Huawei P40 Pro review

The Huawei P40 Professional demonstrates that life after Google is feasible however not preferrred. Regardless of its talents, it is onerous to suggest to anybody outdoors of die-hard Huawei followers and tech-savvy customers comfy with compromises

The Huawei P30 Professional was simply among the finest telephones of 2019, however a yr on each Huawei and the cellphone market itself are in very completely different locations. Regardless of the Chinese language firm’s apparent skills on the subject of smartphone creation, the arrival of the Huawei P40 Professional, although thrilling, can also be troubled.

For a cellphone that appears to as a lot of an influence as its predecessor, the P40 Professional launches at a time of big uncertainty. The market, notably on the increased finish, is certainly stagnant and that is earlier than you issue within the results of the worldwide pandemic, which have resulted in tighter purse strings and decreased demand for wares as luxurious as a brand new flagship smartphone.

Regardless of the circumstances underneath which the P40 Professional has launched, nevertheless, there is no denying that the cellphone itself is an undeniably highly effective piece of package, taking (nearly) every part that its predecessor delivered to the desk and upping the ante.

A well-recognized design, with extra flare

Telephones just like the Galaxy S10 Lite kicked the pattern off at first of 2020 however, like its launch siblings, the P40 Professional additionally sports activities a big offset rectangular digital camera module.

Find it irresistible or hate it, it is one of many first stuff you’ll spot whenever you see the P40 Professional. In fact, it is large so as to accommodate the cellphone’s 4 rear digital camera sensors (extra on these in a bit), so, maybe extra so than the likes of the Lite, its presence right here is justified.

Transfer previous the module and whereas for essentially the most half formulaic, Huawei has nonetheless tried to assist its new cellphone stand out within the crowd of metal-framed, glass-bodied, close to bezel-free flagship handsets already launched this yr.

As you will see and examine in our Huawei P40 evaluation, the brand new Silver Frost (or Blush Gold) end is the colourway of selection for this era of P-Collection telephones. It displays mild in an eye catching method that is in contrast to any cellphone earlier than it. The Deep Sea Blue P40 Professional pattern examined right here can also be pleasing to the attention, however comparatively pedestrian so far as Huawei’s finishes go.

One level towards the cellphone is that even earlier than you bear in mind its notable digital camera bump, the cellphone feels fairly thick and heavy for a tool with a 6.58in show (it breaks the 200g mark). Not less than the rounding and proportions, to not point out the precise construct high quality, give it an amazing hand really feel.

The P40 Professional can also be IP68-certified towards mud and water, forgoes a headphone jack however consists of USB-C headphones in-box and there is an IR blaster on the prime of the body, letting you management every part from air con items to you TV, as soon as arrange.

Probably the most fascinating side of the P40 Professional’s physique must be the ‘Overflow’ show. Not solely does it curve over the cellphone’s edges alongside all 4 sides however the steel encompass rises up on the corners for added safety, creating a wierd ‘draped’ look that is wholly distinctive.

The panel at play is sensible too. Whereas not a decision rival to the likes of Samsung’s newest flagships or Sony’s Xperia 1, the 2640×1200 display screen ought to seem completely crisp to most customers.

It is also helped by the truth that the P40 Professional is the primary of the corporate’s telephones to embrace the next refresh charge. Once more, it does not match the 120Hz OLEDs of the S20 vary or the Asus ROG Cellphone 2 however the fluidity of 90Hz will nonetheless appear and feel like an enormous leap to these accustomed to standard 60Hz shows.

The entrance digital camera setup, now a dual-sensor array, has graduated from the Mate 30 Professional‘s notch to a fully-fledged gap punch. This pill-shaped module is not precisely straightforward on the eyes however you’ll be able to cover it behind a sizeable black bar for those who desire.

There’s additionally the matter of the optical in-display fingerprint sensor, which feels a contact faster than the one discovered on the P40 Professional’s predecessor. It additionally makes use of a smarter-looking white mild rather than cyan, as earlier than, and sits a contact too excessive up on the show, in my opinion.

Come for the zoom, keep for the video

Not like Samsung’s S20s, which supply markedly similar digital camera setups between the bottom Galaxy S20 and the S20+ (save for the addition of a depth sensor) all three of Huawei’s P40 vary use decidedly completely different preparations (even when there is an overlap).

