Huawei may suffer from the presidential decree passed by Trump last year, the brand continues to innovate and provide us with smartphones, each more successful than the last. After the excellent P40 Pro launched at the beginning of the year , the brand has therefore returned to the table with the Mate 40 Pro .
And after a few weeks spent in his company, the time has come to share my thoughts on him.
Unless you have spent the last few months cut off from everything, you probably know that Huawei found itself in dire straits last year following the implementation of a decree by the Trump administration, a decree that prohibits quite simply for American companies to do business with him.
Despite this serious setback, Huawei maintained the bar and began to develop its own ecosystem. We had already mentioned this in my test of the P40 Pro.
And now, six months later, now seems like a good time to take stock again. Which we will do a little further in the video.
Design & Ergonomics
Huawei blew everyone away with the P40 Pro, one of the prettiest smartphones on the market.
Well rest assured, because the Mate 40 Pro is fully in line with the trend initiated at the start of the year and it is clearly one of the most beautiful smartphones of the moment.
The screen, for starters, is simply dizzying. Huge, it stretches across the entire front of the phone and even extends to its side edges. The effect is striking, especially since Huawei has done things right: the edges of the panel are not tactile, to avoid the risk of improper handling.
On the other hand and unlike the P40 Pro, the panel does not extend over the top and bottom edges of the phone. I admit it's a bit of a shame.
The punch always answers the call and it is quite massive. In return, it also houses a lot of different sensors. We will see later that the Mate 40 Pro uses them intelligently.
The back is to die for. Once again, Huawei has opted for a matte finish in order to make its phone not very messy, but with an iridescent appearance that gives it a lot of charm.
The brand has also done a lot of work on the photo module to make it as stylish and discreet as possible. The four sensors and the four optics that compose it are therefore placed in a black circle which protrudes only one or two millimeters from the hull.
A real feat, especially when you know that the Mate 40 Pro is equipped with a periscope zoom.
The handling is pleasant, despite the generous dimensions of the terminal. The Mate 40 Pro has the intelligence to stretch lengthwise and at the same time be quite narrow, which also makes it easier to handle.
The buttons are all placed on the right edge, and they fall naturally under the fingers. Huawei has also dyed the power button red on this model to catch the eye. A coquetry that contributes to the seductive capital of the terminal.
The USB Type-C connector is placed on the bottom edge, not far from the grille of the second speaker. The first speaker is located on the other side for its part, on the upper edge. Nothing to say about the sound quality, the Mate 40 Pro will be able to restore a well-balanced sound with a beautiful spatialization. Personally, however, I would have liked a little more bass.
Important precision before finishing with the design, the Mate 40 Pro is certified IP68 and it will therefore be resistant to water and dust.
Screen, Processor & Autonomy
So the Mate 40 Pro is a nice surprise in the design arena, but looks aren't everything and what really matters is inner beauty. Exactly, the time has come to dive body and soul into the bowels of the telephone.
The screen is the basis of everything. We can be satisfied with a less powerful processor, we can also survive with a battery of less capacity. But if the screen isn't good, the whole user experience is destroyed.
Fortunately, the Mate 40 Pro goes quite far in this area. The screen, to begin with, is of the OLED type and it reaches 6.76 inches with a resolution of 2772 x 1344. The brightness is good, as are the contrasts and the colors. The rendering is also very natural, which will facilitate the photo retouching work.
Another interesting point, the adjustment of the brightness is really right, and this at any time of the day or night.
Still, the Mate 40 Pro lends itself very well to the multimedia game. Even more with its speakers which, as we have seen just before, will be able to reproduce quality and well-balanced sound.
One of the great novelties of the Mate 40 Pro is its SoC: the Kirin 9000. A completely crazy SoC which has the particularity of being engraved in 5 nm, carrying no less than 15 billion transistors and reach a frequency of 3.13 Ghz.
Without forgetting, as a bonus, the Mali-G78 24 cores and the all new NPU composed of two Big Cores and a Tiny Core.
With all this, the Mate 40 Pro is well equipped to face the future serenely … and also to satisfy gamers.
And there, clearly, I did not succeed in catching it once during these weeks of testing. Everything is extremely fluid, especially since the screen is capable of achieving a refresh rate of 90 Hz, and a touch sampling frequency of 240 Hz.
It doesn't look like much, but it also greatly contributes to this feeling of responsiveness. The slightest gesture will be processed immediately by the phone. And if you like fast-paced games, then clearly you'll be very sensitive to this argument.
Very quickly, it should be noted that the Mate 40 Pro has 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage, expandable with an NM card, Huawei's proprietary format.
