Researcher finds Huawei P30 Pro's Moon Mode is not what it seems

Researcher finds Huawei P30 Pro's Moon Mode is not what it seems
Huawei has used stunning close-up photographs of the moon to promote the Moon Mode on the Huawei P30 Pro. The images shot without a tripod, use the periscope-like zoom lens and AI-based algorithms to create these images of the moon. The user guide for the phone has fairly simple and straightforward instructions. A P30 Pro owner should aim the phone at the moon and use pinch-to-zoom until he hits 10x zoom or more. Thanks to AI, the phone will automatically suggest the use of Moon Mode, designed "to adequately capture the beauty of the moon along with fine details like moonbeams and shadows."

According to a report by Zhihu (via Android Authority), there could be some shenanigans going here. It appears that Huawei is using AI to do more than just enhance pictures of the moon taken by the P30 Pro. Zhihu's Wang Yue has run some tests and has come to the conclusion that rather than merely enhancing a photo of the moon, Moon Mode takes images of the moon already available, and inserts them into the user's photograph. Yue took a number of photos to support his theory, using Moon Mode to snap pictures of other subjects besides the moon. His conclusion is that the Moon Mode does not produce totally original photographs.

This isn't the first time that Huawei was busted for photographic chicanery. In fact, earlier this year it was discovered that some photographs that the company said were snapped by the P30 Pro, were actually taken by a DSLR camera. Huawei did the same thing in a television commercial it released last August for its Nova 3 model.

The Huawei P30 Pro features a triple-camera setup on back including a 40MP primary camera, a 20MP camera sporting an ultra-wide lens, an 8MP camera with a 5x optical zoom, and a 5MP Time-of-Flight (ToF) depth sensor. This measures the time it takes for infrared light to bounce off the subject and return to the camera. This data helps provide more accurate depth measurements and supports AI features. There is also a 32MP selfie snapper on board.

The optics of this don't look good for Huawei in the U.S.

Now we don't imagine that anyone who buys the P30 Pro is doing so just to take pictures of the moon, so if Yue's conclusions are legit, we wonder why Huawei would go to the trouble of doing this. Either the company was not 100% convinced that the P30 Pro's cameras could help sell the device, or it honestly feels that there is nothing wrong with adding pre-existing images to photos in Moon Mode.

The optics of this don't look good, especially in the U.S. where Huawei has been declared a national security threat. There are concerns about back doors in its phones and networking equipment that could be used to send intelligence back to the communist Chinese government if it is ordered to. While the company has denied that it does, or would ever consider using its products to spy on other countries, such a denial might not seem to ring true. Some might believe that a company that doesn't come clean about its processing of pictures taken of the moon might not be fully honest about other things.

While the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro won't be found on the shelves of major U.S. carriers, B&H Photo earlier this month took pre-orders on the Latin American variant of the models. A U.S. warranty comes with the units, and B&H says that they are compatible with GSM carriers AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon and Sprint subscribers are out of luck.

Related phones

  • Display 6.1" 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • Camera 40 MP / 32 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin 980, Octa-core, 2600 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB + Nano Memory (NM)
  • Battery 3650 mAh
P30 Pro
  • Display 6.5" 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • Camera 40 MP / 32 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin 980, Octa-core, 2600 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB + Nano Memory (NM)
  • Battery 4200 mAh



1. AbhiD

Posts: 850; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

Typical Huawei. Always been involved in fake advertisement, forgery, stealing data and trade secrets.

3. Valdomero

Posts: 698; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

What'd you expect from a chinese company?

25. HNP30

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 26, 2019

Prove them all first before you can open your mouth.

4. iloveapps

Posts: 889; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Typical android.

5. Djz89

Posts: 447; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

I just don't trust them enough to buy their phones.

6. Cambapo

Posts: 23; Member since: Dec 24, 2015

It's all seems to be a misunderstanding. AI doesn't load images to the photo, but some of the features extracted during the training fase. Huawei replied accordingly explaining this, and also stating that it would require enourmus amounts of storage to have a collection of pictures of the moon, which is true, since the training sets of the AI are commonly very big, as the AI requires a lot of examples to train itself.

11. AbhiD

Posts: 850; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

You do know that phone doesn't need to have a thousand images of moon in it's storage? Moon looks the same on closeup always! Just the portion that is lit keeps on changing for 15 days. Even that considered would require just 15 images' data

7. Nokfan1603

Posts: 64; Member since: Mar 13, 2013

We here, in neutral Switzerland love competition and the Huawei P30 sells very well. Now, the USA have been proven to spy on everybody else, regarding Huawei, it is only about suspicion... Personally, I suspect, Huawei has been blocked from selling in the US in order to protect Apple's market from competition...

10. AbhiD

Posts: 850; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

Dude, your Europe is anyways fcuked in the long run. With everyone taking in immigrants it will soon be Eurabia. Focus on that, not on buying and defending Chinese stuff. And btw, if Apple was to be protected, on what basis have Samsung, LG, HTC, Oneplus, Sony, Nokia etc been allowed in USA? Moreover a typical Apple user doesn't switch to Android. Especially Huawei's sith s**tty interface.

