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.
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.
With Android moving to gesture-based controls, having curves at the top and the bottom means that swipes feel much smoother.
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.
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 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.
One of the benefits of having so many lenses on the rear is that they can improve depth sensing for computational photography.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.