Huawei P40 Pro Review
Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, Huawei still managed to successfully launch its latest flagship smartphone, the P40 series. Among them is the Huawei P40 Pro which is what we have here for review.
As a successor to the Huawei P30 Pro, we expect the P40 Pro to make a lot of improvements and introduce new features and we will be looking into all of that in this review.
Huawei P40 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro and Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Our review unit is the matte gray version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage.
Design and Construction
There are a few design elements that Huawei incorporated in the P40 Pro, some of which came from the Mate 20/30 Pro and the P30 Pro from last year. Once you hold it, the device feels like the Mate20 Pro — light and compact, cold to the hands, feels very solid and a bit slippery.
We’re noticing that the design differences between the P-series and Mate series are pretty narrow already and we see this in the P40 Pro.
One interesting design feature of the P40 Pro is the glass black panel that looks frosted with a matte finish that surprisingly keeps smudges and fingerprints away.
The USB port is found at the bottom end along with the primary mic, speaker grill and SIM card slot. The SIM tray holds a nano-SIM card and a second slot for either an NM card or another nano-SIM.
The power button and volume rocker are on the right side. The power button has that subtle red accent which is a nod to the Leica partnership. There are two antenna bands
The IR blaster and noise-canceling mic are up top, flanked by two antenna bands on both ends.
We give it to Huawei for really making their devices stand out. The P40 Pro looks beautiful and elegant with that solid, all-metal build, expansive display that curves on all sides.
Yes, this is probably the very first phone that has a curved display on all four sides (compared to all others that only the two sides are curved). This allows it the display to almost flow over the sides and reduces the bezels to close to nil.
The curves are not as prominent as the one on the Mate 30 Pro but more like that of the Mate 20 Pro. Perhaps, that’s the reason why the Mate 30 Pro (94.1%) has a higher screen-to-body ratio than the P40 Pro (91.6%) despite having almost the same screen size (6.53 inches vs. 6.58 inches).
Flip over to the back and you will be greeted by that large camera module on the top left corner. It houses 4 camera sensors and the LED flash inside a slightly protruding module, aligned into two rows. The Huawei logo is on the bottom left placed in a horizontal orientation.
The unibody design is composed of an all-metal chassis sandwiched by a glass front and back panels that overflow to the sides, almost converging towards each other. It’s also IP68-rated for dust and water resistance for up to 1.5 meters in under half an hour.
It’s thicker than the P30 Pro by half a millimeter and heavier by 17grams. Come to think of it, the Huawei P-series is becoming thicker and heavier in each iteration since the P10 Plus. What’s missing though is what type of glass protection is used here since Huawei never mentioned Gorilla Glass.
Display and Multimedia
Where the P40 Pro really flexed its muscle is with that curved display at the top and bottom sides, further reducing the bezels to as narrow as possible. Huawei also did away with the notch in favor of a cut-out design at the top left corner that houses the 32MP front-facing camera, ToF sensor, and IR flood illuminator.
Speaking of the display, the P40 Pro’s Flex OLED display is similar to the Mate 30 Pro but only this time its got a 90Hz refresh rate and looks better and more noticeable when playing games. It’s bright with rich, vivid colors.
The screen is 6.58-inch across but due to the narrow bezels, it remains more compact and almost the same size as its predecessor. The fingerprint sensor is embedded under the display.
The screen aspect ratio is a bit odd at 19.8:9 with a resolution of 1200×2640 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 441ppi. It supports DCI P3 Color Space and HRD10+ although Netflix has not yet added the P40 Pro in its list of supported devices as HDR10 compatible.
That cut-out design for the front camera might be a distraction so there’s an option in the Settings to hide the cut-out and put a black screen along the entire area which does not look good in our opinion. When playing videos using the native player, that part is also automatically blocked out so it does not interfere with the viewing experience.
The single downward-firing loudspeaker is good enough to use when playing music and watching videos. It’s quite loud and clear, has good range and just enough base.
Huawei is back at it again with their camera powerhouse, backed by Leica. The P40 Pro has 4 camera sensors (the P40 Pro+ has 5) that’s more or less an upgrade of the quad-camera setup of the P30 Pro.
It is basically almost the same setup as the P30 Pro but each camera was upgraded with bigger sensors and wider aperture.
The primary rear camera is a whopping 50MP Ultra Vision sensor with an f/1.9 aperture, optical image stabilization and octa Phase Detection Auto Focus. Photos are sharp and rich in color, great dynamic range and really fast, accurate auto-focusing. Here are some sample photos:
The second camera is an ultra-wide camera with 40MP SuperSensing Cine Camera sensor and f/1.8 aperture (1/1.54?).
