Huawei P40 Pro long-term review

GSMArena team, 27 May 2020.

Design, build quality, handling

Glass, metal, glass. Yes, it's another sandwich. But wait, this one has cheese spilling off on all sides... we'll address that in the Display section below.

The P40 Pro is pretty much a standard looking flagship smartphone for 2020, otherwise. Aside from the screen itself, there are two main design elements that stick out - the rear cameras and the front cameras.

The front-facing pill-shaped cutout is impossible to not see, and the huge camera island at the back definitely makes its presence felt too - whether it's when you hold the phone to your ear or you have it lying flat wobbling on a table and. The case that's included in the box (in some markets) alleviates this somewhat, and it allows the screen to curve on all sides without covering it. Bonus points for that design, since the case doesn't take away much of the improved feel of swiping from any side on the curved glass.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

The P40 Pro's build quality is perfect, which is of course what it should be considering the premium amount you're being charged for buying this handset. There's nothing to nitpick here, it's all rather outstanding. Interestingly, the device is marginally narrower than its predecessor, if a tad taller and thicker. It's also narrower than most of its competitors, which makes handling it a real breeze.

The in-hand feel is extremely good, aided in part by the fact that while the front and back glass do curve into the metal frame, the curves aren't as extreme as with some other phones, and the frame itself is rather flat. The size of the P40 Pro might be one of its biggest assets, if you're not one to go for humongous devices. Don't get us wrong, though, it's still big, just not unwieldy by today's standards.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

With the advent of 5G and ever bigger batteries packed inside (those two things are probably connected, by the way), Android phones have been getting progressively heavier lately, and the P40 Pro is definitely not even close to featherlight. It has a healthy dose of heft to it, and yet we found that more reassuring than disturbing. That might have to do with the weight distribution, which seems to be spot-on.

On the back the glass finish is glossy or matte, depending on which color version you pick. The glossy ones are obviously shinier, but have the downside of being easily smudged with fingerprints. On the flip side, those fingerprints actually aid in gripping the phone, so what usually ends up happening in real life is that a glossy back with fingerprints on it is less slippery than a matte one.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

The Matte Grey (also known as Silver Frost) P40 Pro is one of the least slippery matte handsets we've handled, but that may be due to the fact that it's... less matte than others. It still allows some fingerprints to show, which may explain its superior grip. The Deep Sea Blue (aka Ink Blue in some markets) version you see pictured here is the glossy variety, for what it's worth.

The power and volume buttons are both on the right side, and both too stiff for our liking. They work well enough, but there's a lot more resistance to pressing than in most other phones. And speaking of things taken to extremes, the vibration motor in the P40 Pro is the most powerful this reviewer has ever come across. By a mile, too. That wouldn't be a bad thing in and of itself, but there are no settings to tone down the vibration intensity for when you get notifications as opposed to calls, for example.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

If you use your phone in vibrate mode a lot, we hope you aren't faint of heart. Plenty of times we found ourselves getting a scare from the P40 Pro just vibrating for a message while lying on a desk. This is obviously much less of an issue on the couch. Still, with so much power in that motor, we feel like a way to customize how crazy it goes would've been great.


Quad-curved screen edges? Well, yes and no. Yes, the sides of the panel are curved, but that's nothing new. The top and bottom also feature the teeniest tiniest curve you can possibly imagine, and it's easy to miss unless you're really looking for it. What is actually quad-curved in a rather symmetrical way is the glass sitting on the display.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

This might sound like a marketing gimmick, and for the most part it is, but it does have a usability gain. When you swipe from the bottom, as you are going to a lot of times if you use gesture navigation, it's that much more pleasing to swipe across the curved glass. It's definitely a minor detail, this, but one that speaks volumes to Huawei's general philosophy when engineering this phone, which seems to be something along the lines of "the little things matter too".

