HONOR V40 Review: Stylish Design, Vivid Display, Fluid Gaming Experience

  • The HONOR V40 flaunts a 6.72-inch curved OLED screen.
  • Under the hood is a 7nm MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ SoC with support for 5G connectivity.
  • The smartphone supports 66W wired fast-charging and 50W wireless charging speeds.

Global smartphone brand HONOR, which gained full independence from Huawei in November 2020, successfully launched the V40 smartphone in China in January. The HONOR V40 is offered in two SKUs – with 128GB and 256GB onboard storage. Unlike its predecessor that uses Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 990 SoC, the new smartphone is powered by a Dimensity 1000+ from MediaTek. It offers a well-balanced combination of connectivity, multimedia, AI and imaging performances for premium smartphone design.

Despite marginally lower pricing compared to the V30, HONOR has managed to bring new features and improvements to the V40. These include display and imaging, faster connectivity with 5G and Wi-Fi 6, and wireless charging, among others. I have been using the HONOR V40 for a while and it has impressed me in three key aspects.

The HONOR V40 sports a stylish design consisting of a flashy glass shell at the back and a vibrant 6.72-inch waterfall screen on the front. Leveraging the MediaTek HyperEngine 2.0, the gaming experience is also good on the V40. Lastly, the main camera is enhanced with a large pixel 50MP RYYB sensor (1/1.56-inch optical format). I will discuss these and other features in detail in my review below.

New HONOR Strategy: Expand Presence in High End, Build a Global Leading Brand

The HONOR V40 starts at around $560 (3,599 RMB), within a price range which is targeted by other Chinese brands as the best springboard to expand presence in the premium battlefield. During the launch event in January 2021, HONOR Device CEO George Zhao sent a clear message that the independent brand will extend its high-end product lines while aiming to restore its market share in China and gain greater popularity overseas.

Though it would be challenging for the new company to differentiate its products without access to HiSilicon chips and other distinct Huawei technologies, HONOR is looking to focus on innovation, quality and service to maintain its competitiveness.

Commenting on the strategy of new HONOR, Counterpoint Research Analyst Flora Tang said, “HONOR smartphones had achieved great success in China and managed to build a strong presence in the overseas markets, including Europe, MEA and Latin America. Since the spinoff, the company seeks to resume its ties with the global supply chain. HONOR has inked new deals with key component vendors such as MediaTek, Sony, Samsung and Micron Technology. Meanwhile, HONOR is actively expanding its offline retail footprint across the Chinese cities. With a broad recognition and expertise in smartphones, we expect HONOR to recapture its lost market share in China in 2021. As an independent company, the youth-centric brand will further enrich its smartphone portfolio, catering to consumers from different income and age groups.”

counterpoint honor v40 review comparison

Design: Combination of Light and Matte Finish Translates into Striking Appearance

HONOR attempts to blend richer fashion and technology elements into the external design of V40. The glass shell at the back features a meticulous layout, and the so-called 1:3:9:27 partition aims to create a feeling of harmony. This is coupled with a sophisticated coating process by combining the effects of light and matte finish, which enables color gradients across the surface. Depending on the angle from which you look at, the “Magic Night Black color” variant presents colorful rays consisting of violet, blue, green and purple, among others.

The rectangular camera array sits on the top left corner, incorporating a triple camera matrix, an LED flash and a laser auto-focus sensor. It does have a larger camera bump, which is well blended with the overall design style. However, the camera bump does make the phone wobble when placed back down on a flat surface like a table.

Display: Vivid Screen, Fluid Scrolling Experience

One of the highlights of the HONOR V40 is the curved 6.72-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2676×1236 pixels (400ppi). It enables an immersive visual experience while offering rich details. The screen also supports 10-bit color depth and HDR10, which allows it to display over one billion colors and cover the entire DCI-P3 color space. The screen is indeed impressive when watching videos and playing games.

Thanks to the curves at both sides, the smartphone fits in my hand quite nicely. Although it is over 163 mm in length, it can be a plus when opening a secondary window for multi-tasking. Moreover, I think HONOR has an ideal solution to avoid accidentally touching the curved edges, which has never happened during my usage.

counterpoint honor v40 review display

Another key feature of the advanced screen is the support for up to 120Hz refresh rate and up to 300Hz touch response, which provides smoother experiences paired with rich animation effects introduced in the latest Magic UI 4.0 skin on top of Android 10.

Even without upgrades to the newer Android 11, Magic UI 4.0 still delivers much enhanced interaction and navigation experience. The various animation elements have been further optimized, with parameters like duration, speed and direction being fine-tuned for smooth and comfortable switching. For productivity, Magic UI 4.0 has improved the multi-window display, including the support for scalable floating window size. It also supports real-time multi-language translation and quick note creation by scanning texts and pictures. With richer AOD (always on display) elements from clock interfaces to artistic patterns, Magic UI 4.0 gives the V40 an impressive look even in standby.

Gaming: Lag-free Experience with Rich Enhancements

In addition to the powerful screen, the V40 continues pursuing the gaming experience with deep integration of software and hardware resources. The 7nm Dimensity 1000+ SoC features an octa-core architecture. There are four Cortex-A77 cores clocked at 2.6GHz to take care of the heavy lifting tasks. The chipset also includes four Cortex-A55 efficiency cores clocked at 1.8GHz. It offers a good balance between power and efficiency.

The upgraded GPU Turbo X technology can unleash the full power of the Mali-G77 GPU, and the performance boost provides much-improved experiences in playing graphically demanding games.

counterpoint honor v40 review gaming

The smartphone also supports the all-new Hunter Boost engine with rich features such as display enhancement, RAM cleaning, prevention of inadvertent touching, and distraction-free use which keeps those annoying notifications, calls and messages away when you are focusing on the game. Besides, it is also equipped with dual speaker and dual linear vibrator, enabling more immersive audio experience and better haptic response.

