Positives

Crafted to near perfection
90Hz display is a step forward
Superb camera system
Excellent ergonomics

Negatives

No GMS support is a killer
AppGallery is limited
Fancy bezels don’t quite work

Bottom Line

The Huawei P40 Pro refines last year’s P30 Pro to near perfection. It takes the P series’ main focus, the camera, and innovates in a big way — literally. With a massive camera sensor, 90Hz screen, and updated internals, there’s a lot to love about the P40 Pro. It’s a shame that the lack of Google services impacts it in such a negative way.

P40 Pro
by Huawei

The Huawei P40 Pro refines last year’s P30 Pro to near perfection. It takes the P series’ main focus, the camera, and innovates in a big way — literally. With a massive camera sensor, 90Hz screen, and updated internals, there’s a lot to love about the P40 Pro. It’s a shame that the lack of Google services impacts it in such a negative way.

Last year, the Huawei P30 Pro was one of the best camera phones the industry had ever seen. Its innovative periscope zoom camera and impressive image quality were nothing short of excellent, and we loved it.

This year, thanks to the controversy with the US government and the loss of Google apps, the P40 Pro bursts from the gate with an arduous handicap. Its lack of Google services will likely have some consumers dismissing it as an upgrade option. Are its hardware strengths enough to make up for its software weaknesses? Stick around to find out in Android Authority’s Huawei P40 Pro review.

About this review: I used the Huawei P40 Pro on the O2 network in the UK as my main phone for six days. The device was running EMUI 10.1 based on Android 10 with the build number: 10.1.0.112. The Huawei P40 Pro review unit was provided to Android Authority by Huawei. 
 
Update, June 2020: We’ve updated our review with information on EMUI 10.1 and new apps coming to the App Gallery.
Update, July 2020: We’ve updated our review with an Amazon sale. Please find this update in the value section.
 

Design and display: Intentionally ergonomic at the price of cohesiveness

  • 158.2 x 72.6 x 9mm
  • 209g
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 6.58-in Full HD+ (2,640 x 1,200), 19.8:9 aspect ratio
  • Punch hole AMOLED
  • 90Hz refresh rate

Huawei P40 Pro rear cover full

One of the most refined aspects of the P40 Pro is its design though not in the way you might think. See, the P40 Pro has raised corners with glass that’s curved on all four sides to mimic water on the brink of breaking surface tension. This results in a unique aesthetic that won’t be to everyone’s taste certainly not mine. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the ultra-thin bezels just look odd, especially head-on. However, the design’s byproduct is fantastic ergonomic improvements. 

Continue reading: Waterfall displays: The latest design trend nobody’s asked for

For example, swipe gestures have become the default way to navigate our phones. Some devices struggle to make the gestures feel seamless due to the harsh transition from metal to glass, particularly the top and bottom edges. With the P40 Pro’s curved glass, swiping in from any direction feels smoother than anything I’ve ever used.

Huawei P40 Pro Quick settings toggle

The slightly angled aluminum sides help the phone rest in your hand effortlessly. By contrast, last year’s P30 Pro felt sharp to hold due to the thin side rails, and the Mate 30 Pro felt too slippery due to the excessively rounded waterfall display glass. This, combined with almost perfect weight-distribution, leads to a phenomenal feel in the hand. I’m convinced that this is the best-feeling phone on the market. 

Huawei P40 Pro camera module and buttons in hand

The volume rocker and home-button on the right edge feel precise and crisp. The top-mounted IR-blaster and microphone are satisfyingly aligned, and the same goes for the bottom-mounted SIM tray, microphone, USB-C port, and speaker. Everything feels calculated and clean. The handset is IP68-rated to give you peace of mind that your $1,000 device will survive some spillage or a brief swim.

Huawei’s design choices may cause some potential buyers to shy away from the P40 Pro. The excessively rounded screen corners, the massive camera bump, the distractingly-big punch-hole, and the strange raised corners take it down a peg or two for me. You can tell Huawei was trying to 2020-ify the P30 Pro and the result is simply not quite the prettiest phone out there.

Huawei was trying to 2020-ify the device and it's done exactly that.

