back to article The Huawei Mate 40 Pro would be the best Android flagship on the market – were it not for the US-China trade war

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a heartbreakingly good phone. "Good", because it is. Despite being mired in a bloody transpacific spat, Huawei has delivered on pretty much everything you'd want from a flagship, particularly when it comes to the display and camera. If these were normal times, Huawei would have no trouble shifting …

  1. Marki Mark

    A Grand!

    "This phone is easily able to justify its £1,099 price tag"

    Errr, no. No phone justifies that sort of price tag

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: A Grand!

      No phone, bi

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: A Grand!

      $500+ for any phone is suckers world.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward download the apk, install, then install Aurora store, simples.

    1. Bloodbeastterror


      Alas, not so simple. I tried this just a couple of weeks ago with my ageing but still 100% Nexus 6, and it really didn't go well. I expected the paid apps not to work, of course, since without Google there's no proof that I paid for them. However, even some free ones were also glitchy, and my final straw came when What3words (admittedly not a crucial app for me) simply repeatedly force-closed every time I tried to start it. Add to that the loss of contacts, Gmail, Keep, etc. (all of which have workarounds, but nothing approaching the seamless Google experience) and I decided that it just wasn't worth the effort. I'm sticking with my firewall & VPN as my best effort for privacy.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: F-Droid/Aurora/Micro-g

        Here is the HTML version of Gmail, just login on your google account in your web browser and then use this link:

        Works fine and even has more options than the mobile version.

        1. Bloodbeastterror

          Re: F-Droid/Aurora/Micro-g

          Thank you. I did try that, but it's only one facet among a host of missing functionality.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Over at XDA there is a 20 minute procedure for getting Google Apps onto the Huawei Mate 40. The user comments suggest that it mostly works, but Google Pay and Google Games don't work, and some people experiencing issues with syncing Gmail and contacts.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > the absence of the Google Play Store – let alone other essential apps like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Drive – adds a degree of frustration that you wouldn't get with other phones

    On the contrary, this adds to its appeal. There is an increasingly urgent need to move away from siloed ecosystems and this is as good a step as any in that direction. This company has the clout and the funds to prove that it is possible to do mobile without Google and/or Apple, and that is a good thing.

    (The price, on the other hand…)

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Small hypothetical here, but with sales of this likely to be weak due to lack of Googly stuff, it might be a bargain pick in few months time, along with the possible gamble on Huawei returning to the googly fold thanks to a strong possibility of detrumpified US politics in 2021 ,

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Indeed, and quite why Google Drive is "essential according to the article " is beyond me

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Google Drive can be easily replaced by other services same for G-Mail. Is Google Play store that's the real singer since 90% of apps only exist there.

        Even Signal makes you download their app from there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You see that smug-faced bastard without so much as a Google account, holding a phone running heavily sanitised firmware and 100% FOSS (thank you F-Droid) at the application layer? I'm waving at you. :-)

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        My guess:

        If you already have all your shit there, it's both a Herculean task and a right, royal pain in the arse to change to using something else.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      If Huawei somehow finds itself able to license Google Mobile Services once again, this would easily be the most compelling Android flagship on the market:

      Surely all that is needed is for Huawei to provide relevant information to the XDAdevelopers Forum,given they have already demonstrated the ability to install Google Play Services on other Huawei handsets...

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Exactly. The old walled garden system never works out well int the end.

    5. RyokuMas


      ... in fact, I would go so far as to say that the fact that the author of this piece states that these apps are "essential" is proof of Google's monopoly over Android, and also of product tying.

  4. Steve Graham

    I guess that the majority of Reg readers have at least some technical proficiency. That being the case, to us the absence of Google services on a phone is either a minor inconvenience or a Very Good Thing Indeed.

    A review, in the Reg, which "fails" a phone for that reason is perhaps aimed at the wrong audience?

    Normal people, of course, might have a different opinion, but not many of them read this publication.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Well, I guess it is "fails" in terms of market, or units sold, that's how I read it. I have to admit your comment came to my mind as well....

    2. Chris G

      You have written pretty much what I was thinking.

      Though I do use Google maps there are alternatives and a cloudy freeby like drive is essential to remove not add to your app list.

      1. matjaggard

        This is nonsense, a huge number of apps require play services and I'd expect even the most tech savvy people to use Google maps occasionally.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Does the phone come with a internet browser?

