Hands-On

Huawei P30 and P30 Pro hands-on

Truly rewriting the rules of photography?

Huawei P30 and P30 Pro | GadgetMatch

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If you were to pinpoint where it all started, that moment in time when Huawei smartphones turned the corner from contender to top dog. It would most likely be this snapshot from three years ago: The launch of the P9. And the start of Huawei’s partnership with Leica.

Back then both companies promised they would revolutionize smartphone photography. It took a while, but last year they finally did. The Huawei P20 was groundbreaking. But they’re not done yet. The P30 Pro comes with bold new promises to re-write the rules of photography. But did they really?

Our introduction begins with a color story. It may be commonplace now, but last year, when the P20 debuted in this stunning Twilight gradient, there was nothing quite like it.

This year, Twilight becomes Aurora, with an extra shimmer that’s made to look like the Northern Lights from where this gradient finish gets its inspiration.

Some markets will get this lovely red-orange finish, Amber Sunrise, or get a bit of both. My favorite is Breathing Crystal, a pearlescent white that’s sometimes a faint Twilight, or a red and yellow depending on how the light touches the phone. And if want something less flashy, there are also black and white models.

Before you get committed to a color. You’ll have to wait till availability is announced in your respective countries.

Both the P30 and P30 Pro are all-glass smartphones with metal frames. Apart from the obvious size difference, there are other subtleties to distinguish one from the other.

The P30 Pro is curvy-licious with a curved backside to match its curved display; the P30 has a flat, more traditional panel. I like the sexy dual curves on the P30 Pro. The phone is bigger than last year’s model but still fits comfortably in the hand. Having said that, I have many friends who adamantly prefer flat displays, so it really is a preference thing.

While some of its competitors are doing punch-hole displays or pop up cameras, Huawei is keeping the notch on the P-series, reducing it to a teardrop shape. If we’re nitpicking, there’s still a tiny bit of forehead and chin. Otherwise, it’s as edge-to-edge as it currently gets.

The display on both models is rich and vibrant — a 6.1-inch OLED for the P30 and 6.47-inch OLED for the Pro model, both Full HD+ and 19.5:9 in ratio. Underneath is a new and improved under-display fingerprint scanner. Based on our initial tests, it’s as fast, if not even faster, than the ultrasonic scanner on the Galaxy S10+.

It’s the most secure biometric option on this phone, as face unlock on the P30, while AI-assisted, is still based on a 2D scan using the selfie camera, and that’s less secure. The display on the P30 Pro also doubles as an earpiece and extra speaker. Huawei calls it an acoustic display.

One little design feature you might miss are the P30’s flat top and bottom edges; they’re a nice differentiating touch. Up top, there’s still an IR blaster for those who would rather use their phones as remotes, and on the bottom, the headphone jack returns but only on the non-Pro model.

Also worth mentioning: The SIM card tray is double-sided for two nano-SIMs or one SIM and one Nano Memory Card, which only Huawei makes.

Now on to the main event. The P30 Pro has four Leica cameras on its rear. Let me break them down for you.

The first is an ultra-wide angle camera, which is perfect when you’re traveling and want to take in more of the scene. It also doubles as a macro lens for getting in real close on subjects.

Next is a 40-megapixel standard camera, and then a square shape that isn’t a lens per se. It’s the prism of a periscope. Tucked underneath is a zoom lens array that gives the P30 Pro 5x optical zoom — more than we’ve ever seen on a smartphone to date. Combined with software and AI magic, you can go up to near lossless 10x hybrid zoom and 50x digital zoom.

Right beside the flash on the P30 Pro is a fourth camera for time of flight (TOF) that measures depth in real time. This gives you bokeh that closely resembles something taken using a high-end digital camera, so that objects in a photo will have different amounts of blur depending on how near or far they are from you.

Huawei says, using the TOF camera, they’re also building an augmented reality measuring app, similar to what Apple has on the iPhone XS. Now, about that re-writing the rules bit; that bit requires a bit of a technical explanation. Allow me to simplify.

Digital camera sensors are traditionally made of red, green, and blue bits (RGB if that sounds familiar to you) that measure color in a scene. But what if you switched green for yellow? That’s exactly what Huawei and Leica did on the P30 series. One of the reasons for this is that a yellow filter is lighter than a green filter, letting in more light when an image is captured.

Huawei says a lot of physics went into this major change, and the low-light abilities of the P30 Pro are better than ever before. To try this. I found the darkest little corner of my briefing room and set up a dark room of my own.

This is night mode on the P30, which is already pretty good compared to what night mode on other smartphones managed to produce. One could say that the P30 can see in the dark and it’s pretty amazing. Master AI mode is still available on the phone, and you can toggle it on and off, if you want to give it the power to adjust how a photo looks based on what it thinks are the ideal settings.

