Come on, let's say things as they are. It costs too much, it does not have GMS and all Google applications. "Shelf", someone will say. "Huawei's smartphones no longer make sense, figured at this price", someone else will say. Why yes, the Huawei P40 Pro + is among the most expensive Android smartphones currently on sale (among the non-folding ones) and, moreover, it doesn't even have Google! And if you really think this then no, probably the P40 Pro + it's not the smartphone for you. Or maybe you don't deserve it.
Why have I been using it as my primary device for a month and do you know what? There is life without Google, and Huawei has shown it with what is probably the most complete and technically best Android smartphone in recent years. And the quality, with or without GMS, is paid for: with the P40 Pro + the Chinese company has shown (once again) a show of strength, has not given up on all the difficulties of the last period, and has used all the best of its technology.
Huawei P40 Pro + review
Design and materials
Il P40 Pro + aesthetically it might seem the twin of the Huawei P40 Pro, but as soon as you grab it you immediately notice that there is something different than its younger brother: the weight. Huawei's ultra-premium weighs 266 grams, one of the highest values for a smartphone, and the reason is basically one: is made of ceramic. A decidedly heavier material, but also more beautiful to hold in your hand and, above all, much more resistant.
However, as far as design is concerned, the Huawei P40 Pro + it is exactly identical to the P40 Pro: it has the same curves, the same frame, the same shape and even the same dimensions. But in everyday use it seems much more solid and balanced in the hands and also transmits more security when used without a protective cover: according to Huawei the ceramic back cover is characterized by a hardness of 8,5 on the Mohs scale and, just to give you an idea, the sapphire is level 9, while the diamond of level 10.
Even before, the differences with the P40 Pro are almost nil. The Overflow screen is the same, and integrates the same elliptical cutout in the upper left corner where the main camera has been inserted accompanied by a 3D IR ToF sensor which is used for autofocus and face unlocking.
The speaker has been positioned under the screen (and yes, there is no hole for the ear capsule) and all the edges of the screen are curved towards the frame, which is not only a greater solution of continuity of the structure and a perfect symmetry, but it makes the device very comfortable and pleasant to use (especially with the gestures of Android 10). And always under the screen was inserted the sensor for fingerprints which, among other things, I found markedly fast and precise. But we will talk about this later.
At the rear stands the large bump camera, which integrates 5 cameras and which, despite retaining the rectangular structure of the P40 Pro, is slightly more full-bodied. Finally, there is a USB-C input, the speaker, and an IR blaster to use the smartphone as a universal remote control.
The screen remains the same beautiful 6.5 inches that we have already seen in the P40 Pro, made with a 1200 × 2640 pixel OLED panel capable of guaranteeing a 90 Hz refresh rate and an excellent color rendering. The white balance is well calibrated, and in the settings you can choose between different modes, while the brightness varies between 450 nits of maximum value and 1.8 nits of minimum value: which makes it great for all lighting conditions.
It is a truly exceptional HDR + panel, which makes the user experience of the OS (already fluid of its own) even more fluid and which in the practical use of the device definitely makes the difference. Of course, the 90 Hz refresh rate is not the highest value ever seen in a smartphone, but they are of the idea that they are the right meeting point between fluidity and energy consumption.
Also from the hardware point of view the differences are almost completely absent compared to the P40 Pro. The system is entrusted to the Kirin 990 5G octa core, which is flanked by a Mali G76 MP16 GPU, 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of internal memory UFS 3.0 expandable via Huawei proprietary nanoMemory. In a nutshell, the only difference with the P40 Pro lies in the fact that the amount of internal memory doubles.
In terms of numbers and benchmarks, it is a very particular hardware sector. Geekbench's Single-Core results highlight a big step forward compared to the Snap 855, but it is with Multi-Core loads that things change significantly: the Huawei P40 Pro Plus sits right under the Oppo Find X2 Pro, which use a Snapdragon 865.
