Huawei P40 Pro review and comparison

The Huawei P40 Pro was launched just days ago, alongside the P40 and P40 Pro Plus. It’s a chaotic time to launch a phone, amidst a growing COVID-19 pandemic, and in spite of almost a full year of Trump-led sanctions.

With all odds against Huawei, let’s see how they followed up the groundbreaking P30 Pro and Mate 30 Pro, and how it stacks up against current heavyweights: the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung S20+.

Design & build

All three phones are roughly similar – glass, metal, and more glass. All have a raised rectangle to house their multi-camera arrays, and all feature an edge-to-edge screen.

Despite a luxurious stainless steel-and-satin finish, the iPhone does get slippery easily, but has the benefit of resisting fingerprints. Samsung really hasn’t changed much from last year’s phone, although its flatter display glass makes it more user-friendly. For Huawei, it’s a small touch, but the Overflow Display is a huge win in terms of comfort and user experience.

The phones also feature a durable, water-resistant build. Image: Ian Ling

With Android moving to gesture-based controls, having curves at the top and the bottom means that swipes feel much smoother.

Display

Huawei’s 6.1-inch 1080×2340, Samsung’s 6.7-inch 3200×1440, and Apple’s 6.5-inch 1242×2688 displays are all OLED. While Samsung offers 120Hz refresh rate, it currently only works at 1080p, presumably due to battery drain. Huawei offers a 90Hz refresh rate at full resolution, while the iPhone only offers 60Hz.

The hole-punch selfie camera cut-outs on the Samsung and Huawei are also much less disruptive to the user experience than the iPhone’s gigantic notch. 

Cameras 

The iPhone sports three lenses, while both the Huawei P40 Pro and Samsung S20+ sport a quad-camera system. More doesn’t mean better, so we put them through a battery of real-life tests.

The snapshot

Image: Ian Ling

The Samsung and Huawei look shockingly similar, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max struggles a little with the harsh backlight, washing out much of the house near the tree.

In terms of colour, the Huawei and Samsung also push towards a more vivid rendition of the scene, which makes for some eye-catching visuals.

The portrait

One of the benefits of having so many lenses on the rear is that they can improve depth sensing for computational photography.

Image: Ian Ling

Portrait mode performance is best judged on separation – basically how capable the smartphone is in figuring out what bits of the image are human, which are nearby objects, and which bits are faraway parts of the background to throw into a blur.

In this comparison, the Huawei P40 Pro performs a touch better than the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung S20+. It’s clean all around my body despite an awkward pose.

The red arrows point toward common issues faced by most phones: gaps in the body, or nearby objects might not be detected and thus make these anomalies jump out to viewers.

The Night Mode

Today’s smartphones try to do it all, and the good news is that they succeed. Night shooting has been a frontier for some time now, and it requires plenty of computational power to deliver good results.

Image: Ian Ling

The Samsung S20+ flat-out loses this comparison, rendering a garbled, hazy, orange-tinted mush. Between the Huawei P40 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, it’s hard to tell who did better, but check out this comparison between the iPhone and Huawei with their Night Modes turned off.

A picture taken the dark by the Huawei P40 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max with their night photography modes turned off. Image: Ian Ling

While the iPhone 11 Pro Max does retain some sharpness unlike the mushy mess of the S20+, the Huawei P40 Pro really pushes the envelope with its super-sharp, bright, and clear images.

Just to be clear, this area was so dark that I couldn’t see the green of the leaves. The dimness of the iPhone shot might clue you in.

Performance: CPU & GPU

Android devices are still a ways behind Apple, but are quickly gaining speed. The Kirin 990 chipset on the Huawei P40 Pro outperforms the Samsung S20+ in multicore performance but loses out in terms of single-core performance. How it affects real-life usage isn’t straightforward, but suffice to say they’re still two of the most powerful Android phones.

Geekbench 5 scores for the Huawei P40 Pro, Samsung S20+ and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

GPU performance is where the Huawei P40 Pro sets itself apart. In the 3D Mark Slingshot Extreme benchmark, it simply chews out the competition with an incredible overall score of 5,594. 

As a user, this might translate into smoother, more stable graphics while gaming or watching high-quality videos.

3D Mark scores for the Huawei P40 Pro, Samsung S20+ and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Performance: Battery

Huawei’s 4,200mAh, Samsung’s 4,500mAh and Apple’s 3,969mAh batteries are all large-capacity, but battery performance depends greatly on software optimisation and thermal design.

In our tests, the Huawei P40 Pro hit 17h 32min of video playback at full brightness. Although the Samsung boasts 300mAh more in terms of battery capacity, it only managed a paltry 13h 18min of video playback in the same conditions. Apple does steal the limelight in this one, running a homerun with 18h 54min of video playback.