Huawei has finally added a high-refresh-rate display to one of its flagships. The P40 Pro’s 90Hz AMOLED panel looks great. Despite its middling resolution compared to the competition, this looks like the best screen ever fitted to a Huawei device. Viewing angles are superb, with little to no color shift when tilting the device off-axis. At over 440 nits sustained brightness, it’s not topping any charts, but I found it bright enough for viewing in direct sunlight. I got to test that out in my garden during the annoyingly sunny quarantine period we’ve had in the UK.

Huawei P40 Pro drop down shade

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. First, the shadowing caused by the curved glass edges is noticeable when looking at flat colors. This is particularly obvious on the left and right edges. Second, whilst 90Hz is an improvement, the lack of 120Hz and Quad HD resolution means that the P40 Pro doesn’t quite match the competition. This wasn’t an issue during everyday use for me, but it’s likely to put some buyers off.

Continue reading: Refresh rate explained: What does 60Hz, 90Hz, or 120Hz mean?

Performance & hardware: Good enough

  • Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G chipset
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB storage
  • NM card slot
  • 4,200mAh battery
  • 40W SuperCharge wired
  • 27W SuperCharge wireless
  • 27W reverse wireless

Huawei P40 Pro Rear housing shine

Last year’s Mate 30 Pro gave us a preview of the P40 Pro’s performance thanks to its identical processor/memory setup. In summary, the Kirin 990 is a decent system-on-a-chip (SoC) with similar CPU power to the Snapdragon 855, but with lesser GPU performance.

The P40 Pro was mostly buttery smooth thanks to the Kirin 990 5G and 8GB RAM. There were a couple of frame drops in high-intensity 3D gaming titles, particularly Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. They weren’t game-breaking by any means, but they were noticeable. This is likely due to the older GPU. To help the phone sustain high frame rates, Huawei really will need to upgrade the GPU in the next iteration of the Kirin chipset. 

Continue reading: The best phones for gaming

Spec heads might be disappointed with 8GB of RAM when there are phones with 12 and 16GB of RAM out there. However, I can safely say that 8GB is enough memory in 2020. It helps that Huawei’s task management is brutal and constantly freeing up memory by killing old apps. On the flip side, this can detract from the experience. Some users have reported podcast and music apps disappearing from their recents due to Huawei’s aggressive RAM management.

Huawei P40 Pro Home screen handheld blurry background

The P series gains 5G thanks to the Kirin 990 5G chipset, which supports sub-6GHz 5G bands. The Kirin 990 5G integrates its 5G modem right into the chipset, which leads to greater power efficiency compared to Qualcomm’s 5G discrete modem. Its lack of mmWave support puts it at a disadvantage compared to the Snapdragon 865 in countries like the US that have a heavy focus on mmWave. That said, there’s currently far more sub-6 coverage internationally, and the P40 Pro won’t be sold in the States so it’s not such a worry.

Unlocking the phone is as quick as should be expected from a device costing four figures. The optical in-display fingerprint scanner, which Huawei claims is 30% larger and 30% faster than the previous model, is a noticeable improvement. It registered my thumb with a way better hit rate than the P30 Pro. 

The face-unlock is super quick, too, though not quite as snappy as the Pixel 4’s in my experience. The P40 Pro relies on infrared technology to help detect the user’s face, even in the dark. It works as advertised.

Huawei has developed a reputation for creating smartphones that last forever on a charge. Two days is what I’ve come to expect from a Huawei flagship. The P40 Pro is absolutely no different, and I consistently got two days out of the phone.

Huawei P40 Pro Peeking over shoulder to the home screen

One day I decided to try to kill the device by running it at full resolution, full refresh rate, and maximum brightness whilst sinking as much time into 3D games as I could. What I observed was something rather remarkable. (Remember, this is not typical phone use.) The P40 Pro still managed over seven hours of screen-on time despite these unrealistically intense conditions. That means you should easily be able to get eight, if not ten, hours when being more cautious with the settings.