Summing up, and talking about practical use, fast and smooth user experience of the P40 Pro is also found in the Plus variant, but the same tendency to overheat is also found, especially when recording videos in 4K at 60 FPS: long ago, I recorded the review of the DJI Mavic Air 2 totally with the Huawei smartphone , and I had serious temperature problems to the point of having to turn off the Camera app for a few moments.
In the Leica Penta Ultra Vision of the P40 Pro +, there is a clear message that the heart of the Chinese company's device is clearly the camera. And even if the photographic experience of the Plus version is very similar to that of the "traditional" P40 Pro, instead of a telephoto lens P40 Pro + offers two. Then, adding up, in addition to the main 50 megapixel sensor, the 3x zoom and the wide angle, we add a second 10x periscopic zoom, all supported by the inevitable ToF sensor. And before going into detail, I anticipate that those of Huawei have worked to improve the general quality of the photos, and compared to the highly appreciated P30 Pro, each of the cameras has an updated sensor in terms of resolution, with new lenses (even better) and new filter. But let's go in order.
The main camera "Ultra Vision", in the new smartphone from Huawei uses a new sensor RYYB 1 / 1,28 "Quad Bayer with a resolution from 50 megapixel. And to be clear, despite the lower resolution, this is a sensor physically larger than the 108 megapixel sensor used in the Galaxy S20 Ultra and which, among other things, thanks to the replacement of the green subpixels in favor of the yellow ones, on paper is able to capture 40% more light.
Same goes for the ultra-wide camera, which just like on the P40 Pro uses a 1 / 1,54 ″ 40 MP sensor with Quad-Bayer RGGB filter and which is advertised by the company as a "cine camera" for the 3: 2 ratio. News also for the focus, which is managed by a system omnidirectional phase detection, with which all the focusing pixels are analyzed: the difference in terms of speed and precision is obvious, but one feels that in the 10x zoom this technology is not exploited. And so far nothing new, you say.
The real difference between the camera compartment of the P40 Pro and that of the P40 Pro + lies in the two telephoto sensors. They are both 8 megapixels, but despite the similarity in terms of resolution, they are extremely different.
The former has a magnification factor 3x and uses a 1,4 µm pixel sensor and a 81mm with f / 2.4 and with OIS, the second one has an enlargement factor of 10x and it is periscopic, the sensor has slightly smaller pixels (we are talking about 1,22 µm) and is also stabilized.
Then there is a fifth camera, which is a classic ToF useful for improving the accuracy and performance of the autofocus and making the bokeh effect more "credible", and it does not end there: in the P40 Pro + there is also an updated multi-spectrum temperature sensor for 8 channels which, together with the AI algorithm for white balance, does an exceptional job, especially with the main camera.
The front camera with sensor is also good 32 megapixels and f / 2.2 optics, which (finally) has been updated with an autofocus mechanism: it is a welcome novelty, although it must be admitted that Huawei is perhaps a little late in this respect.
The quality of photos in real life
The point is this. One of the most common criticisms that users make of photos taken with the top of the range of Huawei, is that it is photos "Suitable only for Instagram" with distorted colors and very sharp effects of sharpness and contrast. Which, all in all, is true. But let me explain better: Huawei's artificial intelligence algorithm tends to modify the photos taken a lot, increasing the "wow" effect and making them perfect for sharing on social networks. The reality of the facts, however, is that the vast majority of users who take photos with their smartphone, do it to share them on social networks or to look at them privately, but always on the smartphone or on a mobile device, which gives a sense to the strategy of the Chinese company.
"But then I have to spend 1400 euros to buy a smartphone with which I can share beautiful photos on social networks?", some of you will think. No because, regardless of the incisiveness of Huawei's AI, actually the P40 Pro + takes excellent photos in most cases, and does so in almost all lighting conditions.
- Photos with good brightness: the quality of the shots in optimal lighting conditions is definitely out of the norm, but in a positive way. The images taken with the main camera have a decidedly improved dynamic range, an excellent white balance and saturation and practically invisible noise. But there is a but: the difference between the main sensor and all the other cameras of the P40 Pro + is in my opinion too obvious, and to get the highest quality possible with this smartphone you will always be driven to use the main sensor.
