Huawei Mate 40 Pro - the new camera king

With its variety of gimmicks, the new flagship outshines even the iPhone 12 series

Autumn is the time of year when Huawei releases its Mate series of flagship phones and 2020 is no different in that regard (Thank God!). The latest Mate is here - the Mate 40 Pro - and we could say it is a flagship in every sense, whether you look at internal specs, display tech, the camera makeup or any other feature.

Nevertheless, the Mate 40 Pro could mark the end of an era. With US sanctions shutting off its access to high-end chips and the Chinese company's recent announcement that we will see at least one smartphone in 2021 running on its in-house HarmonyOS operating system, this could be the last Android-powered Huawei smartphone with a cutting-edge chip.

But even without the US scrutiny drama, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro would still be one of the more interesting launches of the year. Ever since 2018's Huawei P20 Pro, every Huawei flagship has brought with it a breakthrough in camera hardware, whether it be RYYB sensors that can literally see in the dark, a true 10x lossless optical zoom lens, or computational night mode photography before Google and Apple did it. And the Mate 40 Pro is yet another hardware powerhouse in that department.

The first thing you'll notice when picking up the Mate 40 Pro, at least when looking at it from the back, is the unique design of the camera housing. It refines the circular design of the Mate 30 Pro, placing the cameras inside a protruding ring, called the 'Space Ring' by Huawei, presumably because it looks a bit like a flying saucer.

The main camera is a 50 MP sensor with an f/1.9 aperture and a 23 mm equivalent lens, along with a sensor size of 1/1.28-inches. Huawei has complemented this with a 20 MP ultra-wide (f/1.8, 18 mm equivalent, 1/1.54-inch sensor) and a 12 MP telephoto camera (f/3.4, 125 mm equivalent, 1/3.56-inch sensor). Meanwhile, a 13 MP camera sits up front (f/2.4, 18 mm equivalent, 1/2.8 inch sensor) beside a ToF sensor for depth of field approximations.

In short, the Mate 40 Pro optimises the camera experience that the P40 Pro already offers, improving the cameras in several areas, including better dynamic range - especially in low light.

It's also unlikely you'll find many phones as powerful as the Mate 40 Pro on the market, thanks to a newly designed Kirin 9000 processor. Like Apple's A14 Bionic, it uses a 5 nm process for more efficient, faster performance. In fact, Huawei says it packs in more transistors than the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro manage. It also means you get integrated 5G support.

It's not all about the processor though, there's 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, which is more than enough for just about anything you could ever want to do on your phone. Similarly, there's a 4,400mAh battery, which should be enough to get most people through a day.

Still, to get the nitty gritty out of the way, as like all recent Huawei releases, there is still no Google Play Services on the new handsets. Instead, you'll be reliant on the growing Huawei AppGallery and HMS for the lifespan of the Mate 40 Pro - unless we see a huge US U-turn towards Huawei and a reinstatement of GMS.

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