Software issues hamper the best camera smartphone of the year – 4.5/5
Last month Huawei unveiled its latest Mate 40 smartphone series which is comprised of Mate 40, Mate 40 Pro, and Mate 40 Pro+ models, while, there is also a special edition Porsche model in the line-up.
The range launches without access to Google services, due to US and UK restrictions on the Chinese vendor which is a major blow to a large portion of its UK audience.
This series becomes the second to launch with Huawei’s own OS and despite its software issues, it comes with an impressive range of specs that rivals flagship handsets from both Samsung and Apple.
Huawei continues to invest heavily in its own app ecosystem, yet it remains to be seen if this will change its somewhat dwindling fortunes in the UK market.
Despite its obvious software issues, I remained hopeful that this device could compete with other top flagships currently on the market. It did not disappoint.
Unboxing and Design
The design of the Mate 40 Pro, complete with its striking curved edges and embossed circular camera design is enough to make it stand out amongst the higher-end smartphones in 2020.
Huawei hasn’t strayed too far out of the tried and tested formulaic smartphone template but there are clear signs of design progression from the previous Mate 30 Pro.
The back of the smartphone is painted with a matte finish that is resistant to fingerprints and the ‘space ring’ camera design is said to be inspired by the first-ever photo of a black hole which adds some subtle, albeit strange context to the backstory of the device. All things considered, the Mate 40 Pro is undoubtedly one of the best-looking smartphones out there today.
Inside the box, you can find a jelly case that comfortably fits around the 6.67-inch screen of the device, and doesn’t increase the overall size by too much. Deeper in the box is a USB-C to USB-A cable for its 66W fast-charging and a pair of USB-C headphones.
The screen refreshes at 90Hz and the smartphone presents beautiful, vibrant images as the default lock screen. While I think smartphones should never cross the £1000 barrier, this particular device certainly feels like it is among the higher priced ones on the market.
- OS: Android 10, EMUI 11, no Google Play services
- Processor: Kirin 9000 5G (5nm)
- Screen: 6.76 inches
- Resolution: 1344 x 2772 pixels
- Memory: 8GB RAM
- Internal storage: 256GB/512GB
- Rear camera: Triple Camera 50MP, 20MP, 12MP
- Front camera: Dual 13MP
- Video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p @30/60/240fps
- Battery: 4400 mAh, non-removable, 66W fast-charging
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C
- Dimensions: 162.9 x 75.5 x 9.1mm
- Weight: 212g
The Huawei cameras never seem to disappoint and one thing the vendor can be given credit for is its dedication to continually strive to outdo the camera from the previous iteration of the device.
The Mate 40 Pro camera does not disappoint and I was astonished by the level of detail it produced consistently with some of the snaps I had taken. While the wide-angle lens doesn’t capture the widest shots out there, it does depict wonderfully sharp, focused images that are brimming with detail.
I found that the camera also performed capably in low-light conditions with its Night Mode feature working exceptionally to the extent where it doesn’t even look like I had taken the photo in darkness. Below are two pictures I had taken in the same conditions, and I think it’s clear which one I had used the Night Mode feature on.
Of course much has been made about the Huawei devices’ ability to zoom in to distances far into the distance. I tested this capability on the Mate 40 Pro and despite knowing what to expect I was still blown away by the power of this smartphone’s camera. Below are three shots I have taken of the London Eye. The first shot is a normal picture I had taken with the already powerful 50MP snapper. The second shot is using the x10 zoom feature and the final shot I had taken using x50 zoom. The level of detail on the x50 zoom will be tough for any smartphone to beat.
I was able to test the 4K video capabilities at Huawei’s Drive-Thru press event where I was first presented with the smartphone. The ‘Pro’ mode supports ISO of up to 6400 and there are several additional features users will enjoy on the smartphone including Slow-mo, Monochrome, Story Creator, and others.
Huawei has put a strong emphasis on moviemaking with this device and visitors at the drive-through event were encouraged to create their own movies using the many features on the Mate 40 Pro’s camera at the event.
It was a bright, vibrant environment that intended to display the powers of the 50MP camera for videography.
The storyboard feature allows for dynamic movie-making but the highlight of the event was when visitors were introduced to the tracking shot feature. This mode tracks subjects without users having to move the camera and this was undoubtedly the most impressive feature I was able to test out at the event.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is powered by the Kirin 9000 chipset which the company says is the world’s first 5nm 5G processor.
The Kirin 9000 marginally outperforms the Snapdragon 865 used by the higher-end Android smartphones in most aspects including CPU performance and battery life. However, one aspect where the Snapdragon 865 performs better is gaming performance. With that said, the Kirin 9000 chipset coupled with the 90Hz display offers a truly unique gaming experience which is among the best I have seen on a smartphone.
Unlike the Mate 30 Pro, the Mate 40 Pro has volume buttons and new stereo speakers that are located on both the top and bottom of the device. This makes it one of the best sounding speakers on the market which is especially valuable when gaming or listening to podcasts.
The smartphone comes equipped with a 4400mAh battery which lasts over a day with average use from 100 per cent. It also comes with a 66W fast-charger which charges the phone in just over 50 minutes which is significantly faster than other flagships released by Apple and Samsung.
At a glance
- Speed – 5/5
- Camera – 5/5
- Battery – 5/5
- Design – 4.5/5
- Value – 4.5/5
- Price – £1099.99
I can confidently start by saying the Huawei Mate 40 Pro has the best camera I have ever used on a smartphone. The sheer level of detail, the powers of the zoom function, and the many features it packs on both photography and videography make it unmatched in this department.
I would highly recommend the device depending on your reliance on Google services. If you tend to use Gmail, Google Maps, and Chrome daily, it’s incredibly difficult to justify its hefty price tag. Those who do fork out for the device will certainly be getting a phenomenal, powerhouse of a device, but they are also sure to be the most loyal of Huawei supporters.
While Huawei’s reputation continues taking hits from the US government, its smartphones continue to deliver and the Huawei Mate 40 Pro does not buck this trend.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is available to UK consumers from 13 November but is available to pre-order now. Pre-orders are available until 12th November from the Huawei Store, as well as from selected operators and retailers including EE and Three. Customers who pre-order can get a free Huawei Sound X speaker (via redemption).
The smartphone will retail for £1099.99.