My Xiaomi Mi Air 13 accompanied me through my tertiary student life, followed by my voluntary service, and finally followed me in my freelance work - enabling me to have a positive attitude towards technology imports from China. Interest in foreign technology is so great in that dealers often offer express shipping lines and extended support for such incoming hardware. Purchasing devices such as the Honor 30 Pro+ in Europe or North America is therefore possible with a little bit of legwork and living with a few compromises. This review shows whether this smartphone is convincing enough to pick up even after having to go through a relatively long delivery time. A 90 Hz refresh rate for its display, a 5G capable Kirin 990 chipset, and the Periscope Camera with 5x optical zoom look promising at first glance.
- Powerful camera system
- High powered performance
- Good range of functions
- Currently available as an imported device
- No Google Play services
- Large notch on the front display
Who is the Honor 30 Pro+ for?
The Honor smartphone is particularly impressive with regard to the high performing camera module located at the back. If you actually pick up this smartphone from Honor, you would realize that it drew a lot of its inspiration from the Huawei P40 Pro, where it comes packed with a triple camera system that delivers 50 megapixels shots, 5x optical zoom with the Periscope Camera, and 4K video capture at 60 frames per second into, all thanks to the integrated camera module right at the glass back of the smartphone. However, the Honor smartphone is not significantly cheaper than the Huawei model. In conclusion, I will go into this matter in a bit more detail.
What I like about the Honor 30 Pro+
Performance and hardware
Equipped with a Kirin 990 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of internal storage, the Honor 30 Pro+ is firmly positioned as a high-end smartphone where performance is concerned. This new smartphone is 5G-ready and is a massive performance monster courtesy of Huawei's' top processor from 2019. With the Honor 30 Pro+, you will hardly have to expect any kind of lag in everyday use. Standard apps such as the pre-installed browser or Huawei's AI Life app will pop up in a smooth manner, without having the smartphone break a sweat.
Launching the mobile game known as Asphalt 9 took a little longer in the review, where the game required around 5 seconds to load the main menu before it proceeded to run smoothly on the highest graphic settings. Even when you are multitasking, you don't really seem to be able to push the phone to its performance limits. At the same time, YouTube videos can be viewed in 4K via the browser while pictures can be edited in the photo app simultaneously. Apart from the benchmark tests, I could not think of an application that would really push the Honor 30 Pro+ to its performance limits. This is only partly due to the powerful capability of the smartphone, but more about that later.
Honor has also included similarly lavish hardware in other parts of the smartphone. The integrated in-display fingerprint sensor reacts within about half a second. If that doesn't work, there is always facial recognition that helps unlock the handset. The smartphone will even display a somewhat pretentious "Face before fingerprint" message as part of the unlocking process. This handset also boasts of loud and surprisingly clear stereo speakers, in addition to an infrared blaster that enables the Honor 30 Pro+ to control TVs or digital SLR cameras.
Additionally, Honor's fast charging technology is also part of the deal via the included (in our review unit from China!) 30-watt power supply unit. With this, the Honor 30 Pro+ will recharge to 70 percent within a mere 30 minutes. Honor has also thought about reverse wireless charging in this model. Basically, you can place compatible smartphones, smartwatches or true wireless earphones like the Huawei FreeBuds 3 on the back of the handset and hence enable it to discharge juice to those depleted battery levels. But with a power of 5-watts, the technology is comparatively slow when I hung up the phone, where I had to take a long time to search for the right spot to make this happen during the review. However, the Honor 30 Pro+ charges wirelessly rather fast at 27 watts, provided a compatible charging pad is available.
Display with a 90 Hz refresh rate
Just as impressive, the 30 Pro+'s spec sheet proudly points to the smartphone's 6.67-inch AMOLED display. Thanks to punch-hole notch camera in front, it covers close to 90 percent of the front of the device and wraps itself around the case a little bit to the left and right. To be fair, however, I would like to mention that the cutout camera is quite large due to a pair of front-facing cameras. Nevertheless, the 30 Pro+ is still relatively compact with measurements of 160 x 73 x 8.4 millimeters after taking its display size into consideration.
The screen doesn't steal the show because of its small bezels, but thanks to its refresh rate of 90 Hertz. Working in tandem with the speedy processor, the pre-installed Android 10 operating system works just great in a one-handed operation mode. At the same time, the screen is extremely bright which is typical for OLEDs, and boasts of extremely high contrasts. Thus, 4K content, which I had to laboriously download from the Internet (more about that later), look adequate in terms of quality.
The fact that Honor wraps the display just a wee a bit around the case on both sides was surprisingly well-liked in the review. In contrast to similarly constructed Samsung smartphones, this Honor device doesn't react to all finger inputs. Pulling down the notification bar or selecting menu items does not work here, and this ensures that the risk of incorrect entries is reduced when holding the Honor 30 Pro+ in your grip.
