back to article P30 pic pyrotechnics in Paris: That's one Huawei to set the smartphone world alight

In a saturated, stagnating smartphone market, Huawei now spends immense resources on publicity to gain attention – not once but twice a year. Yesterday in Paris saw 3,200 – including The Register – attend the launch of the P30 models, with over 2,000 of us witnessing some impressive imaging pyrotechnics not seen on smartphones …

  1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Have to agree

    Selling a phone on the basis that its camera can do anything more than take nice pictures of people and scenes is a wasted effort. People who seriously want to do more than that will already have the equipment – those that just want to give it a try will end up frustrated because, well mainly because, they don't have a tripod, and the ergonomics of a phone as a camera are terrible.

    OTOH, Google pushing the ability of their cameras to take attractive pictures of people in places like nightclub have got it right I think.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have to agree

      That may be true within your circle of people and you state it as a fact however there are others who use a phone camera for a variety of different scenarios so working our whether there is a substantial market for a certain camera tech is difficult.

      If I open up my gallery to look at my shots, I can see a wide range from kids football match with many zoomed in shots and zoomed in video, to tiny labels on a power supply to try to read the details, TV screens which needed a low shutter speed to get an even picture without banding, the inside of an electrical junction to remember where the cables were, sunset over the sea, a low light shot of a person with a light up sign, snow fields with very zoomed in shots of friends skiing with HDR, wide angle shots inside a house showing the full room, pictures of documents (as a scanner) etc etc.

      I also have a decent Nikon DSLR, but all the shots above were because I wasn't carrying the DSLR with me. It also meant that the shots were very functional, if not fairly exceptional quality.

      Taking pictures in a nightclub really isn't something I feel the need to do.

      1. IHateWearingATie

        Re: Have to agree

        I want a company to highlight how good phone cameras are at taking pictures of scribbles on whiteboards, as that would cover a good 15% of all the pictures I take on my phone.

      2. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Have to agree

        Agree .

        The ability to take decent night sky shots is something that appeals.

        However, I just wish a phone company would include a 'Red screen' mode for nighttime use. The number of people who would find this invaluable other than having to shove a filter over it would be quite a segment, if a small one overall.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Have to agree

          My Samsung S7 has a native nighttime red mode

      3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Have to agree

        If I open up my gallery to look at my shots, I can see a wide range from kids football match with many zoomed in shots and zoomed in video, to tiny labels on a power supply to try to read the details, TV screens which needed a low shutter speed to get an even picture without banding, the inside of an electrical junction to remember where the cables were, sunset over the sea, a low light shot of a person with a light up sign, snow fields with very zoomed in shots of friends skiing with HDR, wide angle shots inside a house showing the full room, pictures of documents (as a scanner) etc etc.

        All of which supports my point. You're not going out to take close up shots of flowers or produce images of the sky that look nothing like the human eye can see – you're documenting your life with what you have at hand and for that a phone has become an excellent tool. And what what makes it that are features like good low light performance, increased dynamic range and effective image stabilisation – the things that Google and Apple have long competed on but Huawei seems to have decided is too difficult.

        One of the oldest sales tricks in the book is to demonstrate that your inferior product excels at some random task only tangentially related to its intended use (e.g. vacuum cleaners holding up bowling balls). I'm not saying Huawei is actually doing this but I do share Andrew's scepticism.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Have to agree

          Your point was "...anything more than take nice pictures of people and scenes is a wasted effort.".

          My point was there are many use cases for a camera that even people with decent equipment may want to use their phone camera for.

          "features like good low light performance, increased dynamic range and effective image stabilisation"

          "Huawei seems to have decided is too difficult."

          This doesn't make sense. The Huawei phones have excellent image stabilisation, HDR and low light performance. Either the best or equal best with all the others out there. Did you watch the youtube clip mentioned above which showed image stabilisation at 50x zoom?

          The fact that Huawei have been acclaimed for their cameras in real-world tests and many others seem to also be going down the multi-camera setups seems to suggest they are doing something right. If your one complaint is that they decided to show it taking the picture of the night sky and that noone would do that, then seems quite a minor thing to pick up on from the whole launch presentation.

  2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Can it run Crysis?

  3. Chz

    "The P30 dispenses with the headphone jack"

    I wasn't there personally, but most other sites are reporting that the P30 *does* have a headphone jack and it's the P30 Pro that doesn't.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. DaLo

        Re: "range"?

        Other way around as Chz said. The P30 has a Jack the P30 Pro doesn't.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)
          Thumb Up

          Re: "range"?

