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Huawei P40 Pro Review

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Huawei will try to keep the title of having the best camera phone in the market with the new Huawei P40 Pro.

The company might be burdened by the US-ban imposed to them, but that didn’t stop them to launch its latest flagship smartphone.

It goes without saying that the P40 Pro packs a killer set of cameras — but being a flagship device, there’s more to this smartphone than being a photo and video machine. We’ll uncover more of it here in our Huawei P40 Pro review.

Huawei P40 Pro Specs

  • Android 10, EMUI 10.1
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby, Hybrid
  • 6.58-inch OLED display, 2640 x 1200 pixel resolution, ~429ppi
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • 2.86GHz Kirin 990 5G octa-core processor
  • Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB internal storage, expandable via NM card 2
  • 32-megapixel + 3D depth sensor front cameras
  • 50-megapixel (UltraVision, RYYB, f/1.9, OIS) + 40-megapixel (Cine ultra-wide camera, f/1.8) + 12-megapixel (5x optical, 50x hybrid zoom, OIS) + ToF rear cameras, Octa-PDAF, LED flash
  • [email protected] video recording, up to ISO 51,200
  • Telephoto video, Slow-mo, Ultra low-light video
  • In-display fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
  • IP68 water and dust resistant
  • 4G LTE, 5G
  • WiFi 6, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • dual-band GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo, QZSS, NAVIC
  • IR blaster
  • NFC
  • USB Type-C
  • Colors: Black, Deep Sea Blue, Ice White, Silver Frost, Blush Gold
  • Dimensions: 158.2 x 72.6 x 8.95mm
  • Weight: 209g
  • 4,200mAh non-removable battery, 40W SuperCharge, 27W Wireless charging, Reverse wireless charging

Design and Build Quality

Much like most flagships, the Huawei P40 Pro is sandwiched in glass. The back panel has a smoked glass that provides a matte appearance. Fingerprint smudges are not obvious unless you look closer.

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The review unit we have here is the new Silver Front color option. There’s something about this plain design that looks clean and refreshing. But if it’s not your cup of tea, you can also get it in Deep Sea Blue, Ice White, Blush Gold, and Black.

Both the front and back glass are curved, which makes it really ergonomic and comfortable in the hands. It made the device feel thin, despite its 9mm thickness.

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Although at 209g, the Huawei P40 Pro definitely has some weight to it. But its more like solidly-built heavy and not poorly-designed heavy. That’s probably due to the combination of glass and metal materials.

Its key design distinction is the camera bump on the back. All four cameras and the LED flash are placed on a single rectangular glass that’s reminiscent of digicams from before.

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The camera bump is pretty sizable that you can feel it every time you touch the device.

Despite its sleek and premium looks, the Huawei P40 Pro is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance. We don’t recommend you go swimming with it, but it should withstand accidental drops in the pool and being caught in the rain.

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On the front, we have a large 6.58-inch FHD+ OLED screen. It has ultra-thin bezels and the aforementioned curved glass, which leads to an impressive 91.6% screen-to-body ratio.

However, the punch-hole on the top left of the screen is really big. Larger than what we saw on the Realme 6 Pro that also has two selfie cameras.

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The punch-hole on the Huawei P40 Pro really sticks out. It barely lefts room for the notification icons. It’s actually forgivable since it houses a pixel-packed 32-megapixel selfie camera, and advanced face unlock sensors such as a ToF camera and an IR flood illuminator — much like what we saw on the iPhone 11 series.

Huawei had to remove the earpiece on the top to make the screen bigger. So when making calls, the screen itself makes subtle vibrations to create sound.

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For a quick rundown, we have the IR blaster, noise-cancelling microphone, and two antenna bands on the top.

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On the right, we have the lock/power button with a distinct red line on it. On top of it is the volume controls. The physical buttons feels a bit stiff, but do provide a satisfying feel when pressed. The left side is clean.

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On the bottom, we have the USB Type-C port, the only loudspeaker, and the primary microphone. We also have the small hybrid SIM tray. You can put two nano SIMs back to back, or use the other slot for an NM card for storage expansion.

Display and Sound Quality

One of the main attractions of the Huawei P40 Pro is the large display. Its a 6.58-inch FHD+ OLED panel, with a 2640 x 1200 pixel resolution, ~429ppi, HDR10+ support, DCPI-P3, sRGB color, and of course, a 90Hz refresh rate that’s starting to be a buzz word in flagships today.

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I gotta say, the large punch-hole can be annoying at times. It would block some buttons on games. But thankfully most movies are not wide enough to reach the distraction in the corner.

Speaking of movies, the display color was set to Vivid by default. It provides good vibrancy and deep contrast without looking too exaggerated. On the downside, the HDR doesn’t seem to work on Netflix and in most streaming apps — at least for now.

