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Huawei Mate 40 Pro hands-on: Modernizing the Mate

The Mate series is Huawei’s high-end suite of flagship devices. Last year’s Huawei Mate 30 Pro had a premium design, an impressive camera, and fantastic battery life. It’s a year later and Huawei has announced its successor. The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is here, trying to modernize the Mate line.

Read more details about the Huawei Mate 40 Pro

With a faster display, chipset and faster charging, the Mate 40 Pro is Huawei’s answer to the 2020 premium smartphone race. Here’s our first hands-on experience with the latest Huawei device.

Design and display: baby steps

Huawei Mate 40 Pro held in hand and shows the rear mystical silver finish

It is clear that Huawei wants to compete with Samsung, Oppo and Apple in the high-end sector. The glass and metal design of the Mate 40 Pro looks sleek and elegant, especially in this model color from Mystic Silver. This new color scheme emits different colors depending on the lighting conditions. The Mate 30 Pro’s circular camera theme and the P40 Pro Plus’ large punch-hole selfie camera modernize the design.

The Mate 40 Pro looks and feels like a Mate 30 Pro and P40 Pro Plus Hybrid.

Let’s take a tour of the Mate 40 Pro. There is a speaker, microphone, and IR blaster at the top. The left side is completely bare. On the right side there is a red power switch and a separate volume rocker. On the bottom there is a USB-C port, a microphone, a loudspeaker and a dual SIM tray. There is a large circular camera bump on the back of the device.

The phone is heavy and stable in the hand. The keys feel quite stiff, which often makes it difficult to press. The rails feel comfortable and easy to grip, while the frosted glass on the back is contrastingly slippery. The provided plain text combats this and I used it as standard in the case for the time being.

See also: Huawei P40 Pro review: refinement done right

The optical fingerprint scanner in the display reacts. However, it isn’t the fastest in-screen scanner out there. Haptics feel crisp, even if not as good as the Pixel 4 or iPhone 11. The hybrid stereo speakers are loud, but rather thin.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro shows the home screen at an angle on a bench

The 6.76-inch Flex OLED 90 Hz display is a gradual improvement over the panel on the previous device. The curved edges make the phone look and feel sleek, but glare can be an issue in direct light. The panel also suffers from a slight off-axis brightness shift. That said, it’s sharp, bright, and responsive. With a refresh rate of 90 Hz, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro feels more up-to-date than the 60 Hz panel of the Mate 30 Pro.

Connected: 90Hz smartphone display test: can users really feel the difference?

Given the forecast price and the target market, we would have liked a 120 Hz display here. The direct competitors of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro have panels with a higher resolution or higher refresh rate. This penalizes the Mate 40 Pro to begin with, but we’ll run our series of display tests to see how it stacks up in real life.

Performance and software: solid progress

Huawei Mate 40 Pro held in hand on the Snapchat app gallery page

Huawei’s system-on-chip nomenclature deviates from the three-digit naming convention. The chipset for the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is Kirin 9000, the first 5 nm SoC with an integrated 5G modem. This puts it in a good position to compete with Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 865 Plus SoC in terms of both build quality and cellular performance.

The Huawei Kirin 9000 is the first 5 nm SoC with an integrated 5G modem.

With 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, the Mate 40 Pro feels fast and snappy. I haven’t seen any lag or degradation yet. I’ve played a few 3D games and found these to work well too. Browsing through the operating system and app gallery was as quick as you’d expect from a flagship smartphone. This is undoubtedly aided by the 90 Hz display.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro close up of the punch hole selfie cameras

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro has a slightly smaller 4,400 mAh battery than the 4,500 mAh cell of its predecessor. A more powerful 66 W SuperCharge stone is included instead of last year’s 40 W plug. Wireless charging has also been improved – this time it’s 50W versus 27W on the Mate 30 Pro.

Continue reading: How fast it really works

Huawei’s software naming scheme has taken a different path. In the past, the company has numbered its EMUI software using the Android version number. Unfortunately, EMUI 11 is based on Android 10, not Android 11. This means that the software is out of date from the start. This is likely due to Huawei’s ongoing trade ban. We don’t know exactly when Huawei devices will get Android 11.

As with other Huawei phones from last year, the Mate 40 Pro doesn’t have Google Play services.

EMUI 11 looks and feels very similar to EMUI 10, with some notable updates. There are new permanently active display themes and an optimized settings menu. Also included are suggestions for finding petals in the pulldown, which can be accessed from the home screen.

Continue reading: Huawei’s Play Store alternative has gotten better, but it’s the apps that count

Continue reading: Everything you need to know about the Huawei ban

Cameras: Incremental Upgrades

Huawei Mate 40 Pro takes a photo

At the heart of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro’s camera system is the huge 50MP RYYB that we saw earlier on the P40 Pro. This is still the largest camera sensor ever built into a mainstream flagship smartphone that measures a whopping 1 / 1.28 inch. The RYYB setup means the sensor swaps the traditional green subpixels for yellow, which allows it to absorb more light and improve performance in low light. We found this sensor to be fantastic in the P40 Pro and we expect the same from this newer model.

The main camera on the back is accompanied by a 20-megapixel ultra-wide sensor. Along with this is a 10X optical periscope zoom lens that outputs 8MP images. Then there is a second 12MP telephoto camera. Finally, there is a 3D camera for depth measurement. On the front is the main selfie shooter, which is accompanied by an ultra-wide angle lens. Both are located in the large pill-shaped hole and output 12MP images.

Continue reading: Camera zoom explained: How optical, digital and hybrid zoom work

Huawei Mate 40 Pro up close with the quad camera module

Huawei offers Ultra HD 4K 60fps video for both front and rear cameras. In addition, the rear gunner can record 720p slow motion recordings at a whopping 7680 fps – a feature that was introduced by the predecessor.

This stacked camera setup means business and it seems like it is holding its own against the competition with its sheer pixel performance. Its large sensors should help it out in low light, and its feature-rich camera app should allow users to take the exact photo they want.

We will definitely test the Mate 40 Pro’s camera suite extensively Android AuthorityThe Huawei Mate 40 Pro review will be available soon.

In summary: modernization of the partner

Huawei Mate 40 Pro back angled on a bench

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a modernized version of last year’s device. It has a faster charge, a faster chipset, and a faster display. All of this in one package for 2020 gives you a phone that can compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and Oppo Find X2 Pro in Europe and China.

What do you think of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro? Let us know in the comments.

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