Tech review: Huawei P40 Pro Plus smartphoneby Mark Kavanagh
Huawei P40 Pro Plus is the only phone on the Irish market with 10x optical zoom
The Huawei P40 Pro Plus is hands down the best piece of smartphone hardware on the market.
The handset is stunning to look at and hold and comes armed with the most versatile and competent camera system on a smartphone ever.
Its extra-large primary sensor delivers spectacular image quality for a smartphone, and its optical zoom capabilities are unrivaled.
Design and build
Huawei P40 Pro Plus is a beautifully sculptured piece of kit that feels every inch the premium smartphone that it is.
At 158.2 x 72.6 x 9mm, the drop dead gorgeous handset is identical in size to the P40 Pro – my protective case fits both devices – but the Plus weighs slightly more at 226g.
The extra weight comes from the nano ceramic surface on the phone’s rear. This has been polished smooth and is extra tough and scratch-resistant.
My review model is white, but only the black model is on sale in Ireland.
The P40 Pro Plus is IP68-rated dust and water resistant. This means it can be submerged in up to 1.5 metres of water for up to 30 minutes and it will still work.
The device has all of the usual buttons and ports — USB-C, volume, and power.
It also keeps up that fine Huawei tradition of an IR blaster at the top so you can use your phone as a remote control for your TV and other devices.
And the curved display on the bottom of the phone makes it is easier to swipe up from the bottom to go home and open your recent apps.
The superb 6.58in, 2640x1200 QHD+, OLED, display has a 90Hz refresh rate.
The punch-hole style notch is discrete and houses the 32MP selfie camera and a depth sensor for 3D face unlock.
P40 Pro Plus uses a quad-curve overflow display.
This means the visible display curves around all four edges of the phone, not just both of the sides.
Colour accuracy on the screen is fantastic, and it’s bright enough for using outdoors in even the sunniest conditions.
There are five cameras in total, a first in Ireland on a smartphone.
The main wide angle lens is 50MP with a 23mm equivalent focal length and an f/1.9 aperture.
It’s got a larger than average 1/1.28in sensor (using large 2.44µm pixels) and this allows in more light and therefore improves the quality of images especially in lowlight conditions.
There is also omnidirectional phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and optical image stabilisation (OIS).
The ultrawide angle shooter is 40MP with an 18mm equivalent focal length and an aperture of f/1.8.
The sensor is still quite large at 1/1.54in and it has PDAF but no OIS.
Captured from same spot using 3x optical zoom
P40 Pro Plus has two telephoto lenses. Both are different from the zoom used on P40 Pro.
The first Plus zoom is an 8MP lens with 80mm focal length (equivalent to 3x optical zoom) and an aperture of f/2.4.
It has both PDAF and OIS.
The second zoom is a Periscope telephoto. It is 8MP resolution with a focal length of 240mm (10x optical zoom) and an aperture of f/4.4. It also has both PDAF and OIS.
The fifth camera is a time of flight (depth perception) camera.
The main 50MP shooter is as good as any other flagship camera you care to mention. You can shoot in full 50MP resolution but by default the device uses pixel binning and images are produced at 12.5MP.
The extra large sensor means the quality of the images is superb.
Huawei has also improved its computational photography and post processing so shots look more natural. And the consistency is now much better.
I’m also a huge fan of the ultrawide camera. Many ultrawide cameras fall far short of the hardware employed on primary cameras but Huawei’s 40MP ultrawide is superb quality.
The two telephoto lenses (which deliver 3x optical and 10x optical zoom) are both next level pieces of kit.
The clarity and definition of the 10x lens is way ahead of the zoom on any other smartphone you can buy in Ireland.
I’ve included a some sample images to demonstrate this.
The selfie camera is excellent too, producing realistic images and sharp profile shots. It has built in autofocus unlike most smartphone selfie cameras.
Huawei P40 Pro Plus can capture 4K video at up to 60fps, and 1080p video at up to 960fps. It can also capture 720p video at 7,680fps.
Video at 4K 60fps is super sharp and stabilisation is excellent, though not quite as good as iPhone 11.
Huawei P40 Pro Plus uses the same blazing fast, 5G-ready, Kirin 990 chipset as P40 Pro.
It will handle everything you throw at it without hesitation, even though its 8GB of RAM is not as much as some competitors’ flagships.
Everything you do feels fast and fluid.
The phone runs the EMUI 10 UI on top of Android 10.
Bear in mind the P40 Pro Plus, like the P40 Pro, has no Google Play Store.
