Huawei Mate 40 Pro: the final Kirin has arrived. With headphones. And glasses. And stuff.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro: the final Kirin has arrived. With headphones. And glasses. And stuff.

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 22.10.2020
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
If the Huawei Mate 40 is destined to be the last Kirin, or the final Huawei Android in any case, then the Chinese giant is definitely leaving with a bang. The Mate 40 Pro has impressive specs and looks really good. There's some other stuff as well, but the phone steals the show.

Is this the death rattle of a fallen giant or the start of a glorious new era? Huawei doesn't seem to know either. Nevertheless, they're launching the Mate 40 series, the Freebuds Studio headphones and some sunglasses. But we can be sure of one thing: the hardware on display is impressive.

Still no news regarding Google and Kirin, however. Google still isn't allowed to work with Huawei, Android will stay on all devices and Google Mobile Services can be upgraded. We just don't know how yet. But Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Mobile Division, claims his company is solving the «aging Android» problem.

The Mate 40 Pro: a radical design with bleeding edge tech

My first thought: this review might become a puff piece. The Huawei Mate 40 Pro looks both promising and tremendous. All issues concerning the back of the device have been taken care of. The conventional camera bump has been replaced with a so-called space ring. The Space Ring is nothing more than a glass donut with an element in the middle made of the same material as the rest of the backplate.

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*Huawei Emui 11**: a closer look at the final farewell to Android
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Huawei wants everyone to remember the Mate 40 Pro. In all its glory. After all, the new Kirin 9000 chipset is fully 5G-capable and manufactured using the 5nm process. First and foremost, this entails fast transfer speeds and a more energy-efficient architecture. However, it should be noted that 5G consumes more power than 4G LTE. I hope these features will cancel each other out and that the battery life will be about the same as the P40 Pro, i.e. plus/minus two days. But at 4400 mAh I'm not worried. Oh yeah, then there's the fact that the Mate 40 Pro can be charged with 66 watts. 50 watts should be feasible without cables.

The Kirin 9000 is an octa-core system, coming with one 3.13 GHz Cortex-A77, three 2.54 GHz Cortex-A77 and four 2.04 GHz Cortex-A55 cores. With an additional 8 or 12 GB of RAM, depending on the selected memory size. And a Mali-G78-type 24 core GPU. To achieve this, the system should only start slowing down after 36 months due to wear and tear.

The screen's also quite neat. The display is angled at 88 degrees, a record according to Huawei. Nevertheless, the physical volume button is celebrating its return. On the Mate 30, the volume was controlled by double-tapping on one side of the display. This function has been retained to accommodate left-handed users according to Richard Yu. The CEO also stated that the stereo speakers have 150% more bass than the Mate 30.

The entire phone is 6.76 inches across and displays 2772×1344 pixels at 90 hertz. It would be easy for Huawei to install 120-hertz displays, says Richard Yu. Regrettably, these consume too much electricity.

Then there's the Space Ring donut. Three cameras and a depth sensor are installed behind it:

  1. A 50 MP wide angle lens, f/1.9, 1/1.28" sensor size, optical image stabilisation.
  2. A 12 MP periscope telephoto lens, 5x optical zoom, f/3.4, optical image stabilisation.
  3. A 20 MP ultra wide angle lens, f/1.8.
  4. Time-of-Flight 3D depth sensor.

Note: the Mate 40 Pro is IP68 certified, the lesser Mate 40 only achieves IP53.

The Mate 40 Pro+, with its ceramic backplate, also has an extra camera. So a total of five lenses, four of which actually take pictures. One thing about the zoom: to our knowledge, this zoom is both 100x optical and digital, thus being capable of achieving 100x zoom. However, these images are simply useless.

*Huawei P40 Pro+** vs. P40 Pro: Was bringen 400 Franken Aufpreis?
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However, the wide-angle shots in combination with the AI are something special. If you go wide, it distorts the edges of the picture. This is compensated by the artificial intelligence, and according to Huawei, you simply get more of the actual image. Naturally, the set-up also stabilises video and lighting. Everything is just generally better. I know I said I was writing a puff piece at the start, but now I'm sceptical. Nothing's as good as what Richard Yu describes. And that's why I like to revisit flagships. Each one promises the second coming of smartphone Jesus. If not more. This is rarely the case. Peak values can be reproduced under lab conditions, but you'll never get them in real life.

Petal Maps: user-curated with TomTom as a base?

Software time. In addition to Emui 11, Richard Yu has announced Petal Maps. The app destined to crush Google Maps. Users can feed their own data into the app to help other users find their way around town.

I'm sure you're already wondering what the default map data is based on. The prime suspect is TomTom, as Huawei recently made a big deal with the navigation system manufacturer.

Naturally, this has encouraged Petal Search to take on Google. I'm sure that'll go swimmingly.

Freebuds Studio: mislabelled Over-Ears

Huawei has also launched Freebuds, their wireless in-ear headphones. The word «buds» can be better translated as «plugs». More like «Freeplugs», then. They come free of charge, but without extra plugs. More importantly, they're attempting to stay afloat in the ruthless Over-Ear market.

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A little look into the life of a reviewer: I've already had a quick go in the studio. Naturally, these headphones were «Definitely just a prototype, so make sure to completely ignore any flaws, I'm sure they'll be flawless at release.» Nevertheless, they're solid. Very solid, actually. And they're comfortable too. Another secret: when receiving these «unfinished» models for advanced tests, they're usually pretty much already ready for release. But manufacturers give themselves an out in case I'm not as enthusiastic about their item as their marketing committee.

The Freebuds Studio come with Active Noise Cancelling and two Bluetooth antennas. This makes losing Bluetooth reception «almost impossible», even in large crowds.

The four diaphragms serve to provide pure and spatial sound. Then there's the six microphones, designed to eliminate outside sound and provide pure call quality. The Studio is operated via a button that switches the headphones on and off. The rest is done through a handful of gestures.

The battery on these sizeable headphones is supposed to provide 24 hours of playback.

Ah yes, the sunglasses

Huawei is teaming up with Gentle Monster to bring you the second generation of Huawei x Gentle Monster Eyewear II. In case you ever needed sunglasses with built-in headphones. Dog the Bounty Hunter already had some, and they look just as stupid. But his lenses were better, no one can compete with Oakley in that respect.

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Then there's other gadgets I need to check out : such as a case with a built-in ring light. There's even a battery pack that charges at 66 watts.

I'll probably skip the Porsche Watch GT2, as our video journalist Stephanie Tresch already checked out the non-Porsche version.

*Huawei Watch GT2 Pro** pre-review: quality battery, questionable English
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Long-term data will follow.

I'll leave you with this rather strange speech from Richard Yu. He says thank you, boasts about all the stuff his company is condemned for by the USA and calls the sanctions against Huawei «unfair». Okay, concrete information about switching to HarmonyOS would have been better, but so be it. This review is done in any case. I'll probably take some more selfies with the ring light after all. Hopefully the beauty filter is strong enough.

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Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Senior Editor, Zurich
Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.

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