When I reviewed the Huawei P30 Pro last year, I thought it was one of the best devices of last year, especially with its amazing camera.
However, in the last year, things have changed for Huawei. The US government has prevented Huawei from working with US companies such as Google. That means Huawei can’t provide services like Google Play, Google Apps (Gmail, YouTube etc.) and the Google Assistant on Huawei devices including the P40 series.
This video from Marques Brownlee gives a bit more context of Huawei’s current situation.
Editor’s Note: Even though I reviewed the P40 Pro, it is virtually identical to the P40 and P40 Pro Plus models, apart from a few specs.
Design & Hardware
When it comes to hardware, this is something that Huawei always seems to nail. The P40 Pro has a metal and glass design that just feels premium.
And while the P30 Pro last year was a fingerprint magnet on the back, the matte finish on the back helps mitigate that on the P40 Pro. The company also includes a clear case in the box which helps keep it protected.
The P40 Pro has a 6.58-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 2640 x 1200. There’s also IP68 water and dust resistance. There’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor that works well for the most part but I’ve found Huawei’s face unlock works much faster.
Powering the P40 Pro is Huawei’s Kirin 990 5G processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. I had no issues using the device and everything felt super quick. There’s also a nano memory card slot that supports up to 256GB.
Since the P40 Pro doesn’t include a headphone jack (like most phones these days), you’ll have to use a pair of USB-C earbuds, a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter or a pair of wireless earbuds/headphones like Huawei’s FreeBuds 3.
Huawei was able to send a pair of their FreeBuds 3 to test out with the P40 Pro. At first glance, the FreeBuds 3 look very similar to AirPods with the white plastic design and the way the ear tip looks.
The FreeBuds 3 have 14.2mm dynamic drivers that can get fairly loud, they fit comfortably and don’t feel as if they’re going to fall out. You can expect around 4-5 hours of listening time with an additional 20 hours from the charging case. The case has a USB-C port and wireless charging (at 2W). A full charge takes around an hour or so for the charging case and for the earbuds.
There is Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and active noise cancellation which works well to block out the noise around you. With the Huawei Ai Life app, you can control certain settings of the earbuds including the noise cancellation level. The FreeBuds 3 is available in multiple colours in different markets but Canada only has the Ceramic White option.
The Huawei FreeBuds 3 is available now from a number of retailers including Staples, Newegg and Vision Electronics. They usually go for around $259 CAD but usually on sale down to $219 CAD.
While other phones have been getting thinner, the P40 Pro is actually thicker than other devices. The phone has a 4,200 mAh battery with Huawei SuperCharge (up to 40W). The battery on the P40 Pro was able to easily last more than a day on a single charge, that’s thanks to Huawei’s app and batter management.
There’s also support Wireless Huawei SuperCharge (up to 27W on compatible chargers) along with reverse wireless charging. With Huawei SuperCharge, you can get around 50% battery life in just 30 minutes.
For comparison sake, the P30 Pro was $1,099-1,199 CAD off-contact or as low as $149 CAD on a 2-year contract.
Update – July 10th, 2020: Huawei has launched the P40 Pro in Canada, it’s Canadian MSRP is $1,499 CAD or $0 on a two-year contract.
You can purchase the P40 Pro from the following carriers and retailers in Canada.
- Virgin Mobile
- The Mobile Shop
- The Source
- Vision Electronics
This review has been updated to reflect the Canadian pricing announcement for the P40 Pro.
This is where things get interesting, the P40 Pro is running Android 10 with Huawei’s EMUI 10.1 on top.
But because of the trade ban mentioned earlier, the P40 Pro doesn’t have access to Google services such as the Play Store, Google Assistant and other pre-installed Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube Maps and more.
Instead of the Google Assistant, the P40 Pro has a voice assistant called Celia. Unfortunately, the Celia voice assistant isn’t available in Canada. Huawei is also working with TomTom for its own maps app but so far that hasn’t launched.
To help supplement not having the Play Store, Huawei has launched its own app store called AppGallery. It’s divided into five sections, Featured, Categories, Top, Manager and Me.
Featured is basically the main homepage of AppGallery, where you’ll find the newest apps and more.
Categories are pretty self-explanatory, it lets you find apps by category. Top shows you the top app and games.
Manager is where you’ll be able to update your apps and quickly uninstall apps. Me is just where your Huawei ID account information is and includes things like purchase history etc.
The AppGallery does have quite a few popular apps including Microsoft Office, Snapchat, Accuweather and more. There’s also plenty of alternative to popular apps including Here WeGo for navigation.
