Huawei Mate 40 Pro: the new flagship is extravagant, and expensive

Huawei Mate 40 Pro: the new flagship is extravagant, and expensive

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro was officially launched in Europe today. The European market will not be entitled to the basic version, only the Pro model, sold €1,199. For its latest flagship, the Chinese giant did not want to make any concession, tariff nor technical.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro will be available for purchase in November 2020 on the manufacturer's official store in select European markets. If you pre-order it before November 9, you will get a pair of Huawei Freebuds Pro earphones (worth €179) for free.

Huawei has focused on its new Kirin 9000 technology platform, a camera identical to the Huawei P40 Pro but arranged in a new design, and easier installation of applications as well as updates under EMUI 11.

A futuristic and extravagant design, consistent with its price

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro retains the OLED display, or 'waterfall' screen, of the Mate 30 Pro, with its curved edges and corners. The 6.76-inch slab offers a resolution of 2772 x 1344 pixels with a density of 456 dpi. The absence of a high refresh rate is regrettable, especially for a flagship that sells for this much money.

Compact smartphones are getting a second wind, but the Huawei Mate 40 Pro won't be lightweight at 212 grams with its dimensions 75.5 x 163 x 9.1 mm. The circular photo module protrudes quite a bit but has the merit of being centered, which will prevent the smartphone from being wobbly when laid flat. It is also IP68 certified.

huawei mate 40 pro offial design waterfall
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro's 6.67-inch waterfall display is locked 60 Hz. / © Huawei

The design on the back is really nice visually and to the touch, the coating is smooth and the opalescent color reminds me a bit of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. Unfortunately, I didn't receive the phone early enough to get a grip on it, but after a quick unboxing, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is as nice to see as it is to hold.

The 50-megapixel "Space-Ring" camera

Let's talk about this "Space-Ring" photo module. During a press briefing, Huawei explained to me that this is more or less the same set of sensors as the Huawei P40 Pro. The Mate range is certainly focused on innovation and the technological showcase side, but the camera remains the preserve of the P series.

huawei mate 40 pro offial design back
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro's 50MP triple photo module and its atypical Super-Ring design. / © Huawei

So we find a triple photo module with a 50-megapixel main sensor that Huawei calls its "Ultra Vision Camera", with an aperture of f/1.9. An ultra-wide-angle sensor of 20 megapixels at f/1.8, and a telephoto lens of 12 megapixels at f/3.4, with OIS and capable of producing a 5x optical and 50x digital zoom.

At the front, there's a double hole punch, or pill-shaped hole, Wall-E eyes, in short, choose the synonym that suits you. It houses the 13-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.4 aperture and a 3D sensor for depth data. The latter is supposed to facilitate facial recognition but also gestures.

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro Camera 2
The RYYB house filter for the photo module of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. / © Huawei

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro also features a photo feature called Tracking Shot. The feature helps photographers with focusing. Once the person or subject of a photo is fixed, it is automatically in focus whether you switch from wide-angle to ultra-wide-angle or zoom.

For video, Huawei also offers an audio focus mode that attenuates ambient noise and an audio zoom that amplifies the noise emitted by the subject of a video as the image magnification is increased.

The "unprecedented" power of the Kirin 9000

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro runs on the latest high-end home chip: Kirin 9000. The 5nm etched octa-core CPU has one Cortex-A77 core clocked at 3.13 GHz, 3 Cortex-A77 cores clocked at 2.54 GHz and 4 Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 2.05 GHz.

Historically, Kirin chips have been known to easily compete with Qualcomm and Apple's high-end chipsets. And it's the hallmark of the Mate family to offer an advanced SoC that will remain on the P-Series flagships for the next year, so on the power side, you shouldn't have any worries with this SoC coupled with a Mali-G78 GPU.

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro Chipset 1
Kirin 9000, the powerful monster of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. / © Huawei

In addition, the company has developed the patented 5G Super-Uplink system to perfect 5G connectivity and "dramatically" increase download speed. A promise that is difficult to verify as it stands, at least in Europe, but so be it.

Huawei has also focused on LinkTurbo, a feature to optimize 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi as well as intelligent 4G and 5G networks, again to improve network connectivity for gaming, downloading, and streaming.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is powered by a 4,400 mAh battery with new fast charging technology. The smartphone adopts Wireless SuperCharge in 50W and Wired SuperCharge in 66W. Reverse charging is also on the way.

HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro Chipset 2
The Kirin 9000 chip in the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is 5nm etched and 5G compatible. / © Huawei

Facilitating de-Googleization in EMUI 11

Huawei proudly presented new features of EMUI 11 such as Smart Gesture Control, the ability to perform gestures in front of the Mate 40 Pro like Google's Motion Sense. There's also Eyes on Display, a feature that lets you, for example, reduce the volume of a ringtone when the smartphone detects you're looking at your screen.

More than any other manufacturer, Huawei has obviously had to highlight its work on protecting the data and privacy of its users. The TEE (Trusted Execution Environment, basically a separate and secure space) of the EMUI operating system, for example, achieves the CC EAL5+ level (an international security certification) according to Huawei.

But the most interesting thing is the progress made by Huawei on the user experience without Google's apps and services. What was explained to me during the briefing is that the Petal Search tool, the web search and apps engine, has been significantly improved.

Concretely, on a Huawei smartphone without GMS, you have to install the apps not available via APK and for Google apps, you have to create a shortcut via the mobile web version. An APK, as you know, is a static version of an app. You used to have to manually search for updates.

Now, Petal Search will automatically notify you as soon as an update is available for an app you installed via APK. Petal Search will also directly offer web shortcuts for apps that do not work via APK.

This is for me the most interesting argument proposed by Huawei and I can't wait to test all this. It should be easier and more intuitive while waiting for a possible switch to HarmonyOS and for the transition to life without Google to finally be fully underway.

What do you think of this Huawei Mate 40 Pro? It certainly comes at a high price, but do the promised improvements on the software side interesting you? Should Huawei have slashed the price of its flagship to compensate for the lack of Google services? Let us know.

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