Tech review: Huawei P40 Pro+ offers amazing camera zoom

The P40 Pro+ is only available in ceramic white with 512GB internal storage.
The P40 Pro+ is only available in ceramic white with 512GB internal storage.PHOTO: HUAWEI

This is the flagship model of the Huawei P40 series. To be launched here on Saturday (June 27), the P40 Pro+ (available on Lazada and Shopee) joins the P40 and P40 Pro, both of which were released here in April this year.

In many ways, the P40 Pro+ is similar to the P40 Pro, which I have reviewed. They share almost the same technical specifications and physical dimensions.

Like the P40 Pro, the P40 Pro+ uses Huawei's Kirin 990 5G chip and has 8GB of system memory for a great overall performance. It has the same 6.58-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate, 4,200mAh battery and IP68-rated water resistance (that is, it can withstand being submerged in water to a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes). It supports 5G and Wi-Fi 6.

However, the P40 Pro+ is 0.05mm thicker and 17g heavier. At 226g, it feels a tad heavy.

And while the P40 Pro comes in blue, silver and gold with 256GB internal storage, the P40 Pro+ is available only in ceramic white with 512GB internal storage.

This ceramic finish on the rear of the P40 Pro+ is said to take five days of kilning as well as custom polishing to make. The result is a smooth white finish that is nice to touch but yet not slippery. Furthermore, it does not attract as much fingerprints or smudges as the P40 Pro's rear.

The biggest differentiator in the P40 Pro+ is its rear camera module. Unlike the P40 Pro, which has a maximum 5x optical zoom, the P40 Pro+ has up to 10x optical zoom.

This camera module is said to integrate every camera component into a cohesive package, a first in the Huawei P series. Note that a P40 Pro casing will not fit the P40 Pro+, as its rear camera module is sited differently.

The rear camera module consists of five cameras - a 50-megapixel (MP) wide-angle camera, a 40MP ultra-wide-angle camera, an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom (f2.4), an 8MP camera with 10x optical zoom and a 3D depth-sensing camera.

These cameras work like members of a relay team to support a versatile and convenient focal length range of 18mm to 240mm (in 35mm equivalent). The camera unit can go up to 100x digital zoom.

The wide-angle camera has a high-resolution mode that fully utilises its 50MP image sensor. By default though, it produces 12MP still images with pixel binning, which combines four pixels into one. This saves storage space and yet hardly compromises on the image quality.

 

Comparing normal and high-resolution shots of the same scene, I found the latter sharper with greater details. But with the default mode, the photos look sharp, detailed and has great dynamic range too.

The shots I took with the 3x optical zoom camera have almost the same level of image quality as the normal shots of the wide-angle camera. I have no hesitation in using it.

The 10x optical zoom camera offers great convenience, especially when you want to capture that pretty stray cat in the distance, though the images look a tad soft.

Still, the 10x optical zoom images are probably good enough for your social media posts. They certainly look much sharper than images I shot using other smartphones at this focal length.

The 100x digital zoom though is not recommended if you want quality shots. It probably only functions as a telescope to help you make out the words on a faraway restaurant menu or notice board.

As with the P40 Pro, I was very impressed with the night photography mode of the P40 Pro+. I took handheld shots with up to nine seconds of exposure using the wide-angle camera and the results were terrific - phenomenal rich details in the dark areas with the bright areas not overexposed.

And unlike Apple's Night mode, the P40 Pro's night mode works with ultra-wide-angle and telephoto cameras as well. However, the night mode does not work quite as well with the two telephoto cameras, with chromatic noise and detail loss visible.

Battery life does not differ much from that of the P40 Pro. In our video-loop battery test, the P40 Pro+ lasted around 15hr 45 minutes, around 10 minutes less than the P40 Pro.

However, the P40 Pro+ supports 40W wireless charging. Using the Huawei SuperCharge Wireless Charging Stand ($148), it went from 75 per cent battery life to full in around 10 minutes.

I feel like a broken record but I have to mention that the P40 Pro+ lacks Google Mobile Services due to the continued ban on Huawei arising from the US-China trade war. As such, it does not have Google Play Store and its library of apps such as Google Maps and Gmail.

Instead, it comes with Huawei's own app store - AppGallery. And last week (June 19), Huawei introduced Petal Search, a search widget that offers users apps available in AppGallery as well as other third-party app stores such as APKPure.

So, you can search for the app you want in Petal Search, then follow the link in the search results to download and install the app. It also manages your updates and works almost like an app store.

FOR

- Great-looking design

- Great overall performance

- Versatile and convenient 10x optical zoom

- Amazing day and night photography quality

AGAINST

- No Google Mobile Services

- Images a bit soft at maximum focal length

- A tad heavy

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $1,898 (available on June 27)

PROCESSOR: Kirin 990 5G (dual-core 2.86GHz, dual-core 2.36GHz, quad-core 1.95GHz)

DISPLAY: 6.58-inch, Oled, 2,640 x 1,200 pixels, 441 ppi pixel density

OPERATING SYSTEM: EMUI 10.1 (Android 10.0)

MEMORY: 512GB (Nano memory card expandable to 256GB); 8GB RAM

REAR CAMERAS: 50MP wide- angle (f/1.9), 40MP ultra-wide- angle (f/1.8), 8MP telephoto 3x optical zoom (f2.4), 8MP 10x optical zoom (f/4.4); 3D depth-sensing camera

FRONT CAMERAS: 32MP (f/2.2); Depth-sensing camera

BATTERY: Non-removable 4,200mAh battery

WEIGHT: 226g

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4.5/5

PERFORMANCE: 5/5

BATTERY LIFE: 4.5/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4.5/5 [ST Tech Editor's Choice]

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