MANILA -- Huawei's P30 Pro and Samsung's Galaxy S10+ both offer the best hardware and software that the world's two largest smartphone makers could offer at the start of 2019.
Both phones offer top of the line processors designed for artificial intelligence, 8 gigabytes of RAM, nearly 6.5-inch screens, multiple cameras, batteries that last a full day and gradient paint jobs.
Until the release of the Mate 30 and the Galaxy Note 10 towards the end of the year, the P30 Pro and the S10+ are the Android phones to beat, save for the Apple faithful who have the iPhone XS Max.
Here's our initial comparison based on roughly 2 weeks with both devices.
BIG, BEAUTIFUL SCREENS
Huawei shrunk the notch on the P30 Pro to a dew shape, compared to its predecessor, the P20 Pro, whose cutout looks similar to that on the iPhone X. Samsung's front-facing dual cameras are housed in an oval-shaped cutout on the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Both front camera modules are easier to ignore compared to the iPhone and fade easily into dark YouTube videos.
Huawei put a 32-megapixel front camera with wide angle capability on the P30 Pro while the S10+ has a 10 megapixel and 8 megapixel combo.
Both phones have screens that curve towards the sides, with the S10+ offering the more squared off version, making it look more like a Note 9 than an S9+.
Less pronounced curves also make the S10+ more prone to accidental touches, especially from the part of the palm just below the thumb. Touch sensitivity on the S10+ can be reduced in the settings.
The 2K panel on the S10+ has a resolution of 1440 x 3040 and is bright and sharp. The P30 Pro has a lower resolution screen at 1080 x 2340, which saves battery, but can't match the sharpness of the Samsung screen.
The Huawei display is no slouch, but its South Korean rival's offering simply packs more pixels.
In the hand, the P30 Pro feels a bit heavier but more solid, thanks to the flat metal railings at the top and bottom. The more rounded frame on the S10+, similar to that on the iPhone XS Max, makes it more slippery.
The zoom on Huawei's P30 Pro is unmatched. It has 5 times optical zoom, 10 times "hybrid" optical and digital, and 50 times digital with AI assistance. The Chinese giant said the P30 Pro's camera is powerful enough to capture details of the moon.
The four lenses on the P30 Pro, co-engineered with Leica, each serve a specific function: zoom, low light, wide angle and depth sensing.
The S10+ has triple lenses on the back: telephoto, standard and wide. It has up to 2 times optical zoom, at par with the S9+ and the iPhone XS Max.
While outgunned in terms of hardware, the S10+ camera takes beautiful pictures, especially under natural light.
Both phones offer artificial intelligence-assisted scene recognition, but we found that on the P30 Pro to be a bit faster.
We will be coming out with a more detailed camera comparison soon, but here are a few test shots:
In this shot of the Rockwell Skyline and the Guadalupe bridge, the colors on the P30 Pro were more saturated and the sky looked smoother while the S10+ camera produced a clearer image of the river and the reflections on it.
The colors of the actual scene are somewhere in between.
The S10+ produces warmer images, compared to the P30 Pro, whose shot of the Sacre Coeur basilica in Paris is closer to the actual scene.
The P30 Pro again took the brighter image of a Leica store in Wetzlar, Germany, with the S10+ leaning towards a warmer tone.
Standing on the other side of an intersection in Frankfurt, Germany, the P30 Pro zoomed into a church tower with ease, capturing details even at 50 times zoom.
Whether it's a spread of Thai food or a budget spaghetti lunch, the S10+ consistently took bright photos of food with colors that are not too saturated.
The S10+ has a 4,100 mAh battery while the P30 Pro has a 4,200 mAh cell. Both phones had enough juice to last a day, but the the P30 Pro had more power left. However, we ran the S10+ with the display at 2K, which consumes more power. The S10+ also had the "always on display" turned on.
Running on the latest chipsets, Kirin 980 for the P30 Pro and Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 for the S10+ depending on the region, both phones were lag-free during our initial tests.
Huawei's EMUI 9 makes Android 9 feel like iOS with its square icons while the S10+ is the first to run Samsung's One UI out of the box.
Both offer gesture-based navigation, but we found Huawei's implementation to be easier to use.
On One UI, users can swipe on three areas at the bottom of the screen, this requires placing your thumb exactly where the back or app switcher buttons should be.
On EMUI 9, the users can go back to the previous window by swiping from the right side of the screen, making it easier which gesture is needed to go back to the previous app of to the home screen.
The in-display fingerprint sensor on the P30 Pro was also faster in our tests. Until we registered the same finger twice, the sensor on the S10+ was more prone to fail. Neither sensor was as fast as rear-mounted fingerprint readers.
The S10+ retails for P55,990 for the 128GB model while the P30 Pro is available for pre-order, priced at P50,990 for double the storage at 256GB.
Huawei is offering a free smartwatch for pre-order customers, Samsung on the other hand bundled S10+ pre-orders with vouchers for accessories, wireless earbuds and even a TV for select models.
Choosing between the two will depend on what you want from a smartphone.
Those who want the most options for photography will go for the P30 Pro. Huawei and Leica outdid themselves for third straight year with hardware and software to match.
Those who want the best screen and powerful speakers for media consumption will choose the S10+. It also helps that it's the most refined Galaxy S design to date.