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Huawei's Flagship P40 Pro+ Is Pushing The Limits Of What A Smartphone Camera Can Do

Gizmodo Australia logo Gizmodo Australia 2 days ago Sam Rutherford
a close up of a computer: Screenshot: Huawei © Screenshot: Huawei Screenshot: Huawei

Huawei typically likes to use its P-Series phones as a vessel to show off its fancy new camera tech. With the loss of Google services, and a growing range of bans on its products in international markets the latest P-Series phone needs to be extraordinary. If the new features on the P40 (particularly the P40 Pro+) are any indication, people with access to Huawei’s phones are in for a treat.

Similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S20 line, the P40 line is split between three different models: the standard P40, the P40 Pro, and the P40 Pro+, with the latter being the only one to feature all of Huawei’s new tech. That means not only does the P40 Pro+ come with a 50-MP primary wide-angle camera, a 40-MP ultra-wide Cine Lens, an 8-MP 3x telephoto lens, and a 3D time-of-flight camera, the Pro+ also gets another 8-MP 10x optical zoom lens. And when those two zoom lenses are combined, Huawei claims it has created the world’s first dual optical telephoto camera system.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Screenshot: Huawei © Screenshot: Huawei Screenshot: Huawei

The idea behind the P40 Pro+ getting two zoom lenses is that by allowing them to work together, they function more like the zoom lens on a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera, allowing you to zoom in or out with greater precision and fluidity. Furthermore, the P40 Pro+’s 10x optical zoom has the potential to be even sharper than the 10x lossless zoom on Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, which uses a 4x optical zoom combined with software enhancement to reach its 10x magnification. And if that isn’t enough, Huawei says the 50-MP main sensor in the P40 Pro and P40 Pro+ is the biggest sensor any company has ever put in a phone.

Meanwhile the P40 and P40 Pro have to make do with slightly less reach thanks to 3x and 5x optical zooms. Yet all three versions of the P40 feature Huawei’s new Octa PD autofocus system which gives each pixel on the camera sensor eight autofocus points. That should hopefully cut down on the number of blurry or out of focus pics you snap.

a screenshot of a video game: Screenshot: Huawei © Screenshot: Huawei Screenshot: Huawei

But Huawei isn’t done there because the P40 line also features Super Resolution tech similar to what you get on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4, which uses AI to enhance the quality of your zoom pics. There’s also a new high definition AI engine that can help you remove distracting objects or people that may have photobombed your shot, a new AI auto white balance algorithm, and an improved hand-held Super Night Mode for better low-light photos.

Huawei has even added a bunch of other new camera and video features including directional audio zoom, dual view video, a wild claim of 7680 fps ultra slow motion, and an incredible ISO range that extends all the way to ISO 51,200.

As for the phones’ design, the P40 line comes with a quad-curve overflow display with an in-display fingerprint reader where the edges of the screen wrap down around the sides of the phone, with additional curves on each corner. The overall effect is that the P40 Pro and Pro+ have absolutely tiny bezels while still delivering what Huawei describes as a silky in-hand feel. And in addition to a variety of colour options for the standard P40 including black, blue, silver, gold, and white, the P40 Pro + will be available with special ceramic white or black backs with improved strength and durability.

a woman in a dark room: Screenshot: Huawei © Screenshot: Huawei Screenshot: Huawei

Both the P40 Pro and P40 Pro+ feature a 6.58-inch screen, while the standard P40 gets a slightly smaller 6.1-inch screen, with all three sporting a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s somewhat interesting to see Huawei settle for a 90Hz refresh rate when the S20 line goes up to 120Hz, especially when you consider that the P40 Pro and Pro+’s screen resolution tops out at a lower 2640 x 1400 resolution. Then again, it’s always tricky to balance power-hungry features like these screens with the phone’s battery life.

In front, Huawei has also added a new suite of cameras and sensors including a 32-MP selfie camera, an ambient light and proximity sensor, and an IR depth camera that allows for face unlock under all light conditions. And while the underlying tech is different (as Google uses tiny radars instead of depth sensors), the P40 even has a new gesture control system that lets you scroll down through content or capture a screenshot with a simple wave of your hand.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Screenshot: Huawei © Screenshot: Huawei Screenshot: Huawei

And inside, all versions of the P40 feature at least 8GB of RAM, 128GB of base storage, and Huawei’s Kirin 990 chip, the latter of which has build in 5G support and offers upwards of 30 per cent better CPU and GPU performance compared to the Kirin 980 chip in last year’s P30. And if that wasn’t enough, Huawei is launching a brand new digital assistant for parts of Europe and other regions named Celia designed to help you with everyone from making calls to adjusting settings, all with your voice.

One final interesting note is that with the launch of the P40, it seems Huawei is really leaning in on its App Gallery as a true replacement for Google services and the Google Play store. Not only does the App Gallery feature a tool to help you find the apps that may not be directly available from Huawei, but Huawei says it also has more than 1,000 software devs working with outside companies to help create apps for Huawei’s App Gallery. That said, even with that added support, Huawei is still missing a lot of major games, plus apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, and more.

a screen shot of a smart phone: Screenshot: Huawei © Screenshot: Huawei Screenshot: Huawei

Honestly, the number of improvements and new tech Huawei has packed into the new P40 line is damn impressive, and while it’s somewhat limited availability in North America and lack of support for Google services might make it harder buy than something from Samsung or Apple, I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what this phone can really do.

The P40 will go on sale in Australia on April 16 starting at $1,099 for the standard P40 or $1,599 for the P40 Pro. The P40 Pro+ was not confirmed for an Australian release, but is set to cost 1400 euros ($2,553) and releases in June.

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