Huawei’s groundbreaking AI-based handheld long exposure mode gets an expanded set of features. There is Silk Water Effects mode which we have yet to try. It also works in portrait mode, and combined with AI HDR+, can help you shoot well-lit portraits even when shooting against the harsh rays of the sun.

We’ll need time to really dive into everything the camera can do. But for now, take a look at more sample photos we shot during our short time with the P30 Pro:

This year, Huawei has made it a point to bring the experience of taking video at par with taking photos. Where they really improved is stabilization when shooting Full HD content. We tried it out, even shook the phone exaggeratedly, and it does the job.

Then there’s that zoom lens, which also comes in handy. You can now zoom in up to 10x with hybrid zoom on the P30 Pro. Here’s a set of samples taken during our hands-on time:

Reps from Huawei also told us during our briefing that they’re working on a dual-video feature that lets you shoot using two lenses at the same time. That will be available as an over-the-air update soon. There’s much more to love about the new P30 and P30 Pro. We haven’t even talked about its 32-megapixel selfie camera. Here are a few samples:

Both are packed with Huawei’s newest Kirin 980 processor, come with configs of up to 8GB of RAM and plenty of built-in storage, and sizable batteries with fast charging. The P30 Pro has a larger battery and comes with 40-watt SuperCharge with support for both wireless and reverse wireless charging. The latter lets you charge Qi-compatible devices or other smartphones.

The P30 on the other hand comes with a 22W charger and does not support wireless charging. The P30 Pro is water- and dust-resistant while the P30 is only splash-resistant. Yep, the Pro in P30 Pro definitely has its merits.

Are the P30 and P30 Pro your GadgetMatch?

That was a lot to cover, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m picking up my review device today so after I shoot an unboxing, I’m going to start using the phone as a daily driver.

In two weeks, I’ll let you know my thoughts. Based on first impressions, the P30 Pro is poised to be one of the best phones of 2019. For a premium phone, it delivers where it matters: design, cameras, and battery life.

And since we’re in Paris, let me pull from my limited French: The P30 Pro has got that je ne sais quoi, an intangible quality that thrills and excites. What more could you want in a smartphone?

Features

Playing Big Brother with the realme Smart Cam 360

Cat spy

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CCTVs like the realme Smart Cam 360 are often marketed as home security devices. Most people use these kinds of cameras to monitor strangers passing by the house or to prevent criminal activity.

I, however, had something else in mind. As a pet owner, I often wonder what my cats are up to. What are they doing when I’m not looking? Could I be missing a moment of cuteness whenever they’re up in their hideouts?

So, I decided to play Big Brother and document their days using the realme Smart Cam 360.

Setting up the mobile CCTV

Initially, I thought that the camera was rechargeable like a smartphone. It is not. It has to be constantly plugged into a power source. This was a problem for me since the areas where the cats frequent, don’t exactly have accessible electrical sockets.

But lo and behold, A LIFEHACK! My brother helped me devise a way to use the CCTV camera portably, so I can move it from place to place, wherever the cats are. We plugged it to a power bank! The 16000mAh power bank was able to supply electricity to the camera for a little less than 24 hours.

The next step was installing the realme Link app on my phone so I can use it to view the camera’s feed. I just had to create a realme account, link the camera to the app and voila, I can already use my phone as a monitor and a remote control for the camera. Another thing I like about the app is that you can use it to customize the camera’s name.

Last is putting in a memory card. This part is actually optional, but having a memory card in the camera is very handy if you want to review moments you might have missed. The Smart Cam 360 has event-triggered recording which means it automatically saves any activity whenever the camera detects sound or motion.

Big Brother: Cat Edition

The cats found it strange at first.

But eventually, they learned to werq it.

Changing the direction of the camera is not a problem. The mobile CCTV is very responsive to the phone’s remote control. The camera adjusts to the lighting conditions of the room. Even in the dark, it’s still able to show what’s happening.

The infrared night vision does give the cats some creepy-looking eyes though!

In typical Big Brother fashion, the Smart Cam 360 also lets you communicate with whoever’s with your camera. Sort of like a PA system, or a walkie-talkie. I tried using it to call my pets’ attention, but cats do as cats do–ignore humans.

A helpful housemate?

In a lot of ways, yes. The realme Smart Cam 360 has been my extra set of eyes at home.

It does a good job of notifying me whenever there’s activity in the room I placed it in. It can capture moments I would have otherwise missed, like that one time my cat was causing mischief in the dining area.

It’s ideal for when you need to watch home, away from home. The realme Link app is also fairly easy to understand, a plus for people like me who prefer their tech simple.

