Huawei Beats Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S10+ In New Rating

Huawei is the company you can’t write off. Sure, it has problems with the U.S. government and its latest phone, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, is still awaiting a wide release outside China, but it still manages to achieve surprising things.

DXOMark is best known for its camera reviews, giving authoritative scores for, among other things, the photographic capabilities of smartphones.

Currently its top-ranking camera on a phone is the Huawei Mate 30 Pro which has a score of 121, never beaten and only equalled by the Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro Premium (which, incidentally should surely have won the award for snappiest name, no?). It won this award because the overall camera score beat the nearest contender, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, handsomely.

But that’s not the only surprise win Huawei has had in recent weeks.

DXOMark also conducts audio reviews, and Huawei has gained the very top score here, too.

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Forbes David Phelan The Huawei Mate 20 X, a huge phone with a whopping 7.2in display, most recently updated to a 5G version, has beaten every other phone tested in this way by DXOMark.

The company said that the Huawei phone was released as a multimedia powerhouse, and it praised the phone extensively, comparing it favorably to phones including the latest Apple flagship, the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

DXOMark said:

The Huawei Mate 20 X is the top scorer in our Audio tests of all the devices we’ve tested thus far, with its Overall score of 75 besting Samsung’s S10+ by ten points and the Note 10+ by 9. It is also the only Android phone we’ve tested that scored above Apple’s large-screen iPhone XS Max—although only by one point. The Mate 20 X did particularly well when playing back movies and music, achieving a substantially higher score for those use cases than any of the other phones we have tested. While still the top scorer among the Android devices we tested, its performance while gaming was less stellar, and behind both the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Okay, so it’s only just better than the latest iPhone, just one point, but it pretty conclusively beats the Samsung Galaxy S10+.

So, what does this mean?

Well, for a start, it confirms that Huawei phones are increasingly well-crafted and offer genuine standouts.

But perhaps it also shows Huawei to be ahead of the curve. Audio quality is only just becoming a thing, though several phone manufacturers, such as Nokia, for instance, have been boasting of their handsets’ sound capabilities for some time.

But with bigger screens, designed to let you watch video and play games, better audio becomes increasingly important.

Huawei’s skill is that as it improves the camera, screen, battery life and innovation levels on its phones, it’s not neglecting any part of the package, recognizing audio as an aspect that needs careful attention, too.

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I’ve been writing about technology for two decades and am regularly struck by how the sector swings from startling innovation to regular repetitiveness. My areas of specialty are wearable tech, cameras, home entertainment and mobile technology. Over the years I’ve written about gadgets for the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun, Metro, Stuff, T3, Pocket-lint, Wareable.com and Wired. Right now most of my work away from Forbes appears in the Independent, the Evening Standard and Monocle Magazine. Parenthetically, I also work as an actor, enjoying equally the first Mission Impossible movie, a season at Shakespeare’s Globe and a stint on Hollyoaks. Follow me on Instagram: davidphelantech, or Twitter: @davidphelan2009.

Source: Huawei Beats Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S10+ In New Rating

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Is Huawei’s Worst Google Nightmare Coming True?

The soap opera that is Huawei’s loss of Google software and services from its new smartphones has taken twist after turn in recent weeks. We had been warned (by Google) that the new flagship Mate 30 Series would launch without full-fat Android, but we had also been promised (by Huawei’s consumer boss Richard Yu) that workarounds would be found. To cut a long story short, the device did launch without Google, workarounds were then found, but then those workarounds were taken away.

All of which kind of leaves us back where we expected to be—Huawei continues to launch great devices, those great devices don’t carry Google, most analysts expect sales outside China to take a massive hit as a consequence. But, in reality, it’s not that simple. And what has actually happened could be even worse than it seems for Huawei, with the consequences not yet fully understood.

The Mate 30 has become the focal point for this on/off Google apps story. But what happens to the Mate 30 will impact the forthcoming Mate X and anything else after that until the U.S. blacklist changes. Just ahead of the Mate 30’s September launch, Android Authority reported that Yu had told the media Huawei “might have a workaround on-hand” to recover Google functionality, that the process would be “quite easy,” that “the open-source nature of Android enables ‘a lot of possibilities’, and that third-party developers had worked on workarounds for some time, given that “Huawei is unable to provide Google Mobile Services on new products due to the ban.”

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I asked Huawei for an official statement at the time, regarding Yu’s comments, to be told that the official word from the Consumer Business Group is “we can’t comment on that.” In private, it seemed there was internal nervousness at being seen to flaunt the ban, enabling workarounds to be publicly applied to the devices.

