Review of the top flagship smartphone Huawei P40 Pro

Coronavirus is a coronavirus, and life (or, at least, technology) does not stand still. It seems that we recently tested the Mate 30 Pro, and today Huawei has already introduced its “flagship of the first half.” We spent some time with the P40 Pro and are ready to share our impressions of the device. At the same time, comparisons with our recent guests in the face of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Huawei Mate 30 Pro are inevitable . Do not forget about last year’s P30 Pro , as well as the iPhone (much without it).

We will briefly talk about impressions of the newest product itself – design, screen, performance. But we will focus on the camera. After all, today all vendors primarily position their flagships as camera phones. So let’s see what the Huawei P40 Pro is capable of.

We’ll clarify that the Huawei P40 Pro engineering sample was at our disposal, so it is possible that the commercial version of the smartphone will differ for some parameters for the better.

Familiar face

  • All modern smartphones are alike. P40 Pro is no exception – it has the features of its predecessor, but even more similarities with the Galaxy S20 .
  • In accordance with the trends, the hump on the back is large, massive, impressive. Still, the Mate 30 Pro has a more elegant solution in this regard, while the situation with the P40 Pro is more like that of the Korean flagship.
  • A metal edging floats on the corners, making it less likely to break the display when the smartphone falls.
  • Compared to the P30 Pro, the novelty looks more harmonious, especially from the front. This is because last year’s flagship ledge under the screen was slightly larger than above it. In the P40 Pro, the indentation from the display is the same and very small.
  • The case is glossy, easily soiled, without designer frills – in our case it is simply gray with a barely noticeable lilac shade. It is customary to say “strict” or “ordinary” about such a design.
  • The display is still curved on the sides. “Screen-waterfall” is what Huawei likes to say. Like any other similar display, it pleases at the first acquaintance, but then attracts attention with color distortions and glare on the bends.
  • Naturally, the 6.6-inch AMOLED matrix itself is chic. The resolution of 2640 by 1200 pixels guarantees a clear picture without pixelation.
  • The screen refresh rate is 90 Hz, but you can switch to the standard 60 Hz. The matrix in the Galaxy S20 Ultra can update even faster – by 120 Hz, but this reduces the resolution. In P40 Pro, the resolution in any case remains high, and the battery does not drain as fast as Samsung does. Apparently, 90 Hz is a compromise between the speed of the matrix, its resolution, as well as power consumption.
  • Whatever the developers claim to increase the response speed of the subscreen fingerprint sensor, while its usefulness tends to zero anyway. Use the face unlock, which, unlike the P30 Pro , works fine even in complete darkness. Forget about the on-screen fingerprinting – it is the same here as elsewhere.
  • Praise the engineers, this time they did not listen to the marketers and, unlike the Mate 30 Pro , left the usual hardware volume control button. And the screen itself is less curved.
  •  The test model did not want to install benchmarks on it. This often happens with engineering samples. However, the Kirin 990 with 8 GB of RAM is enough for everything and for a long time – even without virtual parrots, the phone is very fast in all everyday tasks, including games (WoT at maximum settings is only the way to go).
  • We did not have time to fully test the autonomy of the P40 Pro. But the observations are as follows. About 30% of the battery “ate” half an hour of shooting 4K-video with 60 fps. Not bad. The 4200 mAh battery is definitely enough for a day of standard work. Perhaps it will last 2 days – we will test the device and clarify this point.
  • Charging is fast – in half an hour from the complete 40-watt unit, the battery is 70% charged. It takes about an hour to fully charge. There is a reverse charge – it charges the iPhone by 1% in ten minutes.
  • The speaker is monaural, loud, without rattle.
  • Do not rattle! The optical stabilization system behaves very quietly and does not turn the smartphone into a rattle.
  •  To summarize, overall “not wow,” but worthy. The general craze for giant camera blocks has not passed P40 Pro, so the phone is scary on the back side, like other modern flagships. The display is cool, but I would like without a “waterfall”. Unlocking the face is the top, but the fingerprint is not. Performance above the roof, autonomy is enough. By and large, all these flagships show us from year to year.