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The 90Hz refresh helps the Huawei P40 Pro flex its powerful performance even more. Also, the interface, games, and videos look really smooth on this one.

Hardware and Performance

The Huawei P40 Pro is powered by a 2.86GHz Kirin 990 5G processor, with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of RAM, and Mali-G76 GPU. It also comes with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for all AI-related tasks.

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The storage is expandable via Huawei’s NM card. Unlike before, a lot of manufacturers are starting to make NM cards and is now available in more stores both online and offline, making it cheaper and more accessible.

Obviously, the Kirin 990 5G processor still lags behind the Snapdragon 865, as seen on AnTuTu’s top ten list for May 2020. Snapdragon 865 devices scored 550,000 and higher, while the P40 Pro barely reached the 500,000 mark.

Huawei P40 Pro benchmark scores

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Its benchmark scores might not be as impressive, but being a flagship device, it still provides blazing-fast performance. Partnered with its 90Hz refresh rate, the Huawei P40 Pro handled all workloads with finesse. From browsing the interface, flicking through social media, taking pictures, and more.

Gaming is also top great on this one. Demanding titles like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile ran at the highest graphics settings with smooth frame rates. No noticeable lags.

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Everyone’s favorite, Mobile Legends, also ran seamlessly on the Huawei P40 Pro. It has High Frame Rate or HFR support that takes full advantage of its fast display.

Games ran well under the Normal battery mode, but enabling Performance Mode will crunch out more power out of the GPU.

Software and User Interface

Coming in on this review, you’ve probably accepted the fact that the Huawei P40 Pro lacks Google Mobile Services support.

In our recent YouTube video (see above), we showcased how we were able to download all the apps we use on a daily basis using the Huawei App Gallery and third-party app store.

If you’re willing to adopt the Huawei Mobile Services, you’re in for a treat. Huawei has made an ecosystem of product that works well together. They have a uniform interface that complements the hardware, albeit it’s definitely not the cleanest UI in the Android market.

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The lock screen is clean and gives an emphasis on the wallpaper to improve the overall look of the device.

Upon unlocking, you’re greeted with a home screen with all your apps in it. You can enable the App Drawer in the settings menu.

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It has a system-wide Dark Mode that you can easily enable in the settings menu. Other than looking subtle and sleek, it helps conserve battery.

During setup, the Huawei P40 Pro will ask you to pick between three-key navigation or the iPhone-like gestures. We picked the latter and got used to it easily. The Microsoft SwiftKey keyboard is also intuitive if you can get past the learning curve.

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Another software highlight of this device is the Wireless Projection feature, which lets you easily connect the device to a smart TV wirelessly. You can mirror the screen directly, or use the Huawei Desktop mode that lets you use the phone’s display as a trackpad.

Bottomline is, the Android 10-based EMUI 10.1 interface on the Huawei P40 Pro provides a lot of advanced and cool tricks that improve its usability. But of course, you have to adapt HMS and settle with the lack of GMS and Google Play Store.

Camera Quality

Just like its predecessors, the main highlight of the Huawei P40 Pro is its cameras. This thing comes with a 50-megapixel Quad Bayer main camera with a 1/1.28″ size and an RYYB filter. It has an f/1.9 aperture with OIS.

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Huawei also went overboard with the ultra-wide Cine camera, which uses a 40-megapixel Quad Bayer sensor with RGGB filter. And of course, the periscope-style lens that made the P30 Pro became popular makes a comeback. It uses a 12-megapixel sensor behind a 125mm lens, which offers 5x of optical zoom and up to 50x of digital. It also has iOS.

Completing the quad-camera setup is the TOF depth sensor. The Huawei P40 Pro also has the new octa-PDAF technology that greatly improves autofocusing.

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On the front, we have a 32-megapixel selfie camera which now has autofocus and a 3D depth sensor. We would have appreciated more if we got an ultra-wide selfie camera on this thing.

In short, the images you can get out of the Huawei P40 Pro is possibly the best on any smartphone right now. In good lighting, with or without AI, images look really vibrant but realistic, contrast is great, dynamic range is top-notch, and the overall rendition is just fantastic. It outputs 12.5-megapixel images with pixel-binning.

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Low light shots are also great. Huawei is boasting the P40 Pro’s ISO that maxes at 409,500, which basically allows you to see in the dark.

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ISO 6,400
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ISO 409,600

Huawei pioneered the Night Mode, and with the P40 Pro, it works really well.