In previous P-series phones, the ultrawide camera usually had a smaller aperture opening or sensor size. The one on the P40 Pro is considerably better at f/1.9 and 1/1.28? Quad-Bayer sensor size (1/2.7″ on the P30 Pro). This resulted in much better wide-angle shots.
The 3rd camera is a 12MP SuperSensing Telephoto Camera with f/3.4 aperture, optical image stabilization and 5x optical zoom. That means you can zoom in five times closer without degrading image quality.
So, you can take a normal photo of a scene and then zoom it in at 5x to get a much closer look just like the photo below.
The 4th camera is a ToF camera or Time of Flight sensor. It uses infrared light to determine depth information. The sensor emits a light signal that hits the subject and returns to the sensor. The time it takes to bounce back is then measured and provides depth-mapping capabilities. The ToF sensor complements each of the 3 other cameras when taking photos.
The main camera also takes videos up to 4K at 60fps and can burst an ultra slow-motion shot up to 960fps at 1080p.
The selfie or front-facing camera is a 32MP sensor with autofocus and f/2.2 aperture coupled with and IR Depth sensor.
Overall image quality is better compared to the P30 Pro, thanks to the biggest sensor sizes of each camera. The P40 Pro scored 128 in DxOMark, the highest among smartphones so far at this time.
Apps, UI and OS
The Huawei P40 Pro comes with EMUI 10.1 which is powered by Huawei Mobile Services, a platform that’s based on Android 10 source code. Huawei is also fully invested in its in-house platform, the AppGallery which houses over 45,000 apps.
Huawei still supports sideloading of apps but full compatibility is not guaranteed especially if HMS does not support the app.
The interface is the same familiar Emotion UI which looks simple and easy to navigate. By default, there is no app drawer which means all the apps are clustered in multiple home-screens or grouped into folders. You can revert back to the app drawer in the settings if that’s more to your liking.
While the UI is simple and clean, there are a ton of options to choose from if you want to install custom themes in the Huawei Theme store, some of which are free while others are paid.
Some native gesture and swipe features have been expanded to include air gestures to either scroll the screen up and down or do a screen-capture.
Huawei has also introduced its own AI assistant called Celia, a direct competitor to Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. This is not released yet and Huawei has not indicated when it will do so via an OTP update.
If you’re coming from an old Huawei phone, transferring all your data, contacts, apps and settings to the new phone should be pretty easy and fast. Just use the pre-installed Phone Clone app and everything on the new device will appear exactly the same as the old. This is a long-time feature of Huawei that we really love.
Biometric features include an under-display fingerprint sensor and face recognition that is surprisingly very fast and accurate we actually prefer it over the fingerprint scanner.
The fingerprint sensor recognizes up to 5 maximum prints while the facial recognition allows for an alternate look just in case you have some other appearance or style that might confuse the scanner.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Huawei P40 Pro is a tri-cluster HiSilcon Kirin 990 5G chip which comes with an octa-core processor with a max clock speed of 2.8GHz, paired by a Mali-G76 MP16 GPU. This is the same chipset used by the Mate 30 Pro 5G which was also recently released locally.
The architecture consists of two high-performance cores based on an ARM Cortex-A76 (2.86GHz) to handle immediate, intensive workloads; two more high-efficiency cores based on the same Cortex-A76 (2.36GHz) to for sustained performance; and four ultra-efficient cores based on the Cortex-A55 (1.95Hz) to tackle everyday, light activities.
It also has 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB internal storage that’s expandable for another 256GB via an NM card.
Performance of the device is through the roof — very fast and snappy and gobbles up a ton of apps and plays games without straining a muscle. This is supported by the results of synthetic benchmarks.
• Antutu: 459,978
• PCMark: 10,708 (Work 1.0), 9,386 (Work 2.0)
• 3DMark: 5,598 (Slingshot Extreme, OpenGL ES 3.1), ,5416 (Slingshot Extreme, Vulcan)
• GeekBench 4: 3,838 (Single core), 12,313 (Multi-core)
• GeekBench 5: 750 (Single core), 2,936 (Multi-core)
• AndroBench: 1,759 MB/s (Read), 396 MB/s (Write)
Since this is a similar chipset to that of the Mate30 Pro 5G, although at a slightly higher maximum clock speed, some of the benchmark scores should be close to each other. The GPU is also the same although this one has MP16 compared to the MP10 on the latter.
Call Quality, Connectivity, and Battery Life
The Huawei P40 Pro uses the same chipset as the Mate 30 Pro 5G, it shares all the connectivity features of the latter. This includes fast Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, dual-GPS for more accurate tracking and an embedded 5G modem that’s compatible with both Smart and Globe 5G networks here in the Philippines (we actually tried it for both). The P40 Pro is also the first one to support WiFi 6+ with a maximum speed of 2.6Gbps.
