, Oppo, or Xiaomi are any better)

        I've just bought a Xiaomi Mi A2 to replace my venerable Samsung Note 3. The A2 runs Android One, so no complaints on the UI side. No bundled crap-apps either.

        It was also 150 quid delivered and, IMHO, it's as nice looking as my brother's, pricey, Samsung S9.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          To be fair you're not comparing like with like: the S9 has an OLED screen and these are still quite a bit more expensive than even IPS. But the basic point is valid: you can get some stunning technology for a lot less than the flagships, and LineageOS support for Xiaomi stuff is pretty good.

          But I think Samsung has responded quite well to the competition: the flagships are packed with all the latest and greatest but they have very good me-too models, which are much more affordable. This makes it easier to stick with the brand, which is important to many of us, whether as a replacement or for the family. And, like Xiaomi, there's even one with a 5000 mAh battery, which I'd like to see as the new normal for smartphones.

          While I've no reason to give up on my venerable S5, I think I probably will get a new phone at some point this year. But whether it's a second-hand S9 (the S8 has problems with a bootloader) or the S10e or something else entirely I've no idea. What I want: AMOLED, HDMI, no notch, LineageOS compatible, because I don't see many manufacturers providing more than a couple of years updates.

          1. Waseem Alkurdi

            the S8 has problems with a bootloader

            What problems? Are you referring to the Exynos vs. Snapdragon variants? The latter have always had locked bootloaders (because they are the US versions), while the former don't.

            But whether it's a second-hand S9

            I'd recommend this because it shipped w/ Android 9 Pie, which means that it has obligatory Treble support. Really recommended to have that, because it means that you'd flash Generic System Images (GSIs) with no device-specific modifications. (Beats waiting for ROM developers to port the latest and greatest .. you just flash the latest GSI version, no extra work needed)

            LineageOS compatible

            Don't really count on that being provided .. you could be the dev to provide LineageOS support yourself!

            It's not that hard to get started with Android ROM building ... and to practice, try building LineageOS from source for your S5 yourself.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              The S5 has pretty good LineageOS support (currently just got a problem with Bluetooth crashing every now and then) and the S9 is also officially supported, there isn't an official build for the S8, though the S8 does also now have Android Pie.

              I did once try and do the build for the S5 but hit problems that I wasn't able to solve myself. You only have time for so much stuff…

              Like I said, I'm not in a hurry.

              1. Waseem Alkurdi

                That's why I recommended a phone with Project Treble support (any phone with Android Pie at launch). The S8 doesn't have Treble support, even though it has Android Pie, because it didn't launch with Pie, therefore Samsung wasn't required to add Treble support.

                You don't do the porting, nor have to wait for anybody to complete the port. You simply flash the GSI as soon as the newest Android release is announced, and you don't have to worry about X not working as this (mostly) doesn't happen.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No sale

    No removable storage, not even their own format ? That with no headphone jack and their removal of the ability to root means no sale for me. I'll be damed if I'm paying a premium to have features removed.

    1. jason 7

      Re: No sale

      Rooting your phone? Wow how very...2012!

      Do you still use antimacassars at home?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No sale

        Wrong forum, beancounter. Why are you reading forbidden IT literature?

        Rooting your phone? Wow how very...2012!

        Because this is a tech website, where most of the readership are aware of:

        * Crappy factory OS

        * No more updates (incl. security) after 1 year of release

        * Google CrApps

        * Hidden spying nasties (OnePlus of all companies)

        * The will to explore your phone

        Among other reasons.

        1. Ryan Clark

          Re: No sale

          Still getting security updates for my P10 which will be 2 years old soon. OK, it appears to not be completely upto date, but it is on a 2019 security patch.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No sale

            Well, that's quite a step up from what Samsung does, especially on their midrange line.

        2. jason 7

          Re: No sale

          ...yeah and have way too much Redbull for lunch.

          You go root your phone if it makes you feel better sweetie.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No sale

            Nope - you root because it's your phone, not Huawei's. Big Brother doesn't know best, whether it's about privacy or design choices.

