Huawei Mate 40 Pro Review: Little By Little, The Alternative To Google Is Making Its Home

Huawei Mate 40 Pro
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro highlights a slew of very attractive features. However, deprived of Google services, the phone must succeed in seducing without certain popular applications. Is the bet successful? Answer in our test.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro

Here we are with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro in our hands to offer you a complete test of the beast. Meanwhile, the United States elected a new president. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr – by his full name – succeeds Donald John Trump and the future will tell us if he will strive to warm up relations with China or, on the contrary, if he will seek to be so hostile and firm than its predecessor.

Anyway, while waiting to see this geopolitical aspect evolve, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is not entitled to Google services, which are widely used in Europe. The smartphone is based on the open source version of Android and takes advantage of Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). This ecosystem is gradually being refined to offer a lasting user experience. Let’s try to see what it really is.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro Data Sheet :

ModelHuawei Mate 40 Pro
OS VersionAndroid 10 Q
Manufacturer interfaceEMUI
Screen Size6.76 Inch
Definitionother
Pixel density456 ppp
TechnologyOLED
SoCKirin 9000
Graphics Chip (GPU)Mali G-78 MP24
RAM8 GB, 12 GB
Internal memory (flash)256 GB, 512 GB
Camera(back)Sensor 1 : 50 Mp
Sensor 2 : 12 Mp
Sensor 3 : 20 Mp
Camera(front)Sensor 1 : 13 MP
Sensor 2 : 13 MP
Video recording8K@30 fps
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 (ax)
Bluetooth5.2
Supports Bands2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)
NFCYes
Fingerprint SensorUnder Screen
Ports (Inputs/Outputs)USB Type-C
Battery4400 mAh
Dimensions75.5 x 162.9 x 9.1mm
Weight212 grams
ColorsBlack, Silver
Price1,575 $

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A Very Refined Design :

Superb. The Huawei Mate 40 Pro has a great design. Without reinventing the wheel, the smartphone here offers nice finishes that make it very pleasant in the hand. However, the smartphone is not the lightest with its 212 grams on the scale. The comfort mentioned here comes from the well rounded edges to fit the palm of the hand and the Matt glass back for a satin feel.

The touch of elegance comes from the beautifully curved screen with a very marked curvature and simple, but formidably effective reflections on the rear panel. This Huawei Mate 40 Pro is the result of very well executed craftsmanship. However, some details may annoy some users. First of all, you have to know that we are absolutely not dealing with a reduced format. This smartphone is an assumed phablet culminating at 162.9 mm in height. It’s not for small hands.

READ ALSO : Sony Xperia 5 II Full Review

In addition, the display area is framed by conspicuous black bands – but no more obtrusive than that – and marked by a large punch housing both the photo sensor for selfies and a 3D facial recognition system.
Admittedly, the bubble in question is therefore quite large, but it is far less intrusive than a classic notch. Huawei has managed to integrate this biometric technology in a very small space.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro front panel The fairly large double punch of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro

Beyond all these considerations, it is on the back that we find the most striking element of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, that (not so) small detail that sets it apart from other smartphones: the photo module. Well centered, round in shape, it ostensibly displays four lenses, an LED flash and, of course, the Leica logo to indicate that the entire photo part benefits from the know-how of the German expert in the field.

Said photo module protrudes a little in relief, but it is so wide that it does not cause annoying tipping. The Mate 40 Pro doesn’t look too wobbly when laid flat on a table.

The rear photo module of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro

On the right edge, we see the discreetly colored unlock button and the volume keys. These are physical on this model when they had disappeared in favor of a software solution not very well thought out on the Mate 30 Pro.

Finally, there is no jack, the USB-C port is located below and there are two speaker grilles for real stereo sound: one on the top edge, the other on the edge bottom. Also note that the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is IP68 certified for water and dust resistance.

Quality 90 Hz Screen, But To Adjust :

It’s a beautiful 6.76-inch screen that comes before our eyes. An OLED display is associated here with a not trivial definition of 2772 x 1344 pixels. The whole thing is sprinkled with a refresh rate of 90 Hz for better fluidity in use. Huawei assumes the fact of not going beyond to better preserve the battery of the smartphone.

In fact, we will especially appreciate the excellent readability offered by this panel with a maximum brightness exceeding 730 cd/m². Even in particularly bright environments, you won’t suffer from legibility concerns. As for the contrast, no worries either: it’s perfect thanks to the dark black pixels of the OLED.

The pierced screen of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro

The Huawei Mate 40, in its settings, has two display modes. On the one hand, we have “Normal” colors, on the other, “Vivid” tones. Let’s say it very clearly from the outset: these two options have nothing to do with each other. The first seems well balanced, but lacks pep for the eyes. The second allows for the most pleasant viewing comfort on videos, but we feel a big blue cast. Our probe and Portrait Displays CalMan software confirm these observations.