But, there’s the question of privacy. There have been reports of home security cameras that accidentally leaked their feed to other households. With the current digital landscape, you can’t help but wonder where your data is being sent to. Who else could be watching? Who else could be listening to what’s happening at home?

It would be ironic if, in the course of trying to be like Big Brother, you yourself became the subject of observation. It’s good to keep that in mind and set some limits to what the camera has access to.

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Accessories

Huawei Classic Backpack: The girl with the green backpack

A fashion statement and everyday accessory

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Huawei Classic Backpack

When you’re juggling a job and a side hustle, style ends up as one of the last things you consider in your everyday life.

Admittedly, I wear hideous, bulky handbags to carry my essentials: makeup, hygiene kit, power bank, cables and organizers, and other accessories. Sometimes, I slip a book unless I’m carrying a laptop for business meetings, which proved to be harmful to my posture.

The extra weight shouldered when using a handbag had me reeling in unnecessary body pain. When I was looking for an alternative, a confidante offered the Huawei Classic Backpack — a stylish, everyday bag.

Green is the new black

Huawei’s Classic Backpack comes in lavish Forest Green. It’s quite a recherché, looking luxurious especially in its satin-like nylon fabric. In certain lighting conditions, the color shifts from emerald to dark teal. Frankly, the bluish tint is frequently evident, making this backpack challenging to pair with your outfits.

If you’re unsure how to wear this backpack in such a rare colorway, you can always pull-off an all-black outfit. Or you can go green all the way and do a bit of tonal dressing.

Huawei Classic Backpack

Green, when done right, can be chic and contemporary — all eyes will be on you, darling. It’s never as bold as red, but it’s exotic to look at in a sea of neutrals.

Taste of Paris

Huawei’s Classic Backpack emanates a Parisian vibe — chic, exquisite, serious, respectable, and admirable. If I can think of two words to describe Paris, it’s fashion and architecture.

The same values I mentioned honor the minimalist approach, as seen in the backpack. A semblance of Parisian architects’ craftsmanship; a straightforward utility bag without forsaking style.

There’s a microfiber leather flap priding itself with the label ‘Designed in Paris’ together with Huawei’s logo debossed in gold. This complements the satin-like green body, presenting a luxe appeal.

For security, the backpack features an adjustable drawstring design with a magnetic clasp underneath the flap that connects with the fabric.

Huawei Classic Backpack

Just like the Parisian architecture, the overall design exhibits durability and comfortability — using a 290T nylon fabric for the body and wide straps that reduces pressure on your shoulders. This helped to carry my laptop and other essentials easily even when I take long walks.

Inside, it uses a 200T polyester fabric lined with an H-pattern à la prominent designer bags like Gucci and Chanel. The backpack also comes with a luggage strap, making it the perfect travel carry-on. If we get to travel again, that is.

Carry what you need

If anything this backpack has taught me, it’s learning how to carry only what’s necessary. I used to wear handbags, most are large enough to fit my hairdryer or straighteners. Who knows when I would need it, right?

Sure, it has a separate compartment that can carry laptops 14-inches and under, and an abundance of zipped storage areas. But that doesn’t mean you’ll stuff your bag so much, you’ll hurt your back.

At the very least, there’s plenty of room for whatever you need to store: accessories, cards, keys, and miscellaneous stuff you think you need.

The girl with the green backpack

The Huawei Classic Backpack is the fashion statement you didn’t know you needed. Wearing it can state your persona in a glance, and create a lasting impression just like The Girl in the Green Scarf.

More importantly, it’s the perfect everyday utility bag that you can wear with certain outfits (definitely not yellow, please don’t). It also teaches you to bring only what’s essential.

This backpack, certainly, is an icon of balance between functionality, comfortability, and style. Don’t let anyone tell you to sacrifice one in order to have the perfect bag match.


This lifestyle feature was written by Nicole Beltran. She owns a pastry brand named The Cookie Nook. Her free time is mostly spent baking, taking her Shih Tzu for a walk, or trying to catch up with Netflix originals released a year ago.

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Cameras

A love letter to the Sony a6100

A poignant piece filled with yearning and regrets

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It’s been a month since my hands last held the Sony a6100. I can still remember its chic white colorway, reckoning a classic, sophisticated look. Like the grandeur of a white rose being admired by a white butterfly. Or like a swan gracefully dancing in the lake, during a majestic sunset.

I can still remember the first time I saw it. There was that familiar feeling, “Oh, hello there. I feel like we’ve met before.”

Maybe because I’ve used Sony’s mirrorless cameras countless times over the past three years. Or because cameras are inherently part of my life, no matter which brand I use. But one thing’s for sure: I liked the a6100 the first time I met it.

