What a difference a year makes, and this has nothing to do with COVID-19. With the launch of the P30 Pro Huawei launched a challenge against Samsung and Apple for dominance of the high end of Mobile devices.
The P30 Pro offered quality and innovation that was as good as and, in some ways, better than the competition.
One year later Huawei has done so again with the P40 Pro, with cutting edge technical prowess and a design that easily matches the best of the best. The problem is that P40 Pro has a serious Achilles heel. No Google.
Steven Ambrose tests the Huawei P40 Pro and sees if it makes the grade.
Huawei has pushed their hardware to a new level the P40 Pro is a beautiful creation in steel and glass with a wraparound front screen and rear glass. The frame has smooth edges with a smart top and bottom that protects the all-glass body from drops and bangs
The fit and finish as well as the solid feel, place the P40 Pro firmly at the top of premium mobiles. The screen is a 6.58” Samsung manufactured OLED and is far superior to the previous generation P30 Pro. The screen curves on all four sides giving the P40 Pro an organic feel.
The screen also features a fast 90Hz refresh rate which gives a smooth scrolling experience. This is somewhat slower than the Samsung’s S20 line, but in actual use, very little difference can be perceived
On the rear, there is a huge camera bump with the LEICA developed camera system. The 1/1.28-inch 50-megapixel primary camera sensor is one of the highest resolution sensors on the market. This is complemented by a 5X periscope telephoto lens as well as an ultrawide sensor
The Huawei P40 Pro also offers all the critical flagship features with the latest Kirin 990 processor, tons of ram and storage. Wi-Fi 6 is standard as well as an almost universal 5G capability that will work on many mobile networks globally.
Wireless charging is standard along with a fast 40-watt charger in the box. A new ultra-precise GPS does work exceptionally well with Waze and the other mapping solutions. IP68 water and dust-proofing are standard; however, a case is a must as the all-glass configuration is easy to damage.
Huawei recognized the immense power a truly innovative camera system could bring to otherwise similar devices in the market. From the P6 onwards, Huawei has created camera setups with Leica that has truly have changed the mobile camera. From a decent happy snapper to a serious challenger to most professional cameras, with the added benefit of making it small and portable.
The P40 Pro refines the setup that was available on the last generation P30. The real stars on the P40 Pro are its cameras. The primary camera uses a 1/1.28-inch 50-MP sensor, with the phone also packing a 12-MP telephoto sensor with 5x optical zoom, a 40-MP ultra-wide camera, and a 3D time-of-flight sensor for great boke.
In bright light, the P40 Pro was extremely sharp, with vibrant photos that match or sometimes exceed anything all the other flagship devices from Samsung and Apple can offer. The night or low light ability is also outstanding with the P40 Pro producing pictures in scenarios where I could not make out any details at all.
The from selfie camera also produced some of the most balanced and details pictures I have taken. Overall, the camera setup is one of the best on the market with ease of use and a feature set that rivals professional installations.
The P40 Pro comes standard with Android 10 and Huawei own overlay EMUI 10.1. Unfortunately, this is where the whole pretty picture falls apart. Despite running Android, the Huawei P40 Pro does not have any Google services. Due to the American blacklisting of Huawei, no Google services or product can be installed on the phone. In fact, GMS the base that runs all google apps and the actual app store is entirely absent and cannot be installed.
Huawei has in little over a year done a fantastic job of recreating the Goggle App store and its underlying services and offer the Huawei App Gallery and HMS services instead.
All the necessary services, such as web browsing email maps and most other vital services and apps are available from the Huawei app gallery using HMS and other third-party app stores.
The software itself devoid of Google is fast and extremely smooth. The downside is most of the less used apps that make our modern lives slick and easy don’t work or are a significant hassle to install on the P40 Pro.
Huawei has outdone themselves with one of the best devices on the market. This amazing hardware, coupled with full google services, would have placed the P40 Pro at the top of the Android ecosystem. Without access to Google, the P40 Pro is completely crippled.
You can get most of the critical apps via the Huawei App Gallery, and emails browsing the web is not a problem. The quality and speed of the P40 on 4G and 5G networks as well most WIFI setups is outstanding. Besides, phones calls were clear, and the reception was exceptional.
The sheer quality of the hardware and technology makes the P40 Pro the most upsetting device for me. The technical prowess matches the best from Samsung and others. However, the big but is without google services the P40 Pro has no place in my fully connected world.
Over 80% of my travel, fitness, and utility apps, did not work correctly or at all. Loading a phone number onto the P40 did not result in a seamless update of my other phones, laptops, tablets, or any other product. This has become so taken for granted by most people; it does not get a second thought until it does not work.
Restoring WhatsApp from google drive did not work. Phone clone supplied by Huawei did transfer most apps and their data from an existing Huawei device and other devices. Still, it was not entirely successful for most apps.
All my documents and files were not automatically available via Dropbox. However, OneDrive from Microsoft was possible, but many video conferencing solutions did not work. No device management platforms from Googles G-suit to others were compatible at all, so no business usage, for the most part, I could go on and on.
The P40 Pro completely broke my work setup and could not allow me to operate in the same way I have done for years. Buying into the Huawei ecosystem permanently removes you from all the mainstream computing platforms and technology that has become an integral part of all our business and personal lives.
This was without question the hardest part of reviewing the P40 Pro. The outstanding hardware made me wish I could use the device, but the lack of ecosystem compatibility made it impossible. I cannot recommend the Huawei P40 Pro for this reason. At the Huawei P40’s price, there are many devices from other manufactures that offer as much and more from a hardware perspective and fully integrate with all software that is currently available.