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Huawei P40 Pro Review: Best Camera Smartphone Money Can Buy

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Huawei P40 Pro Review: Best Camera Smartphone Money Can Buy 1

\Last year, the Huawei P30 Pro was one of the best camera phones the industry has ever seen. The innovative periscope zoom camera and impressive image quality were excellent and we loved it.

Thanks to the controversy with the US government this year and due to the loss of Google Apps, the P40 Pro will explode the door with a serious nuisance. The lack of Google services is likely to cause some consumers to decline this as an upgrade option. Are the hardware strengths sufficient to compensate for software vulnerabilities? Stay tuned to receive the Huawei P40 Pro review on Gadget Center.

Pros:

  • Built to near perfection
  • 90Hz display is a step forward
  • Superb camera system
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • No GMS support is a killer
  • AppGallery is limited
  • Fancy bezels don’t quite work

Design and display: Mixed Feedback

The main features of the P40 Pro’s display:

  • 158.2 x 72.6 x 9mm
  • 209g
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 6.58-in Full HD+ (2,640 x 1,200), 19.8:9 aspect ratio
  • Punch hole AMOLED
  • 90Hz refresh rate
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One of the coolest aspects of the P40 Pro is its design, if not in the way you might think. The P40 Pro has curved glass corners on all four sides to mimic water that causes breaking of surface tension. This results in a unique aesthetic that does not suit all tastes, at least not mine. I can’t say for sure, but the very slim bezels look particularly weird at the front. However, a by-product of the design is a fantastic ergonomic enhancement.

For example, swipe gestures have become a common way to navigate our phones. Some devices have a hard time making gestures perfect due to the difficult transition from metal to glass, especially at the top and bottom edges. With the P40 Pro’s curved glass, swiping from any direction feels smoother than anything I’ve ever used.

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The phone is easy to hold because of the slightly angled aluminum stocking. In contrast, last year’s P30 Pro felt sharp due to the slim side rails, and the Mate 30 Pro felt too slippery due to the rounded waterfall display glass. Together with almost perfect weight distribution, this results in a phenomenal feeling in the hand. I am convinced that this is the best feeling phone in the market.

The volume control and home button on the right feel sharp and crisp. The top-mounted IR blaster and microphone are successfully aligned, as are the bottom-mounted SIM tray, microphone, USB-C port, and speaker. Everything feels well designed and clean. The phone has an IP68 protection rating, so you can be sure that your $1,000 device will survive a spillage or short swim.

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Huawei’s design decisions may cause potential buyers to avoid the P40 Pro. The screen’s over-rounded corners, massive camera bump, distracting big hole and oddly raised corners to take it down a peg or two for me. You can tell that Huawei tried to 2020-ify the P30 Pro, and the result just isn’t so good.

Huawei has been trying to test the device for 2020, and that’s exactly what it did.

Huawei has finally added a display with a high refresh rate to one of its flagships. The P40 Pro’s 90Hz AMOLED panel looks good. Despite its mid-size resolution compared to the competition, this appears to be the best display ever installed on a Huawei device. Viewing angles are excellent, with little or no color change when tilting the device off-axis. With a continuous brightness of over 440 nits, it doesn’t go beyond any graph, but I find it bright enough to look directly into sunlight. I had to try this during an annoying sunny quarantine day in my garden.

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However, it’s not just about sun and rainbows. First, the shadows caused by the curved glass edges are noticeable when looking at solid colors. This is especially evident on the left and right edges. Second, while 90Hz is an improvement, the lack of 120Hz and Quad HD resolution means the P40 Pro can’t keep up with the competition. This was not a problem for me in my daily use, but it probably considered a disadvantage for many buyers.

Performance & hardware: Pretty Good

The main aspects of hardware:

  • Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G chipset
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB storage
  • NM card slot

  • 4,200mAh battery
  • 40W SuperCharge wired
  • 27W SuperCharge wireless
  • 27W reverse wireless

Last year’s Mate 30 Pro gave us a preview of the P40 Pro’s performance thanks to a similar processor/memory configuration. In short, the Kirin 990 is a decent system-on-a-chip (SoC) that has similar CPU performance to the Snapdragon 855 but has lower GPU performance.

