Huawei P30-series camera comparison: Huawei P30 Lite vs. Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Pro
The manufacturer's suggested retail price for Huawei smartphones varies a lot. The lowest priced model of the P30 trio costs 369 Euros (~$413); this is followed by the P30, which has a price of 749 Euros (~$838), and finally there's the P30 Pro with a price tag of 999 Euros (~$1,117). Therefore it's not surprising to see that there are at times considerable technical differences between the P30 smartphones – this also applies to the built-in cameras.
Unlike last year, Huawei has also opted for a triple-camera setup in the P30 and the P30 Lite this time around, but the individual camera modules are in part massively different to the ones used in the P30 Pro.
Buyers entering the P30 cosmos will have to settle for the 2x digital zoom found in the Lite model, while the "normal" P30 features a 5x hybrid zoom, and the Pro model even has access to a 5x optical zoom. The P30 and P30 Pro feature the new SuperSpectrum sensor in their main cameras. The Chinese manufacturer has kept silent on the sensor choice for the P30 Lite, even after having been inquired about this by our editorial department. The available options are the IMX586 from Sony or the Isocell Bright GM1 from Samsung.
We will evaluate the effects that these camera module differences have in the resulting image quality in more detail through different photo subjects and lighting conditions. But first, let's briefly summarize the technical specifications of the built-in camera modules:
All Huawei P30 models have three camera lenses
The triple-camera setup in the Huawei P30 Lite consists of a 48MP wide angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens and a 2MP telephoto lens. The latter collects depth of field information so as to achieve three-dimensionality in photographs. The 48MP main camera has a bright maximum aperture of f/1.8. The Leica triple-camera setup in the Huawei P30 features a 40MP sensor with wide-angle optics and an f/1.8 aperture, a 16MP sensor with an ultra-wide angle lens and an f/2.2 aperture, and finally an 8MP telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.4 and optical image stabilization.
The Leica camera modules in the rear of the P30 Pro are comprised of four optics, whereby the ToF camera (time-of-flight) doesn't take any photos but instead measures the time needed for the light to travel to the object and back for every point of the image, which allows it to generate a 3D profile. In addition, there's an ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.2, 20MP), as well as a telephoto lens (f/3.4, 8MP, OIS). Due to its f/1.6 aperture, the 40MP sensor on the main camera (OIS) is able to receive a bit more light compared to the P30.
At the time of doing this camera comparison, the following software versions are installed on each smartphone: Huawei P30 Lite - 22.214.171.124, Huawei P30 - 126.96.36.199, Huawei P30 Pro - 188.8.131.52.
Photography with the rear-facing-camera setups in the Huawei P30 phones
All Huawei P30 models come with several shooting modes such as the Photo mode, the Wide aperture mode and the Night shot mode, which are all integrated into the camera app. The mode that's being used in a specific photo can be found in its caption. In order to ensure the comparableness of the photos, all shots will be taken on auto mode with AI disabled. Cameras will be left on their default factory settings. Through the Pixel Binning method, which combines four pixels into one super-pixel, photos taken with the P30 and P30 Pro have a resolution of 10MP, while the P30 Lite produces shots of 12MP.
So as to better identify the differences in image details between the individual P30 models, all photo files are available with their respective photos.
Under very good lighting conditions, the image quality in all P30 phones seems to be very similar at first sight. Even the photos taken with the budget P30 Lite look sharp and rich in detail in well-lit scenarios. Upon a closer look, photos taken with the P30 Lite show lower dynamic range and noticeably lower sharpness compared to the other two Huawei models, which are significantly more expensive. In addition, colors sometimes look a bit pale and washed-out.
When zooming in a lot on an image – as seen on the flower blossom – the differences become striking. While the individual filaments and pistil are identifiable on the shots taken with the Huawei P30, these details are lost in blur and a lack of contrast with the P30 Lite. Unsurprisingly, the differences between the Chinese manufacturer's two top models are fewer. At times, the P30 Pro reproduces image components more accurately, but on other occasions, the Huawei P30 is a small step ahead. The slightly warmer white balance in the "normal" P30 model is noticeable, as well as the somewhat higher color saturation.
Nevertheless, we like the photos of the more-expensive model of the Huawei trio a little bit less overall, since color management in the 40MP camera can sometimes be considerably off – the composition featuring the building blocks is a perfect example of the problem with color accuracy. The composition's original colors occasionally differ significantly from the colors captured by the camera in the P30 Pro. The focus is also a bit less constant in the P30 Pro. This can be seen, for example, in the photo of the flowers, among others.