          Do google also provide web interfaces for all thier services?

          So play store or tell huawei that you want this app and the dev will be offered a chance to sell on huawei's own store.

          For me the less google stuff running in the background on the phone the more I trust it.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. MarkET


    I'd rather give the money to a charity to feed people.

    Leave photography to the professionals and just make an affordable phone with a battery life greater than a reality show...

    1. TheProf


      "Leave photography to the professionals "

      Yes, too many bloody amateurs taking photographs and diluting the market.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: £1,000?

      Then buy a cheaper phone, or a model from 2 years ago.

      You are not forced to buy this

      PS you know professional photographers also use smartphones. Rankin springs to mind.

    3. Kaufman

      Re: £1,000?

      People like you are usually the ones who are looking for charity from others. You people make me sick!

  7. Sgt_Oddball

    Playing Devils advocate...

    As much as I would love to use the phone, because the playstore isn't present, a number of issues get raised.

    The biggest is Microsoft's offerings wouldn't work right with Company Portal so Teams/Outlook would be out. This would mean I'd end up with 2 phones which I can't be doing with.

    My banking App as well wouldn't work and I've yet to see an authenticator tool from Huawei for 2FA as well.

    I *could* just hack Google play onto the device but I think I'll just stick to less hassle and go for a different manufacturer for my next phone (which is a shame since I was impressed with my P20 Pro).

    And yes, I know this all makes me Google's b*tch but my Googlely account has very little personal information on it and I intentionally keep them separate from other accounts (and smuckbook, I've long since stopped using)

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Playing Devils advocate...

      > Teams/Outlook

      > My banking

      You can access these via a browser, shirley?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Playing Devils advocate...

        not quite as easy with the banking stuff some, Santander for instance want you to authorise payments using the app

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          Re: Playing Devils advocate...

          That just confirms my existing belief that Santander is a shit bank.

          1. stungebag

            Re: Playing Devils advocate...

            What 2FA does your bank use?

            1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

              Re: Playing Devils advocate...

              I don't use online banking at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Playing Devils advocate...

      same. I've just given my mate 20 pro to the wife and grabbed a oppo find x2 pro for myself. Would have gone for the mate 40 pro if it weren't for the goggle shit show, I can't be arsed fecking around trying to get stuff to work

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't be arsed fecking around trying to get stuff to work

        You were a Dev on my last project, weren't you?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Google free phone?

    If I could load Spotify onto it, then it would be a case of "PLEASE take my money"

    Cheers… Ishy

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: A Google free phone?

      You could always access Spotify via their web site...

    2. Kaufman

      Re: A Google free phone?

      I hate to say this but Spotify probably has the biggest selection of music out there. Unfortunately, they don't stream in high resolution. If you're interested in quality streaming you should consider Amazon especially if you buy from them a lot. The best is tidal but they have a limited selection for me, probably still good enough for most. I just happen to enjoy everything including foreign music which is where they lack most. This is only important is you're an audiophile or just an enthusiast who simply enjoys quality music, which is what I am.

      1. 27escape

        Re: A Google free phone?

        You can use the phone clone tool to copy over lots of apps from your current phone, though if they require google services then they don't get copied. Spotify should copy over without issues

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If these were normal times, Huawei would have no trouble shifting units.

    it would, were it not for "the spat", covid, and a 1K price tag, definitely! :)

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Even if it came with Google services and apps, a free foot rub, and a slap up dinner. I would still find it hard to part with £1000 for a phone as I really don't see me getting 5 times the benefit over a £200 device. Which if a £200 phones got lost, broken or stolen I could buy another one of and still have £600 remaining out of a grand.

  11. Floydian Slip

    So close, and yet so far

    I ran a Huawei Mate 20 Pro for two years - it was as good as all the reviews claimed, and then some. For the first time ever I was going to keep it and swap to SimO until I dropped it one too many times and the top right corner of the screen crunched. Didn't bother getting a quote for a new screen, just decided to go down the upgrade path.

    Unlike previous years thee was nothing to get excited about so I decided on some criteria and thought I'd choose that way. Number 1 on the list was "Not Apple" and No.2 was "nothing Chinese" for security and human rights issues (HK, Uighurs etc)

    Wow, talk about limiting choice.......Samsung it is then. I'd been a Sammy denier for years, always looking to stay away from the mainstream but choice is now limited. Didn't want the "full-fat" S10 so looked at the S20FE and it looked plenty good enough so that's the slab of glass, plastic and silicon that sits in my hand.