          Correct <red face>

  4. The Original Steve

    Couldn't be happier with my Mate 20 Pro

    Title says it all really.

    Brought an S8 to replace my beloved Lumia 950 XL late 2017. After a year with the S8 - and loving the hardware - I became so frustrated with the software (and whilst the hardware is gorgeous, it wasn't as robust as I would have liked) I walked to an EE store and just brought a Huawei Mate 20 Pro at only just below RRP. Cost me more than I would have liked, but honestly after about 5 months use the Huawei still feels like a considerable upgrade to the S8.

    Replaced the messaging, launcher, browser and email apps (naturally), so any concerns people have written in reviews about the software are no longer a concern for me (pretty much only use the settings screen - everything else is 3rd party) - not that I thought the stuff it shipped with was particularly bad.

    Now the Mate 20 Pro is a reasonable price (or nearly), I whole heartedly recommend it to anyone after a high-end droid.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Couldn't be happier with my Mate 20 Pro

      What did you do with the S8? Always worth sticking LineageOS on Sammys to get rid of all the crapware.

    2. juice Bronze badge

      Re: Couldn't be happier with my Mate 20 Pro

      I've just done the opposite - I went from a Samsung S7 to an LG v30 and now I'm on a S10 Pro - I figured for the relatively small monthly increment, I may as well go for the higher-rated battery.

      Going from the S7 to the V30, there was a measurable improvement in photo quality, and for the "urban" photography I do, the wide-angle lens is an absolute marvel. However, the viewing angle for the normal lens was visibly narrower on the V30, so I often found myself having to take a step further back to get the same photo. Which sometimes meant I had to fall back to the wide-angle lens (with slightly lower quality and visible barrel distortion) or run the occasional risk of stepping into the road.

      Since the S10 Pro has a wider viewing angle for both the normal and wide-angle lens, I figured I'd give it a go.

      Unfortunately, it's a mixed bag. The normal lens has a wider viewing angle and a lower resolution (from 16mp to 12mp); between the two, this effectively cancels out any improvements at the hardware level - the test photos I've done are pretty much indistinguishable.

      Also, the software is far less polished than LG's - I'm really not a fan of the sliding "ribbon" to switch between modes, and while the manual pro-photo mode is tolerable, there isn't an equivalent pro-video mode. On the LG, I could set the iso, framerate, monitor volume levels and tweak the microphone sensitivity: absolutely perfect for filming gig snippets when in my occasional groupie/roadie/scene-fan modes; by default, video cameras tend to screw up the contrast levels and completely wash out people's faces.

      Sadly, on the S10, all I can do is tweak the lighting level and set the focal point. And the onboard editing tools are notable by their absence. As far as I can tell, all you can do is to trim the footage - looking around on Google, it looks like they used to offer a more fully-featured editing app, but it's not available for the S10.

      For now, the wider viewing angles compensate for everything else. But it's been more of a sidestep than an upgrade, and I suspect I'll be getting itchy feet before year end.

      Sadly, I don't think there's anything out there with a comparable wide-angle lens - both LG and Huawei have settled on 107 degrees - a significant step down from the 135 degrees offered by the original LG G5 and less than the 123-degree lens sported by the S10.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Couldn't be happier with my Mate 20 Pro

        I went from a Samsung S7 to an LG v30 and now I'm on a S10 Pro

        Wow! And I'm still on my second, second-hand S5: the first has a hairline crack down the screen making it unsuitable for the bike. LineageOS 16 is fine on both of them, apart from some problems with Bluetooth.

        Photos are brilliant except in lowlight*, where I guess advances in CCD and associated software have been made. The S10e looks interesting but I won't buy anything that I can't stick LOS on and last year's, or even the year before's, technological marvels will do for me.

        * My brother has one of the latest I-Phones and in a head-to-head in some pub in Manchester we are able to compare selfies. There's no doubt that the I-Phone Natch has higher resolution and works better in lowlight. Unfortunately, it also got the colour balance badly wrong, which is the sort of thing that annoys me.

        1. juice Bronze badge

          Re: Couldn't be happier with my Mate 20 Pro

          In the past, I've upgraded because there were significant improvements over the last - each new generation has generally offered a larger/brighter screen, a faster CPU, more RAM and longer battery life alongside the camera improvements.

          And that in turn meant I could move more activities from a PC or laptop onto my phone; these days, I generally only fire up the PC for media editing and large swathes of typing

          But at this point, everything's pretty much peaked. Screens are now getting too large to comfortably use (and ironically, tend to run at a downscaled resolution to improve battery life), and with Moore's law fading away and heavy-processing tasks being moved to custom silicon and/or the cloud, CPU and RAM upgrades are offering little of benefit.

          So yeah: this is the first time where I've felt that the "upgrade" was noticeably anti-climatic. So I may well switch over to staying 6-12 months behind the curve and picking up top-tier handsets once they've been suitably devalued...

  5. TiredNConfused80

    Have they Fixed Bluetooth?

    Would be interesting to know if the Bluetooth issues on the P20 pro have been ironed out on this one.

    (Particularly on FitBit but also on some medical stuff as well):

  6. juice Bronze badge

    50x optical zoom?

    This article's distinctly lacking in any technical details, so I went and had a rummage. According to T3, the P30 Pro has 5x optical zoom and a 10x "hybrid" zoom which uses "AI"[*] interpolation. And they're doing two more things to try and improve image quality:

    1) Bumping the main camera up to 40mp

    2) Using an "RYYB" (Red, Yellow, Yellow, Blue) - allegedly, the two "yellow" sensors pick up more light and can also detect both red and green

    https://www.t3.com/news/huawei-p30-pro-review

    However, there's no mention anywhere of a 50x zoom, even though it is mentioned in one of the powerpoint slides visible in one of this article's photos. Forbes also states it's 10x.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/bensin/2019/03/26/huawei-p30-pro-hands-on-10x-optical-zoom-beats-apples-and-samsungs-top-offerings/

    Either way, it'll be interesting to see how well these things work once the phone is out in the wild.

    [*] Surely we must have reached the peak of tagging everything which uses an algorithm as "AI"?

    1. Paddy

      Re: 50x optical zoom?

      MKBHD on Youtube has more details on the zoom feature here: https://youtu.be/0O4_EAGNg7k?t=141

      I'll take a different view than the author of this Register article: I think that the true zoom, and how it is integrated into the phone's form-factor is *very* innovative. They have matched it with very good stabilisation to make high-zoom useable too, it seems.

      1. juice Bronze badge

        Re: 50x optical zoom?

        To be grudgingly fair to El Reg, I did notice after posting that they have a separate article about the P30 Pro: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/03/26/huawei_p30/

        Thanks for the link to the video, too :)

        However, as per the various rants over on Ars (https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/03/new-huawei-phone-has-a-5x-optical-zoom-thanks-to-a-periscope-lens/), the P30 doesn't have "true" zoom. Instead, it has:

        1) A "1x" 40mp lens

        2) A "5x" 20mp telephoto lens

        3) Some funky algorithm which allegedly offers "10x" lossless zoom

        So anything other than 1x or 5x involves some form of digital zoom and/or cropping.

        And presumably, anything beyond 5x is purely from the 20mp lens alone, unless they're feeding data from the 40mp lens into their magical "AI" lossless algorithm.

        It's a bit of a shame that the guy in the video above didn't mount the phone on a tripod before playing with the 50x zoom, as the shakiness made it hard to get a good look at how well it performed. It did look like there was some visual distortion going on as he reached the upper limits of the zoom, but that could just due to the fact that it was being handheld.

        Any which way, I think it's safe to say that "50x" zoom is pretty much just a marketing exercise: as the aforementioned video cliip shows, it's pretty much unusable in a handheld device and I'd be surprised if anyone ever uses anything above 10x on a regular basis.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: 50x optical zoom?

          Yes, it's there as a demonstration and to grab headlines - and to show off their algorithms. 50x isn't really usable in real life I'm discovering. You may get lucky and capture a usable image, but it isn't great, as the image is moving so much (still).

      2. Paddy

        Re: 50x optical zoom?

        It's early days (hours) for the P30 - this video comparison with the Apple XS Max stresses that the P30 software used was pre-production: https://youtu.be/iGPeF4vD8bc

      3. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: 50x optical zoom?

        The YouTube video mentions the 'periscope' zoom. As far as I can tell this is very similar, albeit slimmed down, to the zoom in Konica Minolta's Dimage X series cameras that were flat with optics in an internal periscope for zoom (KM called it 'folded optics') - my Xg (2004 vintage) was 3.2Mpixel, 3x optical zoom, which could (pointlessly IMO) be extended with 4x digital zoom on top, although a user setting could lock out digital to stop you accidentally straying into it. Likewise the phone is 5x optical with up to 10x digital on top.

        The Xg was a great little camera for its time.

        1. juice Bronze badge

          Re: 50x optical zoom?