Call quality is very good, reception is loud and clear and signal is fairly strong in both the WiFi and mobile connectivity. As with most Huawei smartphones, we’d always get better signal strength in 4G and 5G areas. There’s dual-SIM support with the second nano-SIM tray compatible with an NM card up to 256GB.
The P40 Pro is packed with a large 4,200mAh internal battery so we’re expecting it to last quite well on moderate to heavy use. In our PC Mark Battery Test, the P40 Pro achieved a score of 12 hours and 45 minutes on a single full charge at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode. This was tested at 90Hz screen refresh rate.
When we repeated the same test at standard refresh rate (60Hz), the battery life significantly improved at 14 hours and 23 minutes so take this into consideration when setting the phone’s refresh rates.
In our standard video loop test, the P40 Pro lasted 25 hours and 20 minutes on a single full charge playing a full HD movie at 50% brightness and 0% volume, in airplane mode.
The results are surprisingly slightly lower compared to the ones we got on the P30 Pro (13 hours, 13 minutes) despite having the same battery capacity and newer chipset. At the moment, we can really point out the reason why but we think it’s due to the bigger display.
It supports Huawei’s 40W SuperCharge technology as well as fast charging at 27W with reverse wireless charging just like its predecessors.
As it stands, the Huawei P40 Pro is a well-rounded flagship smartphone. It ticks off every single item on the checklist.
However, the Huawei P40 Pro does not seem like a huge update from its predecessor. There are incremental upgrades like display size, resolution and refresh rate, CPU clock speed, GPU cores and camera but, collectively these seemed not that immensely significant. Battery life will depend on which refresh rate you will set it so there’s that trade-off.
If you’re also a nomadic person, the 5G compatibility with Smart and Globe 5G is a huge bonus.
It seems Huawei is holding out on the P40 Pro. Perhaps, that’s the result of adding a new model — the P40 Pro+ — where much of the drool-worthy upgrades for the camera were added.
Likewise, the AppGallery may be behind in terms of apps and services (it’s currently the 3rd after Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store) but it has committed $1 billion in developer support so we’re hoping it’s going to catch up soon.
Don’t get us wrong — the P40 Pro is a pretty attractive device. Very nice design, impressive performance, impressive camera and good battery life. It’s just overshadowed by the P40 Pro+ with that penta-camera setup. Nonetheless, if you can’t wait any longer, we do recommend the P40 Pro.
If you’re coming from the P20 Pro or the P30, then the P40 Pro is an ideal upgrade. If you’re using the P30 Pro, then you should be looking at the P40 Pro+ instead for your next upgrade.
Huawei P40 Pro specs:
6.58-inch Flex OLED Quad-Curve Overflow Display @ Full HD+ (2640 x 1200 pixels), 90Hz
HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G 2.86GHz octa-core CPU
2×2.86GHz Cortex-A76, 2×2.36GHz Cortex-A76, 4×1.95GHz Cortex-A55
Mali-G76 GPU MP16
128GB, 256GB storage
NM card support up to 256GB
50MP Ultra Vision Camera, F1.9 RYYB (main, OIS, Octa PD AF)
40MP SuperSensing Cine Camera, F1.8 (ultra-wide)
12MP SuperSensing Telephoto Camera F3.4 RYYB (periscope), 5x optical, OIS)
32MP AF F2.2 front camera + IR Depth/Gesture Camera
Single-SIM + e-SIM (for select models)
5G, 4G LTE
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (WiFi6 Plus)
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
IR Face Unlock
EMUI 10.1 (Android 10) w/ AppGallery
4,200mAh battery w/ 40W Fast Charging, 27W Wireless Charging, Wireless Reverse Charge
158.2 x 72.6 x 8.95 mm (dimensions)
203 grams (weight)
Ice White, Deep Sea Blue, Black, Silver Frost (refractive matte), Blush Gold
The Huawei P40 Pro has a suggested retail price of Php50,990.
It can be availed in the Lazada Flagship Store and MemoXpress with freebies worth PHP 12,285. This includes the Huawei Freebuds at Php8,990, Band 4 at Php1,890, 50GB cloud storage for 1 year at Php588, GCash voucher at Php70, Pho50 worth of Paymaya credits, Php100 discount in GMovies and a Booky Prime membership for 3 months at Php597. The final payment for purchases via Lazada must be settled from April 22 to 24.
What we liked about it:
- Beautiful and solid design
- Flex OLED display
- Impressive camera performance
- Very long battery life
- Very fast charging
- Support for local 5G networks Globe and Smart
What we did not like:
- A bit on the expensive side