During my usage, the smartphone ran smoothly and did not show any signs of lag, even when playing heavy-duty game titles like Game for Peace. The V40 raises the bar for gaming experiences in its segment, with good optimization towards graphics processing, display, interaction, connection and power consumption.

Photography: 50MP Super-sensing Camera Lets you Click Pro Grade Photos

Rear Cameras

Camera has always been a focus point in HONOR smartphones, and the V40 is no different. This time, HONOR has implemented a triple camera setup, featuring a 50MP 1.0µm-pixel-sized main sensor of f/1.9 aperture, paired with an 8MP ultrawide camera and a 2MP sensor with a macro lens. Besides, a laser sensor is mounted right next to the flash LED for high-speed autofocus, particularly in dark light conditions.

counterpoint honor v40 review camera module

Building on the customized RYYB-style color array from image sensor leader Sony, the 50MP primary camera delivers good results in daylight and low-light scenarios. When triggering the snapshot in the night mode, the camera can capture multiple photos within seven seconds at different exposure settings. By combining them intelligently, it provides a photo with good clarity and rich details. Below are some samples.

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The primary camera can also click detailed photos in daylight conditions with a high dynamic range, even when shooting against the sunlight. Below are some samples shot in the default mode, all retaining good details in the shadow areas. But like most smartphone cameras, the V40 has a bit of trouble in eliminating glare.

IMG_20210205_151303 (2)

With the AI function on, the camera can automatically detect objects in the scene, such as the sky, flowers, trees, food and buildings, before applying specific parameters tailored to them to beautify the pictures, or intelligently blur the background scenes to highlight the object. The results look quite natural at most times.


IMG_20210130_141454开AI蓝天 (2)

For taking detailed portraits, the V40 features an “AI RAW Super Portrait Engine”. This enables comprehensive optimization from exposure, white balance, edge detection and landscape segmentation to skin, facial and body beautification. This allows the smartphone to capture studio-like figure photos.

portrait 1 with beautification on

The camera app also features rich filter effects. The B/W filter works perfectly well for distinctive architectures. You can further enable the Super-high Pixel option to capture much more details and finer texture.

IMG_20210130_152143 (2)

As the phone does not have a dedicated telephoto lens, the primary camera is being used to crop photos, which can offer up to 3X digital zoom. As you can see, there is no or little loss of quality. However, adding a long-focus lens can be a better choice for getting a clearer view of distant subjects, especially in low-light conditions.

For small objects, the 2MP macro camera is a good addition, allowing you to click nice macro photos from a distance of 4 cm.


IMG_20210129_131708 (2)

The 8MP sensor with an ultrawide lens is also fine-tuned. There is no noticeable color difference when switching between the wide and ultrawide lenses. But the camera can further improve in reducing the distortion around the corners.

IMG_20210205_151203 (2)

Front Cameras

Moving on to the selfie camera, the 16MP image sensor goes with a color temperature sensor. This enables a more realistic color reproduction in different light environments. With the beautification effect on, the camera supports features such as face smoothing, like speckle and wrinkle removal, and skin whitening. With the V40, you can click good selfies to share on media platforms.

selfie with beautification on

The camera app also includes a Pro Mode for photography enthusiasts who want to take more control. There are even more camera features for you to explore.

Video Performance

The V40 also supports up to 60 frame-per-second (fps) 4K video recording. It also features a dual-view video-shooting function – by making the rear and front cameras work simultaneously, you can have two perspectives within the same frame in videos. The video quality is good to record memorable moments.

Multi-gigabit 5G Speeds and Superfast Charging Tech

During the launch event, HONOR showcased the V40’s Sub-6GHz 5G test results with a downlink speed exceeding 2Gbps. It also supports dual 5G SIM and can intelligently select 5G network operators. By combining multiple connection technologies right from 5G to 4G and dual-band Wi-Fi, the smartphone is capable of providing uninterrupted streaming experience.

counterpoint honor v40 review back

Finally, we come to battery life. The smartphone comes with a 4,000mAh battery. It can last more than a day with moderate usage. My usage included one hour of gaming and about three hours of video and music streaming, and a couple of calls. Net surfing, Wechat and camera usage were also a part of the routine.

With the single-cell triple-electrode battery design, the smartphone supports 66W fast-charging and 50W wireless charging. Based on my experience, the 66W USB charging feature charges up to 20% in just 5 minutes, which can provide up to 3 hours of video steaming. A full charge takes as little as 35 minutes.

Conclusion: Honor V40 Brings Premium Features and Flagship Experience at a Reasonable Price

HONOR has done a good job with the V40 in terms of exterior design, display and gaming performances. Primary camera and fast-charging experiences are good too. It also features a multi-gigabit 5G and Wi-Fi connection, which offers lag-free video steaming and gameplay.

However, there are still subtle details like the photo-videography experience for the smartphone to further improve. It could have been a better idea to have a dedicated telephoto lens instead of a macro lens, which could have made the HONOR V40 an even more attractive option.

Also Read: Strategic Reviews and Insights on Latest Smartphones

Senior Analyst Ethan is a Senior Analyst with Counterpoint Mobile and Semiconductors, dedicated to IoT, the wearable, Integrated Circuits and emerging technologies. Ethan had been working in the mobile phone and semiconductor industry for 10+ years. Prior to joining Counterpoint Research, Ethan served Coolpad, VIA and Intel sequentially as senior technology researcher and product manager respectively.

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