The Huawei P30 Pro has greatly impressed us over the course of our months-long review of the device. We all know about the superb, class-leading camera system, and the blazing-fast performance afforded by the company’s proprietary flagship Kirin 980 chipset.
But souring the rave reviews across a multitude of publications has been the sanctions that have prevented several US companies from participating in trade with the Chinese telecommunications giant. This has included the likes of technological leaders Google, Qualcomm and Broadcom, which had led to wide-spread fear.
Beyond the media-driven contagion, Huawei’s situation deserves more clarity and an informed opinion.
Huawei shouldn’t be underestimated
The world’s second-largest handset manufacturer (just behind Samsung) after passing Apple last year, Huawei has significant stakes in ensuring and insuring its future. Prior to the US-led sanctions Huawei, the company had reportedly stocked up a years’ worth of chips and components in anticipation of limitations in trade. A large company typically has adequate intelligence to avert threats to their performance.
That’s the very least of the issues. Smartphones might be the most prominent part of their business, but telecommunications infrastructure is a far more important component of their business. This means that financially, Huawei’s impact from the sanctions will be comfortably and reliably cushioned.
Furthermore, though Huawei remains officially separate from China’s state apparatus, it cannot be denied that it continues to enjoy extensive backing from the government. With record-breaking sales figures, Huawei is the poster-child of China’s burgeoning economy. The massive economic capacity of the state would put Huawei’s survival as one of it’s top priorities – or even push for its triumph over the competition.
China’s impressive mobile penetration statistics mean that with soaring local demand for its services and affiliations, Huawei’s smartphone devices and ecosystem will almost definitely remain viable for the foreseeable future.
New OS, New Future?
News of Huawei’s Hongmeng operating system (OS), also named Arc OS in English-speaking domains, has been circulating for a time now, and the company has recently trademarked the name in Peru. An independent OS would likely remain the extreme option as the company attempts to negotiate the trade ban – with an ex parte letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) submitted as an appeal.
It must be noted that all news of Huawei’s OS development is shrouded in secrecy and no definite facts have emerged since. Huawei has also been rumoured to be considering the adoption of Sailfish OS, but these only mean one thing: there’s little need to worry with all these measures taken by the company.
Google’s involvement in US trade sanctions indicate several OS-related obstacles. Apps, for example, might require separate developmental teams that are expensive. Network externalities mean that most mobile game and application developers capitalise on the biggest markets: the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store that together make up 99.9% of the OS playing field.
However, Huawei reportedly invited Google Play Store developers to publish their apps on Huawei’s own App Gallery earlier this week.
Furthermore, Android code is open-source, which means Huawei is free to build a variant based on the freely-available platform. This could mean that code is more easily transcribed between Huawei’s hypothetical OS.
The P30 Pro shows what Huawei is capable of
Nevermind a new OS, the Huawei P30 Pro implemented the first revolution to camera sensor technology in a decade. The Bayer filter array was patented in 1976, and is still implemented on almost all digital cameras. Huawei’s RYYB sensor gathers far more light than before (Huawei claims in improvement by 40%) for superior performance in the dark.
Shots taken on the Huawei far surpassed even that of the Google Pixel’s fabled Night Sight – and that’s with Night Mode turned off. The Dual NPU on the in-house Kirin 980 chipset delivered powerful HDR+ images that intelligently exposed even the most challenging scenes.
It is also the first to implement an ingenious periscope design to achieve a brain-melting 50x zoom that delivers usable photos even when handheld due to superb software engineering.
With all these revolutionary features, Huawei had still managed to pack an amazing battery, in-display fingerprint scanner, and the works – like waterproofing and wireless charging.
That’s on the outside. Within, Huawei had built its own Kirin 980 chipset. Sure, it has elements built upon existing technologies, but the Chinese company had made several contributions to the state of technology today.
Core smartphone technologies have been existing for quite some time now. Connectivity options, wireless charging, ingress protection (IP) ratings – they have improved but have not been radically changed. Photography has been the forefront of smartphone innovation in the past years, and Huawei has made leaps – through hardware in collaboration with photography powerhouse Leica, and through software with processing power and artificial intelligence smarts.
How did a networking company come to be such a strong player in the photography world like Huawei has? Perhaps the same could be said in the post-sanctions world – with a holistic hardware and software ecosystem and a means to bring apps and developers on to an alternative platform if need be – perhaps with the use of AI?
In other words, current Huawei users need not overly worry about the ongoing sanctions. The entire credibility of the company would rely on continued provision of access to key Android and related services to its customers, and Huawei would have every incentive to guarantee it. And it’s clear why their hopes aren’t misplaced – the Huawei P30 Pro cinching best Android phone of 2019.