The Mate 30 Pro will be landing in Australia later this year. Sadly, what should have been one of the most exciting phones of 2019 looks set to be the first real casualty of the ongoing US-China trade war. It could end up being the world's greatest phone that hardly anyone outside of China will buy.
Arriving after a string of well-received phones from Huawei, the Mate 30 Pro had the potential to really shake things up. But with no official access to Google services such as the Play Store, Maps or Gmail, its fate could well be sealed outside of China. For consumers, that's a real shame. Here's why.
Huawei has been a trend setter as far as smartphone designs go, starting with the metallic gradient finish the company debuted with the P20 Pro that almost every other smartphone maker has mimicked since.
The Mate 30 Pro's display wraps right around the edges to an extreme degree, creating a waterfall screen effect in addition to a striking looking 'Vegan Leather' back option, showing once again that the company isn't afraid to experiment with smartphone aesthetics.
Raising the bar for smartphone cameras
Many camera hardware features that are now industry standard for high-end phones, including triple-lenses, a capable zoom system and computational night mode, all debuted first on Huawei flagships. This year's P30 Pro introduced an innovative periscope zoom lens that could pull off a 5x optical zoom and near lossless 10x zoom, as well as a unique RYYB image sensor which set a new benchmark for low-light smartphone photography, and forced the handsets that followed such as Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 and Apple's iPhone 11 to raise their games.
Huawei's big new camera feature for the Mate30 Pro is video at 7680 frames per second, for ultra slow motion that brings reality almost to a complete stop and far exceeds the 960fps we normally see on flagship smartphones. Respected photography benchmark company DxOMark has already praised the Mate 30 Pro as the best smartphone camera on the market with an overall score far above the competition.
Most capable 5G smartphone
Huawei is the only smartphone manufacturer outside of Apple and Samsung that designs its own processors, with other handset makers relying on chips made by Qualcomm and Mediatek. This allows the company to drive meaningful innovation with optimisations at the chip level. For instance the AI engine built into the Kirin 980 enabled Huawei to leap ahead of competitors in computational photography with the P30 Pro. Huawei also makes its own modems, enabling its handsets to hit faster network speeds than the competition.
The 5G model of the Mate 30 Pro boasts a faster modem than the current crop of 5G smartphones, but more importantly it's the first smartphone to combine a system on a chip with a 5G modem onto a single piece of silicon, making it the most battery efficient 5G smartphone. The Mate 30 Pro also supports 5G on dual SIM cards, and considerably more 5G network bands globally, giving you a better chance of connecting to a 5G network when travelling abroad.
Dual biometric authentication
With 2018's Mate 20 Pro, Huawei was the first company outside of Apple to bring 3D face unlock to smartphones (not to be confused with the more common and less secure 2D-based face unlock, which can be easily fooled by photographs). Like its predecessor, the Mate 30 Pro offers more security than other handsets thanks to the ability to use both 3D Face Unlock and the in-screen fingerprint reader to unlock the phone.
Huawei is also taking a number of additional steps to protect people's data, going as far as safeguarding the user's dual biometric data by a CC EAL 5+ certification; the highest of any smartphone hardware to date. This biometric material is also stored in a specific space within the Mate 30 series’ storage that is segregated from the rest of the system for additional security. In addition, Huawei claims that IMEI data will be anonymised within apps in order to prevent user tracking, and cloud data is encrypted end-to-end.
Industry leading wireless charging
Anyone who has dabbled with wireless charging knows how painfully slow the process is, but the Mate 30 Pro is looking to change all that with a whopping 27W wireless charging. That means it's faster to charge wire-free than the iPhone 11 or Galaxy Note 10 is over a physical cable. The Mate 30 Pro is also leading the way when it comes to reverse charging with 3x faster charging speeds.
M-Pen brings Galaxy Note level digital scribing
Taking a leaf out of Samsung's Galaxy Note playbook, the Mate 30 Pro even supports pen input with the 'M-Pen', complete with a fine tip and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity just like Samsung's S-Pen. There's nowhere to dock or charge the pen on the phone itself and it's sold separately as an accessory, but the option is at least there for those who want it.
Breaking the Apple and Samsung duopoly
The Huawei trade ban hurts competition in a market that sorely needs it. Western smartphone markets have become a duopoly where Apple and Samsung dominate while others are left far behind. Without the likes of Huawei to push them into more aggressive upgrade cycles, Apple and Samsung can afford to keep pace only with one another, leading to less meaningful innovation and higher prices.
Huawei is the second largest smartphone maker in the world, and while the majority of sales still come from its homeland, the Chinese smartphone maker is best placed to provide much needed competition for Apple and Samsung. Huawei's breakneck pursuit of new features has proven extremely enticing for phone buyers in Europe, for example, where it is closing in on second-placed Apple in terms of market share. Similarly, in Australia, Huawei has shot to a strong third position in a relatively short space of time.
But with the trade ban effectively cutting off Huawei's access to Google's apps and services, its rise as a challenger to Apple and Samsung could well be over.