(Pocket-lint) - Flagship Huawei P series phones have impressed us more as each year passes. With the P30 Pro one of our favourites in recent years, can the newer series, the P40 Pro, top it?
It's worth noting that the 2020 P series is comprised of three phones - the P40, P40 Pro and P40 Pro+ - making the 'standard Pro' model the middle, rather than top-end device.
That's not to say the P40 Pro doesn't move features forward, however, as you can see in our breakdown of all the important elements below.
Screen & Design
- P40 Pro: 6.58-inch OLED, 2640 x 1200 resolution, 90Hz refresh rate
- P30 Pro: 6.47-inch OLED, 2340 x 1080 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate
- P40 Pro: Ice White, Black, DeepSea Blue, Silver Frost, Blush Gold
- P30 Pro: Black, Pearl White, Aurora, Amber Sunrise, Breathing Crystal
- Both models: Optical in-screen fingerprint scanner
- Both models: IP68 water- and dust-resistant
- P40 Pro: Pill-shape punch-hole dual camera
- P30 Pro: Dewdrop notch single camera
Although the P40 Pro has a slightly larger screen than the P30 Pro, we've placed the two handsets side-by-side and their proportions are barely any different. How the screen is implemented is the bigger difference.
The P40 Pro has what Huawei is calling an Overflow Display, as it flows over the edges of the device - both sides, the top and the bottom - compared to the P30 Pro's FullView Display, which has greater visible bezel. The rumoured P50 series is said to continue with this curved screen design.
However, the P40 Pro doesn't eliminate bezel altogether, plus the screen has a much larger cut-out in it than the P30 Pro, given Huawei's decision to opt for a dual front-facing camera setup. We prefer the tidier look of the single camera in the older P30 Pro design.
The screen in the P40 Pro adds a little resolution and increases the refresh rate by 50 per cent, too, making for a crisper and smoother visual experience. Unlike some manufacturers, Huawei hasn't gone all-out in resolution terms, avoiding a Quad HD+ offering for the sake of better battery life - which we think is a fine decision.
When it comes to finishes, the P40 Pro is available in five options (white, black, blue, silver, peach/gold - to give their non-marketing names), keeping things much simpler than the gradient designs of the P30 Pro. Fair enough, we like the increased fingerprint resistance of the finish on the P40 Pro, but the eye-catching designs of the P30 Pro really helped that phone to stand out.
Hardware & Software
- P40 Pro: Kirin 990 processor, 8GB RAM
- P30 Pro: Kirin 980 processor, 8GB RAM
- P40 Pro: 4,200mAh battery, 40W fast-charge
- P30 Pro: 4,200mAh battery, 40W fast-charge
- P40 Pro only: 27W wireless fast-charge
- P40 Pro: Android 10 with EMUI 10.1
- P30 Pro: Android 10 with EMUI 10.0
- P40 Pro: No Google Services (no Play Store)
- P30 Pro: Full Google Services (includes Play Store)
- P40 Pro only: 5G connectivity
Under the hood and the two phones aren't dramatically different. The P40 Pro gets Huawei's Kirin 990 processor, paired with 8GB RAM, making for a marginal performance bump over the P30 Pro's Kirin 980 processor and the same amount of RAM.
Being a 2020 release the P40 Pro is also 5G capable, which the last-gen model missed out on.
The battery capacities are the same, too, at 4,200mAh, making for a likely long innings per charge. Both handsets offer 40W fast-charging with the correct plug, meaning a full recharge in little more than an hour. The P40 Pro also offers 27W wireless fast-charging.
While both handsets run Google's Android 10 operating system, the P40 Pro suffers from a lack of Google Services, i.e. there's no Google Play Store available for the newer handset. This is all to do with the ongoing blacklist from the USA, banning Huawei from dealing with US companies. Instead the P40 series runs Huawei's App Gallery.
That means the P40 Pro will be unable to load certain apps, which will be a major issue for many prospective European customers. The P30 Pro doesn't have this issue.
- Both models: Leica quad camera system
- P40 Pro main
- 50MP SuperSensing (RYYB) sensor, 1/1.28in size, f/1.9 aperture, 25mm equiv., optical stabilisation (OIS)
- P30 Pro main
- 40MP SuperSensing (RYYB) sensor, f/1.6, 25mm equiv.
- P40 Pro ultra-wide
- 40MP cine lens, f/1.8, 18mm equiv.
- P30 Pro ultra-wide
- 20MP, f/2.2, 16mm equiv.
- P40 Pro zoom:
- 5x optical (125mm equiv.) RYYB sensor, 12MP, f/3.4, OIS
- P30 Pro zoom:
- 5x optical, (125mm equiv.), 8MP, f/3.4, OIS
- Both models: 32MP selfie camera (P40 Pro only with depth sensor)
- Both models: Time-of-Flight (ToF) depth sensor
The cameras department has always been the strong suit for the P series, with the P30 Pro really setting the bar when it launched. The P40 Pro looks to up this another step, but Huawei has actually got another higher-spec version of the phone - the P40 Pro+ (the all important 'Plus' symbol in the name) - which adds an additional camera and yet more zoom.
The P40 Pro, meanwhile, is a lot like a re-thought version of the P30 Pro. There's no extra zoom difference between these two devices, but the core sensor setup of the newer P40 Pro is more advanced for a number of reasons.
First up, the P40 Pro has a 50-megapixel main sensor. Not only is it high resolution, it's physically far larger than the previous-generation sensor, making for even better quality thanks to larger pixel sites. Both sensors are also SuperSensing, which is what Huawei calls its own array technology - which uses red, yellow and blue, instead of red, green and blue - which handles extremely well in low-light conditions.
The P40 Pro also ups the resolution of the ultra-wide camera, doubling it compared to the P30 Pro. It's slightly less wide, too, which should benefit optical quality without as much distortion.
In terms of zoom, both devices offer a 5x optical zoom. The key difference here is the P40 Pro also employs that SuperSensing sensor technology, as per the main sensor (albeit not of the same physical size or resolution), which should deliver far better quality longer focal length results.
Both models feature the same interface, meaning various auto and AI-assisted shooting options, night mode and more.
- P40 Pro: €999 (at launch)
- P30 Pro: Price £899/€899 (at launch)
The P40 Pro features what could well be among the most impressive cameras ever featured in a phone. The camera variety and reach is much the same as the P30 Pro, but the technology within is much improved.
Add 5G, a fingerprint-resistant finish, and a screen that's almost bezel-free and it's one impressive looking bit of kit. Shame about that eye-sore of a double front camera, though.
The P40 Pro's big problem is the lack of Google Services, meaning a lack of some apps many European users will see as essential. Sure, there's Huawei's App Gallery store, but that's in relative infancy and, right now, can't deliver like-for-like on the apps front - although Huawei is working with app developers to advance its offering. It's this, ultimately, that will see the P40 Pro struggle where the P30 Pro succeeded.