Reviews

Huawei P40 Pro+ review

Pushing the boundaries of optical zoom technology

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Huawei’s new premium flagship offers more of everything, including super fast wireless charging and 10x optical zoom. Should you spend EUR 1,400 on it even if it does not have Google Mobile Services?

Huawei announced its 2020 flagship lineup earlier this year. Just like Apple and Samsung, the Chinese giant is offering three models instead of two. Apart from the P40 and P40 Pro, there’s an even more premium Huawei P40 Pro+.

Huawei tells GadgetMatch the thinking behind this is so that it could offer their flagship at an affordable price tag, while still pushing the boundaries of tech without forcing the cost on folks who don’t need these extra features.

The question now is, are these extra features worth its 400-euro premium? How does the P40 Pro+ compare with the phone it’s designed to go head-to-head with, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra?

P40 Pro vs P40 Pro+

Unlike Samsung’s Galaxy S20+ and its big brother the S20 Ultra, the P40 Pro+ is roughly the same size as the P40 Pro. I like that they decided against making a bigger phone.

In terms of actual footprint, they’re the same size. The P40 Pro’s clear case even  fits the P40 Pro+. The P40 Pro+ is just slightly thicker and heavier, and its camera module is larger given its much more complex camera system.

On the outside the biggest difference between the two is the choice of build material. The P40 Pro+ is made of ceramic instead of glass. Ceramic does not scratch as easily. It’s available in this gorgeous white color, as well as black.

On the inside it has support for 40W wireless charging and double the storage capacity — 512GB in total.

Otherwise it’s the same phone with Huawei’s most recent Kirin 990 5G processor, 8GB of RAM, a 6.58-inch OLED display, with a 2640 x 1200 resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate.

READ MORE: Huawei P40 Pro review

40W Wireless SuperCharge

While I did say I like this size better, a similar footprint as the P40 Pro means you’re not getting a bigger battery capacity on the P40 Pro+ — 4200 mAh. In my time using the phone it lasted just as long, about a day and a half of heavy use on a single charge.

The feature you’re not getting on the P40 Pro however, support for 40W Wireless SuperCharge, will deliver charging speeds that are as fast as wired charging. In my tests that’s over 50% in 30 minutes, 90% after an hour, and 100% in 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Huawei sells an optional 40W SuperCharge Wireless Charging Stand for EUR 50 so you can maximize this feature. It has two coils, which means you can charge your phone vertically or horizontally.

A light on the bottom of the charger indicates charging status — white while charging and green once completed.

Fast charging creates a substantial amount of heat so there’s a built in fan and vents on the bottom for better heat dissipation. If I didn’t look, I wouldn’t have known. The fan is that quiet.

Revolutionary camera

The Huawei P40 Pro+ has five rear cameras — 50MP wide angle camera, 40MP ultra-wide angle camera, 3D depth sensing camera, 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, and another 8MP SuperZoom camera with 10x optical zoom.

This is the most I’ve seen on a smartphone to date. The engineering required to pull off this feat is pretty impressive. When you look through this periscope to see what’s inside, you’ll see how the light is bounced through 5 different mirrors.

It’s amazing how they’ve been able to squeeze all of this into such a small phone. But does anyone really need that much zoom on a smartphone? Need? Maybe not.

I can definitely think of a few examples where it might come in handy, like when you’re on a holiday touring a landmark.

Where I live in Brooklyn, oftentimes I’ll take a walk to the water where it’s always beautiful. The extra 10x zoom is great for being able to snap a photo of the Empire State Building from across the river.

I would also love this much zoom at a zoo so I can get closer to the animals, but it’s useful, too even if you’re just walking down the street and you see a cool kitty cat and want to take a photo.

P40 Pro+ vs Galaxy S20 Ultra

Now if we’re comparing versus the Galaxy S20 Ultra, 10x will always deliver more detail vs 5x. What does that look like?

A perfect example would be this photo of my bookshelf that I shot from my couch.

Notice how the book titles are sharper, the details on my agate bookends are more evident.

The fibers on my Mega Yarn Yoshi Amiibo also are sharper. All of these combined make for a much better photo.

Here’s another one of a gothic church shot from a block away. From the modlings, to the textures of the chipped paint, to the green wire, the P40 Pro+ is able to capture more detail than the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

When shooting conditions are ideal, it’s not gonna matter as much especially if you’re just going to post on social media.

There are other times, like in my kitty cat example, that you will benefit from that extra detail the zoom provides.

Huawei phones are best known for their excellent low light performance. But it’s worth pointing out that both telephoto lenses on the P40 Pro+ don’t have large sensors and wide apertures like you’ll find on both the ultra-wide and wide angle lenses. This means low-light performance using the zoom lenses is not going to be as good .