And, sure enough, despite Huawei confirming on launch the lack of Google Mobile Services, essentially the framework to which Google apps attach, the internet was soon abuzz with videos and tutorials on the use of a Chinese app to sideload all those familiar Google apps back onto the device. Notwithstanding the security concerns in giving a Chinese language app of uncertain origin access to a phone’s core system, the workaround was widely welcomed and we seemed to be back to business as usual.

Meanwhile, reports from China, where the Mate 30 first launched, suggested the devices were flying from the shelves. Helped by a steep price cut and domestic pride in a national champion, a million devices quickly shipped and Huawei’s plan to shore up any hit to international sales with strong demand at home seemed fine.

But then, quite suddenly, everything changed.

The app that was being used to enable the after-market Google load on Mate 30s is LZPlay—available on some app stores and from LZPlay.net. On loading, it seeks permission to access hidden system settings, opening up Google “stubs” deep within Huawei’s version of the Android open-source core to enable apps and services to be installed. With some exceptions—notably Google Pay—everything seemed normal.

                                    

But then came the inevitable deep-dive into that app—what was actually happening under the phone’s covers. Cue John Wu’s Medium post. It transpired, according to Wu, that for LZPlay to work required “undocumented Huawei specific MDM APIs,” implying that the use of such APIs were “signed with a special certificate from Huawei, granted privileges nowhere to be found on standard Android systems.”

In essence, the implication was that Huawei was sanctioning or overlooking the app restoring banned Google apps and services onto Huawei devices. “Wait a minute,” Wu asked in his post, “does that mean either Google is sneaking the stubs to Huawei, or Huawei is blatantly stealing Google’s stub binaries?”

                                     

And Wu’s answer? “It is pretty obvious that Huawei is well aware of this LZPlay app, and explicitly allows its existence. The developer of this app has to somehow be aware of these undocumented APIs, sign the legal agreements, go through several stages of reviews, and eventually have the app signed by Huawei. The sole purpose of the app is to install Google Services on a non licensed device, and it sounds very sketchy to me, but I’m no lawyer so I have absolutely no idea of its legality.”

                                     

All of which has resulted in the workaround being withdrawn from the market. LZPlay is no longer available. Any installs from before it was pulled no longer work. And, more intriguingly, “devices that used LZPlay to install GMS no longer pass ‘SafetyNet Attestation,’ rendering many apps and services unusable.”

And so to the real issue for Huawei that will start to become clear when the dust settles on this on/off story. Whether Huawei was aware or unaware, whether Google was involved or uninvolved, the fact is that the addition of Google Mobile Services will now fail to pass a security and verification test on the device—unsurprising, given the device is unlicensed. And that suggests no other workaround will be forthcoming.

And that will be a major issue for the future of Huawei’s smartphone business outside China. It will also make it impossible for users inside China to deploy the Google workaround that was designed for their market—because if the Mate 30 can’t be after-market updated outside China because of the U.S. blacklist, then it cannot be after-market updated in China either. The restriction on Huawei is not geography-specific. Chinese consumers who would otherwise buy Huawei devices and then add Google, deploying VPNs to use the restricted services, will not be able to do so.

                                    

This story is moving all over the place right now—albeit it’s becoming more difficult to see significant changes without U.S. approval. What we do know is that Google has apparently slammed the backdoor to the Mate 30 shut, enforcing its lack of license, ensuring that even if the GMS stubs remain they cannot be enabled. And it’s a safe bet that those stubs may well be pulled altogether.

Huawei confirmed to me that the “latest Mate 30 series is not pre-installed with GMS, and Huawei has had no involvement with http://www.lzplay.net.” But the implications of this latest twist could be devastating. It’s too soon to get a read on what might happen next, and there are no comments from Shenzhen, but we will know soon enough.

In the meantime, anyone who had planned to buy a dazzling Mate 30 and apply the “easy workaround” is now faced with a very different set of options.

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As the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, a developer of disruptive AI surveillance solutions for defense, security and commercial organizations in the US, EMEA and Asia, I work with those responsible for national security, counter-terrorism and critical infrastructure protection. I have been in tech for 25 years, with the last 15 of those years in video surveillance, analytics, cybersecurity and AI. I write about the real-world challenges, opportunities and threats from technology advances that impact the defense and security sectors as well as cybersecurity more broadly. I also focus on the appropriate use of those technologies and the balance of privacy and public safety. Contact me at zakd@me.com.

Source: Is Huawei’s Worst Google Nightmare Coming True?

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Huawei P30 Pro Hands-On: 10x Optical Zoom Beats Apple’s And Samsung’s Top Offerings

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The Huawei P30 Pro and all of its various colors.

Ben Sin

Most people who follow smartphone news are likely aware that Huawei introduced the first mobile triple camera system last year, and that device, the P20 Pro, also pioneered the AI-boosted long exposure “night mode” that has since been adopted by Google and other Chinese competitors.

