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Huawei P40 Pro review: It’s complicated

Told through lines from old RnB songs

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I don’t know about you but to me, a lot of 90s-2000s RnB songs evoke a deep sense of longing that’s unique to its time. That sense of longing is mostly what I felt as I put together this Huawei P40 Pro review.

That said, I recognize that feelings aren’t facts, so we’ll certainly throw in the facts that lead to these feelings. This article is probably best experienced while listening to the songs indicated. The playlist is here and also towards the end of the article. I threw in some other songs there for good measure. 😉

Sexy love, girl the things you do. Keep me sprung, keep me running back to you

Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love” feels like the honeymoon stage of a relationship. When I first saw and held the Huawei P40 Pro, this was the prevailing feeling. It felt perfect. Its overall footprint along with the curved sides make it easy to hold in one hand. It’s also significantly lighter than its predecessor, the P30 Pro, but without losing the premium heft we tend to expect from flagships built on glass.

For context, prior to getting a hold of the phone, I’ve been splitting my time between an iPhone 11 Pro (a little too small) and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (a little too big). The P40 Pro hits the sweet spot in the middle in terms of size.

Elsewhere on the phone you pretty much get the standard stuff. All lined up on the right side are the power button and the volume rockers. Curiously, Huawei stepped away from the no-button, double tap volume controls introduced in the Mate 30 Pro.

At the bottom you’ll find the SIM card tray for both the SIM card and Huawei’s proprietary nano memory card. Alongside it are the USB-C port and speakers.

You ain’t the girl I used to know 

That honeymoon stage feeling was short lived as soon as we tested the vaunted cameras equipped on the P40 Pro. The phone has a quad-camera setup: 50MP wide main camera, 40MP Ultra-wide lens, 12MP periscope lens, and a ToF sensor.

I have to admit, relating the camera performance of the P40 Pro to Omarion’s “Ice Box” is over dramatic. The song talks about trying but being let down. For the most part, you’ll definitely still get really good photos on the P40 Pro, but there are some glaring weaknesses.

The unit we have sports the Deep Sea Blue color, but we didn’t think that blue would bleed too much into the photos. Take this shot of a basketball for example. Looks fine on its own right? Except, that’s not the accurate color.

Here’s the same scene taken with an iPhone 11 Pro. This has a more accurate color reproduction of the scene. I can’t tell you which one looks better in your eyes, so I’ll leave it at that.

If you go through this comparison with other Android flagships, you’ll likely notice the same. For reference: (A) Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, (B) OnePlus 8 Pro, (C) Huawei P4o Pro, (D) OPPO Finds X2 Pro.

Oddly enough, when the scene called for more blue, the P40 Pro produced a more color accurate photo than the S20 Galaxy S20 Ultra. For the record, I personally think color accuracy is important here. It gives you more leeway to control colors if you opt to post-process them.

The night mode and huge sensors can also be self-defeating. Sometimes you just want to capture a nice silhouette shot, but the way this phone is built and processes photos, it just won’t let you.

In the samples below, C is the Huawei P40 Pro. You can see how much it brightens up the scene compared to the rest of the phones: (A) Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, (B) OnePlus 8 Pro, (D) OPPO Finds X2 Pro. This isn’t automatically a bad thing. It just depends on the type of image you want to capture. But for silhouettes. This just isn’t it.

That said, the camera isn’t bad at all. You’ll still be able to take wonderful photos and portraits like this one by our good friend Kate below. This one was taken in Portrait Auto with some minor color editing to take a little bit of the blues away.

 

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We’ll have more comparisons coming so just watch out for that. Huawei has claimed better video on the Huawei P40 Pro. Regrettably, there hasn’t been any significant chances to test this. But we will do it as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Trust me when I say that I’ll be okay. Go on girl, go on girl

If you’ve ever been cheated on, I’m sure you’ve had Ne-Yo’s “Go On Girl” on repeat as I have. I digress. But the line I indicated above speaks to the attitude Huawei has towards losing Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Imagine having one of the core features of what makes a smartphone smart taken away. That’s exactly how it feels when you get cheated on — like your heart is being ripped apart. It hasn’t been easy but Huawei has done a fairly admirable job moving forward from such an ordeal.