Continue reading: The Android phones with the best battery life in 2020

A 40W SuperCharge adapter is included in the box to take the 4,200mAh battery from zero to 100% in 74 minutes. This might not sound all that impressive if you’re coming from a Mate 30 Pro, which has the same 40W charging, but it gets all the way to 97% in just 60 minutes. 40W is about where we’d expect the charging to be for a 2020 flagship as it sits right in the middle between the Galaxy S20’s 25W and the Find X2 Pro‘s 65W. The P40 Pro trickle charges the last few percentage points to preserve long-term battery life — something I’m definitely on board with. 27W wireless charging is also supported, though I was not able to test the wireless charging due to the lack of hardware availability.

I was able to test the reverse wireless charging. This worked really well for Qi-charging watches, earphones, and even phones (though not advertised). I topped up my iPhone 11 in a pinch and while it wasn’t quick, sometimes you just need enough juice to make it to the next power outlet and this is perfect for that.

Camera: Genuinely magnificent

  • Main: 50MP RYYB, f/1.9,  23mm
  • Ultra-wide: 40MP, f/1.8, 18mm
  • Tele: 12MP RYYB, f/3.4, 125mm
  • Time of flight (ToF)
  • Selfie: 32MP, f/2.2, 26mm
  • Ultra HD / 4K at 60fps (front and rear)
  • 720p HD at 7680fps
  • 1080p Full HD at 960fps

Huawei P40 Pro Taking a photo with camera app with settings

Huawei refined the camera the staple feature of the P series  to a point where it is the best camera on any phone to date. You get wide, ultra-wide, telephoto, and time of flight (ToF) cameras on the back. Up front is a 32MP selfie shooter backed up by laser-guided autofocus. The setup is pretty stacked, as it needs to be to compete with other 2020 flagships.

What isn’t so common is this particular combo of cameras. The main 50MP RYYB camera has a mammoth 1/1.28-inch sensor, making it the largest of any smartphone on the market  eclipsing even the Samsung’s 108MP S20 Ultra’s 1/1.33-inch sensor. The images that come from this thing are superb. The colors are bright and vibrant without becoming an eye-sore; dynamic range is fantastic thanks to Huawei’s HDR tuning; detail is incredible even in the pixel-binned mode, and natural subject isolation is simply amazing. The below shots weren’t taken in portrait or aperture modes, this is what the hardware is capable of in the de facto “Photo” mode.

Some of us at Android Authority feared the P40 Pro might struggle with autofocus similar to the S20 Ultra due to the large sensor. Unfortunately, our fears were somewhat founded, though the P40 Pro doesn’t struggle as much. Most of the time the phone locked focus without a hitch, but particularly close or small subjects would throw the system off briefly.

From a zoom perspective, it’s the same 5x periscope optical and 30x digital hybrid setup from the P30 Pro. This time, though, the sensor has been upgraded to a 12MP RYYB affair, which drastically improves the amount of detail captured in zoom photos. Given a healthy amount of light, the optical zoom results are superb. When you go below a certain light level, however, the software switches to the primary camera and crops digitally. This results in noticeably softer images, though they are otherwise relatively good.

Portrait and aperture modes didn’t need much tweaking. Huawei refined these features further and they’re now that much better. The results from the P40 Pro’s portrait mode don’t disappoint. Subject isolation is on point, as is the focus roll-off where there isn’t a sharp divide between in focus and out of focus points. Huawei allows you to change the type of simulated bokeh, and I very much enjoyed playing around with this feature.

Low-light photography has been a strong point for Huawei and the P40 Pro doesn’t deviate. The RYYB sensor seems to help a lot with detail capture, and the P40 Pro can truly see in the dark with its night mode. I live in a fairly light-polluted town, yet the phone could handily capture the stars right above my house. There were a few less-than-perfect results due perhaps to my shaky hands, but on the whole I was very impressed with what the P40 Pro could do. 

The 40MP ultra-wide cine camera from the Mate 30 Pro made its way to the P40 Pro and it’s a brilliant upgrade. It’s a significantly larger sensor than the P30 Pro’s with four times the resolution. This results in much better low-light performance in ultra-wide mode, and some really clean-looking images at the expense of a slightly tighter shot. The previous ultra-wide lens was a 16mm equivalent, whereas the P40 Pro’s is an 18mm affair with a narrower field of view. This also means that the P40 Pro omits Huawei’s staple Super Macro mode, which utilized the 20MP ultra-wide camera.

