HUAWEI P40 Pro Review – HUAWEI P30 review was an amazing phone (it still is) when I reviewed it here at Craving Tech. While the phone design and features were great, the camera definitely was the main gem of the show. Heck, it even won the best smartphone camera award back in 2019. Make sure to check my P30 Pro review article to check the photos I took with the camera.
A year has passed and we get the HUAWEI P40 Pro this year. Unlike the P30 Pro, however, the P40 Pro takes a heavy beating all thanks to President Trump. Without access to Google Services and Google Play Store, some Android fans have turned their heads away from the phone, no matter how amazing it is.
The reaction was expected, but HUAWEI apps ecosystem have since taken a leap since the release and you can find almost all of your favourite apps to use with the phone.
Packaging & Unboxing
Design & Features
Powered by Kirin 990 5G Chipset (Octa-core CPU, 8GB RAM + 256GB ROM), the P40 Pro is fast beast. It has an OLED display with up to 90Hz frame refresh rate, offering really fast, fluid animation especially when you are playing games in 90fps. If you ever upgrade your 60Hz desktop monitor to a 120Hz or 144Hz, then you know what I’m talking about here.
HUAWEI is proud with the design, calling it a “Quad-Curve Overflow Display”, which is inspired by flowing water. It is pretty and offers borderless visual display that covers the entire front surface of the phone. There is no “notch”, however front camera and sensors definitely have to make way still – which you may or may not like. When you are playing games or watching movies, however, the display doesn’t go all the way to these area, making sure none of the screen gets covered. Unless you pinch to zoom in on purpose.
But wait, where’s the front speaker, you asked? That’s because HUAWEI is using an in-display speaker system that you can’t see. When you receive calls and place the phone on your ears, you’ll still be able to hear as if they are coming from a regular front speaker. With this, the phone can achieve the no-notch design but at the expense of not so great music listening that relies only on the bottom speaker to pump the tunes out.
The screen is gorgeous and bright. The colour is vivid without being over-saturated like Samsung phones. Definitely a joy using the phone here anytime of the day.
Available in Deep Sea Blue and Silver Frost (hint: get the Deep Sea Blue, it looks amazing), the back of the phone is as pretty (though you can’t help but noticing the huge camera bump with multiple lenses). The back surface has a smooth, refractive matte finish and definitely screams premium. The phone has a well-balanced weight distribution and the power button is within a good reach at all times. The on-display fingerprint sensor is also at the right place, slightly above the bottom of the screen where your right thumb would want to be. There is also a Face Unlock option.
I do find that the phone feels a bit slippery in the hand, but the included case fixes all that without making the phone feel cheap.
HUAWEI P40 Pro – Apps, no Google Services and Play Store situation
So, before we go into the good side (its camera), let’s talk about the other side that people are worrying about. Is the HUAWEI P40 Pro usable at all without Google Services and Google Play Store? The short answer is yes, of course – BUT you may have to make a compromise here and there.
I’ve written a separate article on this one, so make sure to check my HUAWEI P40 Pro – Life without Google article.
But long story short, you’ll most likely be able to find all your apps and use them with the P40 Pro. Some may not be available or may not run, so you do need to ask around first.
HUAWEI P40 Pro Camera
The camera is definitely the main highlights of the phone, and probably the only thing defining one smartphone to the next. With Ultra Vision Leica Quad Camera (50 MP Ultra Vision Camera, 12 MP Telephoto Camera, 40 MP Ultra Wide Cine Camera, 3D Depth Sensing Camera), you know you are in for a treat with any HUAWEI Pro devices.
I’m not going to lay out the technical jargons (you can read them yourselves), but the phone is capable of shooting really good photos in any light situation and has an amazing zoom capability (5x Optical Zoom, 10x Hybrid Zoom, and 50x Max Zoom). I personally won’t go more than 5x for the best quality photos, but at least you have the option to take a snap and share purposes. HUAWEI P40 Pro 5x optical zoom is really good and because it’s optical, you’ll still get the best photo possible – and you can photo a subject from farther away. Plus, there is also that wide-angle lens.
The only way to take photo of a magpie without getting attacked? Super Zoom!
With built-in Artificial Intelligence, the phone is able to detect the object or scene and make the adjustments automatically behind the scene to bring out the best photos.