The P40 Professional strikes the most effective stability of worth and efficiency from the vary on this regard, and most-closely serves as an evolution to final yr’s P30 Professional.

The quad-sensor setup on the again is fronted by a whopping 50Mp most important snapper (with an f/1.9 aperture and optical picture stabilisation). Not solely is it large when it comes to megapixels, it is a bodily big 1/1.28in sensor that, by means of pixel-binning, can function with 2.8µm pixels (the Galaxy S20 Extremely’s nonacell make-up creates 2.4µm pixels), making it extraordinarily succesful in low mild. Better of all – this specific sensor is discovered throughout the whole lot of the P40 vary.

The periscopic zoom from the P30 Professional makes a return, full with OIS, nevertheless, Huawei’s now upped the decision to 12Mp rather than 8Mp. It nonetheless delivers as much as an astounding 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and a most 50x zoom, all of which produce spectacular leads to their very own proper (as long as you are conscious of the apparent degradation zooming previous 10x will trigger).

Subsequent up there’s the f/1.8 40Mp ultra-wide 18mm-equivalent ‘Cine’ lens, which whereas nice for taking stills, actually shines on the video entrance. This comes, not solely due to the broader subject of view, but additionally because of vastly improved low-light recording chops, capable of seize content material that the principle sensor and rival smartphone snappers merely cannot ‘see’.

As on the again, the P40 Professional’s 32Mp front-facer comes accompanied by a 3D depth-sensing module. In addition to gauging depth knowledge to render synthetic bokeh in pictures, it additionally assists with face unlocking, paired with an IR emitter to work reliably, even in low mild.

If there’s one constant speaking level throughout the P40 Professional’s cameras, it is dynamic vary. From commonplace pictures to wide-angle photographs, to selfies, the P40 Professional provides nice dynamic vary, standing up effectively, even in vivid daylight and high-contrast situations. As already touched on, low-light taking pictures can also be very good, particularly for those who can lock the cellphone all the way down to a tripod or fastened hands-free place. On the 10x hybrid zoom threshold, you are still getting an amazing picture too.

It would not be a high-end Huawei evaluation and not using a take a look at shot of the moon (50x zoom)

Noise suppression is greatest when taking pictures utilizing that most important 50Mp sensor, the trade-off, nevertheless, is that the minimal macro taking pictures distance has elevated and the digital camera’s pure focal vary appears a contact shorter. It is a comparable trait to that of the Galaxy S20 Extremely’s 108Mp sensor, however though nonetheless current, the problem is way much less pronounced right here.

On the software program facet, whereas there’s little that stands out over earlier iterations of Huawei’s images expertise, all of it appears surprisingly clear and simple to make use of, contemplating the digital camera’s wealthy and diversified characteristic set.

Earlier than (left), after (proper) – Reflection Elimination is not good, nevertheless it helps

One new addition price speaking about is reflection removing (which really lives underneath the Gallery’s edit menu, relatively than throughout the digital camera settings). Outcomes differ fairly extensively however when it does work, it is a powerful one-button repair for an in any other case troublesome photographic fake pas to attempt to must resolve.

Much less Google, Extra Emotion

A world with out Google

With Huawei now having launched a handful of telephones because the US authorities’s ban took impact, the corporate has began to regulate to constructing a consumer expertise with out Google Cellular Providers (together with the Play Retailer and help for different apps that depend on the corporate’s applied sciences) for customers outdoors of China.

Utilizing the Mate 30 Professional (the primary cellphone that launched in markets, together with the UK, with out GMS) was a problem, to say the least, and whereas Google’s absence continues to be very a lot obvious on the P40 Professional, the infrastructure that is been constructed to shrink the resultant void is consistently rising and bettering.

Throughout setup, you are launched to Huawei Cellular Providers (or HMS) and the corporate’s personal App Gallery (see above), which now serves because the P40 Professional’s defacto app retailer. Within the time between the Mate 30 Professional and the P40 sequence, it is clear that Huawei has been busy making an attempt to localise the App Gallery for customers in additional markets globally, in addition to onboard as most of the large app makers on the market proper now.

You will discover entries like Snapchat and TikTok entrance and centre on the App Gallery’s house web page, nevertheless, it does not take lengthy to expire of acquainted choices and end up confronted with copycat apps masquerading as poor facsimiles of well-liked providers as an alternative.

