In a different 2020, I could be telling you that the Huawei P40 Pro is one of the best phones you could buy. After all, it sees the Chinese telecoms giant at the height of its hardware powers, delivering a device that performs extremely well and leaves little off its spec sheet.
Like Samsung with its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series, Huawei has two flagship lines: the P series and the Mate series. The P series is roughly analogous to the Galaxy S in that it’s the more mainstream, design-forward device, whereas the Mate series tends to be aimed at power users, like the Galaxy Note. Unlike Samsung, though, Huawei’s flagships look dramatically different to each other.
The 1/1.28-inch 50-megapixel primary camera sensor is, as far as I’m aware, the largest available on a phone unless you count historical oddballs like the Panasonic CM1 or the Nokia 808 PureView. It’s even larger and higher-resolution than the fabled Lumia 1020. Despite the large physical size, Huawei is using dual phase-detection autofocus across the entire sensor, and the results are excellent. Regular P40 Pro photos are extremely detailed with wide dynamic range, and the camera feels snappy in action. Low-light shots look awesome even outside of the separate night mode, which honestly feels superfluous.
I would not necessarily say that the P40 Pro automatically produces the most pleasing photos straight out of the camera, nor that it has a particular style. Its white balance metering can be a little indecisive at times, giving images an unwanted red or green tint, and I think the iPhone 11 and Google’s Pixel phones do a better job at turning out photos with a consistent look. But you almost always get crunchy detail, balanced exposures, and enough dynamic range to play with even if the colors aren’t nailed at first.
It does have Huawei’s own App Gallery, which is a threadbare app store. It also has various ways to install apps from outside that store, including a method called Phone Clone where you transfer apps from a second device. None of them are reliable; I can’t get Twitter to launch on the P40 Pro through Phone Clone, for example, though it was fine on the Mate 30 Pro. Sometimes apps like Uber won’t work even if you can run them due to their baked-in reliance on Google Play Services. I lreally like this phone’s hardware, but not enough to jump through its many software hoops. Often, those hoops prove impossible to jump through.