The 50-megapixel camera
If you hold the smartphone in your hand while taking a picture, the large display will blur with the surrounding environment while showing the camera image. In this respect, the Honor 30 Pro+ offers pretty much all the options that are available in modern camera smartphones:
Honor P30 Pro+ technical specifications
|frames per second
|1920 frames per second
The camera system on the back works well with Huawei's built-in camera software. As usual with HMS smartphones (that's what Huawei and Honor call their smartphones), you are supported by artificial intelligence that recognizes scenes and dynamically adjusts the camera settings. In addition, there are eight different filters that photographers can choose from, and those with very little experience in image editing software can safely ignore.
Very useful, however, is the "high resolution" mode, which gives you access to the full 50 megapixels that the sensor provides. In all other modes, these are added together for better post-processing and used for all kinds of calculations. For example, the smartphone adds up all of the pixel power to enable a maximum digital zoom of 50x. Although this is no longer a special feature limited only to Samsung's 100x space zoom at the moment, it is still impressive to use. Here, it's more of a gimmick; although having zoom up to 10x magnification is definitely usable for many situations.
The smartphone's video mode delivers a similarly positive surprise. With 4K resolution shot at 60 frames per second, the smartphone is on par with current digital cameras. In addition, there are super slow-motion shots in 1080p at 1920 frames per second, which are surprisingly easy to capture thanks to a motion detection function that kicks in at the beginning of each session.
The camera found on the Honor 30 Pro+ is a very good snapshot camera anyway. This is partly due to the reliable autofocus system. In this system, Honor combines its Omni-directional Aufotocus technology via phase recognition, PDAF for short, with laser autofocus. The result is fast and above all, reliable focusing on subjects. This can be illustrated very well if you configure using the volume rockers the "ultra snapshot" function. When you decide to make use of this function, just double-tap quickly, and within 0.2 to 0.5 seconds, the phone will take a photo.
What I don't like about the the Honor 30 Pro+
Setting up an imported device
If the Honor 30 Pro+ arrives as an imported device from overseas, you should take a little time to set it up properly. This is because it is not quite as easy as with an already localized smartphone. After switching on the smartphone for the first time, it might not show up in the English language version, and you will have to set up an English keyboard layout, and Google as the default search engine in the Honor browser. In addition, there is a large number of pre-installed apps, which are also installed on the Chinese language version of the device.
Even after going through the setup process thoroughly, you will not get the set defaults working on the Honor 30 Pro+. For example, the smartphone still displays Chinese characters on the start screen. Also, the Huawei Assistant, which Android typically launches by swiping to the left on the start screen, cannot be switched to a German or English language setting. These small annoying details don't carry too much weight in view of the powerful hardware. However, the Honor smartphone comes with all the disadvantages that current HMS smartphones do - they are affected by the trade embargo with the USA. At least, we can delve deeper into this matter!
Disadvantages of an HMS smartphone
Huawei has taken the bull by the horns in the midst of the Google lockdown and has been working on its own operating system and app sources. While Harmony OS is still in development, the AppGallery, Huawei's Petal Search, and other independent services have been pre-installed on devices like the Honor 9X Pro, the Honor 9A, and even the Honor 30 Pro+. Thus, only a fraction of the app range found on the Google Play Store is available for use. In addition, installed APK files must be checked regularly for updates and updated. If you reinstall some apps, you will also receive a message about missing Google services when you launch them.
This is especially notable with apps like YouTube, with which the multimedia strengths of the Honor 30 Pro+ can be enjoyed thoroughly, whenever one misses the support of Google services. The selection of mobile games is also very limited and popular titles like Call of Duty: Mobile or PUBG Mobile are missing. At the same time, you can't get rid of the feeling that you will never be able to fully exploit the potential of your powerful smartphone. If you had the intestinal fortitude to import from overseas shortly before and want to enjoy your beautiful smartphone to the fullest, the disappointment may be great.
The Honor 30 Pro+ is an interesting model found within the upper flagship smartphone range. The high-performance hardware coupled together with the 90 Hertz refresh rate display means the smartphone experiences virtually no lag time. At the same time, Honor fills the handset to the brim with a wide range of functions. Apart from exotic features found in some other mobile devices such as the gesture control of the Google Pixel 4 or the LIDAR scanner in the Apple iPad Pro 2020, there is not much that the Honor 30 Pro+ cannot do.
However, as an imported device and Huawei's software restrictions, there are many disadvantages associated with picking up this smartphone. Although the smartphone is convincing in the review, we would highly recommend one to purchase the Huawei P40 Pro instead, which is currently only approximately €50 ($59) more expensive. The P40 Pro also has a Kirin 990 processor and even offers a somewhat more powerful camera system on the back. In addition, there is a slightly larger battery and faster reverse charging, which already works with 27 watts on the Huawei smartphone.
Besides the Huawei P40 Pro, a look at the Oppo Find X2 Neo is also recommended, which is approximately the same price as both devices. A somewhat weaker camera and lack of wireless charging are replaced by very good fast charging capability thanks to Oppo's SuperVooC. There are also conceivable alternatives in Samsung's Galaxy S20 series, whereby a small surcharge is due when buying the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The full potential of that smartphone can be fully exploited thanks to functioning Google services.