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

We'll admit, these quad-curves give the phone a weird look at first sight, and it's something we needed to get used to. Because the screen curves in all four directions, the frame has to drop there, which is something we're used to on the sides of screens, but less so on the top and bottom. The corners of the frame are thus raised, in order to provide some very needed protection to what would otherwise be the most fragile points in the glass. That's an excellent decision on Huawei's part, but it does make the frame look uneven (because it is), and just plain strange.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

As does the huge pill-shaped hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera and sensor array. When you first turn the phone on, this feels like a massive eyesore, and we were expecting that feeling to never go away. But, surprisingly, it did within a few days, and keep in mind that we didn't choose to 'hide' the cutout through software. There's a method behind the madness of that ugliness, though, and it all has to do with face unlocking, more on that in the Biometrics section on this page.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

The display itself has 90Hz refresh rate, which doesn't match up to some of the P40 Pro's competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S20 line and OnePlus 8 Pro, but there's one important thing to keep in mind here: the perceived difference in smoothness is much larger going from 60Hz to 90Hz than it is from 90Hz to 120Hz or beyond. We can still tell a difference, but barely, and we are looking for it. So for most people, 90Hz should be fine, especially if coming from a previous smartphone with a 60Hz panel.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

Speaking of 90Hz, while the OS obviously supports that, as well as all the built-in apps, we feel like some third-party apps still don't take advantage of this added smoothness, or at least not fully. There's a huge difference between the Opera browser and the Opera Touch browser in this respect, with the former seeming like it's stuck at 60Hz in our experience, while the latter looks like it's using 90Hz. This makes a huge difference, especially when you're used to everything else on the phone being 90Hz smooth. Note that we haven't used any scientific tools to ascertain this issue, so there's a very small chance it may not be a refresh rate issue per se, but more of a difference in scrolling inertia and how that's set up in each app.

The screen has an uncommon resolution, but it's close enough to FHD+ that we'll just treat it like it's that. Yes, some of the P40 Pro's competitors go bigger with resolution, but again - most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The pixel density is high enough as it is that you can't see any individual pixels unless you happen to have a magnifying glass lying around and go looking.

Screen refresh rate, resolution - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Screen refresh rate, resolution - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review
Screen refresh rate, resolution

The quality of the screen is outstanding, and we're assuming this has to do with the lamination Huawei is using. More than a lot of other phones, the content on this screen simply feels painted over, like there's zero gap between the touch layer and the display panel. A lot of devices claim such a feat, but few achieve the effect to such an extent. Contrast is also excellent, as are the colors. Punchy if you want them to be, accurate if that's what you're going for.

We used the Vivid color mode because we're fans of that 'pop', but chose the Warm color temperature because both Default and Cool make whites laughably blueish. There's an entire color wheel to play with if the presets just aren't to your liking, but we find that to be overkill.

Color mode and temperature settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Color mode and temperature settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review
Color mode and temperature settings

You can see the screen in bright sunlight, but it could have been better in this respect. The numbers in our normal review don't tell the whole story, though. This screen seems to be slightly less reflective than others, so even if it can't match the brightness of some of its competitors in raw numbers, in actual feel, side by side, the difference is smaller than the numbers would make it out to be. That said, we would still have liked to see a higher maximum auto brightness, just to have more leeway. It's not a bad device to use outdoors, this one, but it could have been a tad better.

On the other hand, the default tuning of the auto brightness function is probably the best we've ever seen. Manual adjustments have been incredibly rare, unlike with some other phones, and switching brightness states in auto mode is incredibly smooth, there's no obvious jumping around from level to level. We probably only had to manually adjust a dozen or so times during our time with the phone, which is rather outstanding.

Display features, in-screen earpiece

There is Always On Display functionality in EMUI 10.1, and it is actually always-on. You can schedule it, but it only ever shows you the clock and date. That's a weird missed opportunity here, to give you some more info, like a lot of competitors do - the battery level and notification icons, most importantly.