Once again about life without Google

In the new Huawei smartphones, recall, there are no Google services. You can read more about the situation in our review of the Mate 30 Pro . Here I will add a few personal observations.

The question is actually not so much in Google, but in third-party applications that you are used to, but which are still not in the Huawei App Gallery. That is, while the main problem is an incomplete replacement for the Google Play program catalog.

As for other Google services, it is precisely their absence that most users will most likely simply not notice. A Gmail email account is easily picked up by any email client. Google Drive is full of alternatives, there are also from Huawei. The map service in our country still loses to cards from Yandex (which are in the App Gallery). Rent a movie, Duo messenger – all this is in our zero demand.

Mobile Chrome is good, but, unlike desktop browsers, here it has a lot of alternatives, at least not worse, including the built-in browser from Huawei. The problem with YouTube is a bit more urgent – you have to watch the video in a browser.

It’s a pity that there is no full replacement for Google Photo. For Google Music, it’s also a little disappointing, but at least you can come up with something, at least an analog from Yandex.

Huawei is actively developing the App Gallery, but at the moment it’s too early to talk about parity with Google Play. This is especially true for Belarusian users. So, no matter how you indicate that you are in Belarus, the system still offers to download several popular applications, but only in Russia. Why do we need a local post office program or a Russian real estate agency?

The Huawei App Gallery itself leaves a sense of randomness. All this so far looks like a collection of everything and everything, and not the official market of a large corporation. Probably, this is a growth disease that every similar product is experiencing. But are current buyers of flagship smartphones ready to make such compromises, deal with APK files, rake in a bunch of obscure applications with almost the same names (for some reason, there are associations with sneakers like Abibas)? If so, then there is no problem – everything can be found, installed, and it will even work.

There is no doubt that in the end from the App Gallery there will grow a formidable rival to Google Play, in which not only all the necessary applications will be, but from which the garbage mimicking for these applications will also disappear. If Huawei had extra six months in stock, then perhaps during this time everything would have worked out. But for now, we have to produce top-end phones with an application store, which at the moment is more suitable for budget phones and enthusiastic users.

Camera

Finally, the most interesting. The Huawei P40 Pro has a primary 50-megapixel Quad Bayer sensor with an F1.9 aperture lens. There is also a 40-megapixel ultra-wide with an aperture of F1.8, and a periscope 12-megapixel telephoto camera with F3.4 and five-fold optical zoom. The fourth camera is used as a depth gauge for shooting portraits. We will compare with the iPhone 11 Pro .

 Once again about the uselessness of a heap of megapixels

By default, the P40 Pro shoots at 10 megapixels, and this is more than enough. If desired, you can switch to maximum speed mode – 50 megapixels. But, as we have said more than once, there is no sense in such photos. Well, if you need to get something from the middle of the frame, it is better to click in advance with the approximation.

At night, everything is bad even without a crop. Just compare the photos taken with the default settings (image on the left) and with the maximum resolution (image on the right):

In general, another proof that many megapixels is not a panacea. Let’s continue with the night mode and take the iPhone 11 Pro.

Night mode

Here, the P40 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro showed slightly different colors, but overall they did well. Huawei has more noise due to the fact that the smartphone slightly overdone with the highlighting of dark scenes.

But with detail, the issue is debatable. If you sprinkle the image, then the Huawei P40 Pro reads the font perfectly, while the iPhone indicated road markings and other details in more detail, although it didn’t make it into the name of the gymnastics palace.

Traditionally, Huawei is doing great with optical and hybrid zoom. Below is a 10x zoom on the P40 Pro and iPhone.

Wide angle camera

The iPhone, again, captivates the wider angle of its secondary camera.

But with a lack of lighting, the P40 Pro wide-angle camera, unlike its competitor, can be used.