Thank goodness Huawei’s App Gallery at the very least lets us entry what’s necessary

It is an issue that Huawei is clearly conscious of and the corporate even has a devoted video, exhibiting customers numerous methods to switch apps onto their units that are not but on the App Gallery.

Because it stands, such explainers are important to anybody contemplating choosing up any of the brand new P40 telephones. Alongside the App Gallery, customers might want to grasp Huawei’s personal Cellphone Clone app (at the very least for these transferring from one other Android cellphone – iOS customers are out of luck) and perceive the best way to immediately obtain and set up APK information (or use an installer app like APKPure) too.

I used the above strategies when establishing the P40 Professional, paired with the likes of the Amazon Appstore, and of the 50-something apps I’d sometimes use or obtain on an out-of-box Android cellphone, nearly half have been rendered inoperable or are solely partially usable with out Google’s help.

Google’s personal apps are the obvious victims, with the likes of Google Drive, Google Images and Google Podcasts outright refusing to operate with out Google Play Providers, whereas choices like Google Chrome and Google Maps work however cannot pull in saved bookmark or location knowledge tied to your Google account.

It isn’t simply Google apps both. A wealth of video games that make use of Google Play gaming integration cannot operate, apps like Uber use Google’s mapping providers to function and so do not play good right here, and whereas choices like WhatsApp are practical, no Google Drive help means you’ll be able to’t pull in current backups that you might have there.

Getting the P40 Professional to a state that almost all customers can be proud of within the day-to-day isn’t any imply feat and solely actually suited to the technologically-inclined. In case you’re in search of your first Android cellphone or a fuss-free various to the likes of the Pixel 4, the P40 Professional isn’t it.

Exploring EMUI and assembly Celia

Regardless of every part that is not there, the brand new EMUI 10.1 consumer expertise (operating atop Android 10) nonetheless has heaps of performance price exploring.

Huawei all the time bundles its personal apps on its units, lots of which often double-up on Google’s choices however right here, no such rivalry exists. The native e-mail app provides help for Gmail, the Gallery app comes with AI-powered search, so you’ll be able to simply discover photographs you are in search of and the Huawei Video app now operates as a proxy for Rakuten TV, letting you hire and stream the most recent options, relatively than merely serving up locally-stored video information.

None of those apps are put in on the machine, they’re merely ideas from App Gallery

The cellphone additionally comes pre-loaded with empty folders that provide app suggestions pulled from the App Gallery, relative to their labels. This characteristic is greatest switched off in my view however some would possibly discover it helpful so as to uncover App Gallery options to well-liked Play Retailer choices.

Between the choices summoned by pinching out on any of your private home screens and the Themes app, there is a pleasing stage of customisation to the feel and appear of the cellphone’s consumer expertise. A swipe proper reveals the ‘As we speak’ display screen, which consolidates your frequent contacts, consumer expertise ideas, information headlines and widgets in a single place too.

EMUI’s assistive options aren’t half dangerous both. Whereas the P40 Professional depends on native Android 10 gestures for navigation by default, a swipe in from the facet (as if to go ‘again’) and maintain, grants entry to a customisable shortlist of apps that may float above others for fast multitasking. Swiping in from the underside corners prompts one-handed mode, which is important when navigating the cellphone’s sizeable show with a single mitt, after which there’s Celia.

With Google out of the image, Huawei selected to herald its personal voice assistant as a substitute – Celia. Other than the truth that the identify sounds suspiciously near Siri (and might, in actual fact, set off an iPhone’s “Hey Siri” wake command every now and then), Celia is a superbly serviceable various.

“Hey Siri, uh… I imply, Celia”

You possibly can ask concerning the climate, open apps and set reminders – all commonplace stuff for positive, however at the very least it works as you’d count on, to not point out the cellphone can decide up your voice from an honest distance away, even within the presence of background noise too. Some extra distinctive options embrace letting it provide help to store for objects on-screen and having Celia carry out a Google search utilizing Huawei’s personal browser, which fits some method to mitigating the lack of the direct comfort of Google voice search.

Sturdy efficiency, spectacular battery

In testing, Huawei’s Kirin 990 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM serve up aggressive outcomes that persistently match or outperform rival telephones, most of which come operating Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon 865 chipset. In synthetic benchmarks, notably graphical checks, the Professional mannequin really barely underperformed in comparison with the usual P40 mannequin, however this probably comes all the way down to the cellphone’s have to drive the next decision show.

