We may want to react reasonably, or with tempered emotion, when something challenges your beliefs, but as we all know, it’s easier said than done. If someone tells you they hate your favorite football or basketball team, you take it personally — and why wouldn’t you, it’s your team!
When you’re told you shouldn’t like a thing, you may double down and savor it even more, just to spite the person. Just to reassert to yourself that liking the thing is perfectly fine and good.
And while smartphones and the brands they represent aren’t quite as contentious as they used to be — most phones look relatively similar, and they’re all pretty damn good, even at lower price brackets — people still feel incredibly proud or sore when that company is praised or derided. Look no further at the response to this simple question on the Windows Central Twitter feed to realize how powerful the affinity is for what amounts to a dead product.
Which was better?
The Lumia 1020, or the Lumia 1520? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/KMYIBIMEeM
— Windows Central (@windowscentral) July 18, 2019
I bring this up because I started using the Huawei P30 Pro right after it launched in March. As I tend to, I used it for a few weeks and put it down again as I transitioned to another and then another review device, but eventually, in late May, I picked it up again as I prepared to travel overseas for five weeks. And it’s been in my pocket every day since then. I didn’t expect it to happen, especially since I was using it at the height of Huawei’s contentious and ongoing battle for legitimacy with the U.S. government. I used it despite not knowing whether it would receive platform updates or security patches (later confirmed it would) and I used it despite protestations from nearly everyone I met that it was a “spy phone” that would steal all my stuff.
The contrast between Huawei’s impressive phone business and its imperiled network equipment business is hard to reconcile at times.
I have no inside knowledge as to whether Huawei works on behalf of the Chinese government, or whether it’s done nefarious things in the past (though there is plenty of evidence to support that theory). I work with Huawei’s PR team when products launch, and listen to their pitches on the strengths of their network equipment. I’ve been in the room as Huawei’s executives decry its mistreatment at the hands of international governments, and the U.S. in particular, while reinforcing their position that they’re a private company with no incentive to wage cyber warfare on behalf of China’s Communist Party.
Such conversations are usually in the context of a consumer phone launch, or in supporting some other less controversial project, and the contrast always strikes me as odd — phones are big business for Huawei, but they’re also relatively low-stakes compared to the scrutiny and subsequent deployment of network equipment that will (or won’t, depending on a government’s position) power next-generation 5G networks. Like any company weathering a barrage, Huawei has to outwardly pretend like everything is fine while trying to maneuver through a powerful storm.
So it was in this environment that I decided to keep my SIM in the P30 Pro and just forget about it — I needed a phone that felt fast, had good battery life and could take consistently good photos in any environment. The P30 Pro checked all of those boxes and then some. I went from tolerating EMUI 9.1 to enjoying it; I went from admiring and appreciating the phone to falling head over heels for it.
You’re actually going to be reading similar sentiments from two other people on this site in the coming days. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s an interesting coincidence nonetheless; the P30 Pro has quietly improved since its release in March and is proving rock solid. It’s the first Huawei flagship I’ve used that hasn’t vexed me with poor software.
And no, I don’t think Huawei’s doing anything malicious to the software on its phones. If it were, Google wouldn’t have gone to bat for the company during recent negotiations with the Trump administration. And until the Commerce Department softened the restrictions on Huawei working with U.S. companies, it may have been the last phone Huawei released in a while. And yet.
So here we are — I have all these other phones on my desk and I’m still happily using the P30 Pro, and probably will continue to use it until the Note 10 comes out. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m OK with a bit of predictability. Especially when it gives me photos like this.
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