    Boy, what a disappointment - even when compared to a 2 year old phone.

    Face Recognition - much less accurate and a lot slower

    Finger Print Recognition - much less accurate and a lot slower

    Battery Life - Despite being 200MaH greater than my Mate 20 it barely lasts a day. The Huawei would easily last for 2

    Camera - Zoom clarity and crispness - much poorer.

    Wish I'd gone for the P30Pro now but it's too late.

    1. FIA Silver badge

      Re: So close, and yet so far

      Unlike previous years thee was nothing to get excited about so I decided on some criteria and thought I'd choose that way. Number 1 on the list was "Not Apple" and No.2 was "nothing Chinese" for security and human rights issues (HK, Uighurs etc)

      Wow, talk about limiting choice.......Samsung it is then.

      Ooooooo.... erm..... about that.

      Turns out if you want to have, well, pretty much anything in this modern world without at some point metaphorically shitting on another human being it's really really hard.

      The real problem though is that I suspect we lack the collective introspection needed to really affect significant change.

      I suppose over time narrowing global standards of living will mean the poor people the wealthy crap on will at least be local, which will make some people happier.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Re: So close, and yet so far

        Something something no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism...

    2. Jolyon Ralph

      Re: So close, and yet so far

      I've been using the P20 Pro as my main phone since it first launched and it's still so good that I can't really justify upgrading it until I somehow manage to destroy it (and seeing how many times I've managed to drop it face-first onto concrete without a scratch this may take some time.)

      Hopefully we'll have a more sane world order by then and Huawei will be allowed to use Google services again, if not I'll replace it with a used P30 Pro.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A perfect example of the Google monopoly

    Maybe Trump had not this idea, but that shows blatantly why Google Play is a monopoly....

  13. MrMerrymaker

    The Xiaomi 10 Ultra

    Easily the best. Imported from China, wiped and rooted with the EU Rom To remove bloat.

    No band 20, but EE repurposed the old 3g frequencies for 4g. Even in deepest darkest Wales I'm getting 4g.

    It's perfect.

    1. MrMerrymaker

      Re: The Xiaomi 10 Ultra

      Forgot to mention Xiaomi ROMs need Google installed yourself if you want it.


      Some users see this as a negative?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

    Well, it kind of is, at least partly, Huawei's fault considering it's their network kit, riddled with backdoors installed at the behest of the CCP, that lies at the heart of the US trade ban.

    1. Kaufman

      Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

      You just sound like the typical Trump sheep making accusations without a single shred of evidence. There are no other companies on the planet more transparent than Huawei. They literally bent over to prove that they were clean and honest. Don't worry though they still are by far the largest Telco and conduct business with over 170 countries. I wonder why that is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

        There are no other companies on the planet more transparent than Huawei

        Yes, they are required to hand over any customer data they have to the CCP.

        Backdoors can't be proven, but Huawei network hardware was assessed as having a high number of security vulnerabilities due to poor code quality. They were also found to be using code stolen from other vendors.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC - Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

          Have you or anyone compared Huawei code with code from other manufacturers ? Is it better or worse ?

          At the very least they're honest and offered their code to be audited.

        2. richardw42

          Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

          Wow! You moved those goalposts quickly.

          C'mon then, "riddled with backdoors" you said. Prove it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

          "they are required to hand over any customer data they have to the CCP"


          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

            >"they are required to hand over any customer data they have to the CCP"


            It's on the Chinese statute books:

            " Huawei is required under China’s 2005 Company Law to set up an internal CPC Organisation. The legislation is silent on the roles of the CPC Organisation in a Chinese firm... More worrying for some nations is the potential application of the 2017 Chinese National Intelligence Law (CNIL) to Huawei’s overseas operations. Article 7 is the most contentious provision. It requires any Chinese ‘organisation or citizen’ to assist or cooperate with state intelligence work. "


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "In fairness to Huawei, this isn't its fault."

      Nah - Huawei just didn't bribe Trump in the right way, like other companies did.

      I can't imagine that Trump knows or cares much about Tech, but if they had booked into his hotels all this would never have happened.

  15. Kaufman

    Best phone ever

    Hands down fastest phone and best camera in the history of smartphones! Picked up mine for $1580 so it's a little pricey, but very exclusive. I can't imagine paying any where near that for an apple or Samsung.

