When Huawei released their new P40 series two months ago, I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed. Sure, the P40 and P40 Pro did feature some expected hardware improvements, but the cameras — while still miles ahead of the competition — were not as significant a leap as that from the P20 to the P30.
The reason for that, it turns out, is because the Chinese tech giant had one more trick up their sleeve in the form of a new third model dubbed the P40 Pro+. I managed to get my hands on a set ahead of its release this month, so does it provide the upgrade that I was looking for?
If It Ain’t Broke…
Looking at the phones side by side, the P40 Pro+ looks exactly the same as the P40 Pro — both phones measure at 72.6mm x 158mm with a 6.58 waterfall OLED display, though the Pro+ does feel marginally heavier due to an additional 17g of weight.
Part of that 17g can be attributed to the P40 Pro+’s new ceramic finish, which is said to be more durable and scratch-resistant compared to the P40 Pro’s glass. This — along with a new white colourway — give the Pro+ a more classy and professional feel, but this is ultimately a matter of personal taste.
On the performance side of things the Pro+ is once again identical its little brother, equipped with Huawei’s latest Kirin 990 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 4,200 mAh battery that had no problem lasting an entire day of heavy usage (37% left, to be exact). Other features include IP68 water resistance, (fast) wireless charging and both face and fingerprint unlock.
This is all par for course for a 2020 flagship smartphone, but one standout feature is a 90hz refresh rate. Refreshing the screen 90 times a second makes navigating through the phone noticeably smoother, and considering how often we use our phones this is a big improvement to the overall user experience.
And in case you were wondering, the P40 Pro+ still doesn’t come with Google Mobile services like the Play Store and Google Maps, but as we’ve previously mentioned there are some workarounds and the folks at Huawei have been consistently adding alternatives to their AppGallery.
Five Is Better Than Four
At this point you might be thinking: “the Pro+ doesn’t seem like much of a step up from the P40 Pro,” but the camera…or rather, cameras are where things start to get interesting.
Keeping the 50 MP Ultra Vision, 40 MP Cine and 3D Depth Sensing cameras from the P40 Pro, the Pro+ adds an additional 8 MP SuperZoom camera and upgrades the f/3.4 Telephoto camera to an f/2.4, adding up to a grand total of five rear cameras.
If all that made zero sense to you, what this basically means is that the P40 Pro+ is capable of 10x optical zoom and 100x max zoom, which is a significant step up from the P40 Pro’s 50x optical/50x max zoom.
And while the 100x Zoom is more of a cool party trick (you’re going to need a tripod to even try getting a clear shot), the 10x optical zoom really sets the Pro+ apart from the competition. Most phones will struggle at that distance, but the Pro+ manages to retain the details and actually make for a usable photo.
Couple that with the P40 Pro’s already-stellar image quality and low-light performance, and you have a camera system that’s equipped to handle pretty much any situation you throw at it. This is the upgrade I was looking for.
While the P40 Pro is by no means a bad phone, the P40 Pro+ feels like the true successor to the P30 Pro. Huawei’s P-series has always been known for having one of — if not the best smartphone cameras in the market, and their newest offering looks poised to keep them in that top position.
These premium features, however, come with a premium price tag. The Pro+ retails at $1,898, which means that you’re essentially paying $450 more for a better camera system. Whether that’s worth it depends on how often you take photos, but we think that it’ll pay off in the long run.
If you remain undeterred, the Huawei P40 Pro+ will be released on the 27th of June, and will be available at Huawei Concept Stores, telcos, and both online (Lazada, Shoppee) and physical retailers (Best Denki, Challenger, COURTS, Harvey Norman).
Pre-orders also start on the 20th of June, and as usual being an early adopter comes with a host of freebies. Huawei have opted for quality over quantity this time, offering a 40W Wireless Supercharge Stand and their new Sound X Speaker worth S$148 and S$498 respectively.
Since we’re here, we might as well talk a bit about the Sound X — similar to their partnership with Leica, Huawei have teamed up With French audio brand Devialet for this one, and considering that their speakers usually cost upwards of S$1,800 this is a big win for the brand.
I had the chance to test out an actual Devialet speaker last year, and while the Sound X isn’t a 1:1 representation it does have that heart-thumping bass that the brand is so well known for. This is probably the most cost-effective method of getting the Devialet experience, and getting this completely free makes pre-ordering the Pro+ a lot more enticing.
The loss of GMS was an unfortunate blow to Huawei, but products like these make a strong case for sticking with the brand. If you’re looking for a new phone, love photography and willing to willing to make a few concessions in the app department, then the P40 Pro+ should be at the top of your list.
VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.
Feature Image Credit: Vulcan Post