But what has been lost in the smartphone evolution history books is that Huawei can also claim to be the first phonemaker to offer a bokeh portrait shooting mode—that would be 2017’s P9. But back then, Huawei devices didn’t get nearly the same attention, and so many erroneously credit the iPhone 7 Plus (which arrived months later) as the innovator of the now ubiquitous feature.

The point I’m trying to make is that Huawei’s P series has been pushing computational photography trends for a few years now, and the just-announced P30 series is likely to do the same with zoom photography.

Both the standard P30 and the superior P30 Pro sport a new periscope-like telepoto lens that can shoot photos at 10x optical zoom. I tested both phones briefly ahead of their launch today, and while I wouldn’t call the shots “lossless zoom” the way Huawei’s marketing will, I can see that the P30’s 10x shots are significantly sharper and cleaner than the same shots captured by the other two big dogs right now, the iPhone XS and the Samsung Galaxy S10.

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A 10x zoom image captured with the Huawei P30 Pro, iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S10.

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A closer crop.

Ben Sin

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Another set of 10x zoom images.

Ben Sin

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A closer crop.

Ben Sin

How does the P30 Pro pull this off? The telephoto lens is now an L-shaped lens that pulls light in and directs it through a series of mirrors before reaching an image sensor that’s perpendicular to the main camera module. This, along with additional image information provided by the main 40-megapixel sensor, gives Huawei’s image processing algorithm enough information to piece together one image that’s sharper than usual.

This is tech that Oppo is also working on. In fact, Oppo announced this system at last month’s Mobile World Congress, but Huawei has beat its rival to the punch.

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The P30 Pro has four cameras on the back.

Ben Sin

The telephoto lens is not all that’s changed with the camera modules. The aforementioned 40-megapixel main camera has also been re-engineered by Huawei. Instead of using a traditional RGB sensor, Huawei has built an RYYB sensor. As the initials suggest, an RYYB sensor picks up red, yellow (twice) and blue colored pixels, as opposed to traditional sensors that focus on red, green and blue. Huawei says its two yellow sensors can also pick up green and also some more red, with the latter a key factor in determining light. Huawei says this RYYB sensor allows the P30 phones to be more sensitive to light than any phone before, and supposedly the P30 Pro can reach a peak ISO of 409,600.

I only got to demo the phones in a small room with lots of light, so I wasn’t able to test the phone’s low-light capabilities. But considering that the P20 Pro was easily the best low light camera around, I think it’s safe to say Huawei wouldn’t make empty promises with the P30.

The wide-angle sensor remains largely unchanged from the Mate 20 Pro, offering a field of vision of 109 degrees. And new to the P30 Pro is a fourth rear camera: a TOF (time-of-flight) sensor that acts as a depth sensor to help bokeh shots.

Around the front, both the P30 models carry a 32-megapixel selfie camera. So going by numbers alone, these P30 phones are almost unnecessarily overpowering.

In terms of overall build and design, the P30 Pro looks like a blend of the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro: It has a 6.5-inch curved OLED display with an in-display fingerprint scanner. The glass back has the same gradient finish that Huawei is so fond of. The smaller P30, meanwhile, has a 6.1-inch flat display that’s not curved at all, but it is also OLED.

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Both the P30 phones have a small waterdrop notch housing a 32-megapixel selfie camera.

Ben Sin

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The P30 Pro’s screen has similar curvature as the Samsung Galaxy S10+.

Ben Sin

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They come in four gradient colors, including the orange and blue shown here.

Ben Sin

In terms of in-hand feel, the P30 Pro feels very similar to not just the Mate 20 Pro but also Samsung’s Galaxy S10+. It’s a premium-feeling device, albeit not too original. Personally, I would have preferred the P30 phones went with a hole-punch display cut-out instead of a notch.

On the battery front, the P30 Pro of course packs huge cells as is usual from Huawei. There’s a 4,200 mAh inside the Pro, and 3,650 in the standard model. In terms of features, the top tier Pro ticks every box. There’s literally not a thing Apple or Samsung or anyone else offer that can’t be found here.

We know the 10x zoom is legitimate. If the P30’s low-light capabilities are as impressive as Huawei is advertising, then the P30 Pro will probably finish among the very best of the year again. Pricing and availability weren’t available as of time of publication. But I’m guessing the phones will be similarly priced to Apple/Samsung, so expect around $1,000 for the Pro and about $900 for the standard P30.

I’ve started a YouTube channel in an effort to provide multi-media coverage of gadgets I come across. If you’re interested, please subscribe.

I’m a Chinese-American journalist in Hong Kong, covering consumer tech in Asia. Before focusing on this exciting beat, I was a general culture writer and editor with byl…

Source: Huawei P30 Pro Hands-On: 10x Optical Zoom Beats Apple’s And Samsung’s Top Offerings

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