The Huawei P series is arguably the most famous line of smartphones among photographers. Since the first version, smartphones have surprised with their abilities in the direction of photography. With each new model – P20, P30, and today P40, the company has brought something new, a technology that has not previously been used by competitors. The P20 impressed everyone with its night mode, the P30 with its periscope tele-module, as well as its price on the market. How will the new generation of the P line surprise us? Let’s take a look at the latest Huawei P40 Pro review together.
It should be said in advance that the new Huawei P40 line violates the naming principle a little. Previously, the Pro version was the most advanced. Now, the most advanced model is called the Pro+. However, this is not important for the buyer, since the plus version is not currently on sale and is unlikely to be. So, we have to be content with little – alas, but we will not get a 10x optical zoom module and an additional 3x module, and these possibilities are really impressive.
But let’s still return to our hero, because its capabilities should not leave the photographer indifferent. First, about the main characteristics of a smartphone. The P40 Pro is powered by an eight-core Kirin 990 5G processor, 256GB of built-in memory and 8GB of RAM. You can install 2 SIM cards or one plus an NM Card type memory card into a smartphone. The fingerprint scanner under the display and the face recognition system are responsible for security.
Built-in 4200mAh battery supports wireless charging and high-speed wired charging. For a day, one charge is definitely enough – in a work scenario when the smartphone is put on charge at night, even with a high load, for example, periodic distribution of the Internet, I did not manage to land the entire charge.
Smartphone manufacturers have somehow stopped chasing the minimum thickness of smartphones. This has led to the fact that most of the new models are even thicker than the previous ones, which accordingly increases the overall weight of the device. Dimensions Huawei P40 Pro 72.6 × 158.2 × 8.95 (width / height / thickness). The weight of the smartphone is about 209 grams. With its large size, a smartphone is convenient to use, and it wipes a jeans pocket just as well as any other smartphone.
The impressive display is a 6.58-inch OLED with 1200 x 2640 resolution and HDR10 support. The display is very cool, the color is rich, it is a pleasure to work. The display is slightly bent around the edges, but not as much as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. I am very pleased with the almost complete absence of frames (the earpiece is located under the display). The bottom bezel is slightly thicker; however, this is almost invisible.
But what did not please me was the cutout in the display. It is very large because there are two chambers. It doesn’t look very good, especially when the picture on the smartphone is light. In my opinion, the use of “bangs” would be much more practical and beautiful. This would at least increase the usable space for displaying information and not make the cameras stand out so much against a light background.
At first glance, it seems that there are two camera modules in the cutout, however, this is not so. Only one module is responsible for shooting, but the second is designed to form a depth-of-field map, to create a bokeh effect, and also to unlock the face. The front camera has a resolution of 32 megapixels and an aperture ratio of F / 2.2 – I must say that this is the highest resolution among the front cameras of Huawei (the same sensor is installed in the Mate 30). But the aperture here is not the highest, however, you will not see the difference in the final image. Among other things, the selfie camera can record 4K video at 60 frames per second.
The rear-facing camera block is significantly larger, now taking up more than double the footprint of the P30 Pro. If the design of the Mate 30 Pro could be called the best on the market, then the P40 Pro is following the general trends.
The rectangular elongated block houses four cameras, three of which are directly responsible for taking photos and one for creating the effect of depth of field, a 3D T of camera or a time-of-flight camera, as Huawei says. The camera module is traditionally created in collaboration with Leica. By the way, this is not the only collaboration with a company from the world of professional photography.
The Huawei P30 Pro is compatible with the renowned studio light brand Profoto. Previously, this function was only typical for Apple smartphones. But on Android smartphones, it appeared for the first time in the Mate 30. The Huawei P40 Pro is the second smartphone to sync with the Profoto C1 external flash.
The Profoto C1 connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth and takes pictures via the standard camera app. When a flash is connected, an icon appears at the top with the name Profoto. But through the additional Profoto app, you can adjust not only the flash power, but also the color temperature.
Now let’s talk directly about the camera. As I already wrote, there are three modules. Central is the main module. And he has something to brag about. The module has a resolution of 50 megapixels, aperture f / 1.9, focal length 23 mm (35 mm equivalent) and optical stabilization. The sensor has a special RYYB pixel structure that provides low noise in low light conditions. But the most outstanding thing that distinguishes the P40 Pro from all existing smartphones is the size of the matrix 1 / 1.28 inches. I do not take into account the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-CM1 smartphone, which had an inch matrix – these are things of bygone days, but the photo quality of modern smartphones certainly cannot be compared with this model.
The second module is responsible for 5x optical zoom (focal length 125 mm). The module has a resolution of 12 megapixels and an aperture of f / 3.4. And most importantly, this module is also equipped with optical stabilization. Compared to the P30 Pro, there is an improvement in the direction of increasing resolution (in the previous model it was only 8 megapixels).
The third module is an 18 mm ultra-wide-angle camera with a resolution of 40 megapixels and f / 1.8 aperture. The module is not equipped with optical stabilization, but it is not particularly needed here, since shaking is not so noticeable at a wide angle. The P30 Pro also had an ultra-wide-angle module and was wider – 16 mm, and two millimeters of difference for such a wide angle is a significant difference. However, now this module has twice the resolution and higher aperture.
Demonstration of the Huawei P40 Pro Focal Length Range
The wide-angle module is specially sharpened for shooting video – the sensor has a slightly different aspect ratio – 3: 2, which also affects photography, because the other two modules have a 4:3 ratio. The exact same module was installed in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
Huawei P40 Pro can shoot 4K at 60 frames per second. Honestly, against the background of competitors, I expected 8K to appear here, but apparently Huawei did not chase the new trend and decided to focus on video quality. And the quality here is really cool, especially if you are shooting with a wide-angle video module. Of course, while the picture cannot be compared with the same mirrorless cameras, for example, the same mirrorless cameras can learn stabilization.
The picture is juicy and bright without using any filters. Although the cinema module is not equipped with stabilization, electronic stabilization works out very effectively. The steps are almost invisible. But when shooting with the main module, the colors no longer look so saturated, the picture is no longer so beautiful, but the stabilization works even better.
During shooting, magnification is available, however, it does not occur smoothly, but in jumps.
There is an interesting dual view mode, when a fixed picture is displayed on the right or bottom (in vertical position), and on the left or top you can zoom in up to 15 times.
There is a time-lapse mode. I must say that you don’t need to use an expensive camera to shoot cool time-lapses, a smartphone is enough, the main thing is to find an interesting plot.
I can’t say that the plot is cool, but thanks to the fact that the smartphone was installed on a motorized head, it looks good.
Although the central module has a resolution of 50 megapixels, the main photo shooting resolution is 12 megapixels. In this mode, the camera combines 4 pixels into one, which along with RYYB also reduces noise and improves color reproduction. To shoot in high resolution 50 megapixels, you need to go to the special HIGH-RES mode or the pro mode and turn on 50 megapixels.
There is some lag when switching between the main module and the 5x optical module, just like in the P30 Pro. Of course, the increase occurs immediately, however, switching to the optical module slows down slightly. Why it hasn’t been fixed yet, I can’t even guess.
Due to the fact that the five-fold module has a rather short focusing distance, it can even take macro shots with it. I must say, a fairly high-quality macro.
I was not able to test the operation of the night mode, but to be honest, I did not particularly strive for this, since already starting with the P30 all Huawei smartphones have outstanding capabilities in this direction. What’s bad so far is the blurring of the background…
Determining the main subject in the frame is not so easy, although the rear and front cameras received an additional 3D ToF sensor, this did not help them achieve the perfect result. However, I must say, development is noticeable in this direction and the blur effect has become much better on complex objects, it was much worse before.
Also interesting is the use of the 3D ToF sensor in one of the AI Color video filters. Its essence is as follows, the camera makes everything black and white, with the exception of human skin.
The videos are very original. It does not always define correctly, but the idea is interesting, it is worth developing.
So, what did we get in the new model? What’s really new here? If you do not remember the still “fresh” Huawei Mate 30 Pro, but compare it with the P30 Pro, which will probably be more correct, then there is a significant step forward. I’m not talking about the filling, display, etc., it’s all cool, but here we are discussing photos and videos.
Both the selfie camera and the main camera have received significant improvements. For selfies, higher resolutions and more advanced background blur algorithms are now available thanks to an assistant in the form of an add-on 3D ToF module. The main camera also received increased resolution for each of the three modules. However, it must be said, comparing the photo with the P30 Pro, it is not possible to find a significant step forward. Even considering that the camera of the main module is equipped with a larger sensor.
But where there is really a jump is shooting a video. Wonderful colors, great stabilizer, just a great stub! If you look closely, you will notice that the picture is sometimes strewn in 4K 60fps, but do not forget that the shooting is carried out on a smartphone, and not on a camera with a large matrix. I would probably call the Huawei P40 Pro the best smartphone for photos and videos, but the next paragraph makes some adjustments.
Although this does not apply to the photo, it should still be explained about the lack of Google services. I will try about this briefly. Everything is not as sad as it was at the very beginning. Most of the necessary applications are already available in the AppGallery branded store, however, there is still no support for NFC contactless payment, and it is unlikely to appear soon. Nevertheless, the smartphone cannot be called inferior, as they shout about it on almost every forum and in the comments. For example, I do not use contactless payments, and I do not need so many additional applications. I could not face the fact that I was missing something. But everyone has their own tasks. Therefore, I would still advise you to check before buying whether there are applications you need in AppGallery, so that later you do not suffer and do not look for third-party installation packages.