Here’s our first look at Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro

Huawei announced the Mate 40 Pro yesterday, and now we have one in hand. It might not be easy to recommend Huawei phones outside of China, since the Trump administration’s targeted sanctions have prevented it working with US companies like Google, but devices like the P40 Pro Plus and last year’s Mate 30 Pro have had hardware as impressive as anything else on the global smartphone market.

The situation shouldn’t be any different with the new Mate 40 Pro. It’s likely to be Huawei’s most advanced device yet — even if there are still questions over the extent to which the company is actually able to manufacture it.

I thought the Mate 30 Pro was the best-looking phone released in 2019, and the Mate 40 Pro builds on that design. The unit I have is in the “Mystic Silver” colorway, which Huawei is promoting the most heavily. It’s a lot more unusual than the name makes it sound — the back is frosted glass, but there’s a kaleidoscopic effect where the phone shimmers different colors depending on the light. It looks great.

The camera module is circular, as it was last year, but this time the lenses are arranged in a ring around the Leica logo. I think I preferred the Mate 30 Pro’s two-tone glossy effect a little better, but Huawei says this year’s model was inspired by a black hole, so make of that what you will. This is still an attractive device from behind.

Around the front, the notch has been jettisoned in favor of a double-wide hole punch cutout for the dual selfie cameras. The OLED display is a little bigger this year at 6.76 inches, and it still has the 88-degree “waterfall” curves on the edges, which Huawei calls a “horizon” display.

These edges mean the power button on the side is still pushed back further to the rear than on most other phones. Unlike the Mate 30 Pro, however, Huawei has found space for physical volume buttons this time, which should be an improvement in usability.

Overall the Mate 40 Pro is looking like another physically and technically impressive Huawei flagship phone, and I’m looking forward to finding out what the company has managed to achieve — particularly with the camera and the new Kirin 9000 processor. The software, of course, will be another matter entirely. Stay tuned for a full review.

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