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Night Mode: OFF
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Night Mode: ON | six-second exposure

The Huawei P40 Pro gives you an opportunity to take a photo using the full 50-megapixel resolution. It’s there if you want to print a photo on a larger canvass, but the quality isn’t definitely the best. It takes up about 22MB of storage. That’s 5 times more than the average 4MB size in 12.5-megapixel mode.

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50-megapixel Hi-Res mode | Size: 21MB

The 40-megapixel ultra-wide only uses an 18mm lens, which isn’t as wide as the 13mm that found on the new iPhone 11 series. This should be acceptable since Huawei is marketing it as a Cine camera that’s also great for shooting videos.

It’s still wide enough to let you capture tall buildings or group photos on a single frame. But the best part is, it has the best sensor for an ultra-wide camera, so the overall image quality is much better than the competition.

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Ultra-wide | Night Mode

Thanks to the periscope lens and 12-megapixel sensor, images taken at 5x zoom look really clean and sharp with great colors.

A toggle on the camera app lets you easily switch to ultra-wide, 1x, 5x, and 10x. You can slide it all the way to go to 50x zoom. It’s basically a digital crop from 10x to 50x, so expect to see more grains and noises.

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1x
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5x optical zoom
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10x hybrid zoom
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50x hybrid zoom

For those who are unfamiliar, the ToF sensor is basically an advanced depth sensor. Hence, the professional-looking depth-of-field effect. The foreground and background are separated well from each other, creating a believable look.

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The 32-megapixel front-facing camera takes really great selfies. The colors, contrast, dynamic range, and details are really top-notch. The autofocus feature also creates a subtle blurred background.

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But if you want to really blur everything behind you, you can use the 3D ToF front camera as a depth sensor, which accurately separates you from the background.

Security

The Huawei P40 Pro has an in-display fingerprint scanner that works fast and accurately. The aforementioned 3D face unlock feature was also reliable, even at pitch-black rooms. These are standard and basic features, so we’re not surprised that Huawei nailed it.

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Software-level security functions are also present. That includes Find My Phone, Password Vault, App Lock, and a private safe for photos, videos, and other files.

Connectivity

Huawei is really pushing 5G in the Philippines. The Huawei P40 Pro has it, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to test its speed since our area doesn’t have 5G coverage. This brings up one of the big problems about Huawei’s 5G phones — the lack of 5G availability in the country. Not unless you’re living in a city where it’s available.

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The rest of the antennas worked well, though. It has WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 that makes it futureproof and worked well during our testing. The Huawei P40 Pro also has NFC and IR blaster that lets you control your non-smart TVs.

For car owners out there who use Waze or Google Maps a lot, this device also has dual-band GPS for a more accurate location tracking.

Battery

Completing its impressive hardware is a reliable battery life. The Huawei P40 Pro comes with a 4,200mAh battery and got a screen-on time score of 12 hours and 1 minute using PCMark battery test.

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This translates to two days of light to moderate use. But if you’re a heavy gamer or loves to binge-watch on Netflix, you might have to reach for the charger before the day ends.

Speaking of charging, the Huawei P40 Pro comes with 40W SuperCharge that can go to 0% to 100% in under an hour. It also has a whopping 27W fast wireless charging support. Plus, reverse wireless charging that lets you share battery to a friend or any wireless-charging-capable device or accessory — like the Huawei Freebuds 3.

Verdict

The Huawei P40 Pro easily has one of the best — if not the best — hardware on a smartphone today. Huawei crammed in a lot of power inside a sleek and good-looking body.

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There’s the large, vibrant, smooth, and curved screen that’s nice to look at. The back is equally stunning with its clean and unique appearance.

Huawei P40 Pro nailed all the things we were expecting from a flagship device. There’s the really fast performance, long battery life, fast charging, futureproof connectivity, and of course, a set of cameras that are easily the best in the mobile industry.

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However, the lack of GMS and Google Play Store remains its achilles heel. But to Huawei’s credit, they did make a lot of improvements to their own ecosystem and continues to grow the apps available in the App Gallery. But if you’re spending this much on a phone, tinkering and workarounds shouldn’t be an option.

Huawei P40 Pro pricing and availability in the Philippines

The Huawei P40 Pro is obviously a major step-up over its predecessor. But the best part is, it has the same price of Php50,990. You can get it in Huawei’s official online stores in Lazada, Shopee, and more. And of course, in tons of Huawei physical stores and resellers nationwide.

Pros

  • Sleek, ergonomic, waterproof body
  • Large, vibrant, smooth display
  • Blazing-fast performance
  • Best-in-class cameras
  • Reliable battery life with fast charging
  • Flexible connectivity with 5G and WiFi 6

Cons

  • The lack of GMS and Google Play Store is a huge downer
  • An ultra-wide selfie camera would be nice
  • Distracting punch-hole

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