Huawei P40 review: A phone for the tech-savvy

The Huawei P40 provides highly effective efficiency and a shocking digital camera, however is that sufficient to make up for the dearth of Google Play?

The Huawei P40 vary is right here, and it appears to be like to tackle flagships just like the Samsung Galaxy S20, Oppo Discover X2 Professional and iPhone 11 Professional. Although it might lack among the high-end options of the Huawei P40 Professional and Professional+, the usual Huawei P40 has loads going for it – however is it sufficient to make up for the gaping gap left by the dearth of Google Play Companies? That’s a easy query with a really difficult reply. 

Nuanced design

From nearly each angle, the Huawei P40 is a looker. Sporting a beautiful mix of glass and aluminium that stands out from a crowd of plain-looking flagships from the likes of Samsung, the P40 is a beautifully-designed, properly thought out little bit of package with a singular end that I believe different producers will likely be ‘borrowing’ within the close to future. 

You see, it’s the rear of the Huawei P40 that’ll actually catch your consideration. The P40, together with the P40 Professional, can be found in two new finishes – Silver Frost and Blush Gold – alongside the usual Ice White, Black and Deep Sea Blue that provides a soft-looking matte end to the glass rear of the smartphones.

Matte finishes aren’t new, in fact, however Huawei has performed one thing fascinating with Silver Frost and Blush Gold; the rear is reflective beneath the matte end, and you may nearly make out reflections of objects in your atmosphere as you play with the telephone in your hand. In a world filled with dazzling light-refracting glass rears, this can be a minimalistic, but efficient, strategy.

Regardless of the matte look, the telephone remains to be clean to the contact – actually, the brand new end provides a clean sheen to the rear that feels very nice within the hand, and it hides fingerprints and smudges rather well too. Truthfully, this can be one of the best end on any Huawei smartphone, ever.  

After all, I can’t speak concerning the rear with out addressing that digital camera bump. The vertical digital camera bump is definitely noticeable, rocking forwards and backwards because it sits inconsistently on tables and different flat surfaces, however the improved digital camera efficiency makes it a obligatory sacrifice – one thing I’ll go into extra element about later.

Huawei has not less than tried to make the module as enticing as potential, sporting a diamond-cut volcano-esque type issue that widens out as you get to the bottom of the bump and detailing that matches the principle aluminium band of the telephone. It additionally helps that the whole digital camera array, together with mics and digital camera flash, are located in a single module, giving it a cleaner look than some rivalling smartphones.

There’s hope {that a} case could scale back the digital camera bump and let it sit flush on a desk, however there wasn’t a case supplied with my P40 to have the ability to say for positive (there are P40 instances obtainable although, simply to be clear).

A show that leaves you wanting extra

On the entrance, you’ll discover a vibrant, detailed 6.1in FHD+ show full with dual-holepunch digital camera cutouts within the top-left. The twin holepunch digital camera setup is a bit like Marmite, however after taking a few days to regulate, I actually don’t thoughts it – the one annoyance is that notification icons within the standing bar now get pushed to the centre of the show, and that may look a bit messy, however actually, that’s a tiny criticism.

Like a lot of Huawei’s present assortment, the P40 sports activities an in-display fingerprint scanner that works properly. In keeping with Huawei, it’s 30 p.c bigger than that of the P30, lowering the variety of failed scans, and it’s a lot faster this time round too. Mixed with the facial customary Android recognition tech on supply (solely the Professional fashions work in low-light utilizing IR scanners) you’ll barely need to enter your pin to unlock the telephone. 

Sadly, the Huawei P40 doesn’t characteristic the identical bezel-less curved OverFlow show featured on the high-end P40 Professional and Professional+, dropping out on the wow issue current on the higher-end fashions. The dearth of curved edges means bezels are current on the P40, though they’re barely thinner than these current on the iPhone 11 vary.