Always On Display settings and styles - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Always On Display settings and styles - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Always On Display settings and styles - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Always On Display settings and styles - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Always On Display settings and styles - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review
Always On Display settings and styles

Eye Comfort is the name under which the blue light filter is hiding, and it works well, and you can schedule it if you want, as well as adjust its intensity. All pretty standard stuff. Additionally, "flicker reduction" is Huawei's (rather accurate) name for DC dimming and you can enable this too if you're sensitive to the flicker that the usual PWM method of brightness control induces.

Display settings, Eye Comfort - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Display settings, Eye Comfort - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review
Display settings, Eye Comfort

The earpiece isn't an actual earpiece, cut into the frame above the screen. Instead, like in last year's P30 Pro, the display itself vibrates to act as an earpiece. This works very well, although clarity-wise we feel like the P30 Pro's was a tad better - as in, it actually outdid any standalone earpiece, whereas the P40 Pro's just equals those.

You'll have to get used to holding the phone to your ear differently, though, as the ear should be lower on the handset for the best effect. The built-in phone app helpfully guides you by putting the contact's picture exactly where your ear should be for the best experience. This takes a little bit of getting used to, fighting muscle memory which wants you to have your ear as close to the top of the phone as possible, but in the end it only took us a day or two to fully get the hang of it.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

What this also means is that you don't get stereo speakers on the P40 Pro, not even the faux variety with the earpiece acting as one of the channels, because... there is no earpiece. A lot of Huawei's competitors have seriously upped their stereo speaker game this year, and thus this feels like a sad omission. Since the sound is only coming out of the bottom-firing speaker, it's very easy to cover up with your hand while holding the phone. On the other hand, at least it is loud enough for most environments that aren't extremely noisy.


The P40 Pro's optical in-display fingerprint sensor is perfectly adequate. It's in a good position, hence easy to reach, and it works flawlessly. While our subjective assessment is that there are a few units that are marginally faster on other devices, this too is one of those in-display sensors that we feel won't make anyone miss the capacitive ones of past flagships.

As far as accuracy goes, it's tied for the "best" spot in our experience with a few others. It's gotten way past 90% with the best optical sensors out there nowadays, and most of the highest performing ones are actually closer to 100%. This just goes to show how much this technology has improved in the past few years.

Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review

You don't even have to use the fingerprint scanner if you don't want to, though, because the P40 Pro also has face unlock, and this implementation is more secure than what most Android smartphones offer. It's not just a case of using the camera, the phone has an IR sensor and a time-of-flight 3D camera to aid with security, and that also allows it to unlock at night, just with your face, without needing to shine the screen really bright at you.

However, the P40 Pro's face unlocking does feel just a teeny tiny bit slower than the simpler and less secure camera-based implementations out there, like what you'd find on a OnePlus, Oppo, or Realme handset. The slightly longer wait is obviously worth the added security benefit, though.

Biometrics settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Biometrics settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Biometrics settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Biometrics settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Biometrics settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review Biometrics settings - Huawei P40 Pro Long-term review
Biometrics settings

We love the flexibility of the biometric security methods employed here. You have both of the prevailing biometric authentication methods at your disposal, and you don't have to relinquish some security in order to use either one. You can set them up and then they're both ready to use at a moment's notice. Have a mask on (thanks, COVID-19!)? Use the fingerprint sensor. Don't want to bother with placing your finger on the screen? Just hit the power button and look at the phone, letting face unlock do its magic.

Reader comments

Yes I can confirm that. This is the best phone I never had. That's why I will wait the P70.

  • Anonymous
  • 26 Sep 2022
  • pRi

P40 pro is still camera King. even S22 ultra Photos are worse sometimes. Selfies with 3dtof are way superior. Dunno why no one includes it anymore. And with googlefier google works like 95%. PLEASE, smartphone company's, build more phones...

  • Shoeb
  • 04 Jun 2022
  • g3U

Huawei P40 is best ... If you are a Huawei user than Google is not an issue, infact having Google authority in phone is an issue.