13. Ghost04

Posts: 522; Member since: May 03, 2014

Europe provides million time better protection of rights to its citizens. And America, they are a country inhabited by foreigners. So, its worse than Europe. Except Samsung all other brands you mentioned are hardly have any significant share in the market HTC is dead, Sony almost dead, LG shrinking, Nokia is hardly made any impact. OnePlus is a small manufacturer. So, Stop been a Hater . As you always had been . Whats your problem? Do you have any psychological problem. You should go to a doctor for treatment , instead of criticising Chinese products

14. Nokfan1603

Posts: 64; Member since: Mar 13, 2013

Well, I guess, you watch Foxnews. Do you know that the US will have a deficit of over 1.2 trillion Dollars this year alone? Are you aware of your huge trade deficit with the rest of the world? Have you been told about the shrinking middle class in the US? About the masses which live from paycheck to paycheck? About the missing money for your crumbling infrastructure?... No, I guess, you have only heard about the best economy ever... I call it a huge bubble...

15. alanrock

Posts: 324; Member since: Oct 04, 2018

calm down and respawn in la la land , or at least try to keep your bigotry in check ...

23. TS020

Posts: 52; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

@AbhiD: The EU is f**ked, but Switzerland is not in the EU; they don't have to do a damn thing the EU tells them. Something like 70% of Swiss people don't want to join either (previous referendum results). When you look at what the EU has become you'd be hard pressed to deny that's a smart decision. As for Europe providing better rights to its citizens, just look at how Sweden treats its own citizens versus the refugees there; good luck not being punished for criticizing them as well.

30. mahalo15

Posts: 84; Member since: Nov 30, 2018

16. TBomb

Posts: 1582; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Google is as American of a company as Apple - i don't think protecting them is at play here. If anything, it is the level of Basic that America is. Look at the Avocado toast craze... No one is yelling stop because we don't like Mexico. People are just Basic in America and will do/buy whatever they are told to.

8. Taquidi

Posts: 23; Member since: Oct 05, 2016

Actualy, Verizon and Sprint subscribers are the lucky ones, being unable to get scammed by Huawei.

9. Fialho

Posts: 22; Member since: Sep 03, 2015

Now that's a new way to call "ignorant dumba$$es" to all its customers. And yet it's the 3rd biggest smartphone maker...why?

31. Djz89

Posts: 447; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

Apple was nr 1 so i don't get your point.

12. Ghost04

Posts: 522; Member since: May 03, 2014

First of all , the promotional teaser was never claimed to taken with P30 Pro . If Phonearena thinks that were taken with P30 pro . No promotional ad is made with the phone itself. So, looking at the ad if you think the whole ad is made with the phone then you are stupid. Moreover, in this circumstance, beauty mode is also fake and unethical, as it removes spots and marks from your face. And finally , the a person's claim, how authentic is he himself. No one knows.

17. d1g1te

Posts: 64; Member since: Oct 04, 2016

I don't understand what's the big deal here? Just turn off AI mode with quick toggle in viewfinder and move on. :) AI modes are not authentic in first place. As they tune color, sharpness, contrast, etc... They are ment to stylize photo. If one would not be able to turn this off, then it would be issue.

18. Budhainthemood

Posts: 90; Member since: Mar 03, 2018 company-like phones, a scam:)

19. UnlimitedSkye03

Posts: 300; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Hhmmm, I guess your researcher forgot that this phone has a pro mode or you can turn master ai off, and it can shoot the moon without entering moon mode and still get the same result.

26. ijuanp03

Posts: 617; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

"without entering moon mode and still get the same result" - then why have a Moon Mode if you will still get the same result? LOL

20. mohsin845

Posts: 48; Member since: Apr 05, 2014

Tottally fraud

21. Bondurant

Posts: 784; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

"researcher" lol. Some random chinese dude online floated this false theory and then spread around by another bunch of huawei haters who don't even own the p30 pro. Debunked a week ago on xda forums.

22. Darkerm

Posts: 322; Member since: Jan 31, 2012

Made in China lol

24. HNP30

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 26, 2019

So are Apple products you idiot! You hate the Chinese so much that comments like this makes you look stupid. News flash: almost everything you own from designer clothes, shoes, etc almost all of them are made in china. Get a life dude!

27. Darkerm

Posts: 322; Member since: Jan 31, 2012

Just chill man. It's a joke. Why so serious?

28. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 209; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

I just did some tests with my P30, and here are my findings. -I took multiple pictures of lamps in my house with both AI enabled and disabled, and it turns out that when Moon Mode is active the camera is not "adding" any textures as this article suggests, but using more sophisticated interpolation algorithms. So the edges of the lamps are lot smoother and more rounded, but the actual amount of details is exactly the same on both versions of photos. This might be causing some artifacts that have given the "researcher" a false impression that the camera is adding craters. -With Moon Mode on, highlights are less burnt than with AI off, even if the shutter speed is the same. It can be assumed that it is using some sort of highlight compression to pull out more details out of the bright surface of the moon, or HDR, or both. After all I couldn't find any extra details being added to the images, and my lamps certainly don't look like moon with this mode. Maybe somebody else who is more professional than me will look into the matter, but Android Authority already failed to replicate this too, so I'm becoming a bit skeptical about his results at this point.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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