Daytime photos

Good weather, a lot of sun – of course, in such conditions, all the pictures will be good. But still, what are the differences between the two phones? In P40 Pro, the frame seems to be covered with a greenish haze. Perhaps the matter is in the software and engineering model of the device. But smoothing works more accurately.

Zoom

With the approach, Huawei has always been in full order. In the end, it was this company that was the first to introduce a periscope photomodule into smartphones. The P40 Pro was no exception, it is a real find for those who constantly use the zoom.

 

Macro

Huawei P40 Pro is the only smartphone in my memory that has competed with the iPhone 11 Pro in terms of clarity and detail transfer when shooting macro photos. At the same time, the two devices have a completely different opinion about what the photo should be in the end.wei

iPhone extremely carefully conveys natural colors, and Deep Fusion tries to ensure maximum clarity not only the main subject, but also the surrounding background.

The P40 Pro’s center of frame detail is no worse than that of a competitor. In this case, a more blurred background. In addition, Huawei prefers to show the user a much more embellished reality. Many people like this position, and if not, you can disable AI.

Video

The situation with video is unambiguous – six months have passed, but Android smartphones have not reached the quality of the iPhone. Yes, they come up with various ultra-slow-motion shots, a resolution of 8K, crazy special effects. All this is probably great for single experimenters, but to make it so that just press a button and get a smooth video without twitching – only Apple seems to be able to.

Competitors

Huawei P40 Pro is the flagship smartphone, which in Belarus will cost 2599 rubles (the start of sales is scheduled for April 17). Based on these two factors, the model has four competitors.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra . The recent Korean flagship  with a horse price, a bunch of little-useful for most chips (8K-video, 100x zoom, 12 GB of RAM), with hardware and software flaws (“rattle” stabilization system, the problem with focusing when shooting macro photos), as well as everything with 128 GB of internal memory. The capabilities of the main camera plus or minus are comparable, in the night mode the S20 Ultra seemed to us better. Plus, no questions on Google Play.

iPhone 11 Pro Max . Huawei loses in everything with regard to close-up shooting. Moreover, in most standard scenarios we get photos of approximately the same quality. The design is subjective, more interesting for the iPhone, as is the practicality of the matte cover. Own “apple” ecosystem and total superiority in video. At the same time – not horse, but the elephant price.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro . It’s funny, but the main competitors for the P40 Pro are two smartphones made by Huawei. The safest of them is the Mate 30 Pro. Safe, because at the identical price it is better to prefer the hero of today’s review, if only because of the presence of normal volume buttons and a 90 Hz display. While we do not undertake to compare the quality of the photo, but the difference, as in the case of most of the current flagships, must be sought out under a microscope. Mate 30 Pro shoots video better , but, again, we do not exclude that this is a matter of non-optimized software on the engineering sample P40 Pro.

Huawei P30 Pro . And here is the most dangerous competitor of the novelty. The predecessor P40 Pro also has the coolest cameras, while, subjectively, a more interesting appearance, the price is one and a half times lower and there are no problems with Google services and other applications. Perhaps last year’s phone has only one obvious drawback against the background of the novelty – a badly triggered face unlock in the dark (fingerprinting there is also unused – on the screen).

Summary

Huawei P40 Pro is a typical flagship smartphone of a new time. No noticeable innovation compared to its predecessor, but with minor evolutionary improvements. However, all vendors are following such a path today. A couple of weeks ago, it would be right to complain about the high price, but with the current dollar exchange rate you do not know what to say.

8 Total Score
Our Expert Rating

If you are not worried about picking in a chaotic application catalog from Huawei, the word “APK” is not scary, as well as the need to make additional efforts to search for some applications, you can add 0.5 points to the assessment. Nevertheless, we expect that the App Gallery will soon be put in order and filled with local content relevant for Belarusians.

PROS
  • Powerful hardware platform
  • Cameras
  • Display
CONS
  • Problems with Google, etc.
  • Boring design
  • Fingerprinting
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