Huawei kindly gave us a loan of their latest flagship for review – the gorgeous Mate 40 Pro. We’ve been putting it through it’s paces to see if top hardware and features can make up for the unfortunate lack of Google services.
Build & Design
Huawei have iterated on their Mate 30 series design language with another circular (slightly raised) camera array on a colour-gradient glass back in the choice of White, Black, Olive Green, Sunflower Yellow and Mystic Silver (pictured). At the front it’s got a beautiful curved edge-to-edge 6.76″ 2772 x 1344 pixel 90Hz AMOLED display an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. The upper-left of the screen is obstructed by a pill-shaped selfie-cam cut-out similar to what we saw on the P40 series. This location was rarely an issue for us in use, but we do feel it’d be better placed at the very top-centre of the screen.
We were happy to see the inclusion of stereo speakers (top and bottom) which not only deliver better sound over mono, but also mitigate the common finger-covering-speaker problem we often experience with certain handsets when held in landscape orientation. The top of the device also has the microphone and an infrared transmitter, while the bottom has the usual USB Type C port and dual SIM card slot (supporting either 2 SIM cards or one SIM plus Huawei’s proprietary Nano SD Card.) Volume and red-accented power buttons are located on the right side.
The glass back and aluminium frame of the Mate 40 Pro reject fingerprints and give it a solid, balanced and premium feel in the hand. A transparent TPU case is also included for those who like a little extra grip and protection. Accidental screen touches weren’t an issue, even with the increased curvature at the sides. Although the camera ring is raised, its size and position mean the device can be used while resting on a table without any rocking.
Specs & Performance
Huawei never skimp on their flagship internals as can be seen from the specs highlighted below…
- Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 9000 8 x 2.1 – 3.1 GHz, Cortex-A77/-A55
- Graphics: ARM Mali-G78 MP24
- RAM: 8192 MB LPDDR5
- Display: 90 Hz 6.76″ 18.56:9, 2772 x 1344 (456 PPI) OLED
- Storage: 256 GB UFS 3.1
- Battery: 4400 mAh Lithium-Ion
- Charging: 66W SuperCharge / 50W Wireless / Reverse Wireless
- Back Cameras: 50 MP Wide f/1.9, 20 MP Ultra-Wide, f/1.8, 12 MP 5x Telephoto f/3.4, OIS
- Front Camera: 13 MP f/2.4 with 3D ToF sensor
- Fingerprint Sensor: In-Screen
- Network: 5G Super Uplink, WiFi 6+
- IP68 splash, water, and dust resistance
- Software: EMUI 11 (based on Android 10)
You’re getting their latest (and fastest) octo-core chipset, stunning 90hz OLED display, plenty of RAM and storage, a large battery and a full compliment of cameras.
The phone is lightning fast and runs very smooth, handling everything we threw at it with ease. Face and fingerprint recognition are also quick and work reliably. Battery life is excellent and could even stretch to a couple of days with light to moderate use.
When it comes to phone cameras Huawei have always highly impressed us, and the Mate 40 Pro is no exception. Again we have Leica lenses on board which, combined with Huawei’s clever AI / ISP software deliver some of the best results you’ll see from any smartphone. In the camera app you can delve into all the usual Pro settings, but we found this usually isn’t necessary – most of the time we got great shots by simply pointing and shooting in Auto mode.
The selection of lenses mean you can be confident in consistently capturing the shot you want – fit more in with the wide-angle lens or zoom right in to objects in the distance with the 5x telephoto. Images are bright and detailed with good colour balance and contrast. Low light performance is exceptional – even without night mode we got usable hand-held shots in almost complete darkness.
4K video footage is smooth, sharp and quick to focus. Stabilization is also excellent and new XD Fusion HDR technology applies multi-exposure imaging to automatically adjust the exposure of every frame. You also get great selfies from the front-facing f/2.4 lens that’s combined with a 3D time-of-flight depth sensor.
As with Huawei’s other recent phones the Mate 40 Pro comes without Google services installed. We’ve already went into detail on the background and repercussions of this in our The Huawei Without Google Experience article.
In summary (while the bases are all covered and there have been some improvement in the interim) you’ll likely still have issues with some of your favourite apps on this device when it comes to getting them installed or up-and-running properly. If like us you’re already heavily invested in Google’s various services then you’ll likely run into a few insurmountable issues.
In addition there’s some bloat preinstalled in terms of a few unnecessary apps (such as Snapchat and a few Microsoft apps) plus promotional app / game installation links but these can be easily removed. Otherwise we have no real complaints about EMUI 11 as it’s a great phone UI – fast, fully featured and easy to navigate.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a fantastic piece of hardware that excels in almost every area. The bottom line is that if it came with Google services out of the box then we’d absolutely love this device and have no hesitation in giving it a top recommendation. However the app experience as it stands is undoubtedly compromised, and unfortunately for us this makes the considerable £1099.99/€1199 asking price more difficult to justify.