Huawei P40 Pro +: double zoom camera in the test

Introduced together with the Huawei P40 Pro, nothing has been heard from the Huawei P40 Pro + in the past few months – until now. Was it worth the wait?

Actually, Plus models are not only better equipped, but also bigger – at least with Samsung. It’s different at Huawei. Because the Plus model of the P40 Pro (test report) is even better equipped, but exactly as large as the photo miracle. “Better equipped” primarily refers to the camera, which, like the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro (test report), has been expanded with another telephoto lens and how the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (test report) allows up to 100x digital zoom. Sounds exciting as far as it goes, but the price of the new super smartphone is tough: 1399 euros in the MSRP is a lot of wood for an additional lens – especially if Google services are missing. Admittedly, there is a little more, but is that enough to justify the high price?

The Huawei P40 Pro (test report) already convinced us a few months ago in terms of design and workmanship. There’s nothing more to add to the new Huawei P40 Pro +. Because both models are externally identical except for two deviations. One difference concerns the camera unit on the back, the lenses of which are arranged differently to make room for the additional telephoto lens. The next, more obvious difference is the finish of the back – and the material. Because Huawei uses nano-coated ceramics instead of glass in the Plus model and only uses a high-gloss finish in black and white. The P40 Pro, on the other hand, is also available with a frosted surface, i.e. matt – this is very helpful for the susceptibility to fat fingers.

Otherwise you hardly notice a difference between ceramic and glass, at best ceramic is a bit cooler. The material, which is rather rare in smartphones, does not bring any real added value. This may even have disadvantages: Ceramics are hard, but comparatively brittle and therefore at least theoretically more prone to breakage. In addition, part of the extra weight – the Plus model weighs a hefty 226 grams and is thus clearly heavier than the normal Pro model – in addition to the additional technology could come from the modified rear.

The rest stays the same. This applies to the display, the long sides of which are drawn a bit around the edges, and there are also roundings on the short sides at the top and bottom. The wide, loophole-style punchhole notch was also retained, which in addition to the front camera also includes depth and IR sensors. We had already criticized this for the Pro, especially since this combination did not increase safety, but only practicality in low light. Otherwise, the workmanship and quality look flawless and absolutely worthy of a flagship model – including IP68 protection, of course.

Nothing has changed on the screen. The Pro Plus model uses the same good OLED panel as the older Pro model: 6.6 inch diagonal, 2640 × 1200 pixel resolution with an image sharpness of 441 PPI. These are not top values, but the screen looks absolutely brilliant in everyday life – both when viewing still images and in motion. For this, the OLED panel again offers 90 instead of 60 Hz playback, which makes movements of display content appear more fluid. An upgrade to 120 Hz could criticize critics like the “simple” Full HD + resolution. Some competitors offer more here, but both work perfectly well in everyday life. Our test of the Huawei P40 Pro (test report) provides more information about the display. From a subjective point of view, the screen of the Plus model appears to offer even whiter white, but that would probably be a software adjustment at best.

The biggest, really usable difference for the buyer between Huawei P40 Pro and the new Huawei P40 Pro + is the camera. The main lens with 50 megapixels, f / 1.9 aperture and optical image stabilizer (OIS) and wide angle with 40 megapixels and f / 1.8 aperture have remained the same, but the 12 megapixel telephoto lens with 5x magnification has been replaced by two telephoto lenses . The snapshots, each with 8 megapixels, offer 3x and proud 10x optical magnification via fixed focal length – both with optical image stabilizer (OIS), but f / 2.4 and f / 4.4. This increases the flexibility in photoshoot, especially since thanks to the additional up to 5x hybrid zoom on one and up to 20x hybrid zoom with the other lens, at least in theory there are hardly any telephoto areas that only have to be processed by digital zoom. The P40 Pro has already proven that it is not really good with a 50x digital zoom. The new 100x digital zoom of the Plus model will unfortunately not offer any significant improvement – or will it?

Even better camera than in the “simple” P40 Pro

Unfortunately no, even Huawei cannot perform miracles in conjunction with the camera professionals from Leica. Accordingly, the 100x digital zoom can hardly be used sensibly here. Although pictures appear somewhat sharper and more detailed than with the space zoom of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and such pictures are quite impressive, the quality is not good here either. The optical zoom of the Huawei P40 Pro + is completely different.

Images convince with good image sharpness, many details, decent image dynamics and little image noise – as long as the light is right. Especially in connection with the night mode, recordings are less convincing here, especially the 10x magnification is no longer convincing. Then there is surprisingly strong image noise in connection with comparatively poor image sharpness – the reason for this is probably the light-sensitive aperture. The color saturation is still exaggerated by Huawei for our taste. This is due to the artificial intelligence – if the user turns off the AI ​​function, primary colors are no longer emphasized so strongly, but shots sometimes lose brilliance in other places.

