Direct from its global launch in Paris, we take the new Huawei P30 Pro on the road—back to the birthplace of modern photography.
From top: The vivid colours of Frankfurt’s Love Lock Bridge, Eiserner Steg. Huawei’s P30 camera’s SuperSpectrum Sensor (which uses RYYB instead of a conventional RGB sensor) allows for better pictures even under low-light conditions, like this urban Frankfurt scene at sunset. A highly detailed image of the Louvre, thanks to the phone’s 40-megapixel sensor.
It’s a beautiful day and we’re standing on the 2,000-acre grounds of Le Château de Versailles, arguably one of Europe’s most lavish royal residences. All around us impeccably manicured lawns spread out before us, punctuated by beautifully clipped trees and immaculate flowerbeds, as well as amazing examples of classical statuary rearing out of fountains and pools. The grandeur and beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage site is breathtaking, making it unsurprising that this is the first stop of our Huawei P30 Series launch journey, which will end with a visit to Leica’s headquarters, an hour’s drive away from Frankfurt.
Standing among the horde of tourists, who, like me, are currently aiming their mobile phones at the former royal residence of Louis XVI, I ponder the evolution of the device. Once a means of communication while on the go, now a holistic life-enhancer that allows for everything—from easy payments with a single tap to personal assistance with the organisation of your appointments—mobile phones have almost rendered camera-toting tourists a firm relic of the past. Perhaps even more so now that the P30 has finally arrived on the scene. Testing the much-hyped about zoom function that offers a 50 times digital zoom, I pull an image of a statue from the roof of the palace within focus, capturing the edges of the stone structure in extraordinary detail.
The high fidelity magnification is impressive, while the phone’s 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera allows me to capture the expansiveness of the scene without need for the panorama mode. The photos that result from my short time with the phone are remarkable, and I’m eager to give the phone’s camera a full test run.
REWRITING PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY
Back in Paris, we head to the Paris Convention Centre for the global presentation by Huawei CEO Richard Yu to find out more about the phone. The venue is filled with a crowd of about 2,000 journalists, specialist tech bloggers and influencers from all over the world. And as we soon find out, the P30 (and its more advanced Pro version) quickly proves itself worthy of the much-anticipated hype.
Promising to “rewrite the rules of photography”, the P30 Pro is Huawei’s most sophisticated camera smartphone to date, powered by AI technology and proprietary algorithms. Yu presents professional-grade images captured with the new phone, including a shot of the aurora borealis in Norway taken in handheld night mode (without a tripod), and astrophotography images of the galaxy capturing nebulae invisible to the human eye over Namibia, shot with the long exposure mode—feats that would ordinarily require the level of skill and precision of professional photographers using a DSLR. It seems the Chinese technological giant, in partnership with German camera manufacturer Leica, has taken smartphone photography to a cosmic level.
From top: A 50x digital zoom allows you to take great pictures from a distance, like when tourists prevent you from having a close-up encounter with the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Frankfurt's reconstructed old town, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. A close-up shot of the domed roof of Paris’ Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. At Leica Camera AG headquarters in Leitz Park, Wetzlar, Germany
Then, there are the fashion shots snapped by Mexican fashion photographer, Jvdas Berra, on Argentina’s awe-inspiring natural terrain. And to drive the point home, fellow fashion photographer and American artist Erik Madigan Heck takes the stage to show what his time with
the P30 Pro yielded: A magazine-style fashion spread featuring colours that pop even at night, thanks to the phone’s remarkably high ISO of up to 409,600 that enables
it to capture colours and detail in low-light conditions, and RYYB SuperSpectrum Sensor, which is reported to take in 40 percent more light than conventional sensors.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
The next day, we board the train for a four-hour ride to Frankfurt, and I use this time to try out the phone’s 4K video capabilities. I record the moving landscape of the countryside as we cross the border into Germany, and the resulting scenes are brilliant and steady, owing to the updated Huawei AIS and OIS image stabilisation technology now extended to video for what the brand calls “studio-grade” videography.
The Wireless Reverse Charging feature comes in handy on the train ride, too, as I seamlessly charge my other phone by placing the two devices back-to-back. The P30 Pro may be dual-SIM but since this is my first encounter with an Android, I’ve decided to use it mainly for picture-taking for now.
Once we arrive in Frankfurt, it’s another hour-long bus ride to the charming town of Wetzlar, the Holy Grail of photography. It’s here that the first still-picture camera for 35mm film was invented by Oskar Barnack in 1913, which laid the foundation stone for Leica. Having recently taken up photography as a hobby, it feels a little surreal to be at the Leica headquarters and I immerse myself in the history and artistry of the brand that has played such an influential role in shaping photojournalism over the years.
Officially known as Leitz-Park, the sprawling campus of the Leica headquarters was opened in 2016 and comprises several buildings: A manufacturing facility spherically shaped like a lens; another building cleverly designed with its façade resembling the aperture of a camera which houses the Leica store, museum shop and gallery; and the arcona Living Ernst Leitz Hotel named after Leica’s founder.
A guided tour of the minimalist buildings and their contemporary interiors takes us behind the scenes as we watch how the lenses are made and how parts of the cameras are assembled. We also learn that Huawei has a dedicated team working on-site here for the co-development of the Leica lenses used in its phones.
After lunch, we head back to Frankfurt and I bid the group auf wiedersehen as I continue on to Berlin. And as I explore the city on foot, the P30 Pro—touted as the world’s best selfie phone—becomes the perfect companion for this solo traveller.