In real-world use, the P40 Professional is stacked to face up to demanding duties, together with gaming, and may final the typical consumer at the very least two years earlier than exhibiting its age, from a efficiency standpoint. There’s additionally the matter of community speeds. With an built-in 5G modem and WiFi 6, Huawei has additionally future-proofed the P40 Professional on this regard.

The battery contained in the P40 Professional can also be top-tier. In synthetic testing, it doled out an excellent 12 hours (and 12 minutes) of screen-on time. Actual-world testing lower that determine in half (and a few) however each scores are nonetheless extremely respectable. What’s extra, for those who do have issues concerning the cellphone’s 4200mAh cell, it is also choc-full of fast-charging goodness.

The cellphone helps the corporate’s personal 40W wired SuperCharge tech, which has clearly been improved regardless of to alter in wattage, because it’ll convey the P40 Professional as much as 78% in simply 30 minutes. Then there’s the addition of help for 27W quick wi-fi charging and the choice of reverse wi-fi charging too – preferrred for homeowners of wi-fi charging-compatible earphones, like Huawei’s personal FreeBuds 3. Try our Greatest True Wi-fi Earbuds characteristic for extra options.


There is no denying that from each a {hardware} and software program standpoint, the corporate has improved upon the recipe of final yr’s P-Collection in each sense with the Huawei P40 Professional.

The digital camera setup is now much more versatile than earlier than, as is the improved Emotion UI 10.1 consumer expertise. Uncooked efficiency is among the many greatest within the enterprise proper now and the cellphone comes future-proofed with the most recent networking applied sciences. Battery life is excellent, granting you as much as two days use on a cost and you’ll fill the cellphone again up at tempo too. All of it works as promised and persistently impresses.

If that was all there was to say concerning the Huawei P40 Professional, its £899 price ticket would additionally land nearly the place we might count on for a cellphone of this calibre, maybe even rather less than what one would possibly count on to pay, primarily based on its competitors. However, in fact, the P40 Professional – and all Huawei (and Honor) telephones coming to market presently – are successfully handicapped in comparison with their competitors.

While Huawei’s consumer expertise with out GMS is extra palatable now than it is ever been, there’s nonetheless a lot that should occur for it to change into a like-for-like various to a cellphone sporting a UX with GMS. The hoops that potential P40 Professional homeowners should bounce by means of and the sacrifices that they should make aren’t to be sniffed at.

Die-hard Huawei followers should still bounce on the supply of the corporate’s very good {hardware}, however even they may wrestle to actually fall in love with the likes of the P40 Professional, and frustratingly of all, the answer stays out of attain of its creators’ management.

For these outdoors of China, conscious of the challenges {that a} cellphone with out Google Cellular Providers, just like the P40 Professional presents, then there is no query that in each different sense, this can be a very good handset. However for the typical consumer out there for a strong new flagship cellphone – whether or not they’re seeking to transfer away from an iPhone or leaping from one other Android machine – would greatest look elsewhere.

The P40 Professional’s most like-minded rivals at current are in all probability the Oppo Discover X2 Professional (£1099) and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (£999). Alternatively, you can decide up a P30 Professional at an enormous low cost (RRP = £629.99 however accessible for even much less elsewhere) and take these sacrifices out of the equation fully.


Huawei P40 Professional: Specs

  • Fundamental cameras: 50Mp (huge, f/1.9, OIS) + 40Mp (ultra-wide, f/1.8) + 12Mp (5x optical telephoto, f/3.4, OIS) + 3D depth-sensing module
  • Entrance cameras: 32Mp f/2.0 + depth-sensing module
  • Android 10 w/ EMUI 10.1
  • Huawei Cellular Providers (HMS)
  • No Google Cellular Providers (GMS)
  • 6.58in 2640×1200, 19.5:9 90Hz OLED ‘Overflow’ show
  • Kirin 990 5G processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB storage (expandable by way of NM card)
  • 5G
  • WiFi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • 4200mAh battery
  • SuperCharge 40W quick charging
  • Wi-fi SuperCharge 27W wi-fi quick charging
  • IP68-certified

About Alex Walker-Todd

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