            You root because you respect freedom (as in free software).

            And you really don't care to know what's beneath the hood of your phone?

            And you don't care that quite a sizable portion of your phone's resources is wasted on crapware?

    2. Ryan Clark

      Re: No sale

      I have a P10 with 128Gb internal storage. After nearly 2 years there is still 85Gb free. I don't see the need for removable storage any more.

      1. jason 7

        Re: No sale

        My Mate 10 Pro just got the March updates. Been getting them every month since I got it in October.

        To be honest it's not something I worry about too much. Got bigger things to be concerned about than fretting over a phone. It's not like it's my BFF.

        Buy it, use it as a phone/email/camera for three years then look at what's best on offer for around £400 and repeat.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: No sale

          It is an internet-facing device. It may have a public IP at times depending on the mobile network configuration. It gets sent documents and files that it sends through its rendering engines. It has applications written by the manufacturer in a month that have not been fully tested because nobody thought through whether the apps were needed or not, and some of those apps run all the time or provide core functionality.

          All of this indicates risk. Security patches are useful because you cannot prevent all malicious activity. You can avoid installing malware from a store, perhaps, but you can't avoid it if someone sends you an email or posts an ad that gets sent to you online with malformed HTML that will allow them to access data from the device. You don't have to treat the phone as something special, but it has all the complexity of a computer and it needs to be protected and updated just like computers do.

          1. jason 7

            Re: No sale

            Yes but I still have bigger things to worry about.

            Perspective and all that. Not something I'm going to have a rage over. I am over 40 after all.

            1. Persona Silver badge

              Re: No sale

              Your phone is an easy portal to your email which could be used to reset any of your other passwords. It's also likely to be used by your bank, HMRC and others to verify your identity. On top of that it holds or probably has access to all of your personal information plus information on where you go and what you buy. The risk of someone gaining control of all of that might not be you biggest worry, but if they did it probably would become your biggest worry. Phone security and patching matters.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: No sale

        After nearly 2 years there is still 85Gb free. I don't see the need for removable storage any more.

        It's not so much the amount of storage, but whether it is removable or not.

        1. MrMerrymaker Silver badge

          Re: No sale

          Well, in his defence, I think what you quoted showed he has no need for removable storage

          But in your defence, I hate removable storage isn't a default inclusion... I would like the option.

          Indeed, the saving grace of a tablet purchase I made - Galaxy Tab 3 - was the sdcard slot, perfect for comic book torrents, videos and music. What else is there?

          I can live without removable storage but I found that out only through force. The Note9 has it all except.. Well, price, but have you SEEN the fucking thing??

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shame

    Start reading and then remember its made in a land where the population are herded like cattle.

    Monitored,cataloged and clobbered if they step slightly out of line.

    Until a law is passed in the remaining free bits of the world my money stays in my wallet.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: shame

      Start reading and then remember its made in a land where the population are herded like cattle.

      Basic capitalism for you. Some people have to suffer through a lot to efficiently run a factory that manufactures consumer crap destined to our population. Who cares if money is talking? Let them suffer, so we could enjoy cheap stuff.

      Laws? The "free bits of the world" would object because $$$.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: shame

      No, Trump wants them made there, but so far no deal.

      Seriously, find out about the employment conditions of many US factory and warehouse workers outside the remaining unionised industries. Find out what "right to work" states are. And remember that in fact slavery has not been abolished in the US: once someone has been given a prison sentence they can be enslaved.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: shame

      Monitored,cataloged and clobbered if they step slightly out of line

      Didn't realise that they were made in the US..

  7. MrMerrymaker Silver badge

    Bad brand

    Don't trust em lately

    Xiaomi though. Got a Mi 9.

    Great except the mad lockout. 300+ hours to apply for an unlock.

    My data ain't that special...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad brand

      Don't trust Huawei but fine with Xiaomi.

      Do you believe everything Uncle Sam says?!?

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