As I have mentioned in a separate piece, you pretty much can now get most of the apps you’re used to using on your smartphones. There’s been no shortage in Huawei’s awareness campaign to drive this point home.

Essentially you have at your disposal the AppGallery along with third-party services to help you acquire all the social media, finance, and entertainment apps you regularly use.

One of the biggest concerns is security and Huawei has never shied away from talking about it. They even detailed the steps they took to make sure the AppGallery is safe and secure.

App availability is also ramping up. In the Philippines we already have Viber, WeChat, Lazada, SnapChat and some pretty useful ones like GCash, PayMaya, SHAREit, and Canva among others.

In Singapore, transportation and ride-hailing apps like ComfortDelgro, TADA and RYDE have already made their way to the AppGallery.

The same is true for your favorite games like PUBG, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Asphalt 9. You can all get them on the P40 Pro and you’ll have no problem running them thanks to the Kirin 990 5G SoC.

If what you’re looking for isn’t available, you can go to the AppGallery wishlist to let Huawei know, and then head on over to a third party service like APKCure or APKMirror to get the app.

What about the Google stuff? Well, therein lies the rub.

Without you girl (Google), my life is incomplete 

I’m sure you all saw this coming. Google is such an integral part of all our digital lives. Whether or not that’s good or bad is a different discussion altogether, but the fact remains that right now, everything they offer is a must-have.

Sure, Huawei offers alternatives. You can still get on YouTube but through a browser. Same is true if you want to use Google Maps. For emails, you can link your Google accounts to the default email app. The experience, however, just isn’t the same.

Then there are things that, personally, I just can’t live without. Chief among them is Google Photos. For someone like myself who has to switch phones every now and then, having a photo service with unlimited storage, amazing sorting and sharing options, and a robust search and archiving system is just invaluable and irreplaceable.

Browser shortcuts aren’t ideal, but they work somewhat

To a much lesser extent, there’s also Google Cast. I don’t own a Smart TV. Instead, I have Chromecast and it’s fantastic. All my news and entertainment consumption comes from the Internet and being able to seamlessly take that from my phone to my TV is a type of seamless comfort I don’t have access to with the P40 Pro.

That said, I don’t imagine that being an issue for a lot of people. Plus I do have the resources to address this. It’s not as big of a deal, but it still matters.

This is why Sisqo’s “Incomplete” inevitably plays in my head each time I reach out for the P40 Pro. A lot of the things I do are built around Google services and it’ll take a lot for me to overhaul my entire flow to warrant a shift to another set of services.

I’d rather have bad times with you, than good times with someone else 

This is where the “Is this your GadgetMatch?” question comes in. The answer is complicated.

The Huawei P40 Pro is a fantastic phone which is why it’s so frustrating for me that it doesn’t have the things I consider absolutely essential. And that sucks. Big time.

Why do people buy flagship smartphones? It’s because they want the best of the best. I don’t know about you, but to me, the best means not having to think about so much hoopla just to be able to use the services you know and love.

Buying the P40 Pro means buying into whatever Huawei’s going through. It’s a commitment. And right now, they are going through a lot.

Which is why Luther Vandross’ “I’d Rather” fits so much here. To want the Huawei P40 Pro means willingly submitting yourself to the storm the company is weathering right now.

If you’re in, that’s perfectly fine. I admire your loyalty. However, I can’t say that it’s a totally smart decision.


Reviews

Apple Watch Series 6 Review

Is it worth every penny?

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The Apple Watch Series 6 offers more than just being a “luxurious timepiece”. Over the years, they’ve pioneered in what a true smartwatch can offer. From the ability to track your runs, cycles, and swims, as far as reading heart rate and even ECG. This year, the Watch Series 6 has a new SpO2 sensor that can read blood oxygen levels within the reach of your wrists.

