Huawei P40 Pro Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max: Best of Huawei meets best of Apple

Huawei’s P40 Pro Plus and Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max are the highest-end offerings of their respective companies. They’re ideal smartphones for those in search of a large display, reliable camera, and long-lasting battery life — and for those who are ready to pay a premium. Gone are the days when operating systems were the only deciding factor when upgrading. Smartphones offer much more now, and it’s worth going in-depth for the undecided.

Whether you’re in the market for an Android or iOS device, we’re here to weigh the pros and cons of both to determine which is the better buy for you.

Specs

Huawei P40 Pro Plus
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Size 158.2 by 72.6 by 9mm (6.23 by 2.86 by 0.35 inches) 158 by 77.8 by 8.1mm (6.22 by 3.06 by 0.32 inches)
Weight 226 grams (7.97 ounces) 226 grams (7.97 ounces)
Screen size 6.58-inch OLED 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Screen resolution 2,640 x 1,200 (441 pixels per inch) 2,688 x 1,242 pixels (458ppi)
Operating system Android 10; EMUI 10.1 iOS 13
Storage  512GB 64, 256, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No (Nano Memory) No
Tap-to-pay services Huawei Pay Apple Pay
Processor Kirin 990 5G Apple A13 Bionic
RAM 8GB 4GB
Camera 50MP, 8MP periscope telephoto, 8MP telephoto, 40MP ultrawide, PDAF time-of-flight rear, 32MP front, AP IR time-of-flight front

12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP telephoto rear; 12MP TrueDepth front

Video 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps, 720p at 7680 fps, HDR 4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version 5.1 5.0
Ports USB 3.1, USB-C Apple Lightning connector
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display No, Face ID instead
Water-resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 4,200Ah

Fast charging (40W)

Fast wireless charging (40W)

3,969mAh

Fast charging (18W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Huawei AppGallery Apple App Store
Network support No official U.S. support All major carriers
Colors White Ceramic, Black Ceramic Space Gray, Silver, Gold, Midnight Green
Prices $1,600 (1,400 EUR) $1,099
Buy from Huawei, import service Apple and all major carriers
Review score In progress 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The P40 Pro Plus showcases Huawei’s latest bezel-less design. It features a 6.58-inch OLED panel that Huawei calls a Quad-Curve Overflow Display. The edges are curved, creating a river-like effect when scrolling from side to side. There’s also a dual-camera hole punch at the top — it’s not the prettiest setup we’ve seen, but gives you the extra real estate for status bar icons. Underneath the display is a fingerprint sensor — a feat we’ve become familiar with in 2020. On the back of the device is a five-camera array surrounded by nanotech ceramic. Unlike the traditional glossy glass finish on smartphones, the nanotech ceramic is much more sturdy, yet smooth to the touch.

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max isn’t that far off in terms of elegance and build quality. While the 11 series recycles the design of predecessors like the iPhone XS, it introduces a matte finish backing and, for the first time ever, an ultrawide camera. The infamous notch still resides at the top of the 6.5-inch OLED display, and the phone itself is noticeably wider than the Huawei P40 Pro Plus, making it cumbersome when encased. The iPhone distinguishes itself with a mute switch and the proprietary Lightning connector.

Both flagships are IP68 certified, meaning they’re resistant to dust and water. For this round, the Huawei P40 Pro Plus edges out the iPhone 11 Pro Max with its smoother 90Hz refresh rate and comfortable ergonomics.

Winner: Huawei P40 Pro Plus

Performance, battery life, and charging

ESPN

Comparing the performance of the two is probably the most difficult because they run on different chips and operating systems. The Huawei P40 Pro Plus is powered by the Kirin 990 5G versus the Apple A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Both are proprietary chipsets, so it really comes down to how the devices take advantage of them. From our testing, both phones handle day-to-day tasks with ease, even with the difference in RAM (8GB on the P40 and 4GB on the iPhone). After all, Android and iOS handle RAM differently.

As for battery life, the biggest difference between the two is charging speed. Even with the higher refresh rate, the 4,200mAh cell found in the P40 Pro Plus should last you a day, comfortably. When low, it’s capable of 40W fast charging and wireless charging. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a smaller 3,969mAh capacity, but the excellent battery optimization features of iOS and the A13 Bionic chip keep the phone running for a day and more. However, the fastest it can charge is with an 18W power brick.

