A review of any Huawei smartphone in 2020 cannot start without first addressing the elephant in the room. Or, in this case, the elephant not in the room – Google. As you will have probably read, the US government has got its hooks into Huawei and views them as a threat to national security. As a result, it has banned US companies from doing business with them. Normally, as the consumer this would have very little impact on you, as they would source things elsewhere. But it means that Huawei phones cannot use Google Play services, which delivers all its apps and other useful tools like Google Maps and Gmail.
As a result of this Huawei has had to develop its own app infrastructure delivery system – app gallery – which is in its early days and so does not have the depth and breadth of apps that the Play store has. In a lot of ways, this has left Huawei in a similar situation to Microsoft when they were trying to break into the mobile market, and they ultimately failed, as it takes a lot persuasion to get app developers to port their products to a different platform.
Such a fate is unlikely to happen to Huawei, but you need to bear in mind the lack of the Google Play store if you are considering buying one of the otherwise excellent phones of the new P40 range. There are 3 models in the range: the entry level P40, the P40 Pro and the P40 Pro+
The entry level P40 is, by definition, the smallest and least equipped of the three. With a 6.1” OLED screen, 86.3% screen to body ratio, 1080p resolution and 422ppi density. Despite being a glass and metal sandwich, there is no IP68 protection, only IP53 dust and splash. It has the same Kirin 990 5G processor of its bigger brothers, backed up by 6 or 8GB of RAM with 128 or 256GB of expandable storage. It has the smallest battery of the 3 at 3800 mAh with 22.5W fast wired charging.
The rear camera array is a triple one, the lenses being arranged vertically in a black rectangular background on the top left. This consists of a main 50MP f/1.9, 23mm wide with OIS and PDAF, an 8MP f/2.4, 80mm telephoto with OIS, PDAF and a 3X optical zoom and finally a 16MP f/2.2, 17mm ultrawide with AF. As is usual with Huawei flagship handsets, they produce excellent pictures and can cope with all types of conditions. As well as stills, it can take video at 4K, 1080p and 720p.
On the front there is a dual selfie snapper in a pill shaped cut-out to the top left. This consists of a main 32MP f/2.0, 26mm wide and an infra-red TOF 3D camera for better depth sensing. This can take both 4K and 1020p video.
Huawei P40 Pro
The Pro gets an upgrade to a 6.58” OLED screen, with 91.6% screen to body ratio, 1200p resolution and 441ppi density – so better all round than the P40. It also has an increased 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling. The Pro has been given full IP68 protection from water immersion and dust. The processor is the same as the P40 but it comes with just 8GB of RAM but there are 128, 256 and 512GB of expandable storage options. Battery size has increased to 4200 mAh and fast charging to 40W, it also adds 27W fast wireless charging and 27W reverse wireless charging.
The rear camera array gains an extra lens as well as upgrades to 2 of the cameras on the P40. The main 50MP wide lens remains the same, but the telephoto has been replaced with an impressive 12MP f/3.4, 125mm periscope telephoto with OIS, PDAF and 5X optical zoom. The ultrawide has been upgraded to 40MP f/1.8, 18mm lens with PDAF. Finally, is the addition of a TOF 3D lens.
The selfie is a dual setup same as for the P40, but with the main 32MP lens getting its f stop changed to f/2.2, the TOF unit remaining the same.
Huawei P40 Pro+
So, onto the final handset of the range, the P40 Pro. This shares the identical size and screen of the P40+. The processor is also the same, whilst it is available in 256 or 512GB expandable storage options, both with 8GB of RAM. The battery is also the same, meaning the + comes down to better cameras.
The P40+ has 5 in the rear array. The main wide is the same as in the P40 and P40 Pro, whilst the TOF is the same as in the Pro. This leaves the same 8MP f/2.4 telephoto as the P40, an 8MP f/4.4, 240mm periscope telephoto with OIS, PDAF and 10X optical zoom and a 40MP f/1.8, 18mm ultrawide with PDAF. All making up an impressive array that will take great pictures and videos in virtually any conditions. The front has the same selfie setup as the P40 Pro.
So, there you have it, our quick overview of the impressive P40 range from Huawei. There is likely to be about a £400 - £500 price difference between the P40 and the Pro+, but whichever one you choose, you will be getting a great handset with brilliant cameras, providing you don’t want too many apps.