Whereas I can settle for that the entry-level P40 could not get entry to the ‘Professional’ stage shows of the dearer variants, it’s not the one factor the P40 loses out on; the usual P40 show is capped at 60Hz, whereas the P40 Professional and Professional+ supply a better 90Hz refresh price. Contemplating funds telephones just like the £219 Realme 6 provides a 90Hz show, it looks as if an enormous omission on a flagship telephone in 2020. 

Phenomenal digital camera efficiency

Actually and really, the digital camera system is the principle purpose to select up the Huawei P40. It doesn’t supply the quad- or penta-camera setups obtainable on the Professional variants, however all three share the identical principal f/1.9 50Mp RYYB sensor that Huawei calls its most superior thus far. 

Although it doesn’t sport the 108Mp decision of the Xiaomi Mi Observe 10, the Huawei’s principal rear snapper boasts the most important digital camera sensor in any smartphone proper at 1/1.28in, beating different flagships together with the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S20 ranges – and it’s instantly noticeable when taking snaps utilizing the P40.  

Usually talking, a bigger sensor ought to enable for extra consumption, larger dynamic vary and fewer noise, and that’s what the P40’s principal 50Mp snapper provides. Whether or not you’re taking photographs in vibrant daylight or a dimly lit room, the P40 does a shocking job at capturing element, and the dynamic vary of photographs is unimaginable. Even when zooming in, the photographs stay detailed, permitting you to pick small particulars missed by different smartphones at an identical worth.

After all, Huawei has all the time been a pacesetter in low-light pictures and, as you’d count on, the big sensor of the principle 50Mp snapper means efficiency is healthier than ever with the P40. 

Huawei P40 Camera Test

That’s partly because of the third-generation DaVinci NPU engine that mechanically analyses each photograph taken, going pixel-by-pixel to individually improve each a part of the shot. You may truly see this occur should you’re quick sufficient – viewing a recently-shot photograph will present you the ‘earlier than’ whereas the AI engine is enhancing the picture, and whereas most automatically-enhanced photographs look a bit ‘off’, I haven’t discovered that after with Huawei’s system. 

That AI postprocessing extends to the P40’s 16Mp f/2.2 ultra-wide and 8Mp f/2.Zero 3x telephoto lenses too, providing all-round enhancements to boost the standard of photographs taken. The secondary lenses carry out simply in addition to the principle sensor in most environments, though we did discover that the 3x telephoto lens would generally misjudge focus and seize a blurry shot. In order for you extra from the secondary cameras, the quad- and penta-camera programs of the P40 Professional variants stands out as the better option. 

The principle sensor options Octa PD AutoFocus tech, and whereas which may not imply a lot to you at dwelling, it means the sensor is extremely quick – and correct – with regards to focusing. It makes the 50Mp sensor good for taking pictures fast-moving topics like animals and children, with the P40 managing to completely seize my German Shepherd Luna mid-run with none focus points. Mix that with near-instant seize and the principle P40 sensor actually is a beast.

You’ll additionally discover a bunch of recent AI performance on supply, most of that are centered across the dwell photograph performance – making it a disgrace you can’t use the AI mode and Dwell Photograph mode on the similar time. However should you do occur to take a Dwell Photograph, the AI analyses every body in realtime and suggests the three finest pictures to you – ideally suited for group pictures. And, utilizing the gathering of photographs from Dwell Images, the AI can analyse and take away passers-by within the background of photos. It’s restricted to 3 folks, however the outcomes are surprisingly good. 

Regardless of the twin holepunch cutout on the show, you’ve solely received a single 32Mp digital camera obtainable. The opposite is used as a depth sensor, and whereas it takes up precious show area, I’d argue that the outcomes are value it.

Selfies are extremely properly detailed and the dynamic vary is spectacular too – even with difficult gentle circumstances, like having the solar straight behind you. It’s one in all only a few telephones that I don’t thoughts taking selfies on, and that’s not solely due to the delicate magnificence results it could apply!   