The 32MP selfie shooter is able to capture lots of detail and color in almost all lighting conditions. I was particularly impressed with the ability to accurately capture skin tones in varying environments. There no longer seems to be the unwanted and intrusive skin-smoothing which has historically been an issue even when selecting “off” in the menu. It seems to capture individual hairs very well without blending them together, and its highlight roll-off is smooth and natural. 

Dynamic range can be inconsistent, though, as you can see in my sample images (link below). Whilst the P40 Pro’s front-facing photos aren’t bad, I would still call the Pixel 4 the king of selfies due to the better color reproduction and detail capture. Huawei has definitely refined last year’s selfie shooter, but the company still has a bit of work to do to catch Google on this front. 

Continue reading: Huawei P40 Pro vs Pixel 4 XL camera

The P40 Pro’s rear camera layout is capable of shooting Ultra HD / 4K video at up to 60 frames per second, as well as super slow motion at up to an eye-watering 7680fps. Both modes are available on the ultra-wide and wide cameras. The resulting video clips are okay, but Huawei’s video always seems to lack something. There’s plenty of detail with generally quick autofocus and exposure adjustment, but it lacks contrast and character. The camera also seems to lean towards warm tones in video capture.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll continue to say it: Huawei’s camera app is by far the best on the market. There’s a perfect balance between ease of use and a buttload of features and settings. My only complaints are that there are too many modes along the bottom and some can get lost off the screen, and that the full-resolution mode is now in a menu to the far right of the mode carousel. Other than that, this is peak camera app.

As an overall camera package, the P40 Pro is nothing short of brilliant. It’s the best smartphone shooter that money can buy, and is the reason to purchase the phone.

Full-resolution Huawei P40 Pro photo samples are available here.

Software: Un-apped potential

  • EMUI 10.1
  • Android 10

Huawei P40 Pro Huawei App Gallery Logo

The P40 Pro runs EMUI 10.1 upon Android 10. It may be Android, but remember that Google Play Services, the Google Play Store, and most Google apps are not available.

EMUI is a bit like Marmite — some love it, and some hate it. This is because, like many Chinese smartphone companies, it’s clear that certain parts of the OS are trying to be like iOS. Clear examples are in the weather app and the share sheet as shown below.

Old annoyances remain, such as having to turn on the app drawer or wading through a bunch of home screen folders and pre-installed apps. Thankfully these things can be fixed if you don’t mind sinking in the time. EMUI does have its perks. A double knock to screenshot is handy, as are the battery optimization tools. 

Now to the meat and potatoes: Huawei’a AppGallery replaces Google’s Play Store. This is rather annoying for those of us in the West who use apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube because they’re not available in AppGallery. 

Continue reading: What is HMS? All you need to know

There are a few ways to get around this. You can use Phone Clone to transfer apps from your existing Android or iOS device. Unfortunately, Phone Clone is hit and miss because it won’t transfer over all of your apps. For example, it managed to transfer just five apps, but none of them were really that important — just a few games. You can use also try third-party app stores such as APKPure or Amazon’s app store. Finally, you can install individual APKs from APK sites or services like Whatsapp and Facebook. Downloading APKs is the more successful method, but there’s no guarantee that app APKs will work once installed.

A lot of applications require Google services in order to run  including some you might not expect. Minecraft, for example, will install using Phone Clone but won’t run without Google services. While some are obvious, discovering which apps require Google — and thus will work on the P40 Pro — will be the biggest hurdle for those who choose to buy this phone. Huawei needs (more time) to convince more developers to support its app platform. 

Another solution is to run apps through the browser and create links for them on the home screen. However, this highlights some of the issues with browser-based apps. For example, YouTube via the browser doesn’t allow you to cast to a Google device, nor can you pinch-to-zoom to fill the display. Moreover, mobile banking apps and others that required two-factor authentication, don’t work well in the browser.

A lot of apps won't run without Google services.

This is where the P40 Pro falls flat on its face for me, and it’s not an easy fix. Unfortunately, until the company can get more apps in AppGallery, it’s a no-go for many people.

As of June 2020, Here WeGo is now available on App Gallery as an alternative to Google Maps. This is an early but important step in the direction towards a Google Play Store competitor and gives the P40 Pro a nice bump in functionality and usability. Netflix has also become available from a third-party store and is working, though content won’t play at FHD, rather a lower resolution. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. 