With the normal mode, the color temperature is correct and turns at 6750 K when the ideal is 6500 K. However, for the plurality of colors, we will go back. The RGB color space is barely 96% covered, while the larger and more complicated DCI-P3 is only 64%.

READ ALSO : Realme Buds Q Full Review

The lively option turns all this upside down. The temperature soars to 7562 K – which corroborates the strong presence of blue. However, the RGB and DCI-P3 spaces are much better managed by being covered at 155% and 104% respectively. We have already seen better on premium smartphones, but it is still quite satisfactory.

When it comes to color fidelity, switching from one mode to the other won’t make a big difference. In normal mode, an average Delta E is observed on the DCI-P3 of 4.1 against 4.4 in live mode. As a reminder, this index should rather approach 3 for tones that come close to reality.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro's average Delta E on the DCI-P3 is 4.4 in vivid mode. This is a small difference from the normal mode

In this regard, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro remains pretty good. Finally, we’ll recommend that you go for vivid mode in the display options and adjust the color palette to incorporate more red into the screen. You will then obtain a nice balance.

Life Without Google Always Takes More Shape :

The native interface of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is EMUI 11 based on Android 10. But beware, even if we have been talking about it since 2019 already, it should be remembered that the Chinese giant’s smartphones are no longer entitled to Google services. You will therefore not find the Play Store or the YouTube, Drive or Gmail applications on board.

  • Update On The Situation :

This handicap was caused by the US embargo imposed on the company. Huawei can no longer work with US companies including the Mountain View firm. Since the start of this sanction, the brand has therefore been working to create a viable ecosystem and to make it sufficiently attractive to seduce a Western audience fed on the galaxy of Google services.

The Mate 40 Pro therefore relies on Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). This ecosystem is based on Android, but its infrastructure is different from that of Google. In theory, a developer should therefore design their mobile application for Google’s Android and Huawei’s Android. In fact, Huawei’s smartphones are yet to take advantage of such a huge number of apps in their home AppGallery app stores.

READ ALSO : JBL Reflect Mini NC Full review 

But AppGallery isn’t about bundling a very large number of apps, it is more about delivering the best apps. At least, that’s what one of the HMS officials told us. Despite this, very popular services like Netflix are still not available. AppGallery allows users to suggest adding a particular app to its catalog, but in the meantime, we have to find another way to take advantage of it.

In some cases, such as Facebook or WhatsApp, AppGallery links to the developer’s official website for you to download the app.

AppGalery AppGalery

In other situations, the service redirects to a light version of the application to be opened in a browser – this is the case with YouTube. For this service, you can also simply create a shortcut on your home screen leading to the site to pretend you have installed the application.

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  • Petal Search :

The Petal Search service is presented as a widget on the home screen. By clicking on this search bar, you will be able to find applications even if they are not available on AppGallery or on the developer’s site. For this, the platform will scan APK file download sites like APKPure or APKMonk.

In this regard, the famous SVoD service launches correctly as of this writing, whereas it was not yet the case during our test of the Huawei P40 Pro. We are not, however, immune to a new concern. Remember that Netflix normally uses the Widevine DRM management tool provided by Google.

In essence, this tool should therefore not be compatible with a smartphone punished by the US embargo. It can be assumed, however, that Huawei has found a way around the problem. However, without Widevine L1 (highest level of security for this DRM manager), forget about HD quality on your Netflix videos. On a nice big screen like the Mate 40 Pro, believe me, it shows.

Without Widevine L1, no Netflix video in HD on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro

To continue on Petal Search, the service improves and makes sure your apps downloaded outside of the AppGallery stay up to date by sending you notifications to alert you when a new version of the app is available for download. This is a significant advantage in making the user experience more fluid.

  • Petal Maps :

The “Petal” brand also exists through Petal Maps. This is the new mapping service introduced by Huawei. Here, the Chinese giant has created everything from A to Z to offer a navigation application to its users. Still in beta, the service looks very promising and benefits from a clean and tidy interface.

Petal Maps still lacks a number of options, however. If the routes displayed for car trips are already well developed, you will have to be patient to see the trip information arrive for those who travel on foot or by public transport.

Also, strangely enough, I was only able to access Petal Maps by going through AppGallery. Cannot find the app directly on the phone. This may be related to the fact that the service is still in beta. It is also a safe bet that the app will in the future be preinstalled on the brand’s devices.

Huawei also does not hide its ambition to see its kits be reused by applications requiring the display of a map, such as on Uber for example. The future will tell whether this business will be successful or not.

 

  • EMUI 11 :

Beyond these considerations, you should know that the Huawei Mate 40 Pro has EMUI 11. This homemade interface runs on the open source version of Android 10. We had already mentioned the new features of this version in a dedicated article.

The software experience here is always rich in customization (app drawer or not, dark mode, gesture navigation, themes, etc.). It’s pretty easy to navigate the whole thing.

Interesting feature: Always on display becomes Eyes on display. In other words, the information on the smartphone’s locked screen is only displayed when you are looking at the device. This option works quite well and saves the battery a little more efficiently. Be careful though, if you put the phone too close to your computer, it may misinterpret your gaze at your PC and wake up the locked screen for nothing. However, this has only happened to me a few times.

For volume, even if the Mate 40 Pro regains the physical keys that the Mate 30 Pro did not have, it retains the possibility of changing the level by double tapping on the edge of the screen and then sliding your finger. The gesture is still not very practical, but at least it is no longer imposed.

Finally, the fingerprint reader and 3D facial recognition work very well. On the intelligent assistant side, you can always count on Celia and her strangely half-suave, half-depressed voice. Its effectiveness is not yet fully developed: for a good number of queries, the wizard refers to results found online.

Two Very Good Speakers :

With two speakers – one at the top and one at the bottom – the Huawei Mate 40 Pro delivers excellent stereo sound. What offer a good spatialization to fully appreciate the song being read. To make matters worse, we could point out the fact that the top speaker is less powerful, but in fact this does not create an imbalance. You only realize this by plugging one of the gates with your finger.

Overall the sound is powerful, clear and detailed. The bass could undoubtedly be more pronounced in some music, but Huawei has really done a good job for a most enjoyable experience.

Excellent Photographer, But Not On Saturation

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro intends to set the bar very high in photos and video. He also broke records on DxoMark. In this regard, here is what we find as a configuration on board:
  • 50 megapixel main sensor (f/1.9).
  • 20 megapixel ultra wide-angle (f/1.8).
  • 12-megapixel x5 telephoto lens (f/3.4).
  • TOF sensor for depth of field.

As for the main sensor, the latter is particularly large in order to capture more light and provide finer details in photos. On daytime shots, with good light conditions, you might as well say that the shots benefit from excellent sharpness and exemplary dynamic management. However, when it comes to colors …

To say that I’m not a fan of the colorimetric processing of the Mate 40 Pro’s photos is obviously a personal opinion. However, much more objectively, I can assure you that in many of the photos the phone has pushed the saturation extremely exaggerated, to the point where you hardly recognize the scene. To highlight this behavior, I captured the scene below in automatic mode and then in professional mode, adjusting some settings in a hurry to better capture the atmosphere that I could admire with my eyes. The difference is striking.

IA Mode

To put it another way, the technical quality of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro’s photos is indisputable, but not everyone’s artistic direction will be liked.

At night, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is very good at preserving a lot of snapshot information. Despite the complex lighting conditions, the important elements of the scene are well brought to the fore and the sharpness remains very good. However, on scenes with high contrast, shadowy areas may not necessarily be caught. The phone prefers to focus on showing better what is visible rather than illuminating what is not.

Night Mode Nith

The Mate 40 Pro also offers a 50 megapixel mode for taking full frame photos. Heavier, these are supposed to render a higher level of detail. In practice, however, this is not always the case. In the example below, we can see that the classic photo offers a better rendering on this fireplace (zoomed images).

For ultra wide-angle, we find very detailed images, but a little worse than those of the main sensor. Above all, there is an even more marked tendency towards saturation with the default configurations. The immortalized scenes do not exude a sense of authenticity. So this is great for social media, but no one will believe your #nofilter hashtag.

The Mate 40 Pro’s x5 zoom is very well made. Despite a sharpness below that offered by the main sensor, the photos thus obtained preserve what it takes precision to be relevant.

Photos in portrait mode are handled very well by the Mate 40 Pro. Be careful though, a large part of the rendering is done in post-processing. So don’t be fooled by what the preview is showing on the smartphone screen when you take the picture. A decor that is a priori overexposed is thus full of colors on the final shot.

The blur effect is well controlled, while the cut between subject and background could be a little more precise.

READ ALSO : Apple iPhone 12 Mini review

For selfies, we are dealing here with a 13-megapixel front sensor – in addition to the sensors dedicated to 3D facial recognition. There is nothing to complain about in particular on this point. The photos are well detailed and displayed.

Big Performance, But For What Game?