So yes, 8 GB is not 12 GB but it is more than enough. It is enough now, and it will be enough in the next two or three years as well.
But we still have one point to discuss: autonomy. Huawei started off on a 4,400mAh battery and it does the job well. With my uses, the Mate 40 Pro lasts an average of a day and a half, sometimes more.
And then there is the charge. The Mate 40 Pro offers 66W fast charging and it feels good. It will indeed recharge completely in 36 minutes and this is very very appreciable. Especially since it also offers fast wireless charging, this time with a power of 50 W.
Unfortunately, I was not able to test it since it is necessary to have the compatible wireless charger, a charger which was not provided to me.
Photo & Video
Huawei is one of those manufacturers who have always attached great importance to the photographic capabilities of their devices. And the Mate 40 Pro is no exception to the rule.
It is even formidable in this use, and this on all its focal lengths.
The Mate 40 Pro is indeed equipped with a photo module comprising three optics and three sensors.
The main sensor reaches 50 million pixels and it is accompanied by optics equivalent to a 23 mm, with an aperture at f / 1.9. If it will be able to shoot at full definition by switching to the dedicated mode, it will by default combine four photosites into one in order to recover more light and it will therefore output photos of 12 million pixels.
The second sensor reaches 20 million pixels and this time it comes with an ultra wide angle equivalent to an 18 mm, with a very nice opening at f / 1.8. An aperture that is very rare on this type of focal length, at least in smartphones, and which promises excellent results in low light.
The third sensor, finally, reaches 12 million pixels and this time it is surmounted by a telephoto lens equivalent to a 125 mm, with an aperture at f / 3.4. The Mate 40 Pro will therefore be able to achieve 5x optical magnification.
We therefore have a very good versatility, a versatility that allows the Mate 40 Pro to remain effective in all light conditions.
As far as I am concerned, I made the choice to mistreat him a little and to focus especially on the night photos. It is generally in low light that smartphones show their limits the fastest.
And as you will see, the Mate 40 Pro is quite impressive in this exercise.
By day, the wide angle Mate 40 Pro is very efficient and it is thus able to recover an impressive amount of details on the scenes photographed, which results in a constant sharpness and by beautiful textures, but also in a dynamic which commands respect.
The colorimetry is fairly neutral, which is definitely a good thing. Huawei has had a heavy hand in the past and the Mate 40 Pro does not fall into the trap of saturation.
By side effect, the images produced by it will also be easier to edit.
Nothing to say about the autofocus. It is precise and responsive thanks to the presence of a fourth sensor entirely dedicated to this use.
At night or in low light, we lose a bit of detail, but the Mate 40 Pro is still effective, in particular thanks to the presence of a well thought out night mode. If it does not go as far as the one on board the Pixels, it will still produce beautiful images in the middle of the night … at least if you use a tripod.
The main feature of the ultra wide angle is its opening. It reaches f / 1.8, which is rare for a smartphone. Thanks to this, the ultra wide angle will gain in flexibility and it will thus be very effective in the evening or at nightfall.
We therefore keep a nice sharpness and a nice dynamic, with colors that strike right. Huawei has done a lot of work on the white balance as well and I haven't noticed any particular concerns. Same thing for the management of artefacts, very well mastered.
At night, the ultra wide angle remains effective and it can also benefit from the night mode, which will give you at the same time more flexibility for your compositions.
Huawei has been offering telescopic zooms on its high-end devices for a few generations now and the Mate 40 Pro does not break the tradition.
It's quite the opposite. The zoom in question achieves optical magnification in 5x and it is very effective in everyday life. Even switching to 10x magnification, we will therefore retain very sharp and detailed images.
And be careful, because this observation applies to photos taken during the day, but also and above all to photos taken at night. We can also salute the tour de force.
The Mate 40 Pro is also capable of producing beautiful portraits. We keep a very nice sharpness, with an ultimately quite natural rendering in terms of colors. If it will still be possible to smooth the features of our subject through the photo application, the function can be deactivated on demand.
The blur is rather natural and quite homogeneous. In bright sunlight and direct light, subjects will sometimes look like they've been cut with a billhook, but let's be clear, the Mate 40 Pro's portrait mode is clearly one of the best around. It has also proved effective on all occasions, and especially in the most difficult light conditions.
The Mate 40 Pro is of course very effective in selfie and the joint use of the two sensors integrated into the screen allows to obtain very soft and very homogeneous background blurs …
Blurs which are not always perfect, as evidenced by one of the photos above, a photo where the Mate 40 Pro has blurred part of the frame of my glasses. Note that the Pixel 5 had made the same mistake too. In their defense, it should be pointed out that the frame in question is transparent, which clearly does not make their task easier.
Unsurprisingly, the Mate 40 Pro goes quite far in terms of video. It can indeed film in 4K at 60 images per second, with the added bonus of slowed modes which allow to go up to 3,840 images per second in 720p or 240 images per second in 1080p.
And it works. Day and night, the device remains comfortable and it is thus able to generate clean, fluid sequences with a nice sharpness. Nothing to say either in terms of colorimetry which remains correct. We will also appreciate the software processing which limits the appearance of artefacts, which makes it possible to maintain a high level of detail at night.
As for stabilization, it is truly formidable and it will be quite possible to shoot hand-held and to follow its subject without ending up with shaky sequences.
Clearly, for me, the Mate 40 Pro comes close to perfection. What struck me the most, ultimately, was its flexibility.
Today almost all phones are capable of performing well in daylight. And it's usually when the light goes down that you start to feel their limits.
I expected the same to be true for the Mate 40 Pro, but it doesn't and the craziest thing is that the three focal lengths do very well. Normally, when I shoot in the middle of the night, I stay on the brightest focal length. But there, in this case, it is not necessary and one feels at the same time much freer.
Talking about the Mate 40 Pro without mentioning its platform is impossible. You know, since last year, Huawei no longer has the right to embed Google's tools and services on its phones. Phones which are at the same time deprived of all the applications of the American giant, but also and especially of its services.
A real setback for Huawei, therefore, which was not very far from becoming the number 1 in the market.
Now, this presidential decree has also had the effect of a real shock for the brand. A brand that has invested heavily in its ecosystem in recent months.
Ecosystem on which we could not ignore.
The AppGallery, as we know, now occupies a prominent place in the brand's strategy. Deprived of the Play Store, the latter had no choice but to turn to its own application store. A store which has grown considerably in recent months and which now has a fairly diverse catalog.
It should also be noted that Huawei has done a lot of editorial work in recent months to make its store more pleasant to use. The navigation has been revised and the boutique teams have drawn up a number of thematic files offered in the form of collections.
A nice step forward, therefore, even if many big names are still missing.
But Huawei has not put all its eggs in one basket and the brand has thus developed a second application to help us easily recover our favorite applications in the form of APK files: Petal Search.
I presented it to you in my test of the P40 Pro, Petal Search was originally thought of as an APK file meta search engine. It was therefore enough to type the name of its application to find the associated installer, an installer most often hosted on dedicated platforms like the excellent APK Pure.
But since then, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge and if Petal Search still has a section dedicated to the search for applications, the tool also goes a little further than that now and it will be able to help you. bring up news articles and other similar content.
It is therefore now more of the information portal. An interesting choice on the part of Huawei and which proves that Petal Search now occupies a prominent place in the company's strategy.
It should also be noted that the “Petal” ecosystem is no longer limited to a single application. Huawei also took advantage of the launch of the Mate 40 Pro to announce the launch of a brand new tool, Petal Maps. A tool that simply aims to replace Google Maps and allow us to easily get from point A to point B without getting lost.
Well designed, the application is very pleasant to use and it was very effective during my tests, even if it offers a little less options than its competitors.
For the moment, Petal Maps is indeed sticking mainly to itineraries. Still, we can only be impressed with what Huawei has managed to do in the space of just a few months.
And we can also mention Huawei Docs, which aims to replace Google Docs and which will therefore allow users to find on their Huawei Device a word processor and a spreadsheet without having to get hold of the wallet. Or Huawei Wallet, dedicated to mobile payments, not to mention all the home applications you already know.
In the end, that's really what struck me the most during these weeks spent with the Mate 40 Pro. Huawei no longer thinks in terms of Device or platform. The brand is in the process of creating its ecosystem. An ecosystem that is really starting to take shape, even though we are only at the beginning of the adventure.
As I told you during my test of the P40 Pro, we can very well survive without applications and without Google services. I did, and I'm definitely not the only one.
Six months later, my observation has not changed. Granted, Ms. Michu will no doubt have a bit of a hard time finding her bearings, and downloading APKs can always be ticking, but it's impossible not to fully appreciate how far Huawei has come in the space of just a few month.
So it's true, the absence of Google Mobile Services is always annoying, at least when you're used to using Google's services, but alternatives exist and that's what the Mate 40 ultimately reminds us of. Pro, the P40 Pro and all other devices of the brand.
And this may eventually become a real problem for Google. In China, people are already used to doing without the services of the American giant, but this was not the case in Europe and the rest of the world. Well, not so far.
Now, the question everyone is asking is obviously whether the result of the presidential elections will improve Huawei's situation and whether Joe Biden will reverse the decree taken by Trump.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro