Huawei P40 5G Review

The New Golden Standard

Huawei’s newest series of phones is called the P40, and the brand touts a whole new camera experience with the latest iterations of its flagship devices. We were able to have a unit, and here’s our full review.

Inside the box, we have the 22.5W charger, a USB Type-C cable, the phone itself, papers for manuals, a few documentation for manuals, and type-C earphones.

Huawei P40 specs:

  • 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED Quad-Curve Overflow Display, 2340 x 1080 px
  • 2.86GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G
    Mali-G76 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage, expandable via NM card up to 256GB (SIM2)
  • Triple rear cameras with LED Flash:
    50MP f/1.9 RYYB main w/ Octa PD AF
    16MP f/2.2 ultrawide
    8MP f/2.4 telephoto, 3x optical zoom, w/ OIS
  • Dual front cameras:
    32MP f/2.0 main
    IR Depth/Gesture Camera
  • Dual-SIM (nano)
  • 5G, 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS QZSS
  • in-display Fingerprint scanner, IR Face Unlock
  • IP53-certification
  • USB Type-C
  • EMUI 10.1 (Android 10, Huawei Mobile Services)
  • 3,800mAh battery
    22.5W Fast Charging
  • Colors: Ice White, Deep Sea Blue, Black, Ice White, Deep Sea Blue, Black, Silver Frost, Blush Gold

Reflective Matte finish does wonders

Huawei did a wonderful job with the construction of the device. The back has what they call a refractive matte finish, our unit having the Blush Gold colorway. The said new technology takes cues from refraction technologies to implement a glossy-like visual without compromising how it feels in the hands.

True enough, the phone does a great job of hiding the smudges, which you can only see when the back shines. You can also feel the difference between this and other phones with rather glossy backs. It’s not slippery so holding it isn’t gruesome for those with sweaty hands.

There’s the back camera with a spacing twice as much from the P30 series last year, now with a rectangular shape. Three camera modules are neatly placed vertically at one column, while the flash module sits alone at the opposite.

It’s worth noting that there are lots of antenna bands — two at each metal side– to aid in mobile signal reception. At the bottom are the Dual hybrid NM/SIM card slot, the USB Type-C port, a loudspeaker, and a microphone, while up atop is another microphone for active noise canceling.

The right side, on the other hand, has the power/lock button and the volume rocker. They feel very linear when pressed, and are placed at comfortable and reachable areas when using with either hand.

A 6.1-inch OLED display is at the front, with a hole cut for a dual front camera setup. It amounts to a near-bezel less display at an 86.3% screen-to-body ratio. Using the screen unto its edges isn’t a problem as the edges are sides are optimized for seamless, edge-based gestures. It is light enough to be held at longer periods of time and compact enough to be distinguished with its contemporaries.

A worthy compact display

The 6.1-inch OLED display from BOE with a hole cut-out for the display presents itself with accurate, vivid colors, good contrast, and immense contrast. The Full HD+ is great too, as it does a decent density at 422ppi, given the size. Its viewing angles are great as well. The phone’s brightness is decent to be seen at high noon, and low enough for comfortable nighttime reading with the built-in blue light mode. It also has support for up to 10 simultaneous touches on the display.

Entertainment activities with the phone are good. Most common audio and video formats are natively supported. Its sole loudspeaker, though, could be better as we found it just decent. There’s nothing spectacular — it lacks bass and highs, and has decent loudness that can fill up a small, empty room.

Outstanding cameras

Huawei takes pride in the P40 having upgraded photography features, and we sure enjoyed our time using them. Combined with the software, the Leica co-engineered cameras are great to use in everyday activities. The rear camera features an ‘Ultra Vision’ camera with a new large 1/1.28″ 50MP Quad Bayer sensor and an RYYB filter.

Huawei offers a plethora of modes including a zoom mode up to 30%, an ultra-wide mode, and 4K video at 60 frames per second. Autofocus, even in video mode, are quite fast. Colors are surprisingly realistic in scenarios we captured it, and photos taken even with 30x zoom are still identifiable. Here’s a sample scenario from normal 1x to 30x zoom:

Along with the 50MP main rear camera are 16-megapixel ultrawide and 8-megapixel telephoto lenses. The front camera, on the other hand, still has the same 32-megapixel module. It’s now accompanied by an IR sensor for better face recognition.

Other features in the built-in camera app include Panorama, Nightscape, Super Macro, Pro, Portrait, Aperture, Slow-Mo, Monochrome, Underwater, and High-res modes. there’s also a Dual-View mode where two of your rear camera lenses will work at the same time, capturing the scene in an ultra-wide and a zoomed mode.

Colors are vibrant, details are great, and its sharpness is spot-on. Photos on low-light scenarios are also impressive. Here are some sample photos:

Video capturing is also great. Colors are also realistic and offer just the same observations with its photos. Here’s a sample at 30fps in Full HD:

Here’s another video sample in 60fps at 4K resolution. With the built-in OIS, the shakiness of the transitions is avoided.

EMUI is quite flexible, and it’s powerful

The P40 continues the string of phones released this year built solely with Huawei’s own EMUI based on Android 10. On the first launch, Huawei activated gesture-based navigation (swipe from the edge for back, for example) which is an easy curve for those who are already familiar with the company’s OS. You can also change themes, and optimize your phone at a tap.

While I was using the phone in the past few weeks, I realized that most of my essential apps are already available on Huawei’s AppGallery such as Gcash, PayMaya, Unionbank, and Microsoft Office. Other apps can easily be installed through sideloading their APK files from reputable websites.

The OS also asks you to install what it deems essential apps upon setting the phone up. It also has around 110GB of free space for your apps and files, which can be expanded through a nano-memory card at the second SIM slot.

There’s also a new assistant called Celia, but is only available for certain regions as of this time. You can also call other Huawei users with the built-in MeeTime feature, and even share your screen.

We did not have any problems using the phone, through the whole interface may seem to be a huge curveball for first-time EMUI users. Luckily, you can toggle gestures and menus at the settings panel. Multitasking isn’t a problem, and playing with graphic-intensive games such as Asphalt 9 isn’t met with any hiccups. Slight rear device heat, however, can be felt at the simplest of tasks including taking videos or even photos at 30x zoom. Here are our benchmarks:

  • AnTutu – 453,580
  • 3DMark – 5,646 (SlingShot Extreme -OpenGL 3.0), 5,469 (SlingShot Extreme – Vulkan)
  • PCMark – 8,554 (Work 2.0)
  • Androbench – 189.7MB/s (Random Read), 193.92Mb/s (Random Write)

Great battery life

Connectivity-wise, the phone delivers. The Bluetooth connection is great, WiFi offers uninterrupted connectivity in my home, and the NFC is also great. The in-display fingerprint scanner works really fast, and so does its face recognition technology for unlocking the phone. This is Huawei’s first P-series phone to sport 5G connectivity right out of the box, and we’re glad it supports local 5G bands from both telco companies.

For a phone this compact, Huawei sure optimized the software well to make its 3800mAh battery last longer. We had more than a day of moderate to heavy use with calls, SMS, and mobile app browsing through WiFi or 4G/5G connectivity. Our PCMark Battery test gave the device 14 hours and 0 minutes score. Recharging the phone is more fun — with the 22.5W charger, you can get a 60% charge in just 30 minutes, and a full 100% charge at over an hour.

Carl writes for WalasTech when he's not working full-time. Give him tips and/or leads at [email protected].