Huawei P40 Pro: What we want to see from the sequel to the camera king

The Huawei P30 Pro’s camera knocked our socks off, so how can the next phone in the series top its illustrious predecessor?

The quality of the photography on the Huawei P30 Pro was so impressive that we crowned it the best camera phone of 2019, taking the throne from the Google Pixel 3. But can the P40 live up to its predecessor’s hard-earned reputation, or even go one better?

Fortunately, Huawei CEO Richard Yu has confirmed that the device will see its release by the end of March 2019 at an event in Paris. It’s going to run on Android 10 — but won’t have any access to Google apps and services, the same flaw that besmirched the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. In the same discussion, reported by French website Frandroid, Yu claimed that the new device will boast improved photography, boosted performance, and enhanced battery life.

We’re encouraged to know that Huawei is working to improve the hardware, despite the potentially compromising lack of Google apps, but here are the main areas we think that Huawei could work on to improve its premium flagship.

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Huawei P40 Pro – Software

Now that it’s been confirmed that the Huawei P40 Pro will run an open source version of Android that lacks Google apps, we’re concerned about how it will sell — or whether it will even go on sale in Europe, perhaps meeting the same fate as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. With the Play Store inaccessible, Huawei will have to step up with its own apps to bridge the difference, while future handsets might run Huawei’s own-brand Harmony OS interface.

But even before this controversial issue arose, we weren’t ever great fans of the EMUI software. This custom skin tries to take on the look of Apple’s iOS software, but we find that icons are unattractive, gesture controls are poorly optimised, and it has an irritating tendency to shut down background apps for power saving. EMUI needs a thorough rethink before the launch of the P40 Pro.

Huawei P40 Pro – Screen

The P30 Pro’s 6.4-inch AMOLED screen supports HDR content, is very bright, and offers a great colour gamut as well. So why do we take issue with it? Well it’s Full HD+ resolution mans it’s not the sharpest around — we found that you can actually make out individual pixels on the display if you peer closely enough.

We would like to see the display sharpen up to rival the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, but unfortunately one of early signs isn’t all that promising: the Mate 30 Pro’s screen had a resolution of 1176 x 2400, which was in fact a downgrade from the 1440 x 3120 display offered by the Mate 20 Pro. We’ve got our fingers crossed that this trend will see a reversal in time for the P-series launch.

Huawei P40 Pro – Audio

To be honest, we weren’t genuinely expecting a 3.5mm headphone jack to be present on the P30 Pro given it’s absence on the preceding P20 Pro, but it was still a shame too see this audio input option remain absent. Rubbing salt into the wound, its supplied USB-C earphones are of poor quality, feeling cheap to the touch and not packing the audio punch that you’d hope for from an accessory to such a pricey package. Further disappointment awaits audiophiles when they switch to the speakers, which are fairly tinny and make voices seem distant. The sole speaker at the base of the phone is easily obscured by your hand as you hold it, muffling its weedy sound.

Frankly, the Mate 30 Pro didn’t make significant leaps forward to address the audio issues, so we’d like Huawei to make it a priority for the P40 Pro if it’s to be even better optimised for consuming content such as playing videos and music.

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