The Huawei Mate 30 Pro – The best phone of 2019 we never got to see

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If Huawei were to describe its 2019, “mixed” might be the most apt word. The Chinese firm was looking to capitalise on a strong 2018 in which it claimed the number two spot among smartphone makers. Leading the charge in the early part of the year was the impressive P30 series alongside an ambitious folding device in the Mate X.

The resulting momentum was quickly stunted by the announcement that Google would be pulling support for future Huawei phones as the ongoing tariff war between the United States and China threatened to undo all of the hard work that Huawei had done up until that point.

Luckily the firm was able to cushion the blow with strong sales of devices it already had in the market and retaining its number two spot for the year.

This brings us to the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, which was supposed to be the firm’s second flagship device of the year and designed to go up against the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and Apple iPhone 11 Pro.

Sadly this did not come to pass as the device featured Android 10 as its native operating system, but crucially did not support any of the key Google applications like Gmail, Maps and YouTube. As such Huawei Mobile South Africa made the difficult decision to not launch the device locally, which is a real shame considering it is the best flagship phone of 2019.

You won’t find the Huawei Mate 30 Pro on many Top 5 or Top 10 lists, which is the usual kinds of stories that do the rounds at this time of year. The same goes for Hypertext, with it doing consumers a disservice to list a device they cannot even get in the country at the time of writing.

That being said the Mate 30 Pro still warrants a mention as one of the top mobile devices that debuted in 2019, especially given the specifications that Huawei has placed within the offering.

Chief among these is the new Kirin 990 chipset which was revealed at IFA 2019 in September and routinely features in the Mate series of devices. This latest piece of silicon touts an octa-core design, with the 5G flavour being the fastest of its kind when unveiled.

Added to this was a new quartet of lenses on the rear for its primary camera setup – a pair of massive 40MP options, an 8MP telephoto and 3D depth sensing option. With Huawei’s recent history in the camera performance department hard to match, the Mate 30 Pro was just as impressive, earnest the highest ranking according to DxOMark with a score of 121.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that we cannot use the device here in SA.

But with 2020 comes the promise of more devices, and if Huawei wants to maintain its current second spot and potentially challenge Samsung for number one, it needs to sort out its issues with the US and Google. The longer that takes to happen, the fewer devices will be available to purchase and that is something that Huawei cannot afford to let happen.

As such 2020 may be one of the most significant years in the firm’s mobile history. A failure to get things sorted out on the operating system front could place the local arrival of next year’s P40 series in jeopardy.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.