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Next, we take a better look at the wide-angle lens and zoom functions in the Huawei P30 smartphones. As expected, the quality in all three models is visibly below the one obtained with the main cameras.
Regarding dynamic range and details, the zoom photos taken with the P30 Lite can't keep up with the ones from the two more-expensive smartphones. The differences between the P30 and the P30 Pro are small, but individual deficiencies were observed with the Pro model, such as in the zoom photo of the tree trunk. This last one is noticeably over-sharpened and colors look unnatural. Several pictures were taken in this case, but there was no visible improvement.
The wide-angle lens in the P30 Lite shows a slight red tint, while color accuracy is very natural in both the top models. Compared to the P30 and P30 Pro, contrast and dynamic range are reduced in the pictures taken with the budget P30 smartphone, whereby details are lost under vastly different lighting conditions. Within the camera app preview, strong curvatures can be seen outside of the middle area of a photo. However, all the Huawei phones process these to a tolerable level in the final image.
Twilight and night photography
In the ultimate discipline, low-light photography, noise is introduced under little light in all three smartphones, and pictures become increasingly blurry. However, the P30 Pro is able to show all its strength under poor lighting conditions. It's superior to the Huawei P30 both in terms of detail reproduction and sharpness. This is especially noticeable when enlarging photos. Enabling Night mode allows for many details to be captured in photos, even in the dark.
As expected, when it comes to low-light photography, the considerable differences between both high-end smartphones and the P30 Lite become apparent. Despite its fast aperture, photos taken in twilight turn out quite dark and noisy. In low light, individual areas of a composition are barely recognizable due to the lack of dynamic range, while many image details can be appreciated with the P30 and P30 Pro.
The same applies for photos taken with the ultra-wide angle cameras and the telephoto lenses. Photos are lacking in detail and dynamic range. The quality seems visibly reduced, especially on the edges.
Photography with the front cameras in the Huawei P30 phones
The camera sensor in the Huawei P30 Lite, which is hidden inside the water-drop notch in the front, provides an aperture of f/2.0, as well as a resolution of 24MP. Both pricier models, the P30 and the P30 Pro, also offer an equally fast maximum aperture of f/2.0 but with a resolution of 32MP. However, there's no Pixel Binning technology in use here.
All three smartphones produce photos of good quality in properly lit environments. The richness in detail and sharpness found in selfies is a bit higher with the 32MP shooters than with the P30 Lite, but the differences aren't that big. The P30 and P30 Pro provide the most realistic color reproduction, but photos look a bit overexposed though.
Pictures taken with the front-facing cameras in the Huawei smartphones are still pretty good in twilight, however, they show visible noise, and smaller details become blurred despite the high resolution. Photos with the P30 Lite turned out surprisingly well. Image objects are differentiated with better clarity, and both structures and details are reproduced better than with the pricier models, the P30 and P30 Pro. Also in terms of brightness, the P30 Lite unexpectedly yielded clearly better results under poor lighting conditions.
Verdict - Three Huawei smartphones, three winners
The verdict may sound like a contradiction, but if you examine the photos taken in more detail, you'll find the following to be true. The performance of the rear-facing-camera setup on the P30 Lite isn't on par with the Chinese manufacturer's two top-of-the-line models; however, it does offer the best quality in selfies.
In our opinion, the Huawei P30 takes the best-looking pictures under good lighting conditions. Most importantly, its color management and focus are the most reliable in everyday use. Compared to the P30 Pro, the performance of the Huawei smartphone was hardly inferior according to our review photos.
The clear winner in low-light photography is the Huawei P30 Pro. What the Chinese manufacturer can do with the 40MP sensor in low light is impressive. But even without Night mode, the most-expensive P30 model manages to produce good-looking photos in the dark.
What can be concluded from our P30-series camera comparison? Users who value front-facing cameras highly and mostly take selfies with their smartphones don't necessarily need to get the P30 and P30 Pro high-end smartphones. On the contrary, the Huawei P30 Lite performed better in this area in our comparison. Despite the fact that the P30 Pro has somewhat better technical specifications, the photos it takes are only actually better under very poor lighting conditions. Users who mostly carry out daylight photography can opt for the less expensive of the two top models without hesitation.