With P30 Pro, Huawei shows US controversy and trade war aren’t stumbling blocks

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Whether you know the telecom giant because of its popular Android phones or because it’s made an enemy of the US government, you’ve probably heard the name Huawei.

This fact alone marks a big shift from even a couple of years back, when people struggled to even pronounce the name of the Chinese company — now the number two phone maker in the world behind Samsung and the world’s largest telecom equipment maker.

Huawei’s phone business has grown since then, but a dark cloud has also formed over the company. The US fears Huawei is using its phones and network equipment for spying due to its cosiness with the Chinese government. The company’s CFO is detained in Canada, awaiting extradition to the US to face charges of violating sanctions on Iran, as she increasingly looks like a pawn in a broader trade war between the US and China.

Not that you’d know any of this from attending Huawei’s P30 Pro phone launch in Paris on Tuesday. It was almost as if Huawei’s geopolitical strife didn’t exist — and given the popularity of the company’s phones, it might as well not.

Following years spent establishing its P series and Mate series as standout phones in a market crowded with impressive rivals, Huawei now has a firm track record of exciting us with its flagships.

“If you were to ask me what I thought of Huawei just five years ago, I would just say that it’s a Chinese OEM catching Apple,” said IHS Markits analyst Wayne Lam. “But ever since the P20 Pro introduced last year, I can confidently say that Huawei has surpassed Apple in terms of quality and performance of mobile photography.”

Foldable fame

This year has seen the company step up its game even further with the launch of the Mate X at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Huawei’s entry into the foldable phones market stole the show, eclipsing even the long-awaited first slew of 5G handsets to hit the market. It’s enjoying similar success in the PC market. The Huawei X Pro, the latest top-end laptop from the company (and a dead ringer for an Apple MacBook), is winning early plaudits from reviewers.

After bringing the wow factor with the Mate X and X Pro, Huawei’s latest hope is that it will blow you away with the photographic capabilities of the Huawei P30 Pro.

In the keynote at the phone’s launch event, Huawei CEO Richard Yu walked the audience through the varied capabilities of its four cameras. He boasted of its skills in low light, its ability to capture details from a distance and the layered depth-of-field (or bokeh) effects, comparing results side-by-side against photos taken with the latest Apple and Samsung phones.

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