I found easy, secure, workarounds to access the Google apps I use most often — except Google Pay.
For example, Google Maps just works. I copied it over from my P30 Pro. Every time I open it the app says it will not run without Google Play Services but it works fine and I use it a lot.
Gmail I can access through my Microsoft Outlook email client. I would have done this anyway.
Google search is a default option on the Huawei browser’s home page when you first set up the device.
It takes seconds to set www.google.ie as your home page — I have to do this on many brands of phone — or you can add Google search as an alias to your home screen.
You sign in to your Google account on the search page so you are getting personalised search results just like on any other Android phone.
Google Photos I employ as one of four back-ups for my pictures but I use a complicated system and don’t directly upload to Google Photos from any phone. So I don’t miss this function and I can still view my Google Photos library using a browser if needed.
I also don’t use Google Drive for storage or any of Google’s productivity apps — I use Microsoft Office and OneDrive instead and all of Microsoft’s apps run perfectly on all Huawei smartphones.
That includes Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana which you can add to your home screen as an alternative to Google Assistant. Alexa also works on P40 Pro Plus.
I rarely watch YouTube on a phone, I prefer to view on my iMac or my TV. So I don’t miss the YouTube app.
Huawei’s own App Store is called AppGallery where you will find the lies of Ryanair, Vodafone Ireland, Snapchat, TikTok and Spotify.
Apps not present in App Gallery can often be found in Amazon App Store or a third party Google Play mirror site such as APK Pure. The latter is super safe.
Its only drawback is you will need to update apps manually.
There are some apps which just will not work. Certain Irish banking apps, KBC for example, will not work with the handset.
How much of a deal-breaker this is for you depends on your own needs. It really didn’t bother me as I always have a second phone on the go – like most tech reviewers, in fairness.
Huawei’s attempts to build a third app ecosystem with AppGallery should be applauded by all in the tech industry. Hopefully the company can succeed where the Windows Phone OS failed.
The duopoly of Google Play Store and Apple App Store needs competition. Ask Epic Games.
Having been battery king for the last number of years, Huawei battery life now comes second to Rog Phone 3 which sports a 6000 mAh power pack.
The P40 Pro Plus carries a 4200 mAh power pack, but Huawei’s battery smarts means it will give you more than a day even with heavy use. (Obviously if you stream a lot of video or enjoy marathon gaming sessions this will not be the case.)
Most days using it as my main work phone I had more than 30 per cent left in the P40 Pro Plus tank at midnight from an 8am start.
Huawei P40 Pro Plus comes with a 40w fast charger and supports 40w wireless charging along with reverse wireless charging.
The phone comes with a hefty 512GB of storage and it has a microSD card slot that can handle another 256GB.
It uses face unlock and an in-display fingerprint sensor for security. Both are superfast and reliable.
In terms of hardware, Huawei P40 Pro Plus is the best smartphone you can buy today.
It is an excellent piece of kit that also looks and feels every inch a premium device.
I’ve not left home without it since it arrived.
My top tip would be: if you can live without the 10x optical zoom, the ceramic rear and the 40w wireless charging, then you could save a few hundred euro (at both Three.ie and Carphone Warehouse) by purchasing the almost-as-superb P40 Pro instead.
How much does Huawei P40 Pro Plus cost?
€1399 sim-free from Carphone Warehouse with free wireless charger, GT2 watch, six-month subscription to Huawei Music, 50GB of Huawei Cloud storage and €50 Huawei points card.
What are the specs of Huawei Pro Pro Plus?
Dimensions: 158.2 x 72.6 x 9mm
Display: 6.58in Full HD+ AMOLED, 2,640 x 1,200 resolution, 19.8:9 aspect ratio, 90Hz refresh rate
Processor: Kirin 990 5G Octa-core HiSilicon chipset
Expandable storage: NM card slot
Charger: 40W SuperCharge wired
Wireless: Supports 40W SuperCharge and reverse wireless charging
Rear cameras: 50MP RYYB main sensor with f/1.9 aperture and 23mm focal length; 40MP ultrawide, f/1.8, 18mm; 8MP RYYB telephoto, f/2.4, 80mm, 3x optical; 8MP periscope telephoto, f/4.4, 240mm, 10x optical; time of flight (ToF) sensor
Selfie camera: 32MP with autofocus, f/2.2, 26mm
Video: 4K at 60fps (front and rear); 1080p Full HD at 960fps; 720p HD at 7,680fps
Water/dust resistance: IP68 rated
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