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HUAWEI P30 Pro camera update: the best gets better?

There's a camera update for the HUAWEI P30 Pro, but how much of a difference does it make?

Published onJune 6, 2019

HUAWEI P30 Pro camera array at angle

Huawei has made a name for itself in the smartphone market by offering some of the best camera technology around. The HUAWEI P30 Pro already has an excellent camera, but a new update (version touts further improvements.

The update’s sales pitch is improved photo quality. Namely, color processing has been tweaked to appear more natural and authentic. HUAWEI has also fixed an issue where videos recorded with the front camera wouldn’t display correctly.

Screenshot of HUAWEI P30 Pro camera update changelog

The update also includes the latest Google security patch, face unlock, and a fix for lock screen notifications when using a live wallpaper. Proof, if any were needed, that HUAWEI’s existing smartphones will continue to see updates despite the ban from working with U.S. companies. But enough about that, we’re here to see what’s changed about the camera.

Sample shots

I took a lot of pictures with the HUAWEI P30 Pro before and after the update, and there wasn’t a night and day difference between a lot of the images. However, I was able to identify a few key changes which you can see in the samples below.

For starters, the updated camera is less prone to white balance issues. In the example below, note the red tint on the white wall before the update. This is fixed after the update. Bender is also his more natural greenish grey color and the wooden TV stand also takes on a more natural, less red hue.

My lunch also looks more appetizing after the update. Again, some of the reds have been taken out of the color pallet, so the bread crusts appear more natural. The greens also make way for a slightly yellower hue, which is more realistic for my slightly wilted lettuce. However, these changes are very subtle in this picture and clearly don’t make such a difference compared to the first image.

This second sample shows a bigger difference. Although we have to be careful to take the slight change in outdoor lighting into consideration.

There are two key things to notice. First, the color vibrancy has been toned down with the update. The grass is not quite as lush looking, neither are the bushes, and the purple flowers near the middle of the frame don’t pop out anywhere near as much.

Secondly, the shadows are a lot less dark after the update resulting in a more realistic contrast. Ignore the change in lighting under the bench, instead, look to the folds in the parasol and the dark shadows under the bushes at the back of the garden. The pre-update blacks are almost crushed, but post update we have more defined greys rolling more gradually into black. There’s less pop, but it’s a boon for realism.

The final two samples show similar changes but to a slightly less noticeable degree.

On the left, there’s a bit of a change to exposure producing some stronger highlights post update. However, the overall colors are generally a tad brighter, with more subtle shading on the leaves. On the right, ignore the change in the sky lighting. What we’re looking at here is a very subtle reduction in the saturation of the green grass in the background. The image is also a little less blue too, although this could be a result of a change in the clouds.

As you can see, the changes can range from quite pronounced to verging on a placebo effect. Overall, pictures retain the same detail, sharpness, and exposure as before. It’s definitely the color balance that has been changed, mostly by fixing the sometimes overly warm white balance and reducing the saturation of blacks and greens.

Lab test results

Lining up shots pre and post update is a little tricky, especially when the lighting changes. I also ran the phone through our camera testing lab before and after the update to see what’s changed under strict lighting conditions.

Color error delta falls from 3.2 pre-update to just 2.48 following the update.

The results closely follow what we’ve observed above and what HUAWEI states has changed in the update. Interestingly, color saturation remains identical pre and post update. HUAWEI hasn’t changed the color saturation processing, rather the camera’s color accuracy has been notably improved.

Color error delta falls from 3.2 pre-update to just 2.48 following the update. The accuracy improvements mostly come in the orange and magenta parts of the color spectrum, which explains some of the changes we observed in the pictures above. Cyan, blacks, and whites are also a fraction more accurate too, which helps to explain the tweaks to contrast.

2019 photography showdown: HUAWEI P30 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Google Pixel 3
Google Pixel 3 camera in focus, with HUAWEI P30 Pro and Galaxy S10 besides

Overall, the P30 Pro’s camera update tweaks a couple of key things. Warmer colors are captured more accurately, which helps produce a more natural white balance. Blacks are also a little less crushed, slightly reducing punch and pop in favor of more realistic contrast. There isn’t a night and day difference in the vast majority of pictures I took, but different scenarios may see more noticeable changes.

The HUAWEI P30 Pro’s camera update makes it an even more reliable and accurate shooter. Unfortunately, the phone’s superb capabilities are currently being overshadowed by the ongoing U.S. ban.