Huawei Mate 40 Pro review: Software shenanigans [Video]

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The Huawei Mate 40 Pro has been released into a very different landscape to that of its predecessor, the Mate 30 Pro. Restrictions have tightened, but that hasn’t dulled the Chinese firm’s enthusiasm for flagship smartphone releases.

Hardware can only take you so far. The crux of almost all decent tech is the still software. Yes, the underlying base of the Mate 40 Pro is the same Android flavor we all know and love, but it still worryingly lacks many of the most important applications and services that are deemed “essential” here in the West.

This has caused a race to fill the AppGallery with alternatives for all of the most popular Android apps. Progress has been made, but it’s not clear if that will be enough long term.

Even without the access to the Google Play Store, this is the third flagship — and second Mate series — launch from the Chinese firm since the US government essentially forced Google to cut ties with one of its biggest overseas partners.

Video — Huawei Mate 40 Pro review

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Hardware & Design

The Mate 30 Pro last year featured a stunning but sometimes frustrating “horizon” display. It took curved displays to another level, but usability did suffer because of those curves. Huawei has stuck with the slopes on either side on the Mate 40 Pro, but I must say they feel far less pronounced than on their predecessor.

I’m glad that the side volume buttons have also returned, as the display-tapping method that was handled by software was a little finicky at times and annoying to have to activate when your smartphone was out of sight in a pocket, for instance.

This feels like a honed design that takes cues from last year’s Mate 30 series and the P40 series released earlier this year. After years of pumping out smartphones at breakneck speed, Huawei knows how to make a good looking device, and I’d conclude that the Mate 40 Pro is one such “looker.” That said, the glossy side rails do make the package look a little tacky.

A soft, satin-like finish on the rear panel means it glints various lighting conditions, but this feels…

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