          I used to have one, though IIRC, I never really rated the photo quality. I went though a lot of compact camera models before finally settling on the Canon Ixus range...

    2. IHateWearingATie

      Re: 50x optical zoom?

      "[*] Surely we must have reached the peak of tagging everything which uses an algorithm as "AI"?"

      Nowhere close. Only once Walkers start talking about AI controlled machines cooking their crisps will we be there.

      1. greenawayr

        Re: 50x optical zoom?

        Shirley you mean when trendies are able maintain their eccentric beards with AI powered beard trimmers?

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: 50x optical zoom?

        More to the point, is anybody reading ElReg not tired of explaining why so-called "digital zoom" isn't really all that useful?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: 50x optical zoom?

          Who is Alastair and why is he being made to do all the work these days ?

  7. LDS Silver badge

    Desperate marketing...?

    Apart from the Milky Way being shot in Namibia, well known for its very dark skies (but not exactly behind the corner for most) - why compare photos taken with different exposures and ISO? Moreover this kind of photo require excellent lenses (usually wide angles) with a very wide well corrected field - it's easy to see stars distorted at the edges when lenses are not great (it is true software can attempt to to fix that) - but I would like to give a look to the EXIF data.... moreover colors look really oversaturated.

    There's also another issue: the Earth rotation starts to become visible after n seconds - where n depends on the focal length. I very doubt they could use a 30s exposure with a phone lens (especially it it's still a 27mm equivalent). On a full-frame camera you'd need a lens of 16mm or lower to avoid star blur with such exposure. Unless you use a motorized system....

    And that 50x zoom looks like the wet dream of any surveillance agency - and I guess it was the dream of some marketing people (anyway the "landscape" image looks to be take once again with a very wide-angle lens....)

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Desperate marketing...?

      The point is not that they have/do not have flat fields or whether the colours are accurately recorded (you're assessing it based on at a photo of a projected image rendered on a web page!) but that the system is sensitive enough to produce those images in the first place. You're confusing "astrophotography for astronomers" with "marketing for the masses"

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Desperate marketing...?

        Astronomers usually don't to such kind of photography - it's almost useless for scientific needs.

        But some things can tell if it was a real phone photo, or another marketing "ooops!!" using images taken with far bigger, expensive and professional rigs...

        And anyway - shouldn't the phone, projector, camera, etc. color calibrated, if they want to show the outstanding photo capabilities? <G>

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Desperate marketing...?

          Apart from it being extremely difficult to colour calibrate a projector unless in a totally dark room, the picture is from a member of the audience (the journalist?), then copied to a PC/MAC, then edited in software, then viewed on your monitor.

          Even the original picture showing the other people is really poor with the photo being taken on a poorquality device.

      2. Cederic Bronze badge

        Re: Desperate marketing...?

        The bigger point is their miserable dishonesty in comparing a photo claimed to be from their phone that had six times the exposure of the photograph from a competitor's phone and saying that this even remotely demonstrates anything meaningful.

        If (and I doubt it) the photograph alleged to be the Huawei phone is indeed from that device then I'm happy to acknowledge that it's a very nice picture. The ISO, aperture and shutter speed are all within sensible bounds for that type of photography too. The lack of star trails on a 30 second photograph do suggest that this isn't exactly a basic 'phone on tripod' shot.

        And this is a major issue for me. I don't hate Huawei and welcome strong competition in the market place. But I can't trust them now, they're demonstrably proving that they're willing to mislead people in order to sell their phone.

        Meanwhile I'm taking some seriously good photographs on my old Samsung phone which means that I know it delivers on camera performance, even if Samsung are increasingly stupid about the software they forcibly deploy onto their devices.

        This is probably one reason Apple are successful. They at least admit that they're going to invade and control your life.

  8. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Is there a non-camera option for business and government use?

    Nokia and Blackberry used to have such...

  9. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Flame

    Damn you El Reg with your Bait and Switch headline...

    pyrotechnics and smartphone in the same sentence?

    I only read it in the hope of an exploding phone story!

  10. Ian Watkinson

    Sunk cost?

    Know lots of people switching from iOS to android.

    £999 iPhone vs £699 Same or better spec android buys an awful lot of apps.

    Plus a lot of paid apps have free equivalents now

    Can anyone name any iOS exclusive apps now that would stop someone switching

    iMessage vs telegram perhaps

    Facetime vs Skype

    Find your friends vs life360

    1. digitalwolf

      Re: Sunk cost?

      True.. Iphone is overpriced in my opinion. And lacks many new features what android offers.

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