Home Tech Reviews Huawei P40 Full Review: the Future of Photography

Huawei P40 Full Review: the Future of Photography

The P40 series is something that I’ve personally looked forward to, as our review of its predecessor, the P30 Pro left us well-impressed. The series also comes with a couple of firsts for tech giant Huawei. Launched last month, it’s the first series from the brand that comes with a third, maxed-out version: the P40 Pro+ (which unfortunately, hasn’t been announced to be available in the Philippines). The P40 series also get the largest camera sensor and holds Huawei’s most advanced camera setup to date.

Let’s see if this Huawei flagship stands to be crowned as our top smartphone camera of the year. 

Ultra Vision

I know, this sounds like some superhero’s super power (think: seeing through walls or being able to see something really far away) and it’s what Huawei is calling the set of cameras on the series. All three smartphones in the P40 series are again, co-engineered with Leica and feature a main 50MP Ultra Vision camera right at the center. This large sensor measures a full inch diagonally and while It’s not able to see through walls, It’s able to see through the dark very well and of course, go the distance with its zoom which is a superpower in its own right, if you ask me.

Our P40 test unit features a triple rear camera set-up, which comprises of the 50MP ultra vision wide-angle camera (f/1.9) + 16MP ultra-wide angle camera (f/2.2) + 8MP telephoto camera (f/2.4) with optical image stabilization (OIS) and Huawei’s own AI image stabilization. The P40 also features 3x optical zooming capabilities and up to 30x digital zoom.

 The P40 Pro, on the other hand, sports a quad rear setup and adds in a 40MP ultra-wide angle cine camera (the same one on the Mate 30 series) and a 12MP telephoto camera that allows for 5x optical zoom as well as a time of flight (ToF) camera along with the 50MP main sensor. Bringing up the pack is the P40 Pro+ that stuns with its penta rear-camera setup that brings the same 40MP cine camera as the Pro, 8MP zoom lens with 10x optical zooming capabilities. It keeps the 8MP telephoto lens that we get on the P40 and the ToF lens on the Pro.

Shooting in good lighting is a treat. Shots come out balanced and colors are well-replicated. Details are also sharp and crisp. When switching in and out the aperture (or macro) setting to auto to shoot small details, the phone’s AI does a great job of separating foreground and background. All foreground details are impressively sharp and clear and the resulting image doesn’t have that “portrait-mode blur” look to it.  Now imagine what the P40 Pro and Pro+ can do with its ToF camera.

 Now, let’s backtrack a bit and go back to its main sensor. The 50MP lens supports 4-in-1 pixel binning, which gets light from multiple photosites and stitches it together into one “super” pixel, creating clearer shots and delivering amazing low-light and night shots. In a sample shot I took, you can see of the last streaks of sun against a dark silhouette of trees with the smooth gradation of colors from an inky indigo to a light blush peach to vivid golden orange contrasted by the black shadows of foliage. You can even see a solitary star dotting the sky that most typical smartphone cameras would have missed.

Stars against dark skies can be captured without switching to night mode and it doesn’t break a sweat when shooting low-light portraits.

Another impressive feature is its ability to shoot 4K video in both its front and back cameras. These days, you barely need a lot of fancy equipment to shoot great videos. Speaking of its front cameras, the P40 series sport not one but two lens: a 32MP main shooter paired with a depth camera. Images you take on the front camera are also automatically optimized and enhanced by Huawei’s AI to give you the best shot.

Check out some sample shots taken on the P40:

Here’s the zoom in action:

And here’s a macro shot using the aperture setting

The petals stay sharp and separated from the blurred background

New Look

Aesthetically, the P40 series looks quite reminiscent of a certain rival smartphone. The triple cameras are housed in a rounded rectangle. Size wise, It’s a bit smaller than the P30 and also much lighter. A few tweaks were also made, such as its fingerprint scanner placed a bit higher than usual—nearly halfway up the phone—which is more ergonomic and makes it easier for one-handed maneuvering. It’s also said to work 30% faster than its predecessors. For a small device, It’s got a lot of screen to work with thanks to its punch hole design that houses the front cameras which gives it a seamless feel. The 6.1 OLED display is a great medium to watch and game on, paired with the powerful Kirin 990 5G chipset and 8GB Ram + 128GB ROM. On the Pro and Pro+ versions, the display boasts a 90Hz refresh rate, which means smoother transitions and clear graphics, perfect for gaming or just watching your favorite clip in high definition. There’s also a separate game phone case available that let’s you make the most of those first-person shooter games.

And you don’t have to worry about losing juice with its 3,800mAh of battery coupled with Huawei’s 22.5 supercharge. It can last a whole day of heavy use and can last up to three days on standby with light gaming and browsing in between. There’s no reverse charging with the vanilla P40, though. It takes around an hour and a half to fully charge the battery from empty. It also features a 3D graphene liquid cooling system, made to handle high-capacity processing and heat produced by 5G communications. While I wasn’t able to test out it’s 5G cabability just yet, here’s our test of 5G on the Mate 30 Pro 5G instead if you want a look at how 5G fares in the Philippines.

For benchmarks, we tried it on Antutu’s benchmark test and Aitutu. On Antutu, the P40 scored a total of 449,961 comprising of 135,647 for CPU while it scored 161,413 for GPU. For memory process, it scored 85, 472 and 67,429 for UX. Overall, it places solidly at the top quarter against other devices. For its AI processing, it scored an overall 130,050.

Multi-device collab

Out of the box, the P40 runs on Huawei’s EMUI 10.1 based on Android 10. It adds new features like a multi-device control panel that let’s you see and control all connected IoT devices. It adds a system-wide dark mode. There’s also a floating window feature which allows you to pull up certain apps in a smaller format for easier multi-tasking. Lastly, you can access your images over the cloud from multiple Huawei devices when you’re signed in to the same Home Wi-Fi and logged in to the same Huawei ID.

Our Opinion:

Huawei’s P40 continues the legacy of the P series by delivery consistently great cameras that change the game of smartphone photography. It’s great for on-the-go creators and photographers who needs powerful hardware in a sleek, compact device.

Full Specs:

Display: 6.1” OLED, 2,340 x 1,080 resolution

SIM: Dual nano, dual standby

Operating system: Android 10, EMUI 10.1

Processor: Kirin 990 5G

GPU: Mali-G76

Memory: 8GB RAM

Storage: 128GB internal, expandable up to 256GB via nano memory card

Cameras: Rear – 50 MP Ultra Vision Camera (Wide Angle, f/1.9 aperture) + 16 MP Ultra-Wide Angle Camera (f/2.2 aperture) + 8 MP Telephoto Camera (f/2.4 aperture, OIS) Autofocus, up tp 4k@60fps; Front – 32MP f/2.0 aperture + IR camera

Connectivity & I/O ports: LTE; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, 2 x 2 MIMO, HE160, 1024 QAM, 8 Spatial-stream Sounding MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot; Bluetooth 5.1, BLE, A2DP, aptX HD; GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS; NFC; Infrared; USB 3.1, Type C

Security: Under display fingerprint sensor

Other features: IP53 dust/water resistant (up to 2m for 30 mins)

Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 3,800mAh, 22.5W fast battery charging

Dimensions & weight: 148.9 x 71.06 x 8.5mm, 175g  

Colors: Silver Frost, Deep Sea Blue, Black, Blush Gold, Ice White

Price: P36,990

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