Page one: You bring out the best in me

Using the a6100 was like child’s play, grasping the controls and interface were easy when you’re used to Sony cameras. But currently, it’s also one of the best beginner-friendly cameras out there.

That was the reason why my friends loved shooting photos and videos with it while we were on the beach, before the world paused for a lockdown. Everything was just easy on their part, and I loved how the people I love got along with something I like.

During my stint, I was reminded of my potential and my ability to execute my vision and grand ideas. It was like when Shoyo Hinata skyrocketed as a promising player when he was paired with Tobio Kageyama in Haikyu!!.

For any situation, I can rely on the a6100 — my ex-mirrorless camera, companion, and partner. I can shoot using the 1.4mm dot OLED electronic viewfinder when I want to focus on my subject (and possibly lose myself in the art of photography).

But oftentimes, I found myself shooting using the 0.9m dot LCD tilting rear touchscreen. Shooting Live View gives you more awareness of what’s happening. The a6100 was just as versatile as me, and I loved how it can keep up on whatever crazy idea I have at the moment.

It’s true when they say it’s the photographer, not the camera. But I have to believe that having the right camera that perfectly suits your skills, style, and personality helps bring out the best in you. Just like finding the right person that lets you work on yourself so you can become better, and hopefully be more deserving to love and be loved.

Page 02: You were everything I was looking for

Everything I was looking for — and possibly praying for, for the last two years — manifested in the a6100. How I’ve always wanted to have what’s apt for me, through my lifestyle and personality, and of course, my money.

All the essential features I could ever need was here. USB charging, Wi-Fi for quick transfer of images to my devices, a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 4K video capture, and Flip Screen. There was also an advanced AF system, highlighting a dependable subject tracking.

No, they were not cutting-edge. There are a lot better cameras (probably) that gives enthusiasts better features, at a higher cost.

But my standards weren’t high for a camera nor in love. All I need is what’s best for me, not the best among the rest. What the a6100 did was give me a simple and effective system that made shooting fun again, whether it’s through photo or video.

On paper, the a6100 might not mean much. But my experience says otherwise. Moreover, it’s priced accordingly. Just like what I need. Keyword: need.

Page 03: You made me discover parts of myself

I miss it. The way I held it in my arms as I walked along the beach, wandering at the sight of beautiful waves crashing down the shore, washing my feet and worries away.

The carefree days that I yearn. To take another moment and capture it, hopefully preserving its memory on my Instagram account or printed for a photo album. It was so lightweight, compact, and portable — you can bring it anywhere you want to go.

Its looks can be deceiving, but it can be on par with professional cameras. So you don’t have to worry being held back by some law enforcement securities telling you it’s not allowed to shoot here and there. Point, shoot, love, enjoy discreetly.

The a6100 was madly powerful, that I brought it along with me on my journey to self-discovery. As I rediscover parts of myself through art, photography, music, and spiritual healing, I realized something.

This camera made me see parts of myself that I didn’t bother examining. That behind my aversion to creating videos, I really am capable and up for the job. After all, I did ace my audio-visual production class in college and even won an award for a collegiate competition.

I’ve never liked shooting videos until the a6100 and its grip — the Sony GP-VPT2BT — came into my hands. My life didn’t change when I started shooting, but I gained a deeper appreciation for videos and the shooting process.

Throughout the seven months I had it, I was able to remember why I love my job. I even discovered what skills I can hone and develop. It was like a whole new path opening before me, and I want to take it with me.

I created beautiful sets, shot graciously like it was published at a print magazine. I also shot unboxing videos and clips I never thought I would delight in doing. It was realizing these little joys that made you want to hold it more, and probably never let go.

Page 04: You were the one I’ve always wanted

The truth is, I didn’t have the a6100 longer than what I wish it would. And I took it for granted the whole time it was with me.

I spent more days hugging my laptop and my phone. I couldn’t find time to explore my hobbies, let alone play with the camera. Frankly, I only used the camera when it was convenient or when I need it, and now that it’s gone I wish I took more time to wrap my fingers around it.

Guess it’s true you realize the value of something once it’s gone. It struck me that maybe, just maybe, the a6100 was “the one” — my GadgetMatch. It could’ve been, but it’s no longer with me.

I’ve traded it for work because duh, I got bills to pay. But maybe when we’re free to go out and the pandemic’s over, maybe I can get a second chance. Until then, I’ll just keep doing what I need to do. Maybe next year, the price will be a bit cheaper or maybe, there’s another camera that’s waiting for me.

Who knows what the future holds?

Post scriptum

The Sony a6100 is the perfect mirrorless camera for beginners and those starting their journey on both photography and videography. It retails for PhP 49,999 (US$ 1033). It’s available in Sony’s official stores and authorized retailers. Visit Sony’s website for more information on the Sony a6100 and other cameras and accessories.

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