All things considered, the two devices are evenly matched when it comes to performance and battery life. If you want faster charging speeds, go with the P40 Pro Plus. For better standby time, iPhone 11 Pro Max is the way to go.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apple introduced a slew of camera upgrades with the iPhone 11 series — bringing improved night and portrait modes, Deep Fusion, and a 12MP ultrawide lens. Even then, this incredible flagship camera array isn’t enough to dethrone the Huawei P40 Pro Plus as one of the best for smartphone photography.

The Huawei P40 Pro Plus has a five-lens setup on the back. This includes a 50MP wide-angle main lens, an 8MP periscope telephoto, an 8MP telephoto, a 40MP ultrawide, and a ToF sensor. The variety of lenses is enough to keep any photographer satisfied with shots in virtually any environment. A ToF sensor is also present on the front camera, giving you natural-looking and accurate depth when taking selfies. As for video, the P40 Pro Plus can shoot 4K at 60 fps like the iPhone but separates itself with 1080p at up to 960 fps and 720p at a whopping 7680 fps.

For the best stills and video, the Huawei P40 Pro Plus reigns supreme. However, it doesn’t mean the iPhone camera isn’t good — it’s exceptional. Thanks to software optimization and advancements in smartphone cameras over the years, you’ll enjoy taking pictures with either of the two.

Winner: Huawei P40 Pro Plus

Software and updates

iPhone 11 Pro Max iOS 13
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Huawei P40 Pro Plus runs on EMUI 10.1 layered over Android 10. As smooth and snappy as the software is, the lack of Google Play services is a constant reminder that the device has the potential to be so much better. Since being blacklisted by the U.S., Huawei’s AppGallery just can’t compete with the availability and overall quality of apps on Apple’s App Store. Instead, you’re left with apps that aren’t as stable or simply don’t offer the same features and functionality that you’ve been accustomed to with Android and iOS.

Likewise, the iPhone has had its fair share of security flaws, but not to the point of losing functionality. The iPhone 11 Pro Max runs iOS 13 and will soon get access to the new iOS 14, which introduces Android-inspired features like home screen widgets, an app drawer, and picture-in-picture video. iOS continues to refine itself update after update, and you’ll be happy to know that the iPhone 11 Pro Max will be on the receiving end for years to come.

Huawei’s attempt at creating a user-friendly mobile experience isn’t enough to beat out the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Reliable software support and customer care availability gives the iPhone the win in this category.

Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max

Special features

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nearing the end of this comparison, let’s explore the extra bits and pieces that make the Huawei P40 Pro Plus and iPhone 11 Pro Max worth considering. With the Kirin 990 5G chipset, the P40 Pro Plus comes 5G ready, meaning you’ll be able to experience cutting-edge cellular connectivity the moment it’s available in your area. While 5G is still a work in progress, it’s a future-proof feature that the iPhone lacks. The P40 Pro Plus also comes with Huawei’s desktop mode, which transforms any monitor into a computer when connected. The phone acts as the trackpad and keyboard, so all you’d need is a USB-C to HDMI cable to get going.

As for the iPhone 11 Pro Max, most of its special features are software-based. Face ID continues to be one of the most reliable and safe forms of biometric security and is unique to the iPhone. The VIP club that is being an Apple user extends to the ecosystem of quality accessories that pair seamlessly to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. You also get access to apps like iMessage, Apple Arcade, Apple Pay, and other exclusives.

Both devices offer special features that make them compelling smartphones. However, we think the iPhone’s are the ones you’re more likely to use.

Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max

Price and availability

The Huawei P40 Pro Plus goes for 1,400 EUR (about $1,600) for the 8GB of RAM and 512GB storage model and is only available in European countries at the moment. If you can look past the lack of Google apps and support for certain LTE bands, there are third-party retailers that ship to the U.S.

You’ll find more availability for the iPhone 11 Pro Max, as it’s sold from all major carriers and in Apple stores worldwide. The device starts at $1,099 for the 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage model, with the option to upgrade for more money.

Overall winner: Huawei P40 Pro Plus

All things said and done, the Huawei P40 Pro Plus beats the iPhone 11 Pro Max by inches and is our overall winner. The gorgeous 6.58-inch OLED display offers excellent visuals, and the 90Hz refresh rate is the cherry on top. It has a battery that can last you days (depending on use) and outmatches the iPhone in terms of camera quality. With the next-generation iPhone on the horizon, we can expect an even closer matchup next time around.

Editors' Recommendations