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Huawei Mate 30 Pro: Stunning, But Has Doubts Over Android. Your Questions Answered

Huawei’s golden streak with smartphones continues, but for political rather than technological reasons, that Midas touch might come to nothing.

The latest models in the Huawei Mate 30 series, including the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, will likely turn out to be among the most effective, capable and best-designed smartphones of 2019.

Here’s everything we know so far and what it will mean for Huawei and consumers.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

DAVID PHELAN

The phone looks stunning and delivers the goods

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro, chief among the four phones revealed, looks glorious with a snappy design including four lenses nestling in a circle and a deeply eye-catching 6.53in display that curves vertiginously down the long sides of the phone’s front. Bezel, what bezel? Huawei calls it a Horizon Display.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro with four rear lenses.

DAVID PHELAN

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The camera is potentially the best on any smartphone

Huawei has form here: the current flagship Huawei P30 Pro has an outstanding camera with multiple lenses, deft AI capabilities to improve images further and neat features such a slow motion and night mode.

The Mate 30 Pro takes all this to a new level with four rear cameras: a 40MP stills camera, another 40MP sensor designed for video, 8MP telephoto camera and 3D depth sensing camera for grabbing depth information fast to improve low light performance and features like portrait mode.

The video-focused camera is something new for Huawei. Apple’s video recording features have long been superior, so Huawei is addressing that now.

And there’s more.

As well as shooting 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) there’s a slow motion setting. When I say slow, I really mean it. The current super-slow standard tops out at 960 frames per second, but this takes things to a new level: 7680fps.

It’ll also do video better in really low light, something the company has mastered in stills photography.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

DAVID PHELAN

A ground-breaking processor

Last fall, Huawei announced the world’s first 7nm processor, though Apple actually released its 7nm A12 Bionic chip in the iPhone XS before the Mate 20 Pro reached market.

This year the Kirin 990 chipset, another home-grown piece of silicon, has a different specialty. It has built-in 5G support. This means it doesn’t need a separate 5G modem and is a genuine innovation. As we move to the super-fast speeds 5G will eventually need, other solutions may be necessary but for now, this is a very keen idea.

What a battery

The benefit of taking out the 5G modem is you can save space. This means a bigger battery. Here, a 4,500mAh cell is included which is frankly massive. Huawei has routinely had extremely good battery life in its phones and this means that even with the extra battery load that 5G sometimes requires, that this is a phone that will go on all day.

The striking waterfall edge to the Mate 30 Pro display.

DAVID PHELAN

Slick software

EMUI 10, the latest version of Huawei’s Android skin, comes on the new phone. It’s by far the most attractive version and has a lot going for it. It can be applied as comprehensively to Huawei’s own Harmony OS as to Android. So, if the company does switch its phones to Harmony, it will look identical. Which brings us to the elephant in the room…

Front and rear of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

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But what about Android? Your questions answered

This is one of the most complex and fast-changing things about Huawei. Because it is on the U.S. entity list, it can’t do business with American companies, such as Google.

So, does that mean it can’t use Android

It can use basic Android, called AOSP, because that’s open-source code available to everyone.

But that’s not the problem. Though Android began as a free-for-all where every company could muck about with it has become a system that is increasingly standardized and, therefore, familiar. That’s because of the rules Google lays down if you want to use its services such as Gmail, Google Maps and more.

That’s called Google Mobile Services (GMS) and is the bit Huawei can’t get at.

But Google Maps isn’t installed on an iPhone, so what’s the difference?

The difference is that Apple has its App Store and Google Maps is in it, so downloading it is painfully simple. Huawei won’t be able to use the Google Play Store that is part of GMS. Huawei is encouraging app developers to put their apps in Huawei’s App Gallery, but Google ain’t going to do that.

Fortnite! That’s not in the Play Store

Good example, but side-loading apps is not as simple as that, and the framework underneath the apps is what, say, may allow a streaming app to offer HDR content. Complicated, huh?

So, what’s going to happen?

Wish I knew. This is a political situation that is changing, fast. If a trade deal is done, President Trump has hinted a separate deal could be done with Huawei. Or maybe it can’t. Things are changing.

Should I buy a Huawei Mate 30 Pro?

If you do, it will work fine, and offer a sensational look, seriously outstanding features and an awesome camera. I can guarantee all those. But until a workaround is devised, so that Google apps can be easily, reliably introduced, it’s hard to be able to recommend it wholeheartedly.

Anyway it’s not out yet.

When will it be on sale?

There’s no definite date for release, though my guess would be November is possible.

Stay tuned for updates in this fast-moving story.

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