Huawei P40 Pro Review: Three Things To Help You Forget Google

Huawei P40 Pro hardware makes it one of the most exciting packages in today’s smartphone landscape. From the comfortable design, through the excellent camera, to the smart choices around power and charging, the P40 Pro stands out.

Let’s take a closer look at those three stand-out features… and the anchor that weighs heavily on the usability of the Chinese manufacturer’s flagship handset.

Huawei P40 Pro

The basic design of a smartphone today is to have an expansive screen that takes up the front of the device (alongside some bezels), a way for the selfie camera to have line of sight, and where to locate the rear camera unit. Picking up the P40 Pro in my hand and it’s clear that Huawei P40 Prohave taken time to get the ergonomics right. This feels… right… in my hand. The oblong punch-out for the selfie camera can be distracting, especially as Huawei favours lighter wallpapers and and system dialogs in its default mode.

Two things I want to draw attention to. The first is that with the glass curved on all sides, the bezel is comfortable to slide over and into the display area when using Android’s gestures. The second is that the central metal band increases in size at the corners to cover one of the key areas where a falling phone would hit the ground. Far better for the chassis to get a bit of a ding than the glass.

Huawei P40 Pro

In the balance between form and function, the P40 Pro leans further into function, and that’s something I am very happy with.

Then there is the camera, and here Huawei P40 Pro have excelled. The Pxx handsets have typically been used to push the limits of the Chinese manufacturer’s imaging, and the P40 Pro is no exception. The main camera comes witha 50 megapixel sensor, and pixel binning is employed to output a 12 megapixel with an increase in dynamic range and better imaging in low light. 

The wide-angle lens is not as wide in terms of area covered when compared to the competition, but the compromise chosen by Huawei P40 Pro is to keep the lens design slim. On the flip side, with a 40 megapixel sensor again helps in low-light conditions.

Finally you have the telephoto lens which offers x5 optical zoom, and through imaging stacking and software algorithms can achieve x50 digital zoom. This high level zoom is usable, but you are going to need a steady hand and it’s best suited to landscapes and well lit subjects to get the best results.

Huawei P40 Pro

Huawei is using a system it calls AI RAW to merge in multiple images and fusing them together, as well as healing with deep learning techies to work on fine details and patterns. There’s a lot going on in the background, but all of this is nicely hidden away if you are looking for a simple point and shoot experience in the camera app. 

And that app is a hidden strength as well. Even if Huawei P40 Pro was still able to use Google Mobile Services, you’d still be using Huawei’s own camera app. This is an area where Huawei does not lose out, because the app itself is one of the best designed camera apps out there. There is not a lot of clutter and features for those looking for a point and snap camera where the software deals with everything. But if you do want to get into the more professional settings they are very close by on the carousel of camera modes. 

P40 Pro

If your only consideration was the camera, then the P40 Pro would be a no brainer. As it is the power of the camera has to be something that everyone considers when deciding if Huawei’s latest flagship is for you.

The P40 Pro packs in a lot of features that are typically big power drains; with the faster refreshing screen and 5G connectivity standing out. The 4200 mAh battery is smaller than similar devices (the Galaxy S20 Ultra with its 5000 mAh batter and the Mi Note 10 Pro’s 5260 mAh worth noting), but will get you through the day. I’d also expect to see some more optimisation coming through firmware updates in the next few months.

Where the P40 Pro does work well is getting power into (and out of) the handset. It comes with a fast charger,in the box. Rated at 40w, you’re looking at an empty to 80 percent charge time of thirty minutes, and a full charge in fifty minutes. You also have the latest smart charge technology which looks at your usage patterns and stops the battery reaching full charge until the software expects you to need it – for example holding off on reaching 100 percent charge overnight until you are due to wake up.

P40 Pro

Wireless charging supports up to 27w, as well as reverse charging so the P40 Pro can charge other wireless charging devices such as headphones. 

Huawei has taken the P30 Pro and built on its achievements over the last year. That has led to the P40 Pro being one of the best phones in terms of hardware on the market right now. The standout feature is the camera, and Huawei P40 Pro is going to find itself near the top (if not number one) in the smartphone camera shoot-outs over the summer and autumn months. 

Add in the other achievements in the package – including 5G, the fast Kirin processor, the latest Wi-Fi connection standards, and the fast 90Hz display – and you have a cracking package. In territories where Google is not a major player (notably Huawei’s home territory of China, and a number of other BRIC countries, especially Russia) you’re looking at one of the best handsets on the market.

I’ve explored living with Huawei’s Mobile Services instead of Google’s Mobile Services previously on Forbes. If you are a big user of Google’s services – and let’s face it most Android users in the Americas and Europe will be – the P40 Pro becomes an edge case. You need to be really clear in your mind what you want from a smartphone when considering the P40 Pro, and I think most will find that the loss of Google is too much to bear.

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