See this shot of the empire state building after dark side by side with one taken with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Extra zoom

This is the first time I’ve seen two different zoom lenses on a smartphone. I think it’s a good idea if Huawei wants to keep pushing the boundaries of optical zoom. I will argue though that 2x is still the sweet spot.

When we couldn’t go to restaurants yet, we pretended my living room was a cafe. If you’re like me you might find yourself wanting to snap a photo of your iced coffee for the gram.

In this scenario, 2x makes sense both in terms of the perfect distance and what you’re able to fit into the shot. 3x isn’t so bad; it’s a little bit tighter, but it still works. Meanwhile, 5x on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is too close for it to work.

Both the P40 Pro+ and the Galaxy S20 Ultra allow you to digitally zoom up to 100x in photo mode. Huawei is wise to not talk up this feature like Samsung does by branding it Space Zoom and plastering on the back of the phone.

Let’s face it: Images shot at 100x are never gonna be good enough to post online, unless you somehow manage to capture a viral moment or if you use your phones to spy on your neighbors, something none of us should be doing in the first place.

All of that said, those who like to take a lot of photos on their phone will enjoy the flexibility the P40 Pro+ offers especially when it comes to zoom.

My one wish is that they improve the camera interface by making it easier to select among different zoom options the same way Samsung does.

Is this the best camera system on a smartphone?

We’re not going to spend as much time talking about the P40 Pro+’s other cameras since they are the same as those found on the P40 Pro. You can read our review on that here.

Here are more sample photos we took.

What I will say is that I would prefer a wider field of view on the ultra-wide angle lens.

Take a look at these photos when I took the subway for the first time in a long time.  The wider field of view on the Galaxy S20 Ultra delivers a more dramatic image.

This photo of this KAWS sculpture is great, but the photos taken on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Galaxy S20 Ultra look more impressive.

Of course, it goes without saying that low light photo performance on the P40 Pro+ is top-notch. Even without night mode, the P40 Pro+ delivers excellent photos at night.

I just wish AI would kick in sometimes when a scene doesn’t need to be so bright.

Finally, like the P40 Pro, the P40 Pro+ has dual selfie cameras. The second one is used to measure depth for better background blur. It’s currently my favorite selfie phone because I like the way it makes me look. I think that’s because of the focal range, and the way it doesn’t aggressively highlight all my imperfections.

Is the P40 Pro+ your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the best camera on a smartphone today the P40 Pro+ is an outstanding option.

From awesome selfies, to solid day time images, to unmatched low light performance, to being able to zoom in the furthest — the P40 Pro+ is an all-around champ.

Ask yourself, too, if you are willing to live with the inconvenience of not having Google Mobile Services.

Is paying an extra EUR 400 worth it? I personally think the P40 Pro is a better value, even if in Apple land a 512GB iPhone 11 Pro Max will cost you about the same.

The 10X optical zoom is something you can’t find anywhere else, and super fast wireless charging is an offering only a handful of phones can manage. Those are what this phone is about.

Like Huawei’s foldable Mate XS, it’s a showcase of all the amazing tech the company is capable of; a foretaste of what will eventually trickle down to other models in six months to a year, and a slice of what Americans are missing out on because of a silly trade war.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 Review: Ahead of Its Time!

Experience the future for $1999

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The first Galaxy Fold may have encountered several issues, but this year’s Fold is all about polishing and revamping things.

With a more durable hinge mechanism, maximized screen, improved materials, better cameras, and the fastest internals around, the Galaxy Z Fold2 is an impressive engineering feat.

$1999 isn’t cheap, but this device is meant for those who want to experience the future in their hands today.

Head over to our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 review here.

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Huawei Watch Fit review: Great for getting you moving

A fantastic wearable that comfortably sits between smart bands and full on smartwatches

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Our friends over at Huawei must’ve noticed that I have slowly been gaining weight over the duration of the community quarantine. That’s why they sent over the Huawei Watch Fit for me to try.

To be honest, I was very reluctant at first knowing how my habits tend to generally lean more towards getting fat vs getting fit. But our Huawei friend *coughs* Dezza *coughs* convinced me, so here I am giving it a go.

The timing was rather unfortunate as it was going to be a rather busy week. For me, that means being glued to my chair as I type away articles for various launches and coordinate for a handful of projects. There wasn’t really time for me to get in a headspace to want to workout. Especially since the only workout I actually enjoy — basketball — is still prohibited due to the pandemic.

These may or may not have contributed to my stress levels as measured by the smartwatch.

I realize these all sound like excuses, and perhaps they are. But this is my reality as I slapped on the Huawei Watch Fit and went on with my days.

Before I go on any further, let’s first take a look at the watch.

It has a 1.64-inch colored display

At first I thought this would be too small. However, the screen size sits nicely between smart bands and those round 42mm smartwatches. After using it for a while, the display starts to look larger than it actually is.

