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?
Motorola razr Hands-On
The popular RAZR is back!
The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.
It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.
But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?
This is our Motorola razr hands-on.
Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future
It’s not for everyone
2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.
Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.
In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.
When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.
On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.
Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.
There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.
The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.
Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.
One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.
To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.
When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.
Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.
While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.
The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.
Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.
Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.
With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.
Motorola razr hands-on: Futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia
The price we have to pay to move forward
The iconic Motorola razr flip phone is back — bringing what we love from the past, into the future.
Like many of you, I love a good old nostalgic release, which is why I’m incredibly excited that this phone made its comeback. Of all the phones that ruled the late 90s and early 2000s, there’s nothing more iconic than the Motorola razr V3. It was a sleek, edgy, and fashion forward flip phone. From its launch in 2004, about 130 million razr V3’s were sold — making it the best selling clamshell of all time.
Like the original, the new Motorola razr is a flip phone, so you can answer and end calls like a boss.
Just like the hottest phones of this year, the new razr, too, is a foldable phone; or to be more precise, a phone with a foldable display. The main difference is instead of unfolding horizontally into a square tablet, it folds out vertically.
Inside there is no physical keyboard where there once was. Instead it’s all display — 6.2 inches of Flex View pOLED of it. Surprisingly there’s no noticeable crease on the screen. Motorola says the hinge is designed to flex into the shape of a water drop to avoid this. We’ll have to see over time if this indeed solves the challenge of the folding display technology.
When opened up, the new Motorola Razr feels just like any other smartphone. It’s just as tall and as wide but much thinner; except for the lip at the bottom which houses most of the phone’s components as well as its fingerprint sensor, which is fast and accurate.
When you turn the phone on you’re greeted by Android OS. That means all your favorite apps are right here. There’s a small notch on top of the display to make room for the earpiece and a 5MP selfie camera.
When you fold the phone close, you’ll find that it’s wider than the original razr V3. Motorola says bringing back the clamshell form factor using foldable display tech is meant to solve a customer pain point — portablity.
On the outside, there’s a secondary 2.7″ gOLED Quick View display. It’s not as high resolution as the main display, but i’ts good enough for showing the time and notifications.
You can also tap to view a notification. There’s also Google Assistant Voice Detection, whichyou can use to dictate a text messages reply.
The Quick View display can also be used for taking selfies using the 16MP rear camera. You can just flick the phone twice to activate the camera. Smiling or flashing your palm will trigger the shutter.
The rear camera features an opening of f/1.7, electronic image stabilization, dual pixel and laser autofocus, dual LED flash. It also serves as the main camera when the phone is flipped open.
Just like the original Moto Razr — the new 2019 model is sleek and stylish. With an aluminum chassis and sharp edges. The back side has a carbon fiber-like textured finish that feels like plastic — the only sore spot in its otherwise ultra premium feel. At launch it will only be available in black, but fingers crossed we get other color options too. Motorola says its employed a special zero gap mechanism that gives this foldable display a level of toughness that will survive the rigors of the real world.
In the hands, the phone feels super sturdy. Even if it’s got a foldable screen it doesn’t feel fragile at all. In fact I think I wouldn’t mind just snapping it open and close without a worry.
Button and port placements are like this: volume and power on the right hand side. A USB-C port on the bottom chin as well as speaker. The phone has no headphone jack but ships with a pair of USB-C headphones and a USB-C to headphone jack adapter. There’s also no SIM card slot instead as it only supports e-SIMs. It’s also water and dust and resistant.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
From the star studded guest list at tonight’s launch event, it’s pretty clear that Motorola is targeting the hip, fashion forward market, and not the pro techie crowd. If you look at its spec sheet, this is meant to be a midrange smartphone — with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a measly a 2510mAh battery, albeit with a bundled 15W Turbo Charger. But specs isn’t really what the new razr is about.
In the US the Motorola razr will be available exclusively on Verizon, and pre-orders start December 26th. It will hit stores beginning January 9, 2020. It will also be available in select markets across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.
The pricetag? US$ 1,499 USD. Is that too much to pay for a futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia? Let us know in the comments below.
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