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The P40 Pro was mostly buttery-smooth thanks to the Kirin 990 5G and 8 GB RAM. There were some frame drops in high-intensity 3D game titles, especially Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. They didn’t interrupt the game that much, but the lags were noticeable. This is probably due to the older GPU. In order for the phone to maintain high frame rates, Huawei really needs to update the GPU in the next iteration of the Kirin chipset.

Spec lovers can be disappointed with 8 GB of RAM when nowadays phones have 12 GB and 16 GB of RAM. However, I can safely say that 8 GB will be enough in 2020. This will help the Huawei Task Manager to be unformatted and constantly free up space by removing old applications. On the other hand, this can weaken the experience. Some users have reported that podcasts and music apps are forced closed due to Huawei’s aggressive RAM management.

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The P series has 5G thanks to the Kirin 990 5G chipset, which supports 5G frequencies sub-6 GHz. The Kirin 990 5G integrates its 5G modem directly into the chipset, which improves energy efficiency compared to Qualcomm’s standalone 5G modem. Due to its lack of mmWave support, it is at a disadvantage compared to Snapdragon 865 in countries like the USA which have strongly focused on mmWave. There is currently a lot more sub-6 coverage internationally, and the P40 Pro is not sold in the United States. So that’s not a problem.

Unlocking your phone is as quick as you would expect from a device that costs four digits. The display’s optical fingerprint sensor, which according to Huawei is 30% larger and 30% faster than the previous model, is a significant improvement. It registers my thumb with a much better success rate than the P30 Pro.

Face unlocking is also very quick, though not as fast as in my experience with the Pixel 4. The P40 Pro is based on infrared technology, which can be used to identify the user’s face even in the dark. It works as advertised.

Huawei has built a reputation for developing smartphones that last forever when charged. You waited two days for Huawei’s flagship. There’s no difference with the P40 Pro, and I’ve been away from the phone for two days.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Best Camera Smartphone Money Can Buy 8

One day I decided to kill the device by running it at full resolution, full refresh rate, and maximum brightness and spending as much time as possible on 3D games. What I noticed was something pretty significant. (Remember that this is not typical phone use.) The P40 Pro still dominated more than seven hours of display time despite these very tough conditions. This means that you should be able to easily reach eight if not ten hours by being more careful with the settings.

The box contains a 40 W SuperCharge adapter, which can be used to bring a 4200 mAh battery from zero to 100% in 74 minutes. This may not sound that impressive if you’re from a Mate 30 Pro with the same 40W charger, but it does 97% in just 60 minutes. The 40W is roughly where we can expect the charger to be on the flagship of 2020, as it is halfway between the 25W of the Galaxy S20 and the 65W of the Find X2 Pro. P40 Pro charges the last few percentages slowly to keep the battery life long, which I definitely agree with that. 27W wireless charging is also supported, although I was unable to test the wireless charging due to the lack of hardware availability.

I was able to test the reverse wireless charging. This worked very well for watches, headphones and even phones (even if they are not advertised). I charged the iPhone 11 when I needed it, and although it wasn’t fast, sometimes you only need enough juice to get to the nearest outlet, and that’s perfect for that.

Camera: Genuinely Awsome

Main features of the camera:

  • Main: 50MP RYYB, f/1.9,  23mm
  • Ultra-wide: 40MP, f/1.8, 18mm
  • Tele: 12MP RYYB, f/3.4, 125mm
  • Time of flight (ToF)
  • Selfie: 32MP, f/2.2, 26mm
  • Ultra HD / 4K at 60fps (front and rear)
  • 720p HD at 7680fps
  • 1080p Full HD at 960fps

Huawei has refined the camera, a key feature of the P series, to the point that it is the best camera of all previous phones. In the back, there are wide, ultra-wide cameras, telephoto and time of flight (ToF). There’s a 32-megapixel selfie shooter upfront with laser-guided autofocus. The setup is fairly stacked as it has to compete with other 2020 flagships.

What is not so common is this special combination of cameras. The RYYB 50-megapixel main camera has a huge 1/1.28-inch sensor, making it the largest smartphone on the market. It even beats the 1/1.33-inch sensor on the Samsung 108MP S20 Ultra. The images from this beast are excellent. The colors are bright and shiny without causing pain in the eyes. The dynamic range is fantastic thanks to Huawei’s HDR tuning. The details are amazing even in pixel-binning mode, and the natural isolation of the subject is absolutely amazing. The following images were not taken in portrait or aperture mode. This is the performance of the hardware in real “photo” mode.