  16. DS999 Silver badge

    How in the world

    Is that giant camera "hole" better than a notch? Talk about stupid design!

  17. ecofeco Silver badge

    Not a fan of no bezel

    I am not a fan of no bezel. These types of phones are impossible to hold without triggering some kind of unwanted action. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Not a fan of no bezel

      It's not the best design (mainly because the available cases often don't protect the screen edges well), but not all of them are hard to hold without triggering the screen. Samsung started the curved edges screen silliness, but they have grip sensors to detect and prevent false touches.

      In practice it works well on Samsungs, and if you're feeling geeky you can enter the secret code on the dialler to access the hardware test menu and try the grip sensors.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Not a fan of no bezel

      I've never had a problem holding my iPhone 11 (or the X I had before it) triggering unwanted actions. Ignoring unwanted touches is a software problem, there's no reason to need a big bezel around the phone to avoid this problem.

    3. rich_a

      Re: Not a fan of no bezel

      It's more the curved edges that annoy me - can't apply a good screen protector!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Not a fan of no bezel

        Yeah, some screen protectors for my curved-screen Galaxy S8 fit better than others - good ones can be found though.

        However, my next phone will likely have a fully flst screen, like the Gakaxy S10 E or S20 FE.

    4. bengoey49

      Re: Not a fan of no bezel

      I have no problem with my P40 Pro which has similar curved screen. Problem is fitting a screen protector I think ( I haven't tried ), so I bought the original Huawei wallet type case and I don't need a screen protector.

  18. Lilyput59


    I'm using the p30 Pro and this phone is awesome, I dearly wanted, like no other time to upgrade in January to the P40 Pro.... I can't deal with all this goidle rubbish, they've ruined fir us the best mobile phone ever to come out of a manufacturer and I'm gutted politics has taken away from me 1 of my pleasures in these times.... I've now got to look for an equivalent phone in the UK... Pffft, no impressed with any to be honest, unless I go to I phone 12 and pay a Kings ransome every month! And even that phones not a touch on my p30 Pro, nothing beats the camera

    1. Evil Harry

      Re: Huawei

      So stick with the p30 and save some cash :)

  19. R.O.

    £1,000+ listening device?

    The CPC cannot separate business and politics so you get a beautiful piece of machinery that's basically tuned as a spy machine for the Chinese government.

    A nice camera and screen doesn't make up for that. True enough other government and corporations certainly dabble in devices as spyware, but the CPC wants it all, just like we were all residents of China. That's not acceptable, or right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @R.O. - Re: £1,000+ listening device?

      Yeah, like US is keeping business and politics strictly separate. It's all about money, nothing to do with politics. As for spying machine, so far it was the American government who spied on German chancellor phone not the Chinese. And even if the Chinese government gets your personal info, it is way more likely to get jailed in the US than elsewhere (hint for you, try to look at the country with the highest imprisonment rate, and also consider the risk of extradition to US versus extradition to other country).

  20. Horizontal

    More money then sense...

    I I may be speaking out of turn here. But who in their right mind would splash out £1I on a phone.

    Apple, Samsung or Huawei or whoever, mobiles have become the footballers of the phone world..

  21. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    Uses dead-tech nano memory cards, giant screen hole, no headphone jack, no band 71 for the US, and costs 1.5x of what most people consider to be a flagship phone price.

    I'd say it's very far from perfect and not unique enough to stand out from all the other "meh" flagships of 2020.

  22. Floppies Out for Harambe

    Look up the Oneplus Nord. Thank me later

  23. Ken 16 Silver badge

    Phone review?

    How well does it receive and transmit, cope with low signal strength? What's the battery life? Is the sound quality good?

    1. cosymart

      Re: Phone review?

      Have more upvotes ^^^^^^^^^^

    2. bengoey49

      Re: Phone review?

      Problem with phone reviews are there are no assessments of signal and WIFI reception/performance which are important if you are going to use it as a phone. It is well known that the iPhones with Intel Modem have poor reception compared with other phones with Qualcomm modem. My iPhone 11 wifi reception is poor compared to Pocophone F1 and the old original Google Pixel (2006 phone) in my bedroom which is less than 7m from the router. Often I have to turn off and on the wifi again if I want to use the internet , never have problem with the Poco and old Pixel.

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