The Apps

Of course, it wouldn’t be an article in 2020 about Huawei without mentioning the lack of Google Mobile Services. Truth is, I had very low expectations going into this review – given that there has been no sign of the trade war between the US and China ending.

The options on Huawei’s App Gallery include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, along with banking, shopping and map apps. Image: Ian Ling

But after I was briefed while collecting an early-access sample of the Huawei P40 Pro, I couldn’t help but challenge myself to set up the device as I would any of my Android phones. Spoiler: it wasn’t that hard.

Right out of the box, the Huawei P40 Pro is packed with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. That’s the trinity required by most Singaporeans, but Huawei’s App Gallery has more goodies if you need them. News apps like The Straits Times, CNA, and the mandarin daily Zaobao, along with localised shopping options like FairPrice, Lazada, Shopee, Zalora, Chope and Eatigo.

For navigation, the lack of Google Maps is a painful omission, but there’s the official government OneMap app, and even Singapore Map from Street Directory

There’s even banking and investment apps from UOB, DBS (coming soon), OCBC (coming soon) and StashAway. In conjunction with UnionPay, Huawei Pay has also been launched in Singapore, with ICBC set to be the first bank in Singapore to support this service.

The APK Route

If that’s not enough, you might want to opt for APK installs – which are packaged versions of the app you can install on your phone – just like .exe files on your windows computer.

One of our favourites was YouTube Vance, which recreates bit-for-bit the YouTube app experience you get on Android, all without the annoying YouTube Premium ads. 

Image: Ian Ling

Another one is Here WeGo, which offers navigation, trip duration estimations and bus wait time indications, 3D renders of almost all buildings in Singapore, the ability to explore malls floor-by-floor, and even find escalators, lifts and toilets in them!

There’s also Pokemon Go and a flurry of other apps and games if you can’t seem to find an alternative on Huawei’s App Gallery.

Huawei P40 Pro comparison

At similar price-points, it’s no wonder that these flagship phones by some of the biggest companies in the world are neck-in-neck when it comes to performance. 

For the Huawei P40 Pro, some of its strong suits are its cameras and its graphics processing. For gamers and photographers, this is an option to consider.

In Singapore, the Huawei P40 Pro starts from SGD 1,448, while the 6.1-inch Huawei P40 starts from SGD 1,048.

Image: Ian Ling

Orders of the P40 Pro will receive SGD 156 worth of freebies, including a HUAWEI SuperCharge Wireless Car Charger and a Smart View Flip Cover. What’s more, customers of the HUAWEI P40 series will also enjoy Prestige Care services which include:

  • One year door-to-door repair pick-up and delivery service 
  • Two-year warranty coverage
  • Three months of screen insurance, terms and conditions apply

Article updated 4th April to reflect the availability of Huawei Pay and that DBS and OCBC apps will be launched in the near future.

Ian Ling
http://uncommontragedy.com
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

11 thoughts on “Huawei P40 Pro vs Samsung S20+ vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: 2020’s Best Smartphones Showdown

  1. As indicated by Navient, 33% of government Navient-refreshed borrowers, and around half of dollars, are taken on a remuneration driven reimbursement program. Further, Navient says that borrowers whose advances are adjusted by Navient defaulted at 6.8% inside three years of leaving school separated and a standard of 10.1% for all understudy advance servicers.

  2. Pman

    “For gamers and photographers, this is an option to consider.”

    Shouldent it read For gamers and and wanna be photographers, this is an option to consider.

    I cant see any serious photographer using a phone unless it is in a sponsored moment, i know i go for my Dslr anytime, my phone i just use to take pictures of something small to enlarge so my old eyes can read it.
    I would never insult anyone by using a phone picture for anything serious, those cameras are solely for BS and fun in my world.
    And its not like i only owned phones with garbage cameras.

  3. ed

    why would you not use Samsungs “best” (Ultra) in this comparison? No offence, but by omitting the Ultra in a test you call “Best Smartphones Showdown 2020” looks as if you are intentionally trying to make Samsung look bad. It just does.

  4. cool article! i will be sure to share this with the residents of Treasure at Tampines, JadeScape and 19 Nassim!

  5. wow this is worth the time to read.

  6. thanks for sharing!

  7. I am always a big fan of Android phones but iphone 11 pro max really is a great great phone!

  8. The Huawei P40 Pro is not a phone anyone in Australia, bar the most hardcore of Android enthusiasts willing to live with or work around its limitations, should seriously consider buying.

    Sure, Huawei’s latest flagship phone has an outstanding camera setup and fixes many of the problems that their 2019 devices left unsolved. Ultimately though, the company has done little to tackle the biggest obstacle facing them. I’m tired of waiting to see if they do and you should be too. 🙂

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Amazing comparison article! Thanks for sharing this post.

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