In June, Huawei also rolled out EMUI 10.1. With it comes Sound Booster and Find My phone Features. However, probably the most important and impressive addition is Huawei’s Golden Snap which allows the user to “create moving pictures, reduce reflections, and remove passersby”. This update also improves video clarity at a distance and in low-light scenarios. Lastly, it adds the distributed capability to Gallery. This will allow you to view, search, and share media on your Huawei devices that are signed in to your Huawei ID. With most of this update being camera improvements, it’s good to see the firm lean into its most prominent feature.

Huawei P40 Pro review: Specs

 Huawei P40 Pro PlusHuawei P40 ProHuawei P40
Display6.58-inch OLED, 2,640 x 1,200 (19.8:9)
90Hz
In-display fingerprint sensor
6.58-inch OLED, 2,640 x 1,200 (19.8:9)
90Hz
In-display fingerprint sensor
6.1-inch OLED, 2,340 x 1,080 (19.5:9)
60Hz
In-display fingerprint sensor
ProcessorHiSilicon Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU

Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
HiSilicon Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU

Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
HiSilicon Kirin 990
Octa-core CPU (2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz, 2 Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, 4 Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz)
Dual NPU

Mali-G76 MP16 GPU
RAM8GB8GB8GB
Storage512GB256GB128GB
CamerasRear:
50MP f/1.9 (RYYB) with OIS
40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide
8MP f/4.4 10x periscope with OIS
8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto with OIS
3D ToF

Front:
32MP
IR sensor
Rear:
50MP f/1.9 (RYYB) with OIS
40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide
12MP f/3.4 5x periscope
3D ToF

Front:
32MP
IR sensor
Rear:
50MP f/1.9 (RYYB) with OIS
16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto

Front:
32MP
Battery4,200mAh
Non-removable
40W wired charging
40W wireless charging
4,200mAh
Non-removable
40W wired charging
40W wireless charging
3,800mAh
Non-removable
22.5W wired charging
IP RatingIP68IP68IP53
SoftwareEMUI 10.1
Android 10
EMUI 10.1
Android 10
EMUI 10.1
Android 10

Value and competition

  • Huawei P40 Pro: 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM — €999 (~$1,080)

The P40 Pro’s price point puts it in direct competition with the 5G version of the Galaxy S20 from Samsung (€1,029), the Galaxy S20 Plus (€1,129), as well as the iPhone 11 Pro from Apple (€1,189). From a hardware standpoint, the P40 Pro holds up. When you consider the app situation, though, you can’t expect to sell a lot of units outside of China. 

Huawei P40 Pro A stunner of a device, with caveats
A great screen, superb build quality, incredible battery life, and of course that world-class camera system. A shame Google apps are missing.

There’s no denying that, in pretty much every category, the P40 Pro backs up its hefty price tag. Its camera is arguably the best on the market at the moment, the build quality is stellar, and the battery tech is brilliant. It’s a killer phone for Chinese consumers, and it’s neck and neck with Samsung’s Galaxy S20 from a value-for-money standpoint. 

UPDATE: The Huawei P40 Pro is currently on sale on Amazon for under £800. This deal includes a free case. Find the product page via the button below.

Huawei P40 Pro Deal

Huawei P40 Pro review: Should you buy it?

Huawei P40 Pro Home screen shine

The P40 Pro is a stunner of a device. It ticks so many boxes: a great screen, superb build quality, incredible battery life, and of course that world-class camera system. If you handed me the P40 Pro and the Galaxy S20 Plus and asked me to pick, I’d bite your arm off for the P40 Pro — if it had access to Google services. For those who don’t require Google services on their smartphone, this is one of the best devices on the market right now and I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s the handset to buy if you really want the best camera ever put into a smartphone.

That’s not the situation for most people, however, and there are still many users who do require Google services. For those, I would say to skip this model and, if you still want a top-flight Huawei smartphone, go with last year’s still-brilliant and Google-powered P30 Pro.


Huawei P40 Pro in the news 

Thanks for reading! What do you think about the Huawei P40 Pro? Let us know in the comments.

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