Chances are the AppGallery won’t have every app you’re looking for but thankfully there are a couple of ways to download/get access to them. The first is Phone Clone, this basically will take all the installed apps and other info (such as SMS, contacts, calendar etc) from your other device and install them on your P40 Pro.
The process is fairly straightforward, download the app on your old phone (on both Android or iOS) and tap on This is the old phone and then open Phone Clone on your P40 Pro and you’ll be asked to scan the code shown on the old phone.
Then the phone cloning process should work. I used the Phone Clone app between my Pixel 4 XL and the P40 Pro and it worked well and installed almost all my apps apart from Google apps.
The second method to install apps, not on AppGallery is using an app called MoreApps. The app itself is on AppGallery but what it’s basically doing is downloading apps from sites that have something called APK files.
An APK file is just like a .exe file on Windows, it’s the install file for Android. The MoreApps app is downloading APK files from sites like APKPure but alternatively, you can use a more reputable site called APK Mirror (owned by the same team as AndroidPolice.com).
MoreApps does show Google apps but it will actually just take you to the web version of most of Google’s apps like Gmail or YouTube. If there’s no web version, it’ll link you to Huawei’s alternative.
It’s worth noting that the MoreApps is by a third-party and not by Huawei itself. There are ways to install Google services on the P40 Pro via workarounds but I won’t link those here and can easily be searched on Google.
I’ve been invested in the Google ecosystem for more than 10 years, I made my first Gmail account in 2009 and bought my first Android phone in 2010 (the Motorola Cliq). And it’s weird to use an Android phone that doesn’t have Google services or apps.
EMUI isn’t the greatest but it gets the job done, there are some annoyances like how uninstalling an app from the homescreen works and software glitches. But with EMUI 10.1, things have gotten a bit better.
It can be a bit jarring at first, but over time you can get used to it, I was so used to having the Gmail app for email, using Google Maps and backing up my photos using Google Photos. During my testing, I was using the stock Huawei Mail app with my Gmail account it worked fine. The only thing that will really put people off is the app situation, but thankfully there are solutions are Phone Clone.
The camera is the highlight of the P40 Pro. The rear camera system is comprised of a 50MP Ultra Vision wide-angle lens, 40MP Cine Camera ultra-wide lens, 12MP SuperSensing Telephoto camera and 3D Depth Sensing Camera.
Optical zoom is like on a DSLR where there are a series of lenses that move forward and backwards to change between focal lengths.
Digital Zoom is like optical zoom but there are no moving lenses and everything is done digitally. Then there’s Hybrid zoom which uses a combination of digital and optical.
The Telephoto lens on the P40 Pro works great but only supports up to 3x optical zoom. The P30 Pro from last year supported 10x optical zoom. The P40 Pro supports up 50x digital zoom and 10x hybrid zoom.
With the SuperSensing Telephoto camera, you can get a lot of cool shots, especially of objects or buildings in the distance. The ultra-wide-angle lens is great too if you want to get more in your photo.
The front camera is a 32MP lens with a Depth Camera that supports face unlock using IR.
Photos on I took on the P40 Pro looks great, with a lot of vibrancy and detail. Huawei has also improved its AI in the camera app to detect even more objects and adjust settings accordingly.
There are multiple modes in the camera app standard photo and video modes in the camera app along with a Pro mode, 3D Portrait Lighting(which allows you to take photos with the Bokeh effect), Night mode and more.
The Night mode on the P40 Pro has been improved since last year, the phone still has an ISO 409,600. As I mentioned in my P30 Pro review, the higher ISO helps let in more light, which is especially helpful for low-light photos taken on the device.
I was able to get some great shots with the Night mode but depending on the subject, there can be some slight blurriness. But besides that, I was able to get some great shots of the moon using the Night mode and the zoom lens.
The main cameras can shoot 4K video at up to 60 fps and includes OIS and AIS image stabilization. Videos, especially ones at 4K/60fps, taken on the P40 Pro look good as do low-light videos.
The Huawei P40 Pro is a great device that is quick, has a good-looking 90Hz display, a battery that easily lasts more than a day and an excellent camera. The biggest downside to the P40 Pro is the lack of Google apps and services (including the Play Store), which does make it harder to recommend the P40 Pro to people looking for their next device.
- Excellent camera with a good night mode that works
- Super long battery life
- The design makes it feel premium
- Beautiful display at 90Hz
- Huawei AppGallery has a good amount of apps
- No Google services mean no Google Play Store
- The camera bump is quite big
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