EditorialsGadgetsPhonesReviews

Huawei P40 Pro Review: The Best Cameras On A Phone This 2020


Amazing cameras all around

Huawei’s always managed to impress with their P-series of smartphones, with the Chinese firm regularly pushing the boundaries of what cameras on a phone can do. But the P40 Pro really is something else entirely – and not even the threat of a global health emergency can stop its arrival in the country.

The P40 Pro probably has the best cameras on a smartphone today, and despite some of the niggles that the phone has when it comes to software, it’s the best choice for budding mobile photographers to buy when all of the craziness is over. Here’s our review of Huawei’s P40 Pro:

Pros:

  • The biggest camera sensor on a modern smartphone
  • Incredible camera performance
  • Elegant design
  • Pretty display

Cons:

  • Very large camera bump
  • Overflow Display design isn’t for everyone

A beautiful design that’s not for everyone

While Huawei’s previous devices were elegant, if not showy, pieces of consumer electronics, the P40 series embraces a brand design philosophy centered on simplicity and minimalism.

Gone is the bright, eye-catching gradient effect on the previous generations, replaced by gloss and matte single-color finishes.

It’s not as loud as previous P-series of phones, and we like the matte finish as it’s not as prone to get fingerprints compared to previous generations.

The aluminum frame has this unique design where the corners of the frame taper into the display, which Huawei says mimics the way water looks before it breaks the surface tension.

This aesthetic isn’t for everyone, and while I didn’t mind it one bit, Jamie doesn’t particularly prefer it. As with most aesthetic choices in phones though, your mileage may vary.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like with the design, it’s that big, square camera module stuck on the back of the phone. I didn’t like it when Samsung started putting square camera modules on their phones, and I still don’t like it on a Huawei phone either.

To be fair to Huawei though, they did try to integrate the camera module into the overall design of the phone, with the P40 Pro looking a lot like a point-and-shoot when held horizontally. It’s a throwback to Leica products of old, integrated in a smartphone that promises to deliver the same image quality as its co-branded counterpart.

As with Huawei’s other flagships, build quality is simply superb. The phone is very well put together and is IP68 rated to boot. Huawei has long since mastered the art of sandwiching metal, glass and tech into a well-designed, well-built product, and the P40 Pro is no exception to this.

Gorgeous screen with a 90Hz refresh rate

The P40 Pro has a large, edge-to-edge 6.58-inch OLED display, decked out with all the bells and whistles that you could possibly wish for on a flagship panel: 90Hz refresh rate, DCI-P3 support, as well as HDR10+ capability.

While there’s always going to be debate over the use of a 90Hz refresh rate vs the 120Hz that’s on other flagships, the visual difference between a 90Hz and 120Hz refresh rate is very minimal. The jump from a 60Hz refresh rate on a typical smartphone to a 90Hz refresh rate panel though is very noticeable.

The lower 90Hz refresh rate is a good balance between a higher refresh rate and battery life since higher 120Hz refresh rates drain the battery faster.

There’s an elongated hole-punch notch on the upper left part of the P40 Pro that contains the 32-megapixel f/2.2 front camera as well as a ToF sensor.

The under-display fingerprint scanner on the P40 Pro has been improved by enlarging the readable area. It’s the fastest we’ve seen on a phone yet (flagship or otherwise) which makes unlocking the device incredibly quick and easy.

Gigantic sensor with Leica-branded optics

While I don’t like the fact that the rear camera module is so large, the tradeoff here is that you’re getting the biggest sensor ever put on a modern smartphone so far.

The main Ultra Vision camera uses a gigantic, 1/1.28-inch 50-megapixel sensor using a Quad Bayer arrangement, with an RYYB filter. The P40 Pro’s closest competitor, the S20 Ultra, uses a smaller 1/1.33-inch 108-megapixel sensor.

The Cine camera (AKA ultra-wide camera) uses a 40-megapixel, 1/1.54″-inch sensor with a quad-Bayer RGGB filter, far bigger than the one in the previous generation.

There’s still a 5x optical zoom lens on the P40 Pro in a periscope arrangement, which mimics the same system like the one in last year’s flagship.

The final camera on the P40 Pro’s arsenal is the Time of Flight sensor, which adds depth information as well as aids the autofocus of the camera.

Huawei also tossed in an upgraded multi-spectrum color temperature for even better and more accurate color balance in photos.

