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Over the last few years, Huawei has always impressed with its flagship smartphones, all of which have had a very good balance of specifications, raw performance, subjective smoothness and amazing cameras. Since mid-2019, however, the Chinese company has been hampered by the U.S. government’s various sanctions and bans, which has resulted in Huawei losing access to Google services and apps. This means it has had to go it alone on the software front, and it all started with last year’s Mate 30 series.
We looked at what it was like to live with the Google-free Mate 30 Pro in 2019, and then we touched on the improvements we saw in this regard in our P40 Pro long-term review earlier this year.
Now that 2020 is almost ready to end, we wondered what (if anything) has changed in the last few months, and how easy it is to get together with Huawei Mobile Services instead of Google, on a Android flagship smartphone.
We were lucky enough to have a Mate 40 Pro around and therefore decided to see what it’s all about. This is not one of our normal reviews that focuses on objective measurement of all aspects of the phone’s performance.
We’ll tell you what it’s like to live with the Mate 40 Pro day in and day out, where it surprised us and where it disappointed, but we’ll also focus a lot on the app situation and how you can get around it without resorting. to install Google Mobile Services from shady sources over the Internet. Sure, you theoretically also have that option if you buy a new Huawei smartphone, but we can not tolerate or recommend it because random weird unheard of Chinese apps are still required and who can tell how safe it is to put your digital life in their hands? Additionally, last time we checked, messages still do not work for Google apps, which for most people would make them quite useless.
So this is an experiment meant to tell you how things stand at the end of 2020 when it comes to using either Google apps or alternatives at the top of the Huawei device line. But it will also give you a more subjective picture of how the phone is actually outside of laboratory testing and the like. If you’re ready for the journey, be sure to join us over the next few pages to find out if the Mate 40 Pro can really compete with other Android flagships that have the same price that comes with Google services.