MANILA -- For the first time in its P series of photography-focused smartphones, Huawei is shipping a third variant, a more expensive one with 5 rear cameras.
Enter the P40 Pro+, with just a symbol in the name to differentiate it from the vanilla P40 and P40 Pro. Huawei also bucked the trend of superlatives in flagship naming, Apple has the iPhone 11 Pro Max while Samsung has the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The P40 Pro+ has the same dimensions and internals as the P40 Pro, save for double the internal storage at 512MB. It supports 5G and has a quirky screen that curves on all 4 sides, mimicking water that's just about to spill from a glass.
The 6.58-inch OLED panel is sharp for a full HD screen, just the right resolution to stop the 90hz refresh rate from draining the 4,200 mAh battery. In less than a week of initial testing, the P40 Pro+ comfortably lasted an entire day.
PRO AND PLUS
What pluses come with this premium P series incarnation? Build and cameras.
The P40 Pro+ has a ceramic back, which is a tad heavier but less fragile and less slippery compared to glass. It feels a bit heftier, but in a reassuring way that it's unlikely to shatter as easily.
Very few handsets come in a ceramic housing, which is less prone to fingerprints and feels nicer in the hand. Try to reach for the P40 Pro+ in the middle of the night and it's not ice cold unlike most glass and metal slabs.
Our review unit came in white and its a standout in a sea of frosted glass and gradient finishes.
The P40 Pro+ has 5 cameras co-engineered with Leica, the most Huawei has put on a phone's back. The twin front-facing cameras are housed in a pill-shaped cutout that is too big to ignore.
The rear module has a 50 megapixel wide angle camera with OIS and f/1.9 aperture, a 40 megapixel ultra-wide with f/1.8, an 8 megapixel 10x optical zoom with f/4.4 and OIS, and 8 megapixel 3x optical zoom with f/2.4 and a 3D depth-sensing camera.
As expected from Huawei's combo of Leica engineering and AI-assisted image processing, photos from the P40+ have rich colors and sharp detail. It also has one of the best night modes on a smartphone camera array and we've tested the iPhone 11 series and the Google Pixel 4, that also rely on computational photography.
The twin optical zoom cameras and the Master AI combine for up to 100x hybrid zoom, which can literally see beyond the naked eye. Samsung also offers up to 100x zoom on the S20 Ultra and we'll be comparing it with the P40 Pro+ in an upcoming article.
The 100x zoom is amazing, but images are blurry. The sweet spot is 10x zoom, which allows you to take an entirely different shot while preserving sharpness, color and clarity.
Take these photos of construction cranes on a rooftop. At 10x zoom, it could pass off as a drone shot when in fact, it was taken from atop a building across the street.
Zoom up to 50X and while clearly identifiable, the machine operator's pod is blurry.
The P40 Pro+ captures rich, deep blues at day, such as this building, taken with 3X and 10X zoom. At 10x zoom, the details of the clouds are reflected on the glass windows are clearer.
From looking up to flowers on a tree across the street, the perspective shifts when shot with 10X zoom without sacrificing sharpness or color.
If the P30 Pro's party trick was a moon shot, the P40 Pro+ can take pictures of airplanes shortly after takeoff at just 50x zoom. We didn't have tripod so holding still at 100x was almost impossible.
Like the S20 Ultra, the viewfinder in the P40 Pro+ has an inset that shows the user where the camera is pointed at.
The P40 series is the second batch of Huawei phones we've tested after the Mate 30 line that don't come with Google services out of the box.
Unlike the Mate 30, the P40 phones put Huawei's own App Gallery front and center. We never side loaded Google Mobile Services on the P40 Pro+ this quarantine and the experience was surprisingly good, especially if you keep an open mind.
The App Gallery has a growing stable of popular downloads like Viber (a work essential in this country) and quarantine musts like Foodpanda, GCash, PayMaya and Lazada. Search for Facebook and App Gallery will direct you to the official Facebook download.
Most other apps like Instagram, Messenger and Telegram are on third-party stores like APK Pure. We even got Google Maps to run without a hitch and without playing around with the software. Same with Grab, as long as you pin the pick up and drop off points correctly.
The EMUI 10.1 interface that runs on Huawei phones is built on Google's Android 10. It's clean, fast and works like all Android devices.
Compared to Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store, App Gallery is a nascent marketplace, but it is backed by the world's second largest smartphone maker. Huawei last year launched an incentive program for developers to help build App Gallery.
A STEP UP
The P40 Pro+ is a step up in build and optics compared to the P40 Pro, and with the added camera power comes twice the on-board storage.
It's also as reliable as it's lesser sibling. Both run on Huawei's Kirin 990 5G chip with 8GB RAM. The 4,200 mAh battery also fast charges at 40 watts for all day power and instant top-ups.
One deciding factor, if choosing between the P40 Pro and the P40 Pro+, will be the price. Huawei has not announced pricing for the premium model while the P40 Pro retails for P50,990.