Some of us at the Gadget Center feared that the P40 Pro might have autofocus problems due to a large sensor similar to the S20 Ultra. Sadly, our fears were somewhat justified, although the P40 Pro doesn’t have to fight that hard. Most of the time, the phone locked focus without a problem, but close or small objects caused a problem for a moment.

In terms of zoom, it’s the same 5x optical and 30x digital hybrid periscope as the P30 Pro. This time, however, the sensor has been upgraded to a 12-megapixel RYYB affair, dramatically improving the details of zoomed images. When the amount of light is healthy, the results of the optical zoom are excellent. However, if it falls below a certain light intensity, the software connects to the main camera and crops digitally. This results in much smoother images, although they are still relatively good anyway.

The portrait and aperture mode did not need to be tweaked much. Huawei has continued to refine these features, and they are now much better. The results of the P40 Pro portrait mode is not disappointing. The isolation of the subject is at the point, as is the focus shift, where there is no clear difference between focused and unfocused points. Huawei allows you to change the simulated bokeh type, and I really enjoyed playing this feature.

Low-light photography is Huawei’s strength and the P40 Pro is no different. The RYYB sensor seems to be very useful in capturing details, and the P40 Pro can really see in the dark with its night mode. I live in a city that is quite light polluted, but the phone was easily able to get the stars above my house. The results were less than perfect, perhaps because of my trembling hands, but overall I was very impressed with the features of the P40 Pro.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Best Camera Smartphone Money Can Buy 18

The Mate 30 Pro’s 40-megapixel film camera came with the P40 Pro and is a great upgrade. It is a significantly larger sensor than the P30 Pro, and its resolution is four times higher. This produces much better performance in low light in a very wide-angle mode and some really clean images at the expense of a slightly narrower image. The previous ultra-wide-angle lens was 16mm, while the P40 Pro’s 18mm has a narrower field of view. This also means that the P40 Pro bypasses Huawei’s basic macro mode, which uses a 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera.

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The 32MP selfie shooter can capture many details and colors in almost any lighting condition. Particularly impressed with the ability to capture skin tones accurately in a variety of environments. Skin softening, which has been a problem in the past, no longer seems to be annoying and unwanted, even if “Off” is selected from the menu. It seems to capture individual hairs well without mixing them, and its highlight roll-off is quite smooth and natural.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Best Camera Smartphone Money Can Buy 20

However, the dynamic range can be inconsistent, as you can see from my sample images (link below). The front-facing photos of the P40 Pro aren’t bad, but Pixel 4 is still called the king of selfies for better color reproduction and detail capture. Huawei has definitely refined last year’s selfie shooter, but the company still has a lot of work to do to get ahead of Google.

The P40 Pro’s back camera can record Ultra HD/4K videos at up to 60 frames per second, as well as the ultra-slow motion camera at up to 7680 frames per second. Both modes are available for ultra-wide and wide cameras. The resulting video clips are good, but they always seem to be something missing from the Huawei’s video. There’s a lot of detail, usually with fast autofocus and exposure settings, but a lack of contrast and character. The camera also seems to lean towards warm sounds when recording video.

I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: Huawei camera application is by far the best on the market. There is a perfect balance between usability and many functions and settings. My only complaint is that there is too much space below and some may disappear from the screen and that the full resolution mode is now in the menu on the right side of the space carousel. This is a great camera app.

The P40 Pro is an overall camera package that is great. It’s the best smartphone shooter you can buy with the money, and that’s can be a reason to buy this phone.

You will find high-resolution photo samples of the Huawei P40 Pro here.

Software: Typical EMUI

  • Android 10 based EMUI 10.1

The P40 Pro runs on EMUI 10.1 based on Android 10. It can be an Android. However, please note that the Google Play services, Google Play Store and most Google applications are not available.

EMUI is a bit like Marmite – some may love it and some may hate it. This is because, like many Chinese smartphone companies, it is clear that certain parts of the operating system are trying to be like iOS. You can find clear examples in the weather app and in the share sheet, as shown below.

There are still old issues, like turning on the app drawer or browsing various folders on the home screen and pre-installed apps. Fortunately, these problems can be fixed if you don’t mind spending time. EMUI has its advantages. Double-tapping to screenshot is helpful, as are tools for battery optimization.