Flagship-level efficiency

It ought to come as no shock that the Huawei P40 provides unimaginable efficiency, sporting the identical 7nm Kirin 990 5G chipset discovered within the likes of the Mate 30 Professional and MatePad Professional in addition to the remainder of the P40 vary. There’s additionally a Mali G76 GU that provides a 36 p.c increase in efficiency in comparison with the G76 discovered within the P30 vary, together with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage (expandable by way of Huawei Nano Reminiscence Card) to play with too. 

You will get extra RAM and storage should you go for the P40 Professional or Professional+, however with the P40 dealing with issues so properly, efficiency shouldn’t be a purpose to go for one of many dearer variants.  

In actuality, the Huawei P40 is about as clean as it could get, making gentle work of media-heavy apps like Twitter and Fb that sometimes stutter on mid-range (and even some flagship) smartphones, and lag-free high-end 3D gaming is on supply too. It’s not fairly as clean as what’s on supply from the 90Hz-enabled P40 Professional and Professional+, but it surely’ll be robust to seek out an app that’ll make the P40 lag.  

That’s backed up by our benchmark outcomes, with the P40 largely performing higher than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely, OnePlus 7T Professional and Google Pixel four XL, though it does fall barely wanting the highly effective (and extremely costly) Oppo Discover X2 Professional by way of uncooked CPU energy. 

Relating to battery life, the P40 sports activities a 3,800mAh battery that, in our expertise, simply lasts all-day with common use. It gained’t fairly make it to the two-day mark with no need a top-up, however with 22.5W quick charging on-board (and a quick charger within the field) the P40 can regain 38 p.c of battery in 30 minutes – it did throughout my testing, anyway. It’s not precisely industry-leading in both side – there are flagships with sooner charging and greater batteries – but it surely ought to suffice for the on a regular basis shopper. 

The one disappointment is the dearth of wi-fi charging; whereas the P40 Professional and Professional+ characteristic quick 40W wi-fi charging, the P40 options nothing of the type, and that’s changing into an ordinary characteristic of smartphones throughout the board. 

It ought to come as no shock that the Huawei P40, with the Kirin 990 5G chipset, helps 5G connectivity, but it surely doesn’t cease there with next-gen connectivity. It additionally options what the corporate calls Wi-Fi 6 Plus – as if Wi-Fi 6 wasn’t already next-gen – which provides help for the 160MHz bandwidth, boasting prime theoretical speeds of a whopping 2.4Gbps. That’s a formidable declare, but it surely’s extremely unlikely (as in, just about unimaginable) that your own home router will supply Wi-Fi 6 Plus connectivity, so don’t count on these sorts of speeds in the true world. Nonetheless, it’s a pleasant futureproofing choice. 

Alongside 5G and Wi-Fi 6 Plus, you’ll discover Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, USB-C connectivity and 7 GPS programs to assist present correct location knowledge, even in congested areas. 

The Google Play-less expertise

Huawei has labored onerous with AppGallery because it misplaced entry to Google Play Companies in 2019. The app itself is well-built and installs are largely instantaneous because of Huawei’s experience in networking tech, and though it’s nonetheless missing among the largest and finest Android apps, the providing is slowly bettering.

Now you can discover apps like Amazon Purchasing, Microsoft Workplace, and Snapchat on AppGallery, and although they aren’t natively obtainable, the shop gives hyperlinks to obtain apps like Fb and WhatsApp. It’s additionally potential to make use of Huawei’s Cellphone Clone app to switch appropriate apps to the P40 – even when they aren’t obtainable in AppGallery.

The one problem with utilizing Cellphone Clone is that unsupported apps gained’t obtain future updates that repair bugs and add new performance. For that, you’ll have to make use of an unofficial useful resource like APKPure to replace apps like Fb and WhatsApp that aren’t totally built-in within the AppGallery ecosystem simply but.

APKPure additionally gives entry to apps that aren’t obtainable in AppGallery, together with the likes of Instagram and Name of Responsibility Cellular, making it a useful unofficial useful resource for those who do make the soar to the Google Play-less smartphone. Apps that require entry to Google Play Companies – like Google Maps and Youtube – nonetheless gained’t work although, so don’t take into consideration making an attempt to put in Google Assistant.

