HUAWEI TO GO
The Chinese smartphone giant’s latest range is something special... and there are plenty of accessories too
IF YOU’RE a serious smartphone maker these days, you can’t just make a phone – accessories are everything. You’ve got to make some bluetooth headphones and a smartwatch, too. Huawei joined Apple and Samsung (its closest rivals in the market) in doing just that when it launched a new range of flagship phones – the P30 and the P30 Pro.
The new devices are very much worth talking about in their own right – Huawei has a partnership with German high-end cameramaker Leica that ensures the cameras they put in their smartphones are something special.
The P30 series is no exception. But there are also new watches, new earphones, and an intriguing new software feature that aims to spot visual impairment in children.
Here’s the latest from the Chinese smartphone giant – now the third-biggest manufacturer of phones on the planet.
P30 AND P30 PRO
THE P30 line-up features two phones, a less-expensive smaller phone, and a larger premium device – the P30 has 6.1in screen while the Pro’s comes in at 6.47in.
They come in five colours with appropriately odd names – Breathing Crystal (blue), Amber Sunrise
(red), Aurora (green), Pearl White, and Black. They look great – the front of the device is almost all screen with a tiny bezel and a small hole cut out for the camera at the top – there’s no face unlocking, so that means the camera on the front needs no extra bits.
Unlocking is done by a fingerprint sensor under the screen on both devices.
Apart from the slight size difference, the biggest upgrade on the Pro is in the cameras.
While on the front, both phones sport a 40mp sensor with a max f/2.0 aperture, on the back it’s a different story. The P30 has a 40mp camera with a wide angle lens and a max f/1.8 aperture, plus a 16mp camera with an even wider lens and a f/2.2 max aperture, and an 8mp camera with a telephoto lens with a f/2.4 max aperture and optical image stabilisation.
That’s three cameras, all doing different jobs, all working together to get the best image possible.
On the back of the Pro model the set-up is broadly similar – the wide camera is a bit faster and the telephoto lens a bit slower – but the big difference is the addition of a fourth camera, which Huawei is calling the Time Of Flight camera.
I’ve no idea why it’s called it that, suffice to say it exists, broadly speaking, to capture depth information so that the phone can produce portrait images with a nicely blurred background.
There are a lot of numbers in Huawei’s camera specs, but the ones that jump out are the largest of the lot – Huawei says the Pro has a maximum ISO of 409,600, while the P30 can capture at a maximum ISO 204,800. The ISO describes the camera sensors sensitivity to light, and the higher the number, the more light the sensors can capture.
With numbers like those, these phones should be able to capture solid images almost in the dark…
While it’s the cameras that make these phones special, they’re also pretty well-specced in all other departments, too.
There’s USB-C connectivity (no headphone jack), big batteries with fast-charging, powerful processors, excellent water and dust resistance, and all the AI smarts you could want. Both run on Android 9.
As for price, they’re reasonably competitive with similar-standard phones from Samsung and Apple – the P30 with 128gb of memory will cost £699, while the Pro with the same comes in at £899, but can be upgraded to 512gb for £1,099.
Some sellers are offering a pretty sweet deal on launch, too – a free Sonos 1 smart speaker with every phone. Both phones are available to order now.
HUAWEI’S new earphones look suspiciously like Beats
X – and the new super-simple wired pairing system looks almost identical to the one you see when pairing Beats or AirPods with your iPhone.
So no points at all for innovation when it comes to looks.
But you do need a decent set of earphones if you like listening to music – the ones that come in the box never cut the mustard.
Given that the P30 and the Pro don’t have a headphone jack, wireless is clearly the way to go.
The company says they sound great, and there’s a novel way of pairing and charging the phone – you pull off one of the earbuds and its cord to reveal a USB-C plug that you can stick in your phone.
Five minutes of charging gives four hours of playback time.
They come in a variety of colours and will cost around £85 when they hit the market on April 11.
NEW EDITIONS OF THE WATCH GT
HUAWEI’S smartwatch came out last October, and proved somewhat underwhelming. Two new versions – the Active and the Elegant – hope to reverse that.
They are by and large the same devices, though, with a slightly smaller ceramic bezel (42mm) on the Elegant.
The main addition software-wise is a new “triathlon” mode which allows three different types of exercise in one workout session.
There’s the usual sleep and activity tracking on offer, and while the
Watch GT is a decent watch, it perhaps is not quite a smart as others, but is the obvious choice if you’re packing a Huawei phone.
Huawei hasn’t revealed a launch date for the new versions, but they will cost around £199.
THE final announcement was an intriguing one – the launch of Track AI, which the company has developed in co-operation with two leading medical research bodies.
Its goal is to help detect signs of visual impairment in children early, so treatment can start as quickly as possible.
The software works on two Huawei devices – a child’s gaze pattern is captured on a laptop, then processed by the P30’s smart artificial intelligence to unearth anything unusual.
The system is in trial at the moment, but promising results could see wider adoption – it is at least one example of how artificial intelligence can bring benefits beyond correctly exposed photos.
The P30 is one of a pair of new devices from Chinese phone maker Huawei
No headphone jack, no problem: Huawei’s FreeLace earphones are wireless
Upgrade: The cameras in the P30 Pro are a standout feature