Honor View30 Pro hands-on review: the Google saga rolls on

The Honor View30 PRO is the latest flagship phone from the Huawei subsidiary, and it's also the company's first dual-mode 5G smartphone. We were able to go hands-on with the device at an event in Barcelona last week. Here are our first hands-on impressions.

Honor View30 Pro release date and price
The Honor View30 Pro will launch in March. As things stand, the company has only announced Russia as a market, but more are coming. Russia is a market where Honor is currently the second-largest smartphone manufacturer, and it seems the Huawei sister brand wants to try to capitalize on its strength there.

The Honor View30 Pro comes in four colors: OceanBlue, Midnight Black, Icelandic Frost, SunriseOrange. There is still no official word on pricing either. We will update this hands-on review as soon as we have the numbers.

Moderate design innovation
The Honor View30 Pro features what the brand is calling Aurora Nano Texture technology. Essentially, five layers of glass are stacked to give more sense of depth to the colors. The first involves the development of an ink layer, while the second is the coating layer, the third is the UV texture layer, the fourth one is the colored surface, and the last is the glass body. The result is a very shiny fingerprint magnet that some will find attractive.
One instantly noticeable design difference from the Honor View20 is that the fingerprint sensor has moved from the back of the phone to the side. It's in a much more convenient position for one-handed use if you ask me. We've seen this before, of course - the Samsung Galaxy S10e springs to mind - and I'm a fan of this option over in-display fingerprint sensors which can be unreliable or slow on anything other than flagship smartphones. The screen-to-body ratio is an impressive 91.46 percent.

The rest of the smartphone is rather uninspiring, design-wise. That's not really a dig at Honor here, all phones look the same from the front these days. The camera module on the back is remarkably similar in style to that of the new Galaxy S20 series, and it does protrude a fair amount from the back of the phone. A protective case will be your friend here, as with most modern devices these days.

A 6.57-inch FullView display
The display on the Honor View30 Pro is a 6.57-inch FullView display. The FHD+ resolution is 1400 x 1080p (400 ppi). It big an bright and rather attractive. It is difficult to test the display in all conditions when you are in a bright room like the one where I went hands-on with the phone, but I would predict that this performs well in bright sunlight too. There's no high refresh rate here, such as the 90Hz we've seen from OnePlus and Google, and the 120Hz we've seen from Samsung. You are stuck with a basic 60Hz refresh rate.

The FHD+ resolution is sharp, though, and the display is capable of displaying 16.7 million colors. I will report back on the display performance when we have had a chance to do a full review of this smartphone.

Still no Google Play Store out of the box
Like Huawei, Honor was keen to push the AppGallery at the event in Barcelona. The third-largest app store, behind the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, now has more than 400 million monthly active users. Most of those are in China, of course.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but we are still at the stage where discussing the software performance of a new smartphone that does not come with Google apps or services is difficult. Yes, it is true that AppGallery is making strides, and there are plenty of big-name apps on the store already, but the fact that apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook have to be downloaded manually via an APK file has to go down as a negative.

The OS on the Honor View30 Po is Magic UI 3.0.1, which is compatible with Android 10. We'll be back with a full review of the software just as soon as we get our review unit and have had time to use the phone as a daily driver.

A Kirin 990 5G SoC with 8GB of RAM
The Honor View30 PRO is the brand's first suite of handsets that are equipped with the Kirin 990 5G SoC and supports a dual-mode 5G all-access network. It's a 7nm chipset with a dual NPU. There's also a 16-core Mali-G76 GPU. You can have either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage and all View30 Pro's come with 8GB of RAM.

The performance was snappy during my hands-on experience, and I had no problems dashing around the device, opening apps and multitasking. Naturally, it was impossible to test the 5G performance and probably will be for some time here in Germany. We'll be back with a full performance review, including benchmark tests, very soon.

Meet the 40MP SuperSensing Matrix Camera
The Honor View30 Pro brings the SuperSensing Matrix Camera , comprised of a 40-megapixel Sony IMX600 main camera, a 12-megapixel super-wide-angle camera with Cine-lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera. This so-called Matrix Camera allows you to capture shots through multiple lenses. The 12-megapixel Cine-camera is supported with a 4-in-1 light fusion (effective 2.8μm pixels) from an RGGB sensor and a 109° super wide-angle lens, along with a 16:9 customized sensor to create better photos and videos. There's also laser autofocus on the back.

On the front, there's a 32-megapixel AI Selfie Camera and an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera. Honor was quick to point out the high ISO on its new flagship phone, and the numbers are impressive on paper. An iPhone 11 Pro Max will give you an ISO value of 6,400, whilst a Canon 5D Mark IV is more like 102,400. Honor says that the ISO value of the View30 Pro is 409,600.

There are plenty of camera tricks baked into the Honor View30 Pro. Video is one of the focus this year, and a new Dual-View Videography mode lets you see through the 40-megapixel SuperSening camera and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera at the same time. The 12-megapixel Cine-lens also supports macro photography.

We'll have to see how this camera performs once we can get it out into the wild to take some real-life photographs. Stay tuned for that.

A 4,100 mAh battery with fast charging
The Honor View30 Pro comes with a 4,100 mAh battery. That's not huge given the large FHD+ display. We'll have to wait and see how the batter performs during daily operation when we can do a full review. Naturally, in the hands-on area of a smartphone event, it is impossible to test such things.

When you do need to charge, however, you'll have access to up to 40W SuperCharge which claims to be able to achieve 70 percent in 30 minutes. The phone also supports 24W Wireless SuperCharge which can get you 52 percent in 30 minutes. Reverse wireless charging is also available. I'm looking forward to seeing if these numbers hold up during testing.
Honor View30 Pro technical specifications
DIMENSIONS:162.7 x 75.8 x 8.8 mm
WEIGHT:206 g
SCREEN:2400 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi)
FRONT CAMERA:32 megapixels
REAR CAMERA:40 megapixels
256 GB
CHIPSET:HiSilicon Kirin 990
Early Verdict
Once again Honor has made some excellent hardware with the View30 Pro. The sticking point for this smartphone though will always be the lack of Google apps and services. As positive as I am about HMS Core and Huawei's AppGallery, we are not quite at a stage where I can recommend a phone that has a hole in it as big as the one Google has left.
I really hope Huawei and Honor are heading towards a future where this is no longer a major issue, but we are not there. Not yet, anyway.
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