On the Assistant entrance, EMUI 10.1 introduces Huawei’s personal digital assistant: Celia. Sure, it sounds suspiciously like Apple’s digital assistant Siri, and saying the phrase “Hey Celia” will seemingly wake any Apple merchandise within the neighborhood in addition to your P40 – it definitely did once I tried it. It’s early days for Celia within the UK, and though it does an excellent job of understanding what you’re saying, it could’t do loads proper now. It’ll deal with primary duties like sending texts and disabling Wi-Fi, however don’t count on the extent of integration with apps and good dwelling tech that’s obtainable with Google Assistant, Siri and Amazon Alexa.

Huawei has laid the inspiration, very like Apple and Google’s assistants of their early days, and it’ll be fascinating to see the place Huawei takes Celia over the approaching months and years. 

Worth

The Huawei P40 prices £699 within the UK and is on the market to pre-order from Huawei and Carphone Warehouse (which holds exclusivity for the Silver Frost end in UK shops) and on contract from carriers like EE and Vodafone forward of launch on 7 April.

The P40 marks a return to Huawei’s earlier ethos of undercutting the competitors whereas nonetheless providing premium {hardware}, coming in at £200 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S20 and £30 cheaper than the iPhone 11. 

After all, Huawei’s hand has been pressured by the dearth of Google Play Companies – in addition to Huawei has performed to get well from the gaping gap that Google left, key apps stay unavailable on Huawei’s AppGallery, in the end making it much less helpful than most Android options.

Because it stands, it’s a really aggressive worth for a flagship smartphone in 2020, however you’ll have to noticeably query whether or not the financial savings are well worth the sacrifice of Google Play Companies. 

Verdict

The Huawei P40 is a tough one to sum up. The P40, although missing in some points in comparison with the premium Professional and Professional+ fashions, can maintain its personal in comparison with many 2020 flagships. The principle 50Mp rear sensor is amongst one of the best I’ve seen in any smartphone, capturing extremely detailed photos additional enhanced by the smartphone’s third-gen AI system, and the secondary ultra-wide and 3x optical zoom lenses can maintain their very own too.

It’s additionally a handsome smartphone, with a singular Silver Frost matte glass end that leaves a tender sheen and a big 6.1in FHD+ show.

The crux, as with all Huawei merchandise in the mean time, is the dearth of Google Play Companies. Huawei’s AppGallery has come a great distance prior to now 12 months, now providing some in style western apps, but it surely nonetheless has a protracted solution to go to really be capable of compete with Google Play. There are workarounds, like utilizing Cellphone Clone to deliver unsupported apps over out of your outdated smartphone and utilizing APK sharing web sites, but it surely’s nonetheless not an ideal expertise – there’s no means you’ll be capable of use apps that depend on Google’s providers, no matter the way you sideload them. 

The dearth of Google Play Companies means it merely isn’t for the on a regular basis shopper. For those who’re extra tech-savvy, don’t thoughts sideloading apps and might dwell with out the Google ecosystem then the Huawei P40 is a strong choice at a beautiful worth – you simply have to resolve whether or not the financial savings and spectacular digital camera are well worth the sacrifice.

Specs

Huawei P40: Specs

  • 148.9 x 71.1 x 8.5 mm
  • 175g
  • Twin-SIM with 5G connectivity
  • IP53 mud and splash safety
  • 6.1in 60Hz OLED show with FHD+ (1080 x 2340) decision
  • Kirin 550 5G chipset
  • Mali G76 MP16
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB of storage, expandable by way of Huawei Nano Reminiscence Card
  • 50Mp RYYB digital camera, f/1.9, 1/1.28in, OIS
  • 8Mp 3x telephoto lens, f/2.2, OIS
  • 16Mp ultrawide, f/2.0
  • [email protected] video
  • 32Mp front-facing digital camera, half.8in, f/2.0
  • Wi-Fi 6 Plus
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • NFC
  • USB 3.1
  • 3800mAh battery
  • 22.5W quick charging
  • Android 10 Open Supply working EMUI 10.1

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