A silicone strap that feels nice on your wrist

We got the mint green version (which comes with a silver body). The other variants are Black body with Graphite Black silicone strap, and Rose Gold with Cantaloupe Orange Silicone strap.

If you’re not happy with those options, the Huawei Watch Fit is supposed to work with standard straps so you can mix it up depending on the occasion. I’ll ask Huawei if they will launch more strap options in the future and will update this accordingly.

Magnetic charging

Flip it over and you’ll find the magnetic charging things. You’ll want to keep the charger that comes with the box as there isn’t really any other way to fast-charge this wearable. Getting all you juiced up from zero should take about an hour.

While we’re at it, Huawei claims it’ll last for 10 days. This isn’t the case if you use the Always-On screen option. But the raise to wake function is so good, you can just completely disregard always-on. I’m currently on my 4th day from charging it up to 100% and I’m sitting at 56% at the moment.

A sh*t ton of watch faces to choose from

It comes with a HUGE selection of watch faces. You can go for sleek and subtle, loud and colorful, or just flat out cute.

For good vibes, I stuck with the cute option (the Shiba Inu one).

Full screen touch and side button 

Navigation is easy. You simply swipe through the screen for a quick look at the different stats like heart rate, stress level, weather, and steps.

The side button gives you deeper access to the smart watch’s other functions like Settings and all the different workouts.

Plenty of workouts, can really get you moving

The Huawei Watch Fit has 96 workout modes. These vary from indoor and outdoor runs, swimming, yoga, dance, martial arts, and various other sports (scanned real quick for basketball and it wasn’t there. Sad).

Point is, there’s most definitely something here that would fit your workout routine. I haven’t found mine. Instead, I’ve been using the quick re-energize activities.

The Huawei Watch Fit makes it easy to follow the workouts as it has visual cues on how to execute them. I found these extremely helpful. The watch will buzz to signal you to start and will buzz again to wrap up your first set of a particular movement.

The re-energize routine takes about two minutes and 30 to 40 seconds to complete. I try to do it every time the watch prompts me to “get active.” It’s helped me be more mindful about taking breaks in-between tasks. And the quick routine really did a lot in re-energizing me for a few more rounds of sitting on my ass while typing away on the laptop.

A friend has invited me to try a dance class and while I have two left feet, I am considering taking that challenge on for the workout. I will update this article should that push through.

Overall tracking seems accurate

I didn’t have another device to compare with it in real time, but based on my previous experiences with other smart bands and smartwatches, the tracking on the Huawei Watch Fit has been fairly accurate.

My heart rate hasn’t really changed much from when I was using other smartwatches so that was an easy benchmark to check.

My sleep habits, unfortunately, have also pretty much remained the same. Which isn’t exactly a good thing as I rated low on deep sleep and late on time of hitting the sack. But I figure this is true for most people ever since we’ve been in community quarantine.

I walked around our compound over the weekend and really observed the step counter, and while it may record one step too many at certain times, it rarely happened to cause any real concern.

It also has a blood oxygen sensor — a key feature that health experts have pointed to in determining whether you should seek medical attention or not. I tried it and I may be due for a consultation. 😬

Other helpful features

The Huawei Watch Fit is also home of other staple smart watch features. These include: Find my phone, Remote camera shutter, music player control, and many more.

There’s also a Cycle Calendar that should prove useful. Too bad I’m not female so I couldn’t try it out. It’s also only available in certain markets, which is a little puzzling because I’m pretty women everywhere go through a menstrual cycle.

Is Huawei Watch Fit your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 4,999/ EUR 129 (US$ 153), the pricing seems on point. The Huawei Watch Fit’s health and fitness features are robust, there’s a decent selection of variants at launch, and it will seamlessly blend in your workout and casual fits.

The materials used also feel premium and the smart watch doesn’t look half bad at all. It’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind flaunting to other people.

When you’re ready to step up from a smart band but aren’t quite ready to splurge on a full on smart watch, the Huawei Watch Fit sits comfortably in that middle ground, ready to be your health and fitness companion.

BUY HERE

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ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro Review: A Surprising Contender!

Flipping camera isn’t a gimmick after all

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ASUS’ newest ZenFone 7 Pro may still look like last year’s ZenFone 6, but it has gotten totally bigger and better.

It may have a similar design language but the larger form factor houses all the speedy internals — a full-screen display, Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and an enormous 5000mAh battery. But that doesn’t end there. The large flipping camera mechanism that houses a trio camera setup makes this a suitable smartphone for shooting and vlogging.

With a price tag of just under EUR 699 (US$ 830), is the ZenFone 7 Pro a worthier flagship choice?

Watch our ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro review (with a lot of photo samples and comparison) here.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro: Unboxing and Hands-On

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