I also like the “Aperture” mode where you can quickly adjust your Aperture setting to set your “Bokeh” effect. Combined with zoom, you definitely can take the yummiest food photo possible!
I do find that the post-processing tends to brighten up the scene, even if I prefer to preserve some of the darkness (which my iPhone 11 Pro tends to do). However, this is something that can be tweaked further later if you wish. The camera definitely takes really good and sharp photos in great detail.
Not enough seeing photos taken with the HUAWEI P40 Pro? Here are some more:
I have yet to take some good low lit photos. This isolation situation (plus having a newborn) definitely makes it harder to go out in the evening and take some good shots. But will definitely update this post as I can get some more in the future.
There are also some other modes I haven’t explored yet, such as removing reflections from the shot (handy if you are going to the aquarium to take photos through the glass) and passersby out from crowded holiday spots.
As you can see above, HUAWEI P40 Pro takes amazing photos and it’s no surprise knowing that the phone received the highest DXOMARK score when the phone was out – and if i’m not mistaken, it still has the highest score up til today (8th of July 2020).
HUAWEI P40 Pro Hidden Gems
There are more to this device: Wi-Fi 6 support, 4200 mAh battery, 40W HUAWEI SuperCharge (0 to 70% in 30 minutes), Reverse Charging, 5G, IP68 rating, HUAWEI Share, etc. Make sure to check all specs and features over at HUAWEI’s official product page for the HUAWEI P40 Pro.
HUAWEI P40 Pro Review Conclusion
There is a lot to love with the HUAWEI P40 Pro – its design, its display, its powerhouse & capabilities, and more importantly, its camera. The device is really snappy and it also has a 90Hz refresh rate display, which goes great with games. Its edge-to-edge display with no notch design is fresh looking, and EMUI is clean and sleek looking.
With 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and reverse charging, the HUAWEI P40 Pro is definitely built to last for the modern age and months to come.
Its camera also takes amazing pictures and it’s something unsurprising, coming from reviewing the HUAWEI P30 Pro from last year. Images are sharp, the zoom quality is great for image composition and something that you can use, and you will not be disappointed with your snaps. DSLR is bulky and smartphone camera is getting better and better. HUAWEI P40 Pro can definitely be used to show off your photography skills and to alleviate your social media channels even further.
But we all know the only thing that people may be holding back is the fact that you cannot have Google Services and Google Play Store running on the device. It goes with Android, but unless you are a hardcore Android fan who loves using a vanilla, stock Android, most people don’t bother and happy with getting EMUI updates (which, pretty much is an Android OS update on a different scale).
Apps that you are familiar with are being added continuously to the App Gallery, and HUAWEI has been working hard to give you ways to get your favourite apps on the device. There will be one or two apps that may not be available, or don’t work as it should – it depends on what apps you are using on a daily basis. Most apps are there, and some, you can use them through other means (such as mobile banking from a browser, etc). But there is no mistake that it is a minor annoyance but thankfully, HUAWEI is still working hard to tackle this problem (which is not theirs to begin with). It would be a big flaw and no-no to recommend this phone when it was out, but looks like things are getting brighter and lots of apps have been added and be made available.
If you are a hardcore Android fan or your workflow is tied to using many of Google services and you can’t change, this is definitely not the phone for you. But for most smartphone users who are not Google’s loyalists, you will not be disappointed with the phone at all. Just make sure the app that you really need to use is available, or if not, there is an alternative for it. Check out my article on this matter if you haven’t, about what apps work and how to find apps to install on the device through other means.
HUAWEI P40 Pro retails for AU$1,599 and available at retailers around Australia like JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, etc. It’s also available at Amazon.com
Disclosure: HUAWEI P40 Pro review sample was supplied for reviewing but all opinions are mine and not paid
HUAWEI P40 Pro Review
A stunning device with top-of-the-art camera lenses that can take great, high quality pictures. Not for Android/Google hardcore users and fans due to Google & Android ban situation, but that’s okay
- Stunning design
- 90Hz display
- Amazing camera (image quality, details, optical zoom, AI, features, etc)
- EMUI is sleek, smooth, and fluid
- Fingerprint and Facial unlock
- Bit slippery feel to hold (but case included)
- Photos’ post processing sometimes tends to make your snap brighter than it should
- Need to adjust to not having Google Services and Play Store