Huawei’s smartphone hardware has gotten really good over the last few years. The company offers some of the best smartphone camera systems on the market and its Kirin processors are some of the best-performing chips available for Android phones.
Unfortunately the company is under tight trade restrictions imposed by the United States which means that its phones ship without the Google Play Store or Google Play Services… and now the company is having a hard time sourcing components – even including the processors it designs in-house.
All of which is to say that Huawei just introduced the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, Mate 40 Pro+, and Porsche Design Mate 40 RS, and they’re some of the company’s most compelling new smartphones yet. But most people probably aren’t going to want to buy them… and due to supply constraints and limited availability in some parts of the world, you may not be able to anyway.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is the company’s latest flagship and it features a Kirin 9000 processor, a 6.8 inch, 90 Hz OLED display, support for 50W fast charging, and four cameras arranged in a circle on the back of the phone.
The primary camera is a 50MP shooter with optical image stabilization, and it’s joined by a 20MP wide-angle camera, a 12MP 5X periscopic telephoto camera, and a Time of Flight sensor for depth.
Reviewers say the phone is one of the best around when it comes to zoom and low-light photography.
Unfortunately Huawei is still trying to cope with the way the US government shut it off from working with Google and other US companies. So while the phone is still running a version of Google’s Android operating system, it has the Huawei App Gallery instead of the Google Play Store, and many popular apps aren’t available.
This may not be a problem in Huawei’s home country of China, where phones generally don’t include Google Play. But it makes Huawei phones a touch sell in most other regions. Next year Huawei plans to begin shipping phones with its own Harmony OS instead of Android… although it’s not clear if that will solve the problem or make the phones even less attractive to potential customers.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ is similar in most respects, but it adds an additional camera so you get 10X and 3X telephoto lenses, a ceramic body, and extra RAM (12GB, compared with 8GB for the standard model).
Finally there’s the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 40 RS which has five cameras and a ceramic back, but a Porsche-inspired physical design (with a racing stripe) and home screen wallpaper.
The phones will be available in Europe starting Nov 13 for €899 and up, but in the face of trade restrictions, it’s unclear if the company will be able to produce enough units to meet demand… even if demand for these phones is likely to be limited outside of China.
via The Verge, xda-developers, GSM Arena, and Engadget
If you’re into photography, it’s almost worth buying this phone just for the cameras.
“Huawei launches some of the best phones you can’t or shouldn’t buy”
Maybe in American you can’t buy these phones. Maybe it’s just me for whom the article didn’t make it any clearer why I shouldn’t buy them for example in Europe. Not that I would, but in principle. Assuming in the worst case you can follow simple instructions like Brad’s guide to the Amazon Fire tablets to install the Play Store. Not that I care about the Play Store (I have the Aurora Store).
Hacking a $100 tablet to make it more functional is one thing. Spending $1000+ on a phone that needs to be hacked to have that functionality is another.
Also, as I point out near the bottom, it’s not even clear that Huawei will have the resources to make enough of these phones to meet demand if there is high demand, and with the company getting ready to shift gears from Android to Harmony OS, it’s unclear what kind of long term support you’ll get.
A little background on Huawei first. A pretty informative video on what the company is about:
They are more about the network infrastructure than handsets. Their 5G technology, both on the network infrastructure side and their 5G modems that go into handsets, how they are integrated with the rest of the phone hardware (probably meaning battery life, too, I didn’t bother to dig so deeply into this topic) are miles ahead of every one of their competitors. Thanks to virtually unlimited funding from the Chinese Communist Party, with whom they are deeply intertwined with. None of their competitors have that much money to burn on R&D.
My reasons for not buying the new Huawei Mate. First, the Party connection. Do I want more Chinese Communist Party or less? Certainly not more, so my money shouldn’t go there. Another really important factor for me at least is Huawei is very unfriendly to the custom ROM community and their phones are heavily locked down. Yes, we are talking about expensive flagships here but so do many (formerly) expensive Samsung flagships end up being favorites of the custom ROM community along the road. Also this line of devices isn’t really my design language. The other day I’ve checked the discussion over at GSMArena; it isn’t really the design language of GSMArena patrons either. And lastly you are right, it’s not my usual price range.
I wouldn’t call installing just another app store heavy hacking. I’m not a heavy gamer but as I remember some gaming companies also want you to install their app stores to save on the Google tax. We talked about installing the Play Store on an Amazon device but it’s the same the other way around, too: if you are in Amazon’s Android ecosystem, you sideload Amazon’s Android app store on your Google Play Store certified device, no big deal. At least for enthusiast level users. I understand adding another app store would be a big deal for the average customer and for that reason they may not sell in high quantities in the West (not because of the high cost).
As for service, I’m pretty sure they made their calculations at least a year before today about all the then possible sanctions that have actually been materialized against them by now. Nonetheless, they decided to still go forward with their handset business, and their flagship handset business in particular. Co-opting two somewhat prestigious German brands: Leica and Porsche. I’m sure they have all the money to provide service in a contingency plan scenario even if it’s a money sink, concerned about saving the brand value. Do big companies do that? What about the two German brands? Complicated questions.
Somewhat related to the topic: https://i.redd.it/o1h895h49of51.jpg
The thing is that the current woes of Huawei depend a lot on the outcome of the election a week on tuesday.
If Trump wins then yes, Harmony OS and Mediatek SoC’s is the name of the game.
If not, then I would be extremely surprised if one of the first major moves of a Biden/Harris administration would not be to clear up the roiling fustercluck with China that the Trump admin has created disrupting many US businesses (tech and otherwise) in the process.
The thing is that Huawei were doing business with many US companies, and likewise many US companies had manufacturing phases in China – and in the current COVID downturn the US cannot afford to be playing these games, and Biden’s people know this.
yeah most of the eco friendly stuff is built in China.. the US has one solar panel maker. I would love to see Nio come stateside, with their battery swap stations.
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