Now for meat and potatoes: Huawei’s AppGallery replaces Google Play Store. This is quite annoying for those of us in the west who use apps like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as they are not available in the AppGallery.

There are several ways to solve this. With the Phone Clone app, you can transfer apps from your current Android or iOS device. Unfortunately, the Phone Clone failed because it can not transfer all of your apps. For example, only five apps could be transferred, but none of them was really that important, just a few games. You can also try using a third-party app store, such as Amazon apps or APKPure. Finally, you can install individual APKs from APK sites or services like Whatsapp and Facebook. Downloading APK files is the most successful way, but there is no guarantee that APKs will work after installation.

Many applications require Google services to run, including some that you may not expect. Minecraft is installed with the Phone Clone app, for example, but it doesn’t work without Google services. While some are obvious, the biggest hurdle for those looking to buy this phone is the lack of necessary apps. Huawei needs (more time) to convince more developers to support its app platform.

Another solution is to run applications from a browser and create links to them on the home screen. However, this shows some problems with browser-based applications. For example, you cannot use YouTube to cast to a Google device through your browser. You also can’t zoom in to fill the screen. Also, mobile banking and other applications that require two-factor authentication do not work well in the browser.

Many applications will not work without Google services.

Here the P40 Pro falls on its face and it is not easy to repair. Unfortunately, many people won’t buy the phone until Huawei can get more applications in the AppGallery.

Huawei P40 Pro review: Specs

 Huawei P40 Pro PlusHuawei P40 ProHuawei P40
Display6.58-inch OLED, 2,640 x 1,200 (19.8:9)
90Hz
In-display fingerprint sensor
6.58-inch OLED, 2,640 x 1,200 (19.8:9)
90Hz
In-display fingerprint sensor
6.1-inch OLED, 2,340 x 1,080 (19.5:9)
60Hz
In-display fingerprint sensor
ProcessorHiSilicon Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU

Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
HiSilicon Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU

Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
HiSilicon Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU

Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
RAM8GB8GB8GB
Storage512GB256GB128GB
CamerasRear:
50MP f/1.9 (RYYB) with OIS
40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide
8MP f/4.4 10x periscope with OIS
8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto with OIS
3D ToF

Front:
32MP
IR sensor
Rear:
50MP f/1.9 (RYYB) with OIS
40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide
12MP f/3.4 5x periscope
3D ToF

Front:
32MP
IR sensor
Rear:
50MP f/1.9 (RYYB) with OIS
16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto

Front:
32MP
Battery4,200mAh
Non-removable
40W wired charging
40W wireless charging
4,200mAh
Non-removable
40W wired charging
40W wireless charging
3,800mAh
Non-removable
22.5W wired charging
IP RatingIP68IP68IP53
SoftwareEMUI 10.1
Android 10
EMUI 10.1
Android 10
EMUI 10.1
Android 10

Pricing

Huawei P40 Pro: 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM — €999 (~$1,080)

The price of the P40 Pro competes directly with the 5G version of the Samsung Galaxy S20 (€1,029), the Galaxy S20 Plus (€1,129) and the Apple iPhone 11 Pro (€1,189). From a hardware standpoint, the P40 Pro stands. However, if you consider the application situation, you cannot expect to sell multiple units outside China.

It is undeniable that the P40 Pro supports its high price in almost all categories. The camera is probably the best on the market right now, the build quality is excellent and the battery technology is great. It is a great phone for Chinese consumers and is value for money in exchange for the Samsung Galaxy S20.

Final Verdict

The P40 Pro is an impressive device. It ticked so many boxes: great display, great build quality, incredible battery life, and of course, this top-notch camera system. If you handed me the P40 Pro and Galaxy S20 Plus and asked me to choose, I’d bite my hand on the P40 Pro, if it had access to Google services. For those who don’t need Google services on their smartphone, this is one of the best devices on the market right now, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. The phone is a purchase if you are really looking for the best possible camera that has been installed on your smartphone.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Best Camera Smartphone Money Can Buy 1

However, the situation for most people is not, and there are still many users who need Google services. I would tell them to skip this model. If you still want a high-end Huawei smartphone, go for Google’s still shiny P30 Pro from last year.

Thank you for reading! What is your opinion about Huawei P40 Pro? Let us know in the comment section below.

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