Huawei’s 2020 flagship line-up has quite a few phones with some variation of the Huawei P40 name. But if you’re looking for the compact one, that would be the regular P40. What is missing here compared to the price of your models and what does it offer as upgrades over the last year? Let’s find out in our phone review.
In an age where phones are getting larger and larger, the Huawei P40 brings a relatively small and pocket-friendly form factor. Although it is the cheapest of the P40 flagships, it brings almost all of the features that siblings do for waterproofing is missing here. Though you do get IP53 splash proofing instead. The phone looks great, with its glass back that curves into the aluminum frame the finishes snazzy looking. Ours is glossy, but there are matte ones available too.
On the front of Huawei P40 is a 6.1-inch OLED screen with a 1080P resolution and a punch hole for the dual selfie cam. You can immediately notice a difference from the other P40 models. This device’s screen isn’t curved, which may not be such a bad thing. Another difference here is that the display has a normal 60 Hertz refresh rate. So you miss out on the smoothness at the Huawei P40 high refresh rates siblings can offer, but still, this isn’t a bad looking screen.
Huawei P40 display
You get good sharpness at around 420 PPI, great contrast and accurate colors if you opt for those in settings. Max brightness is really good too, adds up to 590 nits and automotive when you’re out in the sun. Like it siblings, the P40 supports the wide vine now with three DRM level, this means that it can stream SD, but not HD content on apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The P40 display doubles as an earpiece. This has been the recent trend for Huawei flagships. It vibrates to produce sound and voice calls and the sound is great. Unfortunately, this means that you don’t get a stereo speaker setup, but just a single bottom-firing one, loudness, and audio quality, are just average here without many bases.
Huawei P40 cameras
The Huawei P40 has a triple camera set up on the back. There’s a 50-megapixel quad bare main camera and upgrade over last year’s model while the 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle cam and 8-megapixel telephoto cam, what three times zoom, appear to be the same as on the P 30, at least on paper. Photos from the main cam come out in 12 megapixels and have outstanding quality. There’s excellent detail even in complex areas, stellar dynamic range, lively colors, and no visible noise.
There is a dedicated high rise mode, which shoots in the full 50 megapixels, snapping such an image doesn’t take more than a second and gives you a wider field of view than the default mode. But, these are soft and the detail level isn’t much better. To get this wider field of view without shooting in the high rise mode, you can out zoom manually and you get to the hidden 0.8 times zoom level, which is native to the camera, but not default.
More camera features
Portraits are also shot with the primary camera along with some depth info from the telephoto. These turned out nice, but perhaps because there isn’t a dedicated TOF camera here. The subject separation isn’t as nice as on the Huawei P40 Pro, the ultra-wide shooter also, wasn’t quite as impressive as the 40 megapixels one on the more expensive P40 model. But these 16-megapixel photos are still quite good. They have great contrast and dynamic range and sharpness are decent.
There is a dedicated macro mode that uses the ultra-wide camera and is activated automatically when a subject is too close, these come out quite good. The telephoto camera isn’t a Periscope one like on the Huawei P40 Pro and offers three times optical zoom. Maybe for consistency, the ed megapixel photos are upscaled to the same 12.5-megapixel resolution as the main cams. It’s a good thing they remain sharp and detailed with excellent colors, contrast, and dynamic range.
Five times hybrid zoom photos are also very good. They aren’t imagine detailed to a real five times telephoto, but they’re quite close. After nightfall, the main camera snaps class-leading pictures. These have great levels of detail, balanced exposure, good colors, very low noise and balanced sharpness. If you turn on the Huawei P40 night mode, strangely, it produces inferior photos. You don’t get much more detail. It’s worse and there’s no improvement in the exposure. We hope Huawei works this out with the software update,
The ultra-wide photos we took at night aren’t great, but they are better than most we’ve seen. Even from flagships, they are soft, dark and noisy, but still very usable and presentable. Here in night mode makes a nice improvement, brightening up the skies and shadows and restoring some colors. You do lose some detail in the process though.
More video features
Usually, if you take a zoom shot at night, it will be a digital crop from the main cam, but in the right conditions, the telephoto will take over and capture a reasonably good looking shot. Huawei P40 has a dual selfie camera. There’s a 32-megapixel main cam at an eye our depth sensor, selfies have good image quality with excellent contrast colors and dynamic range, but average detail. Also, since there’s no auto-focus, your shots may not always be tack sharp.
The IRR camera is supposed to provide a benefit in selfie portraits, but these are just our writing quality, the separation and blur just aren’t all that convincing. You can record in 4K from the selfie camera and these clips are good. They don’t have the best detail, but they have nice colors and contrast and the dynamic range is great. On the backside, the Huawei P40 records up to 4k at 60 FPS with this main camera.
Now, one of the software as we’ve gone over with each recent Huawei release. Huawei P40 doesn’t support the American based Google services due to the US ban on Huawei. This means that Western users will either need to get used to Huawei mobile services or go through some workarounds to get the apps they want. The default way to get apps is through Huawei’s app gallery. But this selection isn’t very extensive yet. The library is constantly growing, but there’s a good chance that he won’t find the app you’re looking for.
Apps and UI
You can otherwise get your apps through what alternative store like Amazon’s app store or APK pure, or transfer them from another phone via Huawei’s phone clone app. But these might miss out on updates and some apps won’t work at all without Google services. The interface itself though is quite elegant and runs smoothly. It’s EMUI 10 based on Android 10, and it’s quite intuitive, basically all of the features perform similarly to Google ones. Those are still in development and will come soon through software updates.
Part of what makes the phone run so smoothly it’s as the top of the line, Kirin 995G chipsets. CPU performance is at the top of the charts for an Android phone, graphics performance is flagship where they too. Even if it isn’t quite chart-topping, the phone does a great job in managing its thermals and their gaming experiences are awesome here provided that you’re able to find and run the games that you want to play. Powering the Huawei P40 is the 3800 MAh power battery.
It’s smaller than the rest of the P40 crew, but still a slight upgrade over last year’s model. In our proprietary battery tests, Huawei P40 scored a very good endurance rating of 89 hours. Charging is done with the bundled 22.5-watt supercharger. Unlike the more expensive P40, this device doesn’t support wireless charging. The supercharger is pretty fast though it’s able to charge the phone from o% to 60% in just half an hour.
The quality is very good, with excellent contrast and wide dynamic range and most accurate colors. The ultra-wide cameras videos are similar in quality to the ones from the primary shooter. The footage is a bit soft but other than that, the contrast and the dynamic range are simply great. The clips from the telephoto camera are good enough, 4k video is very soft with average detail at best, but is contrasty and dynamic ranges is wide.
Stabilization is quite good from all of the cameras besides the electronic stabilization, there’s also AI-based stabilization, which is always on. At night, the Huawei P40 takes very good videos with this main camera. The exposure is even, and the highlights are well-preserved and there’s no visible noise. It’s just the sharpness that’s a little lackey.
Connectivity and ports
Unlike many modern flagships these days, if you wanted to plug in regular headphones, you’ll need to use an adapter to fit into the USB-C port. Unlocking this phone is a breeze though, the P40 uses an under-display fingerprint reader. It’s larger than last year’s and blazing fast to recognize your touch. You can also use this secure IRR based face unlock. You get 128 or 256 gigs of onboard storage, which is expandable. Do you need to use a proprietary Huawei’s INM card to do it?
So, that’s the Huawei P40, it brings a good looking in compact built, a great looking OLED screen, some of the best performance out there, good battery life, pretty fast charging and some nice cameras. All in all, it’s a worthwhile improvement over the last year’s P30, but even with all these great features, the downsides of the P40 are hard to overlook. All of Huawei’s new phones are harder to use for many Western consumers because of the whole Google thing.
On top of that, the P40 is missing the waterproofing high screen refresh rate, wireless charging, and improved cameras of the P40 pro. For this price, you can get a Samsung Galaxy S20 with all the bells and whistles, or you can even save some cash by getting a P30, which at least supports GMs. So, unless you can find the P40 at a discount, you’re probably better off with one of its alternatives.
Check out Huawei phones in Kenya here.