The hybrid zoom does a good job – apparently more often than users think. The change between the individual cameras does not always take place at the specified levels, but the main camera switches on at 0.8x magnification instead of factor 1, the fourth camera named by Huawei with 10x magnification already at factor 9. This at least suggests that Huawei is tricking something here. It would be conceivable, for example, to try to make the stepless zoom, which is inevitably digitally calculated between the fixed focal lengths, as fluid as possible and to keep quality differences between the individual focal lengths as low as possible. This actually works very well, within the hybrid zoom magnifications (up to 5x or up to 20x) there is actually only a little loss of quality. In addition, as already mentioned, photographers should not normally make an effort to zoom in, even if a small target finder is faded in from a factor of 15 as with Samsung.

For the rest of the photo quality – especially at night – of the Huawei P40 Pro +, we have already given detailed information in the test of the Huawei P40 Pro (test report) – which, apart from the zoom, is just as impressive.

512 instead of 256 GB of internal memory – this is the biggest difference between the Plus model and the “simple” P40 Pro and actually everything. Almost at least. In fact, Huawei does without an eSIM for the new top model and instead allows users to insert two nano SIM cards – or a SIM and an NM memory card. With almost half a TB of space on the smartphone, the latter is probably uninteresting for most users.

The rest are as before. In short, the Plus model also offers everything that the Pro model has to show for less money and what a top-of-the-line smartphone must have today. The drive is the Kirin 990 with an integrated 5G modem, which is flanked by 8 GB of RAM. Other manufacturers already offer more here, but this is unlikely to be necessary in the foreseeable future. In view of the high price, Huawei could have optimally differentiated its new premium model with more RAM from the “simple” Pro model – wasted opportunity. With Wifi 6, NFC, LTE, a very good fingerprint sensor in the display and even an IR blaster on the front of the case, the company shows impressively that it had only one goal in mind: to become the new market leader. And that could have worked – at least until the US ban.

Because it hits Huawei sensitive. So sensitive that the Huawei P40 Pro + almost looks like a defiant “now more than ever!” Response. Because after the P40 Pro apparently sold far worse than hoped for due to the lack of Google services, it should hardly be any different with the significantly more expensive Plus model. And, despite pre-order bonuses such as body fat scales and a smartwatch, nobody can accuse those who hesitate to buy for a total of almost 300 euros. Because the lack of Google services means a departure from the fluffy, warm comfort that the search engine and Android provider offers its users with numerous free services. Huawei is still working flat out to expand its own services, but one problem remains: apps.

There is more and more of this in Huawei’s own App Gallery, but some of the important apps are only links to download options. Even if these downloads come from the respective provider and should be safe, there will be no automatic updates later. Even worse: Apps that use Google’s location or payment services either don’t work at all on the P40 models or only to a limited extent. This becomes troublesome at the latest when there are no alternatives – for example with the house bank’s online banking app. It is estimated that a good 10 to 15 months will pass before all important apps are available for the Huawei universe and until then Android will not be fully usable for normal users without Google. More on this in the test of the Huawei P40 Pro (test report).

Huawei also has a battery… wait, that’s not true. The 4200 mAh battery has the same power as the Huawei P40 Pro, but the Chinese manufacturer turns the quick-charge screw. Although the cable is still at 40 watts, the Plus model now also charges wirelessly with 40 watts – at least in theory. Because like the Oneplus 8 Pro (test report), a special, probably also fan-cooled charging pad is required. But that is not yet available for purchase. In general, the Plus model should bring most users well over two days, only hard-core users have to charge every day. Reverse wireless charge can of course be mastered by the top smartphone again.

There are no different equipment variants for the Huawei P40 Pro +, in principle the plus model is something like an equipment variant of the P40 Pro. The model is available in black and white, the price at the time of the test was the MSRP of 1399 euros.

What a smartphone! Great display, chic design, excellent workmanship, technically far ahead, super fast, tons of memory and a camera that rightly continues to be at the top – these are the plus points of the plus model. And yet the device is stillborn, which – should Huawei have planned too large quantities – could be expensive for the manufacturer. Because even the normal P40 Pro (test report) apparently sold rather slowly, although it has little to offer technically.

The reason is the lack of Google services, which make it difficult for normal users to keep their usual usage patterns. Most of it works as before, some things somehow different, often more difficult, sometimes not at all. Therefore, despite its excellent camera, which is almost a must for amateur photographers, the Huawei P40 Pro + is only recommended for inventors and technology enthusiasts – a shame!

In addition to this big problem, Huawei is also standing up for the plus. 1400 euros for – ultimately – double the memory and better zoom functionality? The P40 Pro, which also has an excellent camera and still has 256 GB of memory, costs over 600 euros less! This serious price difference does not make up for the ceramic back and 10 watt faster wireless charging – especially since the right charging pad is not even included. Seriously: This price would have been marginal with Google services, without fear that the device will be one thing above all in all qualities: Dead on Arival.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (review) is just right for anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to live without Google services, but who isn’t deterred by the price of the P40 Pro +. It offers similar high-level technology in an equally excellent overall package at almost the same price. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro (review) also offers a great overall package with a top camera – even with two telephoto lenses. Another recommendation is the Oneplus 8 Pro (test report), which is also technologically very high up. If you can actually live without Google services, you shouldn’t neglect the normal Huawei P40 Pro – this is hardly less technically well positioned, but costs significantly less than the Plus model.