It’s the brand new Kirin 9000 engraved innano-meters that powers the Mate 40 Pro with the support of 8 GB of RAM. Designed by Huawei’s HiSilicon subsidiary, this chip intends to weigh heavily in terms of performance. And that’s to say that it’s mission successful, especially when you activate the phone’s performance mode from the battery management settings.

However, one may wonder what all this power is for. Fortnite is content to display graphics set to a low quality without leaving the possibility of enjoying a better quality.

Fortnite on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro doesn't go beyond low level for graphics

Just before launching the game for the first time, I got an error message telling me that the Mate 40 Pro was not officially compatible. Too bad.
Fortnite is not officially compatible with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro
On Call of Duty Mobile, you will have no trouble installing the APK file, but the popular FPS game refuses to launch and displays an error message related to the Google Play services it needs to run. Ditto for Asphalt 9.
Google Play services error message on Huawei Mate 40 Pro when launching Call of Duty Mobile

So it’s a waste of time. I finally turned to PUBG Mobile – Petal Search links to the app’s official site – to let off some steam.

No worries in this battle royale, the graphics can be pushed to HDR quality (“Ultra HD” and “UHD” are not yet available) and with a frame rate set to Ultra mode. However, mobile game enthusiasts should carefully check which games are actually available on the Mate 40 Pro before purchasing it. For a premium smartphone, the pill is difficult to swallow.

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Especially since, we remind you, the Kirin 9000 has everything to seduce. This is evidenced by the scores recorded on the benchmarks. Note: these results were obtained with the performance mode activated.

ModèleHuawei Mate 40 ProSamsung Galaxy Note 20 UltraApple iPhone 12 Pro MaxAsus Zenfone 7 Pro
AnTuTu 8683193539490653687629173
AnTuTu CPU186575N/C177519183666
AnTuTu GPU280157N/C267037242192
AnTuTu MEM128192N/C117275107333
AnTuTu UX88269N/C9185695982
PC Mark 2.01254711863N/C15082
3DMark Slingshot Extreme8729663752487457
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Graphics10892814263488938
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Physics5149403032674719
3DMark Wild Life6688N/C6667N/C
3DMark Wild Life framerate moyen40 FPSN/C39 FPSN/C
GFXBench Aztec Vulkan/Metal high (onscreen / offscreen)21 / 34 FPS26 / 20 FPS59 / 90 FPS32 / 22 FPS
GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen)45 / 64 FPS45 / 39 FPS45 / 71 FPS46 / 55 FPS
GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 (onscreen / offscreen)87 / 145 FPS91 / 102 FPS60 / 177 FPS89 / 128 FPS
Sequential read / write1973 / 1303 Mo/s1748 / 800 Mo/sN/C1729 / 771 Mo/s
Random read / write99706 / 138688 IOPS48600 / 56300 IOPSN/C62338 / 61672 IOPS

 

By way of comparison, the AnTuTu score of the phone without this famous performance mode drops quite sharply to 594,870. We are far from the pretty 683,193 displayed in the table above.

Thus, we will give the Mate 40 Pro a good rating for its performance, but for the software part it will be penalized for this restricted catalog in terms of games.

Solid Autonomy And Ultra Fast Charging :

It’s pretty hard to really strain the Huawei Mate 40 Pro’s 4,400mAh battery. The smartphone is easy to hold all day long. The manufacturer has always been pretty good at it and this flagship is no exception.

The physical buttons of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro

If the performance mode drops the battery level at a more worrying rate, the default mode is well balanced and can easily last two full days with quite extensive use spent strolling on social networks like Instagram or TikTok, watching several YouTube videos on the web and Netflix version (despite the SD quality) and to surf the web. The phone succumbs to more intensive use after a day and a half.

Above all, it’s the speed of its 66W charger that comes in the box that impresses the most. 30 minutes to go from 0 to 87% battery. It’s extremely convenient. In addition, the Mate 40 Pro also benefits from wireless charging, even reversed.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro Network And Communication :

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro works with all 4G frequency bands. It also offers compatibility with 5G, but not yet with millimetre waves which will subsequently be used in Europe. Also note that like the vast majority of devices, the phone does not support two 5G SIM at the same time.

However, it can work with an eSIM.

When it comes to calls, the Mate 40 Pro doesn’t perfectly muffle noises around you, however it does so enough that those extraneous sounds never drown out your words. The person you are talking to will always hear you very clearly, even if your voice may reach them a little dry, without gravity. When you’re not talking, the smartphone won’t erase noises next to you, but again, they are still very much muted.

In terms of geolocation, I had no problem to report on Petal Maps, but I did not have the opportunity to make very long trips during the confinement period

Price And Availability Of Huawei Mate 40 Pro :

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is available at the recommended price of 1,575 dollars (256 GB).

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