Exclusive: This is the Huawei P30 Pro, and it raises more questions than answers

Huawei P30 Pro
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sometimes, opening a closed door can result in a fortuitous encounter. While looking for a demo room at a Huawei event during Mobile World Congress, we entered a room expecting to find laptops, and instead found a different device: The Huawei P30 Pro. That’s right, the next flagship Huawei smartphone, which will be revealed at a special Huawei event on March 26 in Paris, France.

Closing the door behind us, we were invited to hold and photograph the phone. However, rather than getting our hands on with a working model, we saw a non-operational prototype which we were told was almost completely final, in terms of the way it looks.

At first glance the P30 Pro doesn’t appear to have dramatically changed from its predecessor the P20 Pro. Instead, what we get are a variety of small alterations that end up making a big difference, especially in building a strong family look for the company’s current smartphone range.

Camera and branding

The first thing to explain is why the phone says Vogue and Link on the back. Vogue is the name Huawei uses internally for the P30 Pro. Expect them to be replaced by Huawei and Leica on the final product. The smooth, otherwise branding-free rear panel has a camera bump with three lenses inside, mounted off to the side of the body.

Huawei P30 Pro
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

How does this correspond to the leaks? Cases said to be for the regular P30 (non-Pro model) match the design we saw here, which we were told is the P30 Pro. Other case leaks show another device with a four-camera lens, and a second sensor array next to the bump. We don’t know its identity, but for now we do not think it’s the P30 Pro, or the P30. We can speculate that it’s a 5G version of the P30 Pro, perhaps with a new name, with the highest possible specification available — just like Samsung’s 5G Galaxy S10.

All three camera lenses are now integrated into one single unit, of a uniform size, rather than one lens sitting separately outside a two-lens bump as on the P20 Pro. This gives a cleaner, more coherent look, although it moves away from the “classic camera” styling of the P20 Pro and more towards a more familiar smartphone-type look. The three lenses are all the same size as each other.

Next to the three camera lenses is a description of the lens type, which has become standard on all Huawei and Leica phones. For example on the Mate 20 Pro it states the lenses are Summilux, and the P20 Pro had a Summarit lens. The word Summitor was written on the P30 Pro prototype we saw. This is not a Leica lens name, but it is very close to Summitar, the name given to a 50mm Leica camera lens. This name would be fitting, as rumors have pointed to the P30 Pro having a 10x zoom feature. Next to the lens array is a small cutout containing the flash unit, and an unidentified sensor.

Body and design

The model we held came in a highly reflective chrome finish which got covered in fingerprints; but this may not end up being a final color option. It was also heavily scratched, as you can probably see in the pictures, also suggesting this is not a final version of the rear panel. The phone’s shape seems to bring together the P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro. It’s around the same physical size as the P20 Pro, but has the tapered edges of the Mate 20 Pro, making it more comfortable to hold, and appear and feel more compact. It was weighted in a similar way to the P20 Pro.

A volume control and sleep/wake key were the only hardware controls around the edge, plus there is a USB Type-C connector on the bottom of the phone, and a SIM tray on the top. It did not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, just like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Huawei P30 Pro
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We were not allowed to photograph or talk about the front of the P30 Pro, as the design was not complete, and the screen was a dummy unit. It will be interesting to see whether Huawei opts to use the hole-punch screen, like the Honor View 20 and the new Samsung Galaxy S10 devices. The P30 Pro will do battle with the Galaxy S10 for supremacy throughout the coming year, and the screen is as important as the camera system to winning us over.

Specification still unknown

Handling the Huawei P30 Pro a month ahead of announcement was an interesting experience. No, it’s not the drastic redesign we saw in the P20 Pro after the P10, and instead takes inspiration from the Mate 20 Pro (and therefore, Huawei and Porsche Design’s hardware), to give the new phone a greater “family” look. We like the style, the comfort, and the well-measured size, as the phone felt so natural in the hand.

What’s also interesting is that if the leaks are correct, we should expect to also see a new addition to the P30 family this year. Whether the P30 range will now consist of four models — a Lite, the P30, P30 Pro, and a 5G version — or just two, a P30 Pro and possibly a 5G model, we do not know. However, Huawei is likely to change the line-up in some way this year, based on the phone seen here.

We didn’t use the phone, or learn anything about its features or specification. Perhaps if we had walked through a different door, we may have stumbled upon an engineer who could have told us all this, but for now we will have to remain patient until March 26 for that information. You can also keep up with all the rumors regarding the P30 Pro here.

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