The result? Extremely detailed, color-accurate and vibrant photos no matter what shooting mode. While we’re limited in the areas we can shoot in because of the enhanced community quarantine currently in place for the Philippines, the P40 Pro still managed to deliver excellent images in very challenging conditions like indoors and very low light.

We’ll be taking more detailed shots outdoors once the lockdown lifts, but for now, these are our sample photos:

Incredibly fast processor, long-lasting battery life to boot

Huawei’s P40 Pro is one of the few flagships in the market today that offers 5G out of the box thanks to the company’s Kirin 990 5G chipset.

While 5G remains out of the reach of many who aren’t in the very center of Metro Manila, it’s still a good thing to have on a phone, future-proofing the P40 Pro. That being said, you probably shouldn’t buy a phone based solely on its 5G capability this year. Thankfully the P40 Pro has a lot of things to offer aside from just 5G.

The Kirin 990 5G chipset is marginally faster than the non-5G version of the chip and has enough processing power to run demanding Android games without any problems.

The chipset is paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which allows it to tackle any and all apps without so much as a hiccup.

Just like any phone released by Huawei post US ban, the P40 Pro doesn’t come with Google’s Mobile Services or Google Play installed. Instead, it comes with Huawei’s Mobile Services, and the company’s AppGallery.

AppGallery has largely replaced Google Play when it comes to downloading apps and services that are found in Google’s equivalent, and Huawei has done a great job populating it with top apps used in the Philippines, including many banking apps from industry leaders like BDO, UnionBank, PayMaya and more.

Huawei’s EMUI 10.1 is onboard the P40 Pro as well as Android 10, and while Google isn’t providing support to Huawei because of the ban, the company has been pretty diligent in providing numerous software and security updates to their devices and is sometimes ahead of the search giant when it comes to pushing updates as well.

The P40 Pro comes with a large 4200mAh battery, as well as really fast 40W SuperCharge to quickly top up the phone when needed. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the 27W wireless fast charging, as well as reverse wireless charging. PCMark’s Battery benchmark kept crashing on us, but the longest time we got was around 11 hours and 5 minutes, which is well within the acceptable figures for a flagship phone nowadays.

Verdict: the best snappers on a phone this 2020

Huawei always seems to raise the bar when it comes to smartphone photography every year with the release of its new P-series flagship, and this year is no exception. While the P40 Pro isn’t as revolutionary as say, the P30, the refinements in the tech from the display, the camera and the processor make it stand out against its peers as of press time.

If you’re a mobile photography enthusiast and have been looking for something to make you feel better when the lockdown ends later this month, then why not treat yourself to the P40 Pro? The phone is priced at Php 50,990 which is more than fair considering what you’re getting with every purchase.

Huawei P40 Pro specs

  • HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G octa-core processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 6.58-inch quad curve overflow OLED display, support DCI-P3, 90hz refresh rate, 1,200 x 2,640 resolution
  • 256GB internal storage, expandable via Nano memory card
  • Quadruple Leica rear cameras: 40-megapixel f/1.8 ultra-wide RYYB SuperSensing Cine camera; 50-megapixel f/1.9 UltraVision main Camera with OIS and Octa Phase Detection AF; 12-megapixel f/3.4 RYYB SuperSensing telephoto camera; ToF camera; Color temperature sensor, Laser Autofocus, LED Flash, 4K60 video recording, up to ISO 409600
  • 32-megapixel f/2.2 front camera with AF; IR depth sensor, ToF Sensor 4K selfie video
  • Dual SIM, eSIM
  • 3G, LTE, 5G
  • WiFi 6+, Bluetooth, Dual-band GPS, NFC
  • In-display fingerprint scanner, 3D Face Unlock, IP68 rating
  • 4200mAh battery with 40w wired charging, 27w wireless charging, and 5w reverse wireless charging
  • Android 10 with EMUI 10.1

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

Related Articles

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the review on the camera. But I think it’s a disservice to your readers by not highlighting the lack of Google Mobile Services / Google Play as a con. AppGallery may have a lot of the common local apps as you pointed out but some essential services like Google Maps and apps that rely on Google’s Maps just won’t work. That could be a dealbreaker for some people. Not to mention the lack of games and inability to use your purchased Play Store apps/games on Huawei phones.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: