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Huawei P40 Pro Review

Huawei's P40 Pro wants to be known as the best camera phone on the market, and with multiple cameras, it might just be. But there's something fairly important missing from the P40 Pro.

| Huawei P40 Pro in Camera Phones

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro (1)

Quick Verdict

The Huawei P40 Pro, on paper, offers almost everything you could want from a premium smartphone, namely an array of high-quality cameras, including ultra-wide, wide, and 5x telephoto cameras, plus the selfie camera features auto-focus, helping you get better selfies. However, there's one big flaw, and that's the lack of Google Play store, making accessing many popular applications more difficult.

+ Pros

  • Excellent cameras
  • True 5x telephoto camera
  • Great screen, with 90Hz refresh
  • Impressive image stabilisation for video
  • Faster fingerprint recognition

- Cons

  • Doesn't feature Google Play
  • Your favourite apps may not be available
  • 50x digital zoom is terrible
  • No headphone socket


Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro (9)

The Huawei P40 Pro is part of this years flagship range of smartphones from Huawei. However, a lot can happen in a year. Last year the P30 Pro range of smartphones was giving Apple and Samsung a serious challenge, being among the top contenders for best smartphone for photography. Not long after that America decided to ban Huawei from trading with American companies, leaving Huawei without access to Google services, such as the Google Play store, Google Maps, a YouTube app, and more.

Yes, you can get these apps on to the P40 Pro, through “Phone Clone” which transfers all* your apps from your old phone, but after this, how would you get new apps that are now on the Google Play store and not available on Huawei’s App Store? *Not all apps are transferred, and even if they are transferred they may not work.


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Huawei P40 Pro Features

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro (2)

The Huawei P40 Pro is one of Huawei's flagship smartphones and has everything you would want from a smartphone, including a large 6.58inch screen, top of the range processors, Android 10, and importantly a big focus on the cameras included with the smartphone. Updating the Huawei P30 series, which includes the P30 Pro, P30, and P30 lite, there are several models in the P40 range, including the P40, P40 Pro, P40 Pro +, and P40 lite. Availability may vary depending on location, however all support 5G, excluding the P40 lite, which goes up to 4G.

The P40 Pro features 4 Leica branded cameras on the rear, which includes these:

  • 40mp f/1.8 Ultra-wide, 1/1.54inch sensor "Cinematic video camera"
  • 50mp f/1.9 Wide, 1/1.28inch RYYB sensor with 4-in-1 pixel binning, Octa PD Autofocus, with OIS
  • 12mp f/3.4 Telephoto, 5x optical zoom, with OIS
  • 3D Depth sensing ToF camera (for bokeh, depth)

The 50mp 1/1.28inch RYYB sensor in the P40 Pro is new and larger than the sensor found in the P30 series, as well as being larger than the sensor found in the Samsung S20 Ultra, and with pixel binning gives 12.5mp images. At 1/1.28inch we’re nearly at the point where we have a 1inch sensor in a smartphone, like the Panasonic Lumix CM1.

The 6.58inch screen dominates the front of the smartphone, and offers a 90Hz refresh rate, giving a smoother user experience when you use the phone. The screen resolution is 2640 x 1200 pixels. The screen also curves down along the sides of the phone, as well as the top and bottom of the screen (slightly). The only thing that distracts from the excellent looking screen are the front selfie cameras, with these two cameras obviously having a larger cut out when compared to just one front-facing camera.

Front selfie camera(s) include the main selfie camera, which is a 32mp camera, with auto-focus, which is nice to see, as this will give better results than a fixed focus lens. You can also record 4K video with this camera, and the second camera is an IR (infrared) depth camera, which also support face-unlock.

  • 32mp f/2.2 camera with AF
  • IR depth camera (supports face-unlock)

There's a fingerprint sensor built-in to the screen, which is said to be improved compared to previous phones, with quicker unlock.

8GB of memory is built-in and there is 256GB of storage also built-in. If you want to expand the memory then the smartphone supports Huawei's own memory card form "NM" or "NanoMemory" as they wanted something smaller the MicroSD cards. There's a 4200mAh battery built-in.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro (4)

Key Features

  • Main cameras: 40mp f/1.8 ultra-wide, 50mp f/1.9 wide (OIS), 12mp 5x Telephoto (125mm, OIS), plus ToF depth camera
  • Front camera: 32mp f/2.2 with AF, and depth camera
  • 10x Hybrid zoom, up to 50x digital zoom
  • 6.58inch OLED touch-screen, with 2640x1200 resolution, HDR10 and 90Hz refresh
  • 4K UHD 60/30fps video recording
  • FullHD slow-motion up to 960fps
  • ISO up to ISO409600
  • Panoramic, Pro shooting modes
  • IP68 waterproof body
  • In-screen fingerprint reader
  • 8GB RAM / 128GB Storage (256/512GB options)
  • 4200mAh battery rating
  • Fast wireless charging

Huawei P40 Pro Handling

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro Screen (4)

The Huawei P40 Pro looks excellent, and the model we have has a matt finish on the back which is much less prone to fingerprints when compared to shiny smartphones. It's also less likely to slip and slide off surfaces. The edges or bezels of the screen are thin, particularly at the left and right-hand sides, and this gives more screen and less phone. The phone feels good in the hand, with a high-quality finish and the phone is very responsive in use. The phone weighs in at 209g, which may feel heavy to some, whilst feeling "solid" and "substantial" to others. The phone has an IP68 rating meaning it's waterproof down to 1.5metres, for up to 30 minutes. For added protection, a clear rubber case is provided in the box.

There are a number of different camera options and shooting modes. You can select from the different lenses, ultra-wide, wide, telephoto, as well as further telephoto zoom, including stops at 10x and 50x, you can also use pinch to zoom and set the zoom position anywhere in between. Once you go beyond 5x, the camera starts using digital zoom.

The camera shooting modes include:

  • Aperture
  • Night
  • Portrait
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Pro

Plus more including Slow-motion, Panorama, Monochrome, AR Lens, Light painting, HDR, Time-lapse, Stickers, Documents, Underwater, Dual-view and High-Res.

In each shooting mode, you'll find different options, and in Pro mode, you have control over the shutter speed, focus, ISO speed, metering, white balance and exposure compensation. There is also the option to shoot raw, as well as 50mp images.

The camera is very responsive, and we were impressed by how quickly the camera could take a photo. We even caught birds in flight, expecting to miss the shot. You can use the volume down button as a shutter release button when in the camera app.

Using the front-facing camera there are options when shooting portraits, including beauty effects (with additional skin controls including softening, contour, and skin tone), and background blur (bokeh) options. The effectiveness of this can depend on your background/scene.

In the video mode, the camera will switch to the ultra-wide lens, and then the camera gives very strong image stabilisation, giving you very steady video recording.

The P40 Pro comes with the Huawei App Gallery but does not include the Google Play store. Therefore there are a number of apps that aren't available on the phone. We used the "Clone Phone" tool, which is the recommended way to get your apps over to the phone from another phone. This is a relatively painless process to transfer your settings from your old phone, however, this isn’t a perfect system, and whilst the majority of apps transferred over, there are a number of apps that failed to transfer including Chrome, Tesco clubcard, Gumtree, Netflix, Tinder, Uber, ebay to name a few. Some of these apps would be considered essential by many. There's nothing stopping you from using the web versions of these apps, if there is one.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro Screen (1)

The screen - Huawei made a "big deal" about the screen being curved at the top, bottom, and sides of the screen. It's curved slightly at the sides, which is good, as too much curve here can create a poor view and colour issues (see the Nokia 8 Sirocco for example). At the top and bottom of the screen, the glass is curved slightly, however, the OLED screen itself isn't curved (only at the sides).

The fingerprint sensor built-in to the screen is noticeably quicker in operation, which is a welcome improvement, as the P30 can feel slow at times.

We ran AnTuTu v8.3.2 and got an impressive score of 462826. We also used the "Clone my phone" tool to transfer over Geekbench v5 and got a score of 750 (single-core) and 2983 (multi-core). This is similar to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Huawei P40 Pro Review: Huawei P40 Pro (8)

Battery life - The battery is rated at 4200Mah, which should give at least a days use, and battery management is generally good on Huawei smartphones. However, if you're going to be away from a power source, we'd recommend getting yourself a portable power bank just in case. 

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cymru2019 4 17 7 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2020 11:55AM
I am sure these new phones at these prices are the equivalent in terms of DSLR' s in the top end bracket . Not knowing the mobile market all that well I am told that the Huawei P Smart 2019, available from Tescos on a 2 year contract at £ 13.49 per month, all calls included, takes good pictures as well. Would be interested to know what EPZ thinks of the P Smart. David
someone 8 16 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2020 3:15PM
Hi, ephotozine reviewed the P Smart 2019 here:
cymru2019 4 17 7 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2020 3:32PM
Thanks for posting this. I'll have a good read. David
Jostian 10 South Africa
13 May 2020 10:41PM
So why not just say it's the best cameraphone, but as a smartphone it's not ideal.
Southend 12 520 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2021 6:38PM
Huawei P50 Pro Camera Review is available...
I assume this is better now.

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