Huawei Mate 40 Pro review

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Huawei Mate 40 Pro: Performance

At first glance, the performance of this phone is smooth and snappy. During our usage, we didn’t experience any stutters, but that was to be expected, considering the processor and GPU (graphics processing unit) inside.

Powering the Mate 40 Pro is Huawei’s own Kirin 9000 processor and 8GB of RAM. That processor is also 5G-ready, meaning the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a 5G smartphone. According to Huawei, the Mate 40 Pro and 40 Pro+ also sport the most powerful GPU ever seen on a Huawei device. The unit we got to try also came with 256GB of storage, but we’re yet to find out if this is the base storage option.

Benchmark results put the Huawei Mate 40 Pro on par with other modern flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Sony Xperia 5 II. The AnTuTu score is a strange deviation but it might have something to do with the new Kirin 9000 chipset and compatibility issues with the testing software (benchmarks from other sources show a score of around 690 000).

Huawei Mate 40 Pro: Camera set-up

The main attraction on this phone is arguably the large donut-shaped camera module on its back, with big Leica branding standing proudly in the center of it. We got to try the camera app, which itself is intuitive and easy to use. You have up to 50 times zoom, as well as an ultra-wide camera, which was to be expected from a 2020 flagship.

Smartphone camera pros will be happy to know that along with Night Mode, we also have a Pro Mode in the Mate 40 Pro camera app, which lets you configure your photography settings manually, if you wish to do so.

The camera setup consists of three cameras, two of which are borrowed from the P40 Pro – the wide-angle main camera and the telephoto one. The ultrawide shooter is brand-new and it uses a 20MP sensor with a conventional RGB pixel array (the RYYB magic can be found in the main 50MP wide lens camera).

Photos taken in broad daylight look really good. There are lots of details, the dynamic range is just great, not plain and uninspiring but not in-your-face unreal too. The ultrawide camera, which is the new one, is a pleasant surprise – it matches the quality of the main camera with no visible color shift or other disturbances when switching between the two. It’s really great, although not so ultrawide – it has an 18mm equivalent lens. Still great, though.

The telephoto lens offers 5x optical zoom but what’s really impressive is the 10x hybrid zoom. At times it’s even better than the optical zoom, kudos to Huawei, and all the software algorithms that happen behind the scenes. Speaking of software algorithms, the Master AI takes care of all the settings depending on the scene you’re shooting (if you let it do so) and the results are great.

Macro shots were a tad disappointing for me, coming from the Mate 20 Pro (daily driver) which can take macros at 2.5 cm focal length. They’re okay but won’t make you think you’re using a microscope and not a smartphone.

Low-light photography has always been one of Huawei’s strongest features. The same applies to the Huawei Mate 40 Pro – the Night mode algorithms are doing their job flawlessly and the results are sometimes comparable to normal daylight shots. Bare in mind that you’ll need a steady hand and some patience because taking a shot in Night mode takes 6 seconds or so.

The selfie camera on the front produces nice photos with a healthy skin tone and a decent amount of detail. You can switch Beauty Mode on and off easily but either way, the results are quite pleasing.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro can shoot 4K videos at 60fps and you can also zoom in and out while recording. This option is usually resolution-dependent but here you’re free to use it in 4K or 1080p – no problem. Videos are great too and the image stabilization isn’t overly aggressive, while still taking care of occasional shakes.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro: Operating system and apps

The phone is running Huawei’s EMUI 11 on top of Android 10. EMUI is Huawei’s own custom Android interface, similarly to how Samsung has OneUI. The home screen on the Mate 40 Pro is nothing unusual and features nice, clean icons, a news feed, plus useful quick toggle buttons for taking a screenshot, screen recording, flashlight and more. It’s always nice to have those features built-in, instead of having to download third-party apps in order to record your screen, for example.

As expected, instead of the Google Play Store we have Huawei’s AppGallery to get our apps from on this phone. There’s a decent number of games and apps here, with some popular ones like TikTok and Viber present, although you will not find the likes of Facebook, Instagram or Skype, for example.

As Huawei has been banned from working with US companies, such as Google and Facebook, we can’t expect to see apps and services from them on Huawei’s app store anytime soon. And that is the biggest roadblock everyone outside of China who’s interested in this phone will have to overcome.

Battery life

The Mate 40 Pro features a 4400 mAh battery that is more than capable of carrying the phone through two days of moderate to heavy use. Unfortunately, the way Huawei tunes its screen brightness settings makes it impossible for us to run our battery tests and obtain a viable and objective result (which is a real shame, given the 90Hz refresh rate of the display). But we’ll go out on a limb here and say that you won’t have to worry about battery life with the Mate 40 Pro.

The phone comes with a 66W charger in the box (looking at you, Apple) and the fast-charging technology is out of this world. It’s such an important feature that it deserves to be mentioned over and over again. A full charge takes only 47 minutes and you can get to 85% in less than half an hour. That’s massive and you really save so much time with such a feature. Get home, hook the phone to the charger, then change clothes, freshen up, get something to eat, and voila! The phone will probably be at full charge by the time you’re ready.

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