HUAWEI P40 Pro
HUAWEI P40 Review...
...The P40 Pro wants to deliver a superb photography experience...
...The Huawei P40 Pro is looking to deliver a superb mobile photography experience. With four lenses and a dash of AI, the P40 Pro is capable of taking stunning daytime and low-light photos. It's also a good looking handset, with curved glass on all four sides and a premium finish. It's just a shame that it's not equipped with Google Mobile Services, which will limit its appeal.
- Brilliant camera
- Beautiful design
- Fast performance
The Huawei P40 Pro is the latest flagship phone from the Chinese firm, arriving in a trio of high-end devices in between the slightly smaller and more affordable Huawei P40 and the range-topping, wallet-busting P40 Pro Plus.
Huawei has positioned its P series smartphone to showcase the latest advances the company is making in terms of both design and photographing capabilities.
The P20 and the P30 series helped Huawei become a household name in markets outside of its native China, and so expectations for the Huawei P40 Pro are understandably high.
As has been the case with the past couple of generations of its flagship line, Huawei has once again gone big on photography with four rears cameras and a 50x zoom.
Features and specs
The Huawei P40 Pro is powered by the same Kirin 990 5G chipset that we’ve seen in the Mate 30 Pro 5G and Huawei’s folding phone, the Mate XS . This is based on 7nm+ manufacturing technology, and is plenty fast enough to keep up with the latest flagship phones from rival brands.
The processor, which is teamed with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage, is also currently the only high-end chipset with integrated 5G, meaning it will work well with the dedicated 5G networks of the future, as well as with the current hybrid LTE/5G networks.
The phone also supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, which will come in handy once wireless routers supporting this new standard become more affordable and widely available.
The Huawei P40 Pro is equipped with a 4,200mAh battery, which should last you a full day of moderate to heavy usage. It supports 40W fast wired charging, as well as wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.
If there’s one thing that has made Huawei’s P series phones stand out from the crowd, it’s the camera tech. The P20 and P30 handsets raised the bar when it came to mobile photography, and Huawei is looking to raise it higher again with the P40 Pro.
The Leica-branded camera setup comprises 50MP f/1.9 primary and 40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide cameras, and a 12MP telephoto camera that’s capable of 5x optical zoom or 50x digital zoom. There’s also a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor for creating bokeh effects in portrait-mode shots.
Huawei continues to use an RYYB sensor and the one here is 1/1.28, which is the largest sensor Huawei has ever used and bigger than the one found on the Galaxy S20 Ultra; the RYYB (Red, Yellow, Yellow, Blue) sensor is an alternative to the more traditional Red, Green, Green, Blue 'Bayer Pattern' filter on most camera sensors, and in theory enables the P40 Pro's sensor to collect more light.
Using pixel binning (whereby four of the sensor's pixels are combined into one larger one, enabling improved low light performance at the expense of resolution) the effective pixel size is 2.44μm, which should allow for a good amount of light to be captured even in darker conditions.
With the P40 series, Huawei is debuting its XD Fusion Engine, which uses AI to optimize your photos. Huawei was one of the first manufacturers to get on board with AI, and the results on the P40 Pro are impressive. The phone can remove photo-bombing friends from a picture, and even reflections that appear when you’re trying to photograph anything that's behind glass.
The P40 Pro also features impressive zooming capabilities and Huawei isn't shy about talking up the 'real', optical zooming capabilities on its phone – something that Samsung doesn't advertise with its S20 range.
Besides the optical zoom, the phone supports hybrid and digital zoom up to 50x. Photos at such high zoom levels aren't very clear, though, and we’d recommend sticking to 10x for better picture quality.
Huawei is also making much of the video capabilities on the P40 Pro with an ultra-wide sensor that natively supports the same aspect ratio as DSLR cameras.
On the front of the device there’s a lozenge-shaped cutout that houses a 32MP camera, plus an IR depth sensor that’s used for portrait mode shots as well as face unlocking. While this tech isn’t as secure as the dot projector system on the Mate 30 Pro, Huawei thinks it’s good enough for verification when using Huawei Pay, the company’s digital payment service.
Given that, like much of the rest of the world, we’re largely confined to our homes for the time being, we weren’t able to properly test the P40 Pro’s cameras in the range of environments we’d have liked to, but we did manage to take some daylight and night time pictures – and they look fantastic.
What we liked best was how fast and effortlessly the P40 Pro enabled us to take these shots – it really is just a case of pointing and shoot, with the AI doing much of the heavy lifting.
The Huawei P40 Pro delivers on what Huawei’s flagship line has become known for: a premium phone offering an fantastic mobile photography experience. Daytime and night time shots look stunning, and this image quality is supplemented by improvements including auto zooming and enhanced AI smarts.
While the phone is capable of 50x digital zoom, it’s more of a gimmick, much like the 100x zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. From our limited time with the phone, 10x seems to be the highest zoom setting at which you can expect decent image quality.
The Kirin 990 5G processor ensures the phone is suitably zippy, and the 90Hz screen refresh rate showcases that speed. Its 5G capabilities make the phone P40 Pro future proof against network improvements, while the 4,200mAh battery keeps the handset chugging along nicely.
That being said, there are other flagship Android phones that tick most of those boxes, and which best the P40 Pro in some areas. For example, you can find better screens, higher-capacity batteries and faster performance with 5G capabilities on both the Oppo Find X2 Pro and the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Those phones also support Google Mobile Services and the Play Store, which is the standard for downloading apps on Android and ultimately their absence means the Huawei P40 Pro lacks truly global appeal.