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HONOR View 30 hands-on: Top-tier internals at an affordable price

The HONOR View 30 takes the affordable flagship formula and turns it up a notch, with a deeper focus on imaging.

Published onNovember 26, 2019

HONOR View 30 in hand showing rear panel 2

Affordable flagships are perhaps the hottest smartphone segment right now. Between the OnePlus 7T, the realme X2 Pro, and the Redmi K20 Pro, there is a fierce battle raging to deliver a “pro” experience to consumers while still maintaining a relatively affordable price tag.

The HONOR View 30 joins in the fray with a top-end chipset, 5G capabilities, and a camera setup that is bound to make you sit up and take notice. HONOR took to stage to announce the phone in Beijing earlier today, and we had a chance to spend a few minutes with the company’s latest and greatest. Follow along as we go hands-on with the HONOR View 30.

Design: It’s all about the colors

HONOR View 30 displaying all colors

For a company that essentially pioneered the gradient-rich design scheme, the HONOR View 30 is a bit of a step back. The flashy V-shaped light pattern has been replaced by a focus on gorgeous, vibrant, and solid colors. I can’t really complain about this. The Twilight Orange color, in particular, is eye-catching. The color-matched metal frame that runs around the edges further accentuates the aesthetics.

HONOR View 30 in hand with display and punch hole camera 1

Up front, the phone’s design takes cues from Samsung and employs a dual camera punch-hole. You will find a 32MP main selfie shooter here, as well as an 8MP ultra-wide camera. In my limited time with the phone, results looked promising.

I quite liked the large, 6.57-inch display as well, despite the so-so Full HD+ resolution. Bezels aren’t quite the smallest I’ve seen, but the focus on color vibrancy and the skew towards oversaturation should make watching movies a treat. While this particular phone was running a Chinese software build, you can expect to see options to adjust the contrast to suit personal preferences as is the case on other HONOR devices.

HONOR View 30 in hand profile

While the phone is built really well, the caveat here is that the back is a dirt-magnet. I found myself constantly wiping down the phone. Tactile feedback of the buttons is great, and HONOR nailed the general fit and finish.

Alas, the headphone jack is well and truly gone. You will find a USB-C port along the bottom edge as well as a speaker grille. Additionally, the fingerprint sensor is embedded in the power button placed on the right. An interesting choice, albeit one that is generally faster and more reliable than in-display fingerprint scanners.

Performance: Power, AI, 5G, and more

HONOR View 30 blue color in hand

The HONOR V30 Pro, predictably, runs on the latest Kirin 990 chipset. We’ve covered the chipset in-depth, which you can read here. While there are appreciable CPU/GPU performance gains, the Kirin 990 rightly puts a focus on other, more noticeable improvements. For example, the HONOR V30 takes advantage of the neural cores and AI smarts to improve imaging, AR capabilities, as well as unique (if a bit out there) features like the ability to gauge heart rate and breathing rate via the camera.

I had the chance to check out an augmented reality demo wherein the V30 superimposed a split open model of the phone on a tabletop surface. The visual fidelity, tracking, and object placement were impressive, but it remains to be seen if developers jump on board to provide genuinely useful applications.

Then there’s 5G. The Kirin 990 chipset integrates a 5G modem and supports both the NSA and SA flavors of 5G. We’ll have to wait until our review unit shows up to test 5G, but HONOR claims the hardware should connect to 5G networks significantly better than the (ahem, Qualcomm) competition.

A triple camera set up with a difference

HONOR View 30 rear camera module

Triple camera setups are a dime and a dozen these days, but the HONOR View 30 steps up the game with a 40MP Sony IMX600 primary sensor with an RYYB configuration. Like the HUAWEI P30 Pro, you can expect amazing night photography capabilities. While my time with the phone was limited by the highly controlled environment, it was still astonishing to see the amount of detail the phone’s camera is able to surface in near-total darkness — without a long exposure time.

Elsewhere, the 12MP ultra-wide camera sports a cine lens in a 16:9 configuration for better video capture. Again, while we’ll wait to do our own testing, the results on-site were very impressive in the extremely low lighting. Add to that an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x zoom, and the View 30 could be one of the most impressive camera smartphones in the affordable flagship segment.

While Magic UI might not be your cup of tea, it does run on top of the latest Android 10 release.

The HONOR View 30 Pro focuses on what consumers demand, without any gimmicks.

Be it the speedy 40W fast charging, the 27W wireless charging, or the improved reverse wireless charging, it’s evident the HONOR View 30 has the foundational elements of a really solid smartphone.

Due to the nature of the launch event, there are a lot of features that we simply could not test on the show floor.

HONOR View 30: Potential in waiting

HONOR View 30 front with display on

I like what the HONOR View 30 promises: a straightforward, no-nonsense phone that focuses on what consumers demand, including great performance, excellent imaging, and the latest connectivity standards without any of the gimmicks.

If first impressions are anything to go by, the HONOR View 30 is shaping up to be yet another solid offering. The phone goes on sale in China starting December 12. While there is no word on worldwide availability yet, it will hopefully make its way to Europe and beyond like previous devices in the series.

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