But does all of that make up for a fancy price tag? Why is the Apple Watch a worthy investment for your health?

You can head on to our Apple Watch Series 6 review by clicking the link here.

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Reviews

Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind

Hopefully not

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Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.

This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.

With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?

You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Infinix Note 7: Best underrated budget phone?

Does size matter?

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The underrated brand, Infinix, is coming in with a perfect phone for when you’re strapped for cash. Infinix has consistently released great phones that deliver every bang for your buck and their recent release is no exception. What’s the latest addition to their great line-up? The Infinix Note 7

Show us what its got

The Infinix Note 7 is a dual-sim budget smartphone with a 6.95-inch HD+ and Corning Gorilla Glass display. It’s decked out in three different colors: Forest Green, Aether Black, and Bolivia Blue. Despite being encased in plastic, the Infinix Note 7 looks and feels premium. Just be more forgiving when the phone looks heavily smeared with your fingerprints — most phones tend to do so.

The phone features and specifications aren’t necessarily what people would view as technologically new or revolutionary. But, with phones on the same price range, this one delivers on all fronts of functionality, affordability, and durability. The phone has loud dual speakers, a great battery life, and reliable performance that makes it a stand-out in with its price tag.

Bang for your buck

The Infinix Note 7 is powered by a Helio G70 Processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. If you’re worried about storage, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot. But, note that the phone has more than enough space to run apps on the Google Play Store without much of a hitch.

The Infinix Note 7 doesn’t falter on features when tested. The phone didn’t stutter or struggle when putting it through the stress test of scrolling, unlocking, and opening and closing multiple apps. On top of that, the Infinix Note7 has a 5000mAh battery that makes your daily grind of work and play look easy.

For gaming, the phone didn’t seem at all bothered with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Genshin Impact, and Among Us. And, with the amount of storage the phone had, I’d downloaded all the games I wanted with reckless abandon. The phone held up to its dependable battery life too, despite a full day of work and play.

Does size really matter?

The Infinix Note 7 is big for a phone. Facts. If anything, it’s a love child of a phone and a tablet. With its 6.95-inch HD+ display and dual speakers, the phone makes watching Netflix or playing games an overall immersive experience. Despite Infinix sticking to HD+ on a bigger display, it doesn’t really impose on all the great features the phone has.

Remember: the Infinix Note 7 has a good price tag of PhP 7,990. If you’re asking it to feature 2k or 4k resolution, that good price tag isn’t even remotely ideal on top of the other features the phone comes with.

Is the cake a lie?

No, just misunderstood. Hear me out here: The Infinix Note 7 features a quad-camera set-up with a 48MP primary shooter, a 2MP macro lens, 2MP depth lens, and a 2MP dedicated video camera. On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera. These specs can sometimes come misunderstood since Infinix does say the phone features a quad rear camera set-up. The phone technically features three with the fourth as its dedicated video recording camera.

Sunset view

Boop the snoot

The Inifinix Note 7 performed really well even with little lighting. I tried to photograph a dim sunset and most phones would often scrap some details in photos to compensate with the lack of lighting. That wasn’t the case for this phone. With a phone at its price point, it greatly outperforms phones in the same category quite easily. The phone delivers on detailed selfies with it 16MP in-display front camera and doesn’t struggle to focus using either rear or front cameras.

Strawberry and granola on yoghurt

it me

The phone doesn’t seem at all bothered with taking detailed photos. Sometimes the contrast can be a bit much but again, seeing a budget phone like the Infinix Note 7 perform well under tough circumstances that can just be from being nit-picky.

Is this your BudgetMatch?

If you need a phone to get you good shots and get you through a long day of non-stop work and play while delivering good photos overall, this is the phone for you. There’s nothing to complain about with this phone besides Infinix being utterly underrated for the quality of phones they put out. The Infinix Note 7 is a great phone for your daily grind if you’re looking for a phone that delivers on functionality, efficiency, and durability. It even delivers on good quality shots!

The Infinix Note 7 costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 165).

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