It is also possible to shoot at 50 megapixels, a mode possible - again - only with the main camera which, among other things, guarantees a wider field of view probably because in this case all crop systems due to electronic stabilization are missing: my advice, however, is always to shoot in normal mode, to avoid having to spend time editing the 50 megapixel shots.
- Dark photos: Excellent color, very low noise and sharpness of a good level. Photos taken in low light conditions with the P40 Pro + continue to be of a higher level than all the competition. But this only when using the main camera. When you go to use the ultra wide things change a lot, and even with the zoom the results become less pleasant. But it is normal, the sensors are different and so are the optics which, remember, are less bright. In reality, however, in extremely dark environments, it could often happen to find a slight micro-blur in the shots, which in fact with P30 Pro was almost impossible, but because with the P40 Pro + those of Huawei have made shots possible even in environments almost totally dark.
- Ultra wide angle: Generally speaking, the photographs taken with the ultra-wide camera of the P40 Pro + are excellent. Also in this case, chromatic balance, whites, contrast, color and sharpness are decidedly balanced and also the dynamic range is significantly wider than the competition. What I have noticed, however, is perhaps an increase in excessive sharpness.
- Zoom: here things start to get interesting. The P40 Pro + has two zooms, one 3x and one 10x, and it is these two telephoto lenses that testify to the excellent work done by Huawei. In 3x mode, from the sensor's 8 megapixels the images are saved at 12.5 megapixels and are definitely among the best ever seen with a zoom in a smartphone. Excellent detail, accurate colors, sharp and with a good dynamic range.
The images taken with the 10x periscopic zoom instead are good, but decidedly subdued compared to the other optics of the smartphone. In this zoom mode which, let's remember, can go up to 100x in hybrid mode, everything becomes less bright and the autofocus starts to slow down a bit, all in all, however, the details are sufficient and the dynamic range is not bad.
Huawei P40 Pro + it is animated by Android 10 and customized with EMUI 10.1. And no, it clearly doesn't have Google services. In fact, the one relating to software is the least interesting section of this device, because basically everything is identical to what is seen in the Huawei P40 Pro. Is there life without Google? Absolutely yes. Has the graphical quality of the graphical interface improved? Absolutely not.
Personally, I find EMUI one of the GUIs graphically less pleasing than the industry, of course, it remains a pleasant interface, but what the company would need is a general modernization of most of the graphic and aesthetic elements. In any case, it is the usual EMUI, with the usual Android 10, but without the usual GMS: there are all the navigation gestures, the new air gestures, the optimizer, the dark mode etc.
What is not there is the Play Store, along with all the Google apps, but Huawei is running for cover rather quickly: AppGallery is filling up very quickly, Petal Search does its duty, but it is still possible that some applications cannot be found. The question is: on a smartphone with this price, does the absence of Google services weigh heavily? Probably, for the average user, yes.
La 4200 mAh battery of the P40 Pro + it is able to guarantee a little over an entire day of intense use, even with the display always active at maximum resolution and at 90 Hz, and is an excellent result, also due (but not only) to the absence of the GMS which are very avid for power.
There is also reverse wireless charging, 40w fast charging and, only on the Plus variant, there is also 40w fast charging, but it works only with the company's official charging base.
The official selling price of the P40 Pro + and of 1399 €. And yes, it is among the highest ever among non-folding smartphones. This is an important figure, which is partially justified by the fact that Huawei, in its true top of the range, has introduced not just innovations and all in a single smartphone.
If they were to ask you which is the best camera phone, what would you answer? Probably the P40 Pro, or even the P30 Pro. Well, the Huawei P40 Pro + could be defined as an improved version of the best camera phone on the market. Of course, the price is definitely high, and I am convinced that few would decide to spend such a high amount on a device without Google services.
But we must acknowledge the commitment of those of Huawei, which with the variant Plus of their P40 Pro they got busy and managed to produce an excellent device. And this is where we return to the speech I made at the beginning of the review: no, the Huawei P40 Pro is no smartphone for everyone, but it is truly a great device.