Samsung’s latest smartphone finally caught up with Huawei by also offering a “Space Zoom” camera system that offers up to 100x zoom on the top-line Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G. Even the other two Galaxy variant, the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+, can zoom up to 30x. I compared against the Huawei P30 Pro and indeed the new Samsung flagships deliver a better job in overall photography.
But with Huawei P40 Pro launched, it is obvious that the new P-series would be better than the P30 Pro and even the Mate 30 series. And most people might conveniently assume that the P40 Pro should be better than the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
In this post, I will take a close look at how good the Huawei P40 Pro camera system is.
Golden Snap AI Remove Reflection
One of the new features that makes photography a little better is the Golden Snap mode. You can remove reflection, and remove passers by. Let’s see the results below:
The photo above seems to be able to remove the reflection really well. But based on my tests, it only works to a certain degree. If the reflection has too much details, it would be impossible for the P40 Pro to remove them effectively. See below, only a few parts of the reflection is lifted out, but it’s still there.
Golden Snap AI Remove Passersby
For Huawei P40 Pro to remove passersby, the shooting mode needs to activate moving picture function. After taking the shot, go to the Edit function to select “Remove Passersby”.
Yes, it works, but only on certain conditions. For now, it can only remove a scene with low traffic, so if you are shooting in a crowded place, tough luck. Then again, with the current COVID-19 situation, it’s not difficult to shoot portraits without passersby.
Unlike the Remove Reflection feature, removing passersby can only work when shooting with Moving Picture function enabled. So it might not be as casually exploited. Additionally, the results can only be observed during editing, so you will not get instant preview feedback on whether the shot can remove passersby effectively. But no doubt this AI function will improve over time, and Huawei has a headstart on this.
Compared to P30 Pro
Generally, the P40 Pro has a different colour processing algorithm. It is generally less aggressive in saturation, which is good in some ways but it also means the images appear less outstanding.
In the above, the P30 Pro delivers better outcome. Below, the P30 Pro highlights are a little blown.
In terms of zoom, the P40 Pro naturally achieves better details. The photos below once again demonstrates the difference in the image-processing. The wide-angle brings out the greens better while bringing up the contrast and sharpness.
Finally, night shots. Again, the P40 Pro is not too aggressive to bump up the brightness but the white balance is different. The contrast level is again higher, resulting ins darker shades on the trees.
My conclusion: the P30 Pro delivers pretty good results, but upgrade to P40 Pro if you want better digital zoom quality or if you find the P30 Pro colour tone is too exaggerated. Another amazing feature on the P40 Pro is the ability to shoot in complete darkness, with up to ISO 51200.
Compared to Galaxy S20+ / S20 Ultra
I was quite surprised when I checked out the images I took with both smartphones. I was expecting P40 Pro to easily win the S20+ or S20 Ultra. But it turned out mixed. Check out this zoom test in broad daylight.
No doubt the P40 Pro wins for digital zoom – and this is only at 30x position, not even at the 50x max that P40 Pro can achieve.
OK, if we bring in the S20 Ultra, the top-line Samsung smartphone manages to hold up better against the P40 Pro. Also, the colour tone is less yellow, something that is exhibiting on the P40 Pro images as their RYYB sensor has twice the number of yellow photodiodes.
When it comes to capturing the moon, Huawei P40 Pro is still the one to beat. Samsung has an awful noise-removal algorithm that turns the moon into a Monet.
But when it comes to indoor lighting, I thought the S20+ manages better in retaining the highlights.
As for night scenes, the S20+ prefers a warmer tone treatment, which looks more welcoming. Observe the highlights are more retained, specifically the details in each of the lit-up apartment rooms, compared to P40 Pro.
There is one last thing that Galaxy S20+ is more favoured: it has a wider angle camera compared to P40 Pro.
Compared with Google Pixel 4XL
Google Pixel 4XL does not have super zoom, but its camera module is one to benchmark against. Check out how the the P40 Pro fares against this competitor:
The Pixel 4XL’s indoor food photos are the best among the cameras featured here. The burger and fries are best-captured. However, the white balance of the cup of water is off. Indeed, the Pixel 4XL has the tendency to adjust white balance against the brightest light source. In this case, they took the top left corner. This happens quite often in photos of indoors with outdoor windows.
For night photo, again the Pixel 4XL delivers a more natural result. The sky is smoother and deeper, and the photo does not give a feeling that it’s over-processed.
I was expecting the Huawei P40 Pro to blow away competition by miles ahead, but based on my test results, the P40 Pro’s strength is mostly on the super telephoto end as well as extreme dark scenes. For general photography, the P40 Pro does not offer any exceptionally outstanding results compared to the Samsung S20 series.
Compared to the P30 Pro, the P40 Pro certainly offers more features and faster processor, but again, it does not blow me away compared to when the P30 Pro was launched with the 50x zoom feature, or the Mate 30 Pro’s 0-lux shooting capability. Both of these features are now incorporated in the P40 Pro, naturally.
Yet, this article is merely comparing the camera images. If you look at the complete picture, you cannot deny that the Huawei P40 Pro offers an amazing price value compared to Samsung Galaxy S20 series. Retailing at S$1,448, it is slightly cheaper than the S20+, but supports 5G network (not that you need it this year), dual nano-SIM with third eSIM embedded, shooting at super slow-motion 7680fps, and its battery lasts longer.
While the lack of Google Mobile Service could be a deal-breaker, there are a lot of alternative apps out there, plus the ability to side-load APKs for many of the popular apps. That’s the beauty of Android: plenty of similar apps to circumvent restrictions.
- Exceptional price value for the list of features and capabilities (5G, triple SIM, 7680fps, 50x zoom, the list goes on)
- Industry-leading camera system with excellent digital zoom capability
- Large sensor ability to shoot in complete darkness – in fact, the largest main sensor in a smartphone camera.
- Astounding 7680fps super slow-motion – the fastest fps in a smartphone camera.
- Mixed image results compared to leading smartphone flagship models
- Lacks Google Mobile Services
- Golden Snap AI is at its infancy, with room to impress further