Perhaps the last of their flagship phones packing Kirin processors for the immediate future, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro ticks all the checkmarks for what makes an excellent flagship phone.We got our hands on an early review sample for field testing ahead of its slated deployment in Malaysia but does it meet the mark? Find out in our full-on review where we put the Mate 40 Pro to the test.
Previously we took a look at its design and specifications along with a quick look at its cameras. After having had more time putting it through its paces here’s our final thoughts on the Mate 40 Pro review. For a recap on its build, design and specifications, you can check out our prior Mate 40 Pro first look.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Performance
One thing to note is that we were not able to perform any benchmarks with the Mate 40 Pro as the firmware of our review unit locked out the installation of any benchmarking software and we were not furnished with a retail version of the firmware so our experiences are limited to practical field tests rather than empirical examples of its performance. If we’re able to get a firmware update, we’ll add the benchmark results to our review later on.
We subjected it to a standard usage scenario with a mix of web browsing, gaming and video watching with a few video calls. Apps fired up in seconds and multitasking was an efficient affair without any lag when swapping between apps.
The web browsing experience ran swiftly and smoothly as we swapped between a dozen tabs on their built-in browser and streamed videos ran without a hitch save for the somewhat distractingly large pill-shaped selfie camera punch hole. Games like Asphalt 9 and Genshin Impact ran smoothly at high settings without issue.
The Mate 40 Pro’s biggest draw is the addition of enhanced Air Gestures that let you capture screencaps along with navigating and scrolling left and right in selected apps by simply holding your hand up in front of the phone and performing waving and grabbing gestures.
The Air Gestures feature works but we found it finicky at best and the effort needed to use it means that it’s something only worth doing under dire circumstances like when both your hands are otherwise busy, say for example, eating something greasy.
The lack of Google services and the inability to access the Google Play Store also means that some apps, including those reliant on Google to function, aren’t able to run on the Mate 40 Pro. While your main go-to is Huawei’s AppGallery for apps, you’ll often have to visit ApkPure or Aptoide to side load your own apps if they’re not available on their official app store.
Huawei’s own Petal Search does help point you in the right direction most of the time to find whatever apps that the AppGallery lacks. The challenge here is that even if you manage to find the apk files for the app you want, it may not even necessarily run on the phone due to the aforementioned need for Google services to work.
Fortunately, they’ve made inroads for viable app alternatives and have launched their Huawei Docs; an analogue to Google Docs with cloud saves to their Huawei Drive. This isn’t officially pushed out yet in an update but you can download it unofficially from app repository Huawei Central.
Huawei has also introduced their own payment solution dubbed Huawei Pay but it’s limited at this point in time as it only has very limited banks that it works with for now.
One EMUI 11.0 update of note is the addition of their own navigation app that’s designed to go toe to toe with Google Maps that Huawei has dubbed as Petal Maps.
It’s a good first effort with turn-by-turn voice navigation though it’s primarily intended, in its current build at least, for in-car use. There doesn’t seem to be any options for public transport for now or some means to finetune routes to prioritise or avoid tolls. Still, it’s a positive step forward and there’s still a lot of room for improvement in the AppGallery..
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Display
The display of the Mate 40 Pro is designed from a pragmatic perspective with a resolution that maxes out at FHD+, which is 2,772 x 1,344 pixels and with a maximum 90Hz refresh rate to optimise battery life; a design doctrine also employed by their P40 series phones.
The large punch hole up top is irksome but it’s something that you’ll get used to in time. Optionally, you can also sacrifice some screen real estate in the settings to ditch it by making the status bar on the display thicker but it’s not worth the trade-off.
When subjected to movies and gaming, the display offered good colour rendition and crisp detail with fluid animations and smooth scrolling of web pages and the like on its 90Hz refresh rate. Colour rendition on the display is on the vibrant side of things but you can also tweak it to taste in the settings.
The fast 240Hz sampling rate made it quite responsive too, offering a smooth user experience when web browsing and gaming on Genshin Impact. If the colours on screen don’t quite appeal, you can also tweak them in the settings. Display visibility under sunlight is good as well. You also have an Always On Display option to show the time and notifications on screen.
The paired stereo speakers did not disappoint with a fair amount of detail when tested with a range of mainstream ditties and the ability to kick out audio loud enough to fill a room and share your listening preferences with everyone within six paces of you.
Mate40 Pro Cameras
The Mate 40 Pro’s rear imaging capabilities are built around a primary 50MP F/1.9 23mm camera which uses an RYYB sensor that includes the yellow colour spectrum for better low light performance.
This is paired with a secondary 20MP F/1.8 18mm ultra wide angle camera and a third 12MP F/3.4 OIS equipped telephoto camera with a periscope lens that has an effective 5x optical zoom. This triple camera setup allows for the phone to capture 12MP stills and 4K@60fps video. The front 13MP selfie camera also has a depth sensor riding shotgun that also has 4K@60fps video capture abilities.
One thing to note is that only the 12MP telephoto camera has optical image stabilisation with the other two cameras packing phase detection autofocus with a lot of heavy grunt work including AI image stabilisation (AIS) also handled by the Kirin 9000 CPU’s Neural Processor Unit (NPU) which is especially apparent when capturing video footage.
As expected, the Mate 40 Pro’s rear cameras offer great saturation and excellent detail with especially good dynamic range and the ability to eke out good shots even in challengingly dim light conditions. Night shots are well lit with good levels of captured detail.
There is some tradeoff with the ultra wide angle camera as it serves up shots that aren’t as detailed as results from the primary 50MP camera and look rather soft though it’s apparent only when you pixel peep.
The telephoto camera offers great shots within 5x zoom with good sharpness and detail though if needed, you can zoom in to a rather bonkers 50x digital zoom though detail at this level is somewhat grainy. The fait accompli here is that they still manage to execute this effectively even in dim light which speaks volumes for the power of their computational photography and Leica’s imaging knowhow.
For practical 4K video, the rear cameras are able to capture great judder free shots with the cameras and AIS helping significantly to capture smooth footage and steady subject focus.
All told, the camera array doesn’t pack new tricks like 8K video capture but soundly covers the fundamentals, offering excellent snaps under all but the most challenging conditions and smooth 4K and 1080P video in a very competent fashion.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Battery Life
The aggressive power management, power efficient Kirin 9000 processor and pragmatic usage of an FHD+ 90Hz display mean that the Mate 40 Pro has significant endurance for its 4,400mAh battery.
While the battery capacity on paper is considered fairly middling for its weight class as a flagship, the Mate 40 Pro manages solid endurance even with its 90Hz display on with normal use yielding close to a comfortable day of battery life though heavy movie watching and gaming will knock this estimate askew.With aggressive use with data or WiFi on all day, web browsing, social media, a few hours of Netflix and gaming, the phone still had plenty of juice to last all the way until sunset with more than enough to spare for the commute home.
If you need to save on power, you can tweak the screen to a 60Hz refresh rate though the gains are modest at best with better results achieved if you fire up the phone’s power saving modes.
Charging it from zero with the provided 66W SuperCharge charger and USB cable managed was impressively fast with a full bar in just 45 minutes. This speed only works with the provided SuperCharger; use anything else and you’re looking at about an hour and 45 minutes or so to fully charge the battery. It also has reverse wireless charging on its backplate to charge other gear like the FreeBuds Pro along with 50W wireless charging if you happen to need to charge it wirelessly.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Review Roundup – Is this Worth Your Money?
If you’re not that invested in the Google ecosystem, the Mate 40 Pro makes for a viable alternative, especially if you prioritise camera quality over other concerns as it makes for a powerful camera phone with imaging capabilities that are among the best in its class combined with a luscious display and excellent performance.
To be fair, the AppGallery has matured significantly with a sufficient set of banking and delivery apps for Malaysian users but it still needs more apps.
We haven’t gotten the local Malaysian price yet, so we can’t quite comment on its value for money and judging it solely by its European price which is typically much higher than what it usually costs in Malaysia would be rather unfair. As of now, it’s not officially available yet in Malaysia but we’ll keep you posted.
What we liked Physical volume buttons are back, excellent hardware, great display, improvements in AppGallery, great rear camera with superb low light performance
What we didn’t Large rear camera bump, no 3.5mm audio jack, selfie camera punch hole is a bit large AppGallery still needs more apps
We say The Huawei Mate 40 Pro delivers powerful performance, a potent set of cameras with some of the best low light shooting capabilities we’ve seen on a phone along with excellent design though the lack of Google services limits its appeal somewhat.
Review unit courtesy of Huawei Malaysia.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Review
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Review
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro delivers powerful performance, a potent set of cameras with some of the best low light shooting capabilities we’ve seen on a phone along with excellent design though the lack of Google services limits its appeal somewhat.
Physical volume buttons are back
Improvements in AppGallery
Great rear camera with superb low light performance
Large rear camera bump
No 3.5mm audio jack
Selfie camera punch hole is a bit large
AppGallery still needs more apps