Smartphone cameras are getting better each year, of that there is no doubt, but when it comes to the flagship phones the margins of difference in quality are harder to decipher.

In recent years it’s been Huawei which has led the charge in terms of smartphone cameras, and their latest offering, the P30 Pro, appears to have picked up where its predecessors left off.

To find out just how good the P30 Pro is, and whether it can live up to the claims of its manufacturer, we recently received one for review. While the fully fledged review is coming later this week, we have been testing out the camera setup on this latest offering.

Here’s how it has performed so far.

All round performance

When it comes to all round shooting the P30 Pro has not disappointed so far, but that’s to be expected as it’s based a similar triple lens setup (40MP wide, 20MP ultra-wide and 8MP periscope) to that of the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, both of which featured great photography functionality. There’s also a new ToF (Time of Flight) sensor added to the mix for depth of field shots.

While those two devices are impressive, the P30 Pro has them beat in a couple of ways.

Allow me to explain.

First the object detection on the P30 Pro seems to react faster than the previous models. We’re not sure if Huawei has done some tweaking in that regard, but this smartphone is able to discern different objects with far greater accuracy and speed.

The upshot of this is that the onboard system can adjust the settings accordingly with greater speed, allowing you to snap away quicker. One of the issues we encountered with the Mate 20 Pro is that is any person was dedicated in a scene, it immediately went into portrait mode and tried to create a bokeh effect, even if you weren’t necessarily taking a portrait.

This is not an issue we’ve experience yet on the P30 Pro.

Turn the lights down low

One of the other areas where Huawei has been touting the capabilities of this new smartphone is low light photography.

In fact the maximum ISO on the P30 Pro is 409 600, which is not only the best available on any smartphone camera right now, it’s dangerously close to DSLR level. While I won’t be ditching my trusty Canon for the P30 Pro, it does perform expertly in low light conditions.

In extremely dark situations the standard mode was okay, but in night mode yielded far more detail without sacrificing the quality of the image. A note about the night mode though, is that it may take a while to render depending on how much light is in the environment.

In my general experience this far, I’ve had to hold the phone steady for about five to six seconds after pressing the shutter button in order to get the shot I needed. It’s not a big thing, but something to consider if you want to do some action night photography.

Normal mode (left), Night mode (right).

Zoom, zoom, zoom

The other big talking points about the P30 Pro is its zooming ability. More specifically the 50 times digital zoom that it can muster. To put that to the test, as well as giving it something extra to deal with, we took a picture of a waning moon in the middle of the night.

At 50 times zoom the P30 Pro was able to capture quite a bit of impressive detail, including some of the craters on the moon’s surface.

I didn’t even have to put it in night mode to get the shot below, which is perhaps even more impressive.

One thing I did notice though is some shakiness while pinching to zoom to the 50 times mark. Huawei has a slider on the camera app, but even this proved a little shaky.

As such a tripod or something to steady the phone might be the best option if you’re planning to a lot of work with the enhanced zooming capabilities.

First impression

I’ve only had the P30 Pro for a week, but even in that time it’s proved impressive, especially in terms of its photography functionality.

If you own a P20 Pro, I’d argue that it’s worth upgrading to based on the other improvements that Huawei has made across the board. If however you recently got a Mate 20 Pro, the argument is harder to make given how great that device is.

Nevertheless the early verdict is that Huawei has produced one the best mobile photography tools in the P30 Pro so